Sell to buy?
11 August ~ Two wins in a week, a 33,000-plus opening-day attendance and no Ken Bates at Elland Road for the first time in over eight years we might actually be looking forward to today's encounter with play-off contenders Leicester with some confidence. What the opening salvos of the season have shown us is that we once again look like a force going forward (racking up four goals in two games), yet the defensive frailties exposed over the last few seasons remain, despite manager Brian McDermott having a full pre-season to iron out such issues.
With limited funds at his disposal McDermott still managed to have a productive summer of transfer activity, ruthlessly cutting adrift Steve Morison, who went back to his old club Millwall on loan, and replacing him with the younger statuesque striker Matt Smith from Oldham. He also added Luke Murphy from Crewe, Reading stalwart Noel Hunt and gave a lot of game time in pre-season friendlies to the talented youngster Dominic Poleon.
But although these attacking acquisitions have undoubtedly added much-needed quality and depth to the squad, McDermott has seemingly failed to address lingering fundamental issues with the back four. Naive defending cost the club countless points last season, ruining any realistic ambitions that former manager Neil Warnock might have had about squeezing into one of the play-off places.
And although talented youngsters Tom Lees and Sam Byram notched up a lot of games over the last 12 months, gaining valuable experience, the lack of a commanding presence in the centre of the defence to calm young heads towards the end of matches is something that needs to be urgently addressed before the transfer window closes.
So far, McDermott has managed to hang onto prized assets Byram, who has attracted interest from a host of Premier League clubs, and Ross McCormack – the club has reportedly turned down two bids from rival Championship clubs for the striker. But if the rumours are true that the manager needs to sell before he can buy, McDermott needs to consider whether it’s worth cashing in on one of the club’s star players to secure a defender with proven experience at this level who is capable of shoring up the gaping gaps at the back. Simon Creasey