West Bromwich Albion midfielder Graham Dorrans has been tipped in some quarters to be the latest loan target for Leeds United as they look to rekindle their fast-disappearing hopes of a late push for this season’s Championship play-off places. Rumours gathered pace earlier on Saturday when Dorrans was omitted from the Albion squad to face Man U. The Scottish international has been frozen out of match-day involvement with the Baggies lately, but his quality is undoubted, particularly at Championship level where he made Team of the Year as West Brom won promotion in 2010. Quality is a big issue at Elland Road just now. It was a commodity totally lacking in the calamitous reverse to an ordinary Bolton side, along with backbone, nerve, character and grit. Those are five characteristics any successful side simply cannot do without – Leeds came up with a consistent zero in all areas. So the addition of pedigree in the shape of a proven creative midfielder would be welcome; though some might pose the question: just why would Dorrans wish to climb aboard what would appear to be a sinking ship?
Leeds are hardly likely to be the only club at this level who might be interested in a loan deal for Dorrans. Nottingham Forest, as usual, have been heavily linked with the midfield star. One thing that could possibly influence any decision on the player’s part is his friendship with former United favourite Rob Snodgrass. The two were team-mates at Livingstone prior to Leeds’ capture of Snodgrass – so we might hope that our former wing wizard would have a quiet word with Dorrans, to our advantage – though what he might actually say is anyone’s guess.
Dorrans was described in glowing terms by the Guardian in 2010: “Composed, creative, combative and consistent, Dorrans is easily the best all-round midfielder seen at West Brom since Bryan Robson.” There is little doubt that such a player – if he can recapture the form that saw him so highly-rated only a short time back that Manchester City were reportedly ready to lash out £6m on him – would be a distinct asset to a United midfield notoriously lacking in creativity over the past year or so.
Whatever the current parlous state of things in general around LS11, that quality shortfall has to be addressed at some point and, in meeting United’s need, Dorrans might well be doing himself a big favour. Elland Road is a high-profile stage upon which a player of sufficient character can re-invent himself at a level where quality will inevitably shine. If the rumours of Leeds’ interest are true, then a deal would probably benefit all parties. Albion currently have a depreciating asset on their hands, the player isn’t getting game time – and Leeds are just desperate for straws to clutch at right now.
Graham Dorrans might just be that straw, but Brian McDermott will be hoping it’s not the one that breaks the camel’s back. If Dorrans, or some other similarly-skilful midfielder were to put pen to paper for United – and then have the impact of a Kebe or a Stewart – that might just be a straw too far for the hapless camels of GFH. Any short-term loan player arriving at Elland Road right now must be aware that he probably has a longer shelf-life at the club than McDermott himself.
Quality, backbone, grit – all those qualities mentioned above are not apparent at Leeds United right now, and they are urgently needed. But the one vital commodity the whole place is running out of faster than any other at the moment is patience. Just how much longer can the current farce carry on without some drastic action being taken? GFH maintain a sulkily defensive stance. The players’ Twitter feeds are silent and ashamed. Signor Cellino is ranting in the Sun. Watch this space.