Tag Archives: Jordan Botaka

Leeds Wizard Botaka In At the Riverside Deep End?   –   by Rob Atkinson

New Leeds United man Jordan Botaka: debut today?

The same ground and the same fixture that saw the introduction to English football of Middlesbrough‘s Brazilian star Juninho could today witness the debut of another mercurial talent. Almost twenty years after the Boro star made his bow, heralding a new era on Teesside, Leeds United‘s exciting new signing Jordan Botaka might just be about to unleash his own brand of magic on the Championship – in the most challenging of circumstances. 

Two decades back, Juninho stepped out against Leeds to introduce himself to an adoring Riverside Stadium. This lunchtime, Congo international Botaka is in line for a first United appearance, backed by the Whites’ travelling army and scrutinised by the critical eye of Sky Sports live coverage. The key to the tricky wide man’s first outing is the mindset of off-colour prodigy Sam Byram, United’s defender-turned-winger, who is currently the subject of much speculation and debate – not to mention the withering attack launched on him this week by Leeds’s outspoken owner Massimo Cellino.

Byram, such a hot prospect only two years ago, has reportedly turned down a new deal at Elland Road. His form over the last eighteen months has been patchy as he’s made a troubled comeback from injury. Now it would appear that his heart and soul may be elsewhere as transfer speculation has him linked with some of England’s major clubs, as well as Sunderland. In circumstances like that, his inclusion against a rampant Boro would be a risky business for United coach Uwe Rösler. It’ll have to be all hands at the pumps for Leeds at the Riverside today, just to avoid being swamped. 

And yet this has been traditionally a happy hunting ground for United since that memorable occasion of Juninho’s first game in England. A one-all draw on that occasion was distinctly respectable, but in the intervening period there have been rich pickings here for the Yorkshire giants. Only last season, the Whites turned up, struck early through Alex Mowatt, and held on grimly in the face of a Smoggies onslaught to depart triumphant. 

A win today would be in the face of similarly daunting odds. Boro are on a roll, win after win making them stand-out performers in the depressed environment of football’s far north-east. Middlesbrough will be confident of beating a Leeds side conceivably unsettled by Cellino’s latest outburst – and this alone could make the case for the benching of Byram. Gaetano Berardi is doing a fine job at right-back, and Botaka could be the wing presence United have needed to bring out the very best of Chris Wood. The case for change is compelling – and if form is the deciding factor, Byram could hardly complain about being “rested”.

Twenty years back, Junino made his mark, but Leeds were the happier side as they salvaged a draw. Today could be the start of another player’s story as Jordan Botaka waits on the wing – and another draw would be another highly worthy result. 


Sheffield Wednesday’s Forestieri Can’t Shut Up About Leeds United   –   by Rob Atkinson

Forestieri: I blame Leeds United for this Wendies mistake...

Forestieri: I blame Leeds United for this Wendies mistake…

Sheffield Wendies‘ new signing from Watford, Fernando Forestieri, is already showing he is ideally qualified for life at Hillsborough. Either that, or it’s dawning on the lad with ever-increasing horror that he’s made a terrible mistake. Whatever the reason, Forestieri just can’t stop talking about the club he simply lacked the cojones to join: Leeds United.

He’s a rum one, is Fernando. Wherever you’ve looked this week, there he’s been, telling anyone who will listen that it’s not his fault he didn’t sign for Leeds. Seemingly unaware that the Whites have identified and snapped up a more than adequate alternative target in Jordan “The Wizard” Botaka, Forestieri seems to be labouring under the delusion that United fans are bothered, or even interested any more. But the fact is that the proliferation of News Now links and piteous tweets emanating from the Watford reject have elicited little more than bored yawns from the Elland Road faithful. Leeds fans tend to lose interest in anyone who isn’t visibly salivating at the prospect of joining Leeds, and quite rightly so, too.

Forestieri, with legend status there for the taking, lost the hearts and minds of the Whites with his initial display of apathy. His subsequent bizarre stance of preferring somewhere in the south – and then comically signing for the Wendies – has raised no more than a tickled titter among the United masses. But Fernando seems to think it’s all still frightfully angsty up here in the frozen northern wastes of LS11. He feels, unaccountably, that we still care.

Perhaps now is the time, after days of fruitless and tedious attention-seeking, for Signor Forestieri to concentrate on the situation he’s resigned himself to, rather than harping on about what might have been and hurling brickbats of blame. It’s quite likely that he’ll make the first team at the Wendies, after all – which would not have been so certain a prospect at Leeds. So he really should focus on his game, forget all the doubts and bitterness – and try bravely to make the best of a bad job. 

It’s gone, Fernando. You blew it. Yorkshire’s top club was willing to give you a chance to move upwards after Watford – but you cravenly chose to sink even lower. That’s something to think about when you run out at Hillsborough and see all those thousands of mute Wendies cunningly disguised as blue plastic seats.

But please – keep those thoughts to yourself. All this whinging about who’s to blame for you missing the boat – it really is getting rather boring, you know… 

Botaka Attitude and Desire Worth Ten Forestieris to Leeds United  –   by Rob Atkinson


Leeds-bound Jordan BotakaThe Wizard

Leeds United have pursued the signature of Fernando Forestieri from Watford these last few days, showing that they rated the player, conducting themselves with respect – and a fair, businesslike attitude towards a significant move in the transfer market. Forestieri did not reciprocate the respect, and his attitude too was found wanting.

It was apparent days before United abandoned their attempts to sign him that Watford’s surplus striker would have had a mountain to climb gaining the approval of Leeds followers. Quite rightly, those passionate and loyal fans expect some eagerness to be shown by potential incoming players, an evident desire to pull on the white shirt. Forestieri showed none of this, and had alienated the Leeds support well before he dropped off United’s radar. Doubtless he will be more suited to the less demanding environment at Hillsborough, where innocently delighted Wendies will ask nothing more of him than that he should choose S6 over LS11.

In the end, Leeds acted decisively, ending their interest in Forestieri and, it seems, making a successful bid for Jordan Botaka, currently of Excelsior in the Dutch Eredivisie. Botaka, 22, known as “The Wizard” for his pace and trickery on the wing, is a full international for Congo and is highly regarded as a player of great skill and enormous potential.

Just as importantly for Whites fans, he has shown the desire that we should expect of a player who wants to come to Leeds and make a real impression. The player describes his impending move to Elland Road as “not a hard decision”. That alone makes him infinitely preferable to the reluctant Forestieri, and it may well be that Leeds have dodged a bullet in avoiding what could well have been a negative element in the squad.

Good luck to Forestieri at the Wendies. On yesterday’s evidence with their limp surrender at home to Middlesbrough, he will probably need it, but at least he’s found himself another comfy, Watford-sized club. Botaka, meanwhile, has shown far more confidence and ambition, for which we roundly applaud him.

It appears also that Leeds might be buying wingers in bulk, with an English-based player also tipped to sign before the window closes. Wolves’ Rajiv van La Parra has been strongly linked, but may prove not be that man. Don’t rule out a loanee central defender either, with Leicester’s Liam Moore consistently talked up as a target. These are busy and exciting times at Elland Road

Welcome to Leeds United, Jordan. Barring any last-minute hitches, you will be joining a club where you can make yourself a legend and become a star with a global fanbase.