There are more questions than answers, as a wise but puzzled man once said. There are mysteries and conundra aplenty, logic-defying problems of unfathomable intricacy – as well as what appear at first glance to be exercises in the bleedin’ obvious. And if Scott Wootton‘s status as “anything but a natural central defensive midfielder” falls into that last category, then it’s also true to say that Leeds United opting to dispense with the services of Rodolph Austin must count as one of the daftest decisions since Decca turned down The Beatles.
On last night’s evidence at Doncaster’s Keepmoat Stadium, it seems that Uwe Rösler‘s declared intention to implement “sensible rotation” is up against one major problem: in the absence of certain essential personnel, he has no-one of sufficient quality to turn to. And that is very much a self-inflicted wound on United’s part; in jettisoning Austin, they have left themselves one Beast short in midfield – bereft of that driving and inspirational presence that was Rudy at his thunderous best.
No need to take my word for it. Look at the recent international between Jamaica and the highly-respected USA outfit. The tragically clubless Rudy bossed the midfield for the Reggae Boyz, running the game in a manner which we could well have done with for Leeds last night. With all due respect to Scott Wootton, when you’re reduced to deploying him in the Number 4 engine room role, then things are a bit desperate. And the blithe dismissal of Austin to seek his livelihood elsewhere is exposed as a piece of arrant lunacy.
Sadly, it looks as though our erstwhile Beast may well be forced to slaver and snarl outside of these islands, due to the pettifogging bureaucracy that masquerades as employment policy hereabouts. Sheffield Wednesday were eager to take Austin, as they took another competent performer surprisingly deemed surplus at Leeds in Tom Lees. But the move was choked to death by miles of red tape, so it seems that the amiable but deadly Austin will be lost to the domestic game, taking with him his top-rate tax contribution to our wheezing economy. Whichever way you look at it, that’s plain daft. But not, by a million miles, anything like as daft as United’s misconceived decision to let Rudy go in the first place.
There is even a Change.org petition, calling upon the relevant government department to stop being so damned silly, and let the Beast rampage anew in the English leagues. I’d urge you to support it – but I wish there was no necessity for this. I wish my beloved but misguided club hadn’t been so criminally wasteful and laissez-faire as to let Austin go in the summer – because he could instead have been subduing Donny’s eager but inferior troops last night. If only.
Rotation is all very well, as Rösler is doubtless finding out, but without adequate resources, rotation ceases to be a productive activity and becomes running pointlessly round in circles, à la a chicken with its head cut off. As mere humble fans, not privy to the cerebral processes behind the decisions taken in the corridors of power, we’ll just have to hope that we don’t suffer too much from the laughable notion that a Wootton can replace an Austin. But I fear there may yet be more rude awakenings ahead.