One thing that has been said almost as often as “Happy New Year!” in Leeds in the last few years is how the club has failed to kick on in January. Certainly in Simon Grayson’s 2 years in the Championship with us, chances to turn what were promising seasons into opportunities to seriously challenge for promotion were not taken. Whilst hoping that GFH and Neil Warnock don’t make a similar mistake in 2013, Right in the Gary Kelly’s thought we would take a look back at the last 5 January transfer windows at Elland Road, and remind ourselves of just how pivotal next month can be…
In – Sorsa, Kilkenny, Johnson, Sweeney, Kenton, Sheehan, Michalik, Elding
Out – Thompson, Gardner
Verdict – As Dennis Wise left Elland Road mid January, and Gary McAllister took up the reigns, we undoubtably went for quantity over quality here. Only one signing stands out for me – Bradley Johnson – I never did rate Kilkenny – and what ever happened to Sebastian Sorsa? Still, at least we were signing players permanently at this stage…
In – Trundle (loan), Naylor (loan), C Dickinson (loan)
Out – T Elliott (loan)
Verdict – With Simon Grayson taking the hotseat from Boxing Day, his first task was to improve a defence previously built around Paul Telfer and Lubo Michalik. In came Naylor and Dickinson, and it immediately looked ten times better. I can only assume Grayson had been playing Football Manager 2005 the night before he decided to sign Trundle. Noticeably, “all” deals were loan deals.
In – Lowry (loan) McSheffrey (loan)
Out – Prutton
Verdict – Just two players in, both on loan, and neither of whom improved on what we already had. In fact 99% of Leeds fans would probably have been happier if we’d done nothing, and kept Prutton. At least Gary McSheffrey has been useful for the odd comedy Square Ball article in the last couple of years.
In – Z Thompson, Gonzalez (loan)
Out – Hughes, Robinson, Hatfield, Crowe, Collins, Bessone (loan)
Verdict – Whether a sign of Ken Bates’ rapidly reducing trust in Grayson’s transfer dealings, or Grayson’s poor judgement, this was a strange one. Allowing Andy Hughes to move on was, in hindsight, the worst move here. Hughes would (to this day) have been a better option at either full back position than some of the players who have filled the roles since. And bringing in a goalkeeper on loan when we already had 3 available was odd, to say the least.
In – Rogers, Townsend (loan), Delph (loan), Adam Smith (loan)
Out – Howson, Parker (loan)
Verdict – Even taking previous years into consideration, this plumbed new depths. Selling our Leeds born captain was one thing, but trying to replace him with yet more loans was something else. The policy quickly blew up in our face as one of them picked up a season ending injury, one disappeared back to Spurs as soon as Neil Warnock took charge, and the other’s head (quite literally) grew too big for his own shoulders. I’ll leave you to decide which is which!
So, looking at the last 5 years leaves me thinking 2 things. Firstly, the January 2013 transfer window HAS to be an improvement on recent years. Hell, we’ve already made one permanent signing, and it’s the day after New Years Day. Secondly, we can’t let this be another missed opportunity. Despite the defeat at Forest, the feeling is that we are very much still in touch. Two or three quality signings, and we would have a real chance. Lets not forget, we currently sit only 2 points off a play off spot.
So it’s over to Messrs Warnock, Haigh and Patel now. Let’s hope when the window closes at the end of January, I’m not adding another depressing paragraph to this article![info]Reporter – Ian Wylie[/info]