The situation obtaining at Elland Road at the minute is comparable to a festering sore. It needs urgent attention before it deteriorates any further.

Far be it from me to ring alarm bells prematurely, but it is clear for all to see that Leeds United are a club in turmoil. Perhaps the more measured observers among us would call it ‘low-key turmoil’, but turmoil nonetheless.

Observations from St Andrews

Leeds United’s tentative start to the Championship campaign continued with a 1-0 defeat at Birmingham City on Saturday, making it a paltry return of one point from a possible six so far this early term.

It was more that just a defeat on the pitch, but a result symptomatic of a much bigger problem at the club.

The build-up and post-match narrative was dominated by events off the pitch, particularly the uncertainty over players and what is turning out to be a nightmarish and shambolic transfer window.

Out on the pitch at St Andrew’s, the Whites were on course to claim a share of the spoils their lacklustre display barely merited, only to concede a late penalty and come away empty-handed. Just as well, because in all honesty any reward from that tie would just have papered over the cracks.

The cruel luck at Birmingham mirrored Leeds United’s efforts in the transfer market. Just like the point they thought they had in the bag, Leeds missed out on a player who had all but joined the club. Max Aarons looked set to sign from Norwich City until Bournemouth hijacked the deal at the last minute. For Leeds fans it was the kind of heartbreak a bride suffers after being left standing at the altar by a runaway groom hand-in-hand with his other lover.

As for the squad for the Blues clash, it was woefully short on numbers and creative quality, but even more disturbingly, it was a squad shorn of a couple of want-away players.

Numbers don’t lie

At the time of writing, more than a dozen players had left Leeds United since relegation, on loan and permanent transfers. Of those that remain at the club, two are behaving mutinously and refusing to play. Another is looking to leave after triggering his relegation clause.

So, effectively the Leeds United squad is 16 players poorer and down to bare bones. Add to the mix the likes of Patrick Bamford, Liam Cooper, Stuart Dallas who are all occupying the treatment room. To say the situation is dire is an understatement.

To compensate for the losses, the club has brought in four players; goalkeeper Karl Darlow, fullback Sam Byram and Wales international teammates Ethan Ampadu and Joe Rodon.

The new additions are all honest professionals, but the squad remains desperately thin and overly reliant on fledglings.

The want-aways

Wilfried Gnonto, after ruling himself out of the win over Shrewsbury Town, declared himself mentally unfit to play against Birmingham City.

The Italy international was joined in self-imposed exile by Luis Sinisterra for the trip to Birmingham City. Sinisterra is also reportedly looking to leave the club.

As if being gazumped by Bournemouth for Max Aarons at the last minute was not enough, Leeds United lost Jack Harrison to Everton around the same time. Talk about a double whammy!

Elland Road is hemorrhaging players, and very little is being done to stem the flow. There appears to be a worrying absence of leadership restricted to issuing statements about player contracts and a determination to enforce them.

The players’ mutinous behavior will not sit well with the fans. Leeds United fans, like all football fans, demand loyalty and effort in that order.

If Sinisterra and Gnonto both end up staying put, then they will have a lot of atoning to do. Only consistently good performances will expunge their indiscretions. The minute they have mildly lukewarm displays, as all players often do, fans will be on their backs and questioning their commitment to the cause. Unfortunately, the players have invited the scrutiny to themselves.

It’s a results business

Daniel Farke has done a good job of shielding the owners to date, suggesting the lack of new players is not down to lack of effort, but the need to identify the right calibre of players. The club must therefore resist the temptation to make panic buys, he says.

Fair enough. But how long before the fans turn on the manager?

Farke will be judged on results. Even with the modest resources as at his disposal, fans expect his team to eke out results and show some fighting spirit. A negative result against West Brom on Friday will put the cat among the pigeons.

My biggest fear is that Farke will catch the strays of anger directed at want-away players and owners who seem averse to spending in the transfer market. Football is a results business, and the manager is first to pay the price for poor returns on the pitch.

Another plausible scenario would see Farke leave of his own volition after realizing that he can’t turn water into wine.

The natives are restless

At the moment, every drop of confidence is being drained out of the club, and the fans are getting jittery. The situation has been authored by a seemingly overly cautious hierarchy reluctant to spend on new players and unsure of how to navigate the post-relegation transition.

The natives are getting restless. Only a significant investment in the playing squad and positive results on the pitch will appease them.


I'm Barrie Jarrett, born in Leeds, lived over a decade in South Africa, CEO And Co Founder of Planet Sport Limited and Planet Bet Limited.

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