Transfer deadline day came and went for Leeds United without any sort of business occurring at Elland Road.
It capped off a disappointing month which had initially promised a lot. Arguably the Whites exited the window weaker than they went into it.
Here are five reasons why the January transfer window was a disappointment for Leeds:
1. It failed to build on the summer
There was genuine optimism at Elland Road when the August window closed, not least due to the nature of the business Leeds did in the summer. The acquisitions of Stuart Dallas and Chris Wood were sensible and required a certain amount of outlay. In the case of Wood, Leeds were signing a proven Championship striker, while Dallas was one of Brentford’s better players and was starting to show some real form. There were also a series of sensible additions around them, players who could be useful in the future like Jordan Botaka and Lee Erwin. In all, Leeds probably spent over £5 million in that one window. Compare and contrast.
2. There was no view of the long-term
What was notable about the summer was the way it gave Leeds a base on which to build. Players were brought in for the long-haul, even if Uwe Rosler was insistent promotion was unrealistic. In January there was too much of a focus on loan deals. Liam Bridcutt and Mustapha Carayol joined until the end of the season with no guarantee either move will turn into a permanent one in the summer. Given Leeds have little to play for between now and May, barring a cup run, it would have made sense to make additions that could have an impact next campaign. Of the three incomings, only Toumani Diagouraga will definitely be at Elland Road next year.
3. Steve Evans was openly unhappy with the squad
The most obvious indication that a club needs to do transfer business in a window is the head coach openly admitting his squad is not up to scratch. After a few weeks to analyse the players at his disposal, Steve Evans repeatedly insisted that the Whites had to make additions in January to bring the squad of players up to another level. That was a continued insistence, but there was little action. Instead, Evans has been forced to turn to out of favour players. Admittedly, that has led to Souleymane Doukara’s resurgence, but there are few others in the squad likely to have a similar impact.
4. The club lost Sam Byram but barely spent £3.7m.
That is the commonly accepted figure that Leeds received for selling Sam Byram to West Ham. £575,000. That is what Leeds paid for Toumani Diagouraga. Leeds’s net spend over the window was incredibly positive for the bank balance but failed to inspire much in the way of dreams. It was worrying because Steve Evans said that Byram’s transfer had failed to impact the amount of money available for deals. The 22-year-old was also a key player over December and January, and there is a sense the squad is now weaker at the end of the window than it was at the start.
5. Despite injury blows, policy did not change
Leeds went into the window with Chris Wood out injured but with a belief that the Kiwi striker would return imminently. It took until the game against Brentford on January 26 for him to start a match and he had to be withdrawn before the 20th minute after hurting his knee. That did not alter Leeds’s transfer outlook, despite the fact they repeatedly lost a key member of the team. Kyle Lafferty was the only long-term striking target that the Whites went back in for. Even then he was a loan. After Brentford Evans said: “People can see it. Sam went and we’re operating without Cooper, Wood and Berardi. They’re not all that far away but we don’t want to be down at the level of numbers we’ve got.” Leeds remain down at that level.