I was feeling fairly happy about the way pre-season was going at the end of last week. Bielsa had been confirmed for a second season some time ago and recruitment was well underway. Ben White had been signed to provide more cover in defence, Jack Harrison had re-signed for a second season and winger Helder Costa had been signed in a £15m deal, a bit of a coup for the Whites. Yes, Jack Clarke had been sold to Spurs but we expected at least one player to leave this summer to finance and incomings and at least he has returned on loan for the season.
But this weekend all hell broke loose in typical Leeds fashion. Firstly, the Pontus Jansson situation erupted, rumours of a fall-out have been rife this summer with Jansson reportedly told not to report back to Thorp Arch until the 12th July, after everyone else has departed for Australia. As such he has found himself training with Malmo. Saturday afternoon the prospect of a move to Brentford for £5.5m emerged and social media went into meltdown. The best defender in the Championship or a bad apple in the dressing room? Lines were drawn, sides were taken, Noel Wheelan took a load of abuse.
Then came news in the press of interest in Kemar Roofe from Glasgow Rangers, a £5million swoop if they cash in on Alfredo Morelos the Scottish Sun reported. Leeds fans looked for consolation but Adam Pope was not forthcoming saying the rumour ‘definitely has legs’. Perhaps Jim White brought more comforting news advising the speculation was down to ‘agent talk’ and Leeds had had no approaches for the player. It was three years to the day since Roofe signed for Leeds and with only a year left on his contract and no news on contract negotiations perhaps a move away isn’t such a far fetched idea? Let’s hope not.
This summer was supposed to be about consolidating on last seasons result and making the improvements required to see us over the line next season. The signing of Costa was a big statement but if Jansson and Roofe are allowed to leave with no proven replacements brought in we will be going into the season a lot weaker than last season both up front and defensively. With the very real prospect of their best defender and last season’s top scorer leaving it’s no wonder fans are distraught and questioning the owners motives. We came so close last season, have we bottled next season already with summer not yet over?
If there is something stopping me from hitting the panic button just yet it’s the fact that Bielsa is still here. He didn’t have to stay for a second season but the fact that he has indicates there must have been some assurances given. He is not one to hang around if he feels his demands are not being met and his backing from the owners not one hundred percent. Both Radrizzani and Orta must have discussed this season in depth and agreed plans with Bielsa, if players are moved on it must be with Beilsas backing. You would hope that any decisions are motivated by football not finances, especially given the relatively low fees being discussed for Jansson and Roofe.
I’m holding out for Victor Orta to pull some top-quality replacements out if the hat next week. If we board that plane for Australia with a weaker squad than last season we will have squandered our chance to push on for promotion last season and the fans will be rightly upset and if we sell Phillips there will be riots.
Leeds, Leeds are falling apart again?