Tag Archives: transfers

Stumbling Blocks Hardly Unknown on Leeds United’s Historic Success Trail – by Rob Atkinson

All White Champions

Champions 1973/74 – despite a late blip

There can be no denying that Leeds United were more than a little unfortunate to emerge from Saturday’s Yorkshire derby clash with Sheffield United empty-handed. Given ordinary luck, with just a break or two going the way of the Whites, it could have been a very different story; even a draw would have seen Leeds two points clear of third place. But little went right on the day and that, sadly, is a feeling that every Leeds fan down the years knows all too well. 

As it is, we had to take an undeserved defeat on the chin, with the woodwork, injuries and just about every factor you could name ranged against us. United are now a point off the automatic promotion places, when they could have been five points clear of third. Loud and woeful has been the wailing, rending of garments and gnashing of teeth among the United faithful, as the fates seem determined to conspire against Yorkshire’s Number One club.

But wait just a minute. Calm yourselves, fellow Leeds devotees, and be of good cheer. It’s all happened before, you see, at about this time of year too – and it’s rarely been fatal to our chances of success. When you look at our most recent landmark seasons, right back to when I was nobbut a lad, you’ll see that a late stumble or two, with United there or thereabouts and the tension mounting, is much more the rule than the exception.

Going as far back as 1974, when Don Revie‘s Super Leeds were stumbling somewhat along the title path, having at one stage been nine points clear, Burnley visited Elland Road and departed with two points from a 4-1 victory. It was hailed as nearest challengers Liverpool‘s great chance to overhaul United, but Leeds ended up as Champions and by a decisive margin.

Then, in 1990, Barnsley were the visitors on a night when nothing went right for Leeds. Centre back Chris Fairclough was absent for 13 first half minutes having seven stitches in a head wound. He rejoined the fray in time to plant a brave and bloody header into the Barnsley net, giving Leeds a well-deserved interval lead, to the massive relief of a huge Elland Road crowd. Surely, nothing could go wrong now?

In truth, we battered Barnsley throughout the ninety minutes but, in a sickening second half turnaround, two subs for the Tykes scored in quick succession, gifting the Reds an extremely unlikely win. Again, doom and gloom stalked the streets of Leeds – but United still went up as champions.

And then, two years on, Leeds were engaged in an almighty battle with Them from There for the last ever Football League Championship. The media were all agog for the Devonians to win the league – how fitting it would be, they purred. When Leeds lost heavily away, twice in a short space of time, it looked as though the script was written, with Leeds cast as fall guys. A 1-4 defeat at QPR had been followed in short order by a 0-4 reverse at Manchester City, and the Leeds-hating nation celebrated. But it was the Whites who held their nerve and mustered their resources to clinch the title of Last Champions by four points, while Manchester’s second club amusingly choked on the dry ashes of defeat.

So nil desperandum, all you devoted Whites out there. We’ve tripped up, recovered and gone on to win many a time before, in accordance with this great club’s motto of “Keep Fighting” – and there’s no reason we can’t do it again. Have faith in Marcelo Bielsa‘s boys, who really do have that fighting spirit that typified Super Leeds of old, and simply trust that all will come right in the end. Believe.

Marching On Together

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Looks Like Samu Sáiz WILL Return to Leeds. Good Thing or Bad? – by Rob Atkinson

Sáiz – stick or twist?

Few players in recent history have divided opinion among the Leeds United support quite like Samuel Sáiz, the mercurial Spanish playmaker with the ability to thrill and frustrate in equal measure. Sáiz had his moments in the United line-up this season but, by common consent, he hasn’t been quite the player he was before his ban last season for a spitting incident. And then we discovered a possible reason why.

It seems that Samu was under pressure to get a move away from Elland Road due to domestic circumstances, with both the player and his pregnant partner wanting to quit English football in favour of a return home to Spain. The situation was reminiscent of Tony Currie’s dilemma 40 years ago when, in order to fall in with his wife’s wishes, he was forced to accept a move back to his native London and signed for QPR.

Currie subsequently admitted that he had regrets over the move and it would seem that Sáiz is not finding his loan switch to Getafe a completely happy affair. The Spanish club, according to reports, may now opt against making the move permanent, against a background of Sáiz failing to become an automatic selection, or even a regular starter. If the permanent move does not materialise, then Sáiz will return to Elland Road, and we’d have to see what happened next.

On the plus side, Leeds could be welcoming back a potential match winner, but the other side of that coin is the odd rumour that Samu may have been thought of behind the scenes at United as a disruptive influence, on and off the field. In a squad where team spirit is so vital, as so clearly evidenced during the 4-0 thrashing of West Bromwich Albion, the introduction or even reintroduction of a fact that could destabilise things may not be a risk worth taking.

There’s also the question of whether the initial problems leading to Samu’s loan departure still hold true. If so, United might have an unhappy player on their hands, clearly another situation best avoided.

So, what do we think? Would Sáiz be welcomed back with open arms, or would it be a case of “thanks, Samu, but no thanks”? For what it’s worth, this blogger leans narrowly towards the opinion that Sáiz is a risky and probably unwilling option and, as such, is probably best left alone to find the best move away he can secure. But I’m well aware that some would sharply disagree. It does rather look as though, however unwillingly, Sáiz may well be returning to Leeds, at least for a while, so the question of what to do with him is a pertinent one.

As ever, your opinions are most welcome. The question is: the return of Samu Sáiz: Yea, or Nay? What’s your answer – and why? Over to you.

Leeds United Contribute £200,000 to Shaun Harvey’s FL Leaving Do – by Rob Atkinson

Shaun Harvey – disappointed and calling it a day

At long last, the Football League investigation into the so-called Spygate affair has been concluded, and it can now be revealed that the delay in considering and pronouncing upon a relatively simple matter was caused by an almighty internal wrangle within the Football League.

It turns out that the matter was pretty much done and dusted some time ago, with the League reluctantly concluding that, as no specific rules had been broken, it was not possible to impose a points deduction. Instead, the League had to settle for dressing up the matter of a man standing on a public highway and looking through a wire fence as “a breach of good faith”, enabling action under regulation 3.4 – but even this has proved problematic.

A League spokesperson confirmed that the League was struggling to make even the “good faith” provisions stick due, he said, to a number of far more serious breaches during the time that Spygate had been current. “We’ve had blatant diving, clubs clearing one penalty area of snow but not the other, clubs reneging on transfer deals at the last minute, all sorts of stuff going on. But we had to do this to Leeds, because it was the only way we could get them. And that was a very cruel blow to Shaun Harvey, who had been determined to deal a fatal blow to that club’s promotion chances”.

It appears that Mr. Harvey has indeed taken the outcome of Spygate very hard indeed, as he had hoped it would be instrumental in keeping Leeds United down in the Championship. So depressed is he by the thwarting of his dearly held hopes, that he has now announced he’ll be stepping down at the end of the season. “Shaun is a broken man”, confirmed our source. “He feels that he just can’t go on, so he’s going to retire to a smallholding in Little Sodbury. We at the League feel that the least we can do is to give him a good send off, so we’re fining Leeds enough to send him off in style”.

When it was pointed out that two hundred grand was quite steep for a leaving do, we were told “We’re pulling out all the stops here, because Shaun really needs cheering up. So we’ve booked his favourite acts, Kylie, Jason and we’ve even arranged a personal appearance by Shaun’s hero Frank “Fwankie” Lampard. I imagine they’ll be commiserating together”.

Leeds United’s only comment was “We’ve fully cooperated with this whole fiasco from start to finish, and all we can say is that we’re satisfied with the outcome. It’s well worth a couple of hundred grand to get rid of that oily little sod Harvey.

Frank Lampard is a bitter, thwarted little man.

Leeds Suffering From Terrible Penalty Calls, Even When They’re Not Involved – by Rob Atkinson

A brief and testy update tonight, having sat through West Brom against Nottingham Forest, where the result to suit our particular requirements as Leeds United fans would have been a Forest victory.

It looked as though that was how it was going, too – and then referee Lee Mason took control, with two late and palpably awful penalty decisions, both going against Forest and, by extension, Leeds.

With the West Brom trailing 2-1, exactly as per our ideal scenario, the Baggies’ Dwight Gayle found a Forest limb to dive over just inside the area, and Mason obliged with the whistle for a spot kick. It was a blatant dive, and if there’s any justice (which we know there isn’t) – Gayle will get a retrospective ban IF the Football League ever emerge from their Spygate enclave and examine the incident.

So, it’s 2-2, which isn’t that bad. But Forest should still have won, when their attacker Lolley had his shirt almost pulled off as he made his way into the Albion penalty area. Lee Mason, though, failed to see the blindingly obvious, and Leeds missed out on the ideal result of a West Brom defeat.

Call me paranoid – of course I am, I’ve been a Leeds fan for 44 years – but it does seem to me that these incidents, even in games between third parties, hardly ever favour Leeds. And really, we could do with the odd penalty decision in other games going our way – because it’s now one penalty awarded to Leeds in around 70 games, which is pretty meagre fare.

Ho hum. Onwards and hopefully upwards. And at least the Pride of Devon lost, which is always, always nice.

Daniel James a Certain Scorer in Leeds v Swansea. But for Which Team? – by Rob Atkinson

A happy Daniel James when he thought he was signing for Leeds

Some things in life are just so predictable that it’s honestly rude not to have a bet on them. Things like the Pride of Devon rediscovering their annoying luck with the appointment of Ole Gunnar “Demon Pixie” Solskjaer. Or an England batting collapse in the West Indies. And, after the farcical conclusion of Daniel James‘ protracted Swansea City to Leeds United transfer saga, there’s probably another sure fire certainty coming up when the two clubs meet at Elland Road on Wednesday evening. Let’s face it, if the lad plays, he’s going to get a goal. But – for which club?

In the immediate aftermath of the collapse of James’ move to Elland Road, various social media wags lost no time in giving the frustrated lad some well-meaning advice on exactly what to do if chosen to play for Swansea on Wednesday. The gist of it was that Daniel should momentarily forget the shirt he’s wearing and give his all instead for the shirt he wishes he could be pulling on, to make the boldest possible statement of annoyance at the cavalier manner of his treatment by Swansea on the fateful transfer deadline evening. “Wait until the last minute, Dan – then hammer one into the Swansea net, leap into the middle of the Leeds fans to celebrate, while taking off that Swansea shirt to reveal a Leeds one underneath.” That sounds like excellent advice to me, and I’m sure deep down that it’s something the thwarted and disappointed James would wish to do – it’d be impossible to blame him – but, sadly, professional standards make such a gesture rather unlikely.

So, it would appear that – if the boy is to notch on the night – it’ll count against Leeds and not for them. That is, of course, if James plays at all. With the amount of attention that would be on him, from both sides’ supporters, and with the additional pressure that would heap upon his young shoulders, perhaps a diplomatic groin strain or tight hamstring would be in order. We’ll have to see what happens on Wednesday night when, hopefully, Leeds will be fired up to deal with the Swans – with or without Daniel James.

‘Justice Delayed is Justice Denied’ But Football League Keep Leeds on the Rack – by Rob Atkinson

The Football League’s Spygate deliberations continue

The Football League’s nonsensical approach to the administration of the game of football below Premier League level is making a laughing stock of them – but they don’t appear to care a bit. And so Leeds United go into yet another vitally important Championship match, at promotion rivals Middlesbrough, with the Sword of Damocles dangling precariously over their heads. And all because a bunch of buffoons see fit to make an Everest style mountain out of the most innocuous of molehills.

The fact is that it’s long been acknowledged no rules have been broken by any employee or representative of Leeds United. The police were singularly unimpressed and unbothered by the incident and, after the briefest of considerations, sent our man on his way. Which is hardly surprising, as standing on a public highway and looking through a transparent wire fence is not exactly the crime of the century.

And yet the League stumble doggedly onwards, needing more and more time to try to find an offence where there is none. Even their desperate references to “acting in good faith” have been trumped by subsequent events, notably Swansea City’s abandonment of any professional standards during transfer deadline eve, depriving their player Daniel James of his desired (and agreed) move to, yes you’ve guessed it, Leeds United.

The Football League must surely be aware of the old legal maxim “Justice delayed is Justice denied”. It cautions against over-lengthy proceedings which fail to produce timely verdicts, to the disadvantage of all concerned. In a case where the complaint clearly has no legal base to it, relying instead on some undefined principle of broad ethics, the fact that this is still dragging on exposes those who are doing the dragging as incompetent fools. It’s remarkable, too, that we would seem to be waiting for some sanctimonious sermon on good faith, when we had the spectacle of Liverpool clearing one penalty area of snow during a League game, while leaving the other as a snowscape, in an effort to secure a marginal advantage. Is that acting in good faith? But little or nothing has been said – because, of course, it’s not Leeds.

Who knows what the League’s over-lengthy deliberations will ultimately produce by way of a verdict, or what punishment they will see fit to impose. But they appear to have painted themselves into a corner, with the pressure on them to placate those hardly disinterested parties who wish to see Leeds United’s promotion bid disrupted.

It’s a most unedifying tale, and it’s far too late to caution the League against making plonkers of themselves; that has already happened, with the continuing delay merely emphasising their status as being guilty of Rodney-esque plonkerism of the first magnitude. Whether that proceeds into culpable incompetence, with the infliction of some ridiculous punishment for breaking no rules, remains to be seen.

It’s to be hoped that this silly story does not descend into gutter farce. And Leeds United themselves will be hoping that they can yet escape the clutches of this ridiculous organisation, with the expectation that the Premier League would not be quite so laughably, pitifully pathetic.

Frustration Through the Window and On the Pitch for Leeds, Who Must Improve at Middlesbrough – by Rob Atkinson

What should have been – poor Daniel James robbed of his dream move to Leeds United

Last weekend, together with the finale of the January transfer window preceding it, was a period which hardly qualifies as a highlight of Leeds United’s season so far. Taking transfer deadline day first, we had the protracted Dan James transfer saga finally coming to a conclusion, but not in a good way.

All seemed agreed; Dan had travelled up to his native Yorkshire to conclude what was, evidently, a move he was very keen to make from Swansea City to Leeds. The lad duly passed his medical, and went from Thorp Arch to Elland Road for his unveiling as a Leeds United player. He’d got the Leeds kit on, and was being filmed for a video announcement – and then, from early evening until the 11 pm deadline itself, Swansea City simply “went quiet”, refusing to answer increasingly urgent calls from Leeds. Even the player himself tried to call his reticent employers, but to no avail. So, the deadline passed, and the deal fell through.

There were no winners here, despite some defiant glee from the Swansea fans, many of whom had been saying good riddance when they thought the deal was being done. Leeds United lost out on a valuable squad addition, the player lost out on a move he really wanted – and Swansea could well have lost most of all, as they now have a very disappointed footballer on their hands, one they had seen fit to leave cooling his heels for hours at Elland Road, in the dark as to exactly what was going on. As deals go, it was a bad deal all round. It would be very interesting to know what the Football League, taking their own sweet time to pronounce on whether Spygate amounts to a failure of good faith by Leeds, make of Swansea City’s idiosyncratic approach to transfer dealings. Quite possibly, we shall be denied this knowledge.

And then it was Saturday, and the much-hyped meeting of the Championships top two at Elland Road, with Norwich City intown. Sadly, just as the transfer window had ended disappointingly for Leeds, so this match turned out to be a veritable damp squib for the home side. Norwich City showed up in a determined frame of mind, ran hard, fought hard, took their chances, rode their luck in the first half especially, and ultimately emerged as fairly comfortable winners. They had exacted revenge, in all but perfection, for United’s 3-0 success at Carrow Road back in August, only Patrick Bamford’s late consolation goal preventing an exact reversal of that scoreline. And there might we, just possibly, identify a crumb of comfort.

The Norwich game had been frustrating from the very start, with Leeds battering away up to the interval and getting absolutely nowhere, while the Canaries annoyingly profited from two defensive indiscretions and, aided by two deflections, scored twice. After half time, United played as though they’d forgotten what football was all about, Norwich added a third through yet another deflection, and that was pretty much it. Bamford’s late header from a corner hardly eased the gloom, but it did give some cause for optimism about the rest of the season. Because Bamford, if only he can stay fit, is probably the most natural finisher on United’s books – and that cutting edge, for all of Kemar Roofe’s industry and endeavour, is what has been lacking to top off all the attacking verve Leeds have shown throughout this campaign.

It may well be that the Norwich game, as well as highlighting United’s deficiencies, might have shown the way forward. If, that is, Bamford can finally be accommodated within the philosophy of Bielsaball. And, with a lunchtime Saturday trip to Middlesbrough in the offing after the last week or so Leeds United have had, we can only hope and believe that this will be how it turns out.

Karma Nails Steve Evans as Leeds Win on a Cold Day at Rotherham – by Rob Atkinson

A succinct message to Steve Evans, late of Peterborough United

Sometimes, revenge is just so ridiculously sweet, it could honestly give you diabetes. Today is one of those days when the karmic wheel turned and stopped in just the right place for Leeds United – and on the worst possible outcome for their one-time coach Steve Evans.

Having failed to be the success at Leeds that he’d confidently expected, Steve was perhaps predictably less than enthusiastic when asked to comment on the prospects of success for the latest occupant of the hot seat from which he’d been so unceremoniously turfed out a few managers ago. The upshot was that poor Steve – although unable to deny that Marcelo Bielsa has a well-deserved global reputation as a genius – felt impelled to accentuate the negative. Would Bielsa be able to get a result when the going got tough and winter had us in its icy grip, he wondered out loud. Would he, to quote the classic example, be able to succeed on a cold day in Rotherham? How Steve must have congratulated himself on that conundrum, dreamed up as we all basked in late summer sunshine. He couldn’t have been any more pointed if he’d mentioned that these foreigners don’t like it up ’em.

Marvel, then, at the delicious irony of today’s events in Leeds United land. It was a cold day – not a Tuesday, as Steve had specified, but still, cold. And Leeds United were due at Rotherham where, glory be, in arduous circumstances against a fighting foe, they did indeed get a result, the 2-1 from behind win putting them three points clear at the Championship summit. So far, so good – but, taken in isolation, not Karma.

So let’s look at the other side of this deliciously fateful equation. What was Steve doing today? Well, the former Leeds coach was in charge of a struggling Peterborough United, at home in League One to Charlton Athletic, coached, with yet another succulent morsel of irony, by Leeds legend Lee Bowyer. The result was a 0-0 draw and evidently the last straw for the Posh powers that be. So, on the very same day that Bielsa did what Steve gleefully doubted he could, Evans was sacked, gone, unemployed. Sadly, he just couldn’t do it on a cold day at London Road, and he paid the ultimate price, with that little extra surcharge of karmic humiliation.

It’s a hard life, Steve, but forgive us if we have zero sympathy to spare. If you’d been just a little less smug in predicting failure for Bielsa, there might have been some compassion around LS11 when your own chickens chose the very same day Leeds won at Rotherham to come home to roost. Perhaps you should have been more circumspect, but that’s not really your style, is it. So I’m afraid it’s a case of, in the late, great Windsor Davies‘ immortal words: “Oh dear, how sad, never mind”.

Leeds go marching on, then, and their future looks bright, though nobody should expect United fans to be as smug as poor Steve Evans was. Maybe he’ll think twice in future? And maybe he’ll be in work again soon enough – though it’s highly doubtful if that would be at a high enough level for him to have to worry about getting a result on a cold day at Rotherham United.

Leeds United Must Beware Ending Up With an Earful of Rotherham Cider – by Rob Atkinson

Marcelo Bielsa – wily

In the great Broadway show Guys and Dolls, a young gambler sets out on his career with the following advice from his father: “One of these days in your travels, a guy is going to show you a brand-new deck of cards on which the seal is not yet broken. Then this guy is going to offer to bet you that he can make the jack of spades jump out of this brand-new deck of cards and squirt cider in your ear. But, son, do not accept this bet, because as sure as you stand there, you’re going to wind up with an ear full of cider.’

There is much wisdom to be found in classic scripts such as those produced from the tales of Damon Runyon, upon whose writings Guys and Dolls was based. Runyon’s name has even passed into the language as a byword for witty, pithy dialogue which is pleasing to the ear, has street wisdom undertones and is reminiscent of the shady world of the Broadway hood. If something is described as “Runyonesque”, you can be sure it will be clever, plausible and not lightly to be ignored or treated with anything but close attention and respect.

So when Rotherham United manager Paul Warne waxes lyrical about tomorrow’s opponents Leeds United, whilst simultaneously bemoaning his own club’s injury and sickness lists, the wise devotee of Elland Road, be they player, fan or even globally-renowned coach, will instantly be on the alert. Mr. Warne sounds full of respect for his opponents and equally full of world-weariness at the paucity of his own resources, but he is to be treated with caution, even as Runyon’s card sharp or – more classically – Greeks bearing gifts. The Rotherham boss has spoken sweetly about the Leeds United style of play, hinting at similarities with Manchester City. He has spoken dolefully of the Millers’ injuries and of a minor plague of illness affecting his squad. Already, I can almost feel the Strongbow trickling past my auricle and on towards my eardrum.

Fortunately, wily Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa will be well-prepared for such unctuous softening-up – and for him, it will just be a matter of making sure his team, named once again on Thursday to give opposition spies an even break, are similarly prepared. Leeds certainly can and should win this game, but going into it in a complacent frame of mind is a sure way of ending up pointless and leaking cider from both ears. Still, as Runyon also memorably said, “The race may not always be to the swift nor the victory to the strong, but that’s how you bet.”

Bielsa, for his part, has merely commented that both teams have their own way of playing, and that they will both go ahead and perform according to those differing plans. It’s worthy of note that the Millers have been far stronger at home than away this season, but also that they fell on their own turf to Brentford last week by four goals to two. All of which, plus Leeds’ own patchy recent form, makes this one difficult to call.

Still, in Bielsa we trust. His cards are on the table at least in part, with the starting eleven for Leeds named yesterday, though the make up of his substitute’s bench is as yet unknown. Perhaps it is from there that a jack of spades may yet emerge to squirt cider into Rotherham’s unsuspecting ears, turning the mind-game tables on that nice Mr Warne. In the topsy turvy world of Runyonland, otherwise known as the English Championship, anything is possible.

Media Moving on from Spygate for Concerted Effort to Sell Leeds Star Jack Clarke – by Rob Atkinson

Leeds United’s Jack Clarke – the poise of the matador

The UK sports media don’t like Leeds United to have nice things. The recent embarrassing emphasis on so-called “Spygate” – the sensational exposé of a man in a tracksuit on a public highway by a wire fence, failing to avert his eyes from the spectacle of some footballers training in plain sight – was of course intended to derail the United promotion bandwagon, but Leeds have still won eight of the last eleven and are clear at the the top. All the hacks have accomplished really is to emphasise their own essential silliness. So – what to do?

Well, it’s transfer window time and, for your average grubby hack with a Leeds-hating readership to satisfy, what better opportunity for the talking up of the latest United wonderkid in the hope of provoking an auction? Such seems to be the mindset of the gutter end of the media right now, not excluding our good friends at Sky, who are positively schizo over Leeds United, simultaneously hating and capitalising on Yorkshire’s number one football club. The current focus is on United’s Jack Clarke, a young wing wizard with that touch of genius about him. The hacks have seen this divine spark, have noted it well – and are determined to bring about his departure from Elland Road at the earliest opportunity.

The stories have cropped up thick and fast – mostly the former, it has to be said – over the past few days. One mischievous rag, conscious of Leeds fans’ lack of regard for Devon’s Finest, have even linked him with Manchester’s second biggest club. Perhaps they feel young Jack would prosper under what they’re selling as the Norwegian reincarnation of Matt Busby, clearly a better mentor than some Argie who sits on a bucket.

Sky were in on the act today as well, playing tempting clips of young Clarke bamboozling full-backs and sticking the ball in the net. It’s all designed to whip up interest from one or other of their favoured clubs because, alas, so far the only enquiries seem to have been  joke ones, from the likes of Crystal Palace and Southampton – hardly the stuff of a young winger’s dreams. Meanwhile, Jack is thriving at Leeds, in and around the first team, contributing solidly to the promotion push, and with the alluring prospect of a fat new contract and maybe a Championship winner’s medal in the offing. For those who wish Leeds ill, namely just about everyone who doesn’t bleed yellow blue and white, these are not good feelings.

Let’s be honest, Jack Clarke at 18 looks to be the real deal. He has that matador’s poise, the ability to play a bewildered defender into hopeless confusion and ultimate defeat. Only the other day, he destroyed the opposing Derby County full-back, who was promptly dispatched to Aberdeen with twisted blood, there to reflect and convalesce, having been replaced at Derby by a pensioner. Clarke has the nascent promise of a youthful Stan Matthews – there’s no deep, dark secret as to how he beats his man. He dances for a moment, in possession of the ball – will the defender sell himself, or just back off, quivering? Then – a drop of the shoulder, a change of pace, and Jack is gone, leaving his man in a crumpled heap, arrowing a deadly ball into the box, and Roofe is there to snap up the chance. Or maybe Clarke swerves back on his path into the box, and curls the ball inside the far post. You just don’t know, although that initial beating of the full back, that’s an open secret. You know how he’ll do that. But, as with Stan Matthews, stopping it is another matter entirely. The media knows all this, and they’re agreed: Clarke must go from Leeds.

But anyone who knows the game will know that Jack Clarke is in the best place he could be, especially at this time of his fledgling career. Quite apart from the material and competitive career rewards dangling in front of him, he’s working with the best coach in Marcelo Bielsa that he could possibly wish for, and in a team that might have been set up specifically to showcase his devastating talent. At eighteen, Clarke needs to be protected from the predatory and kept close to the nurturing influence from which he’s currently benefiting. Jack has the role models right now, in the coaching set up and alongside him in the team, that will give his genius the best chance of emerging in full bloom. To dump him into a so-called “elite” development squad would be to risk seeing that potential stifled, instead of being honed, as it is now, under Bielsa and alongside the likes of Pablo Hernandez.

Leeds United themselves, thankfully, seem to have become a lot more selective in terms of both squad augmentation and pruning. The development squad is being enhanced with a succession of quality additions, and the progression from there to first team level is a clear path. United also recognise and reward the diamonds yielded by this rich seam, polishing some for display on a grand stage, profiting from others judiciously, with the dividend being ploughed back. It’s a policy designed to reap ever richer harvests in the near future – showing that this is a club at long last on the right track. We can safely assume that United will no longer accept derisory offers from smaller clubs for a short term profit that denies them progress and a longer term bounty.

If I’m correct about all that, then – all media hue, cry and desperation notwithstanding – young Jack Clarke will remain exactly he is, shining and dazzling on either wing, tormenting opposing defences with his prodigious, precocious talent, in the colours of Leeds United, settled and happy on the brink of a sensational career. Which is exactly what we would all of us wish and hope for.

Sky Sports et al not included.