David Prutton: Wolves fully entitled to play to their strengths
THE COMMENTS that Leeds United chairman Andrea Radrizzani made about the relationship between Wolves and agent Jorge Mendes being '˜unfair' and '˜not legal' were surprising.
So far, I think that the way Andrea has addressed issues within the club – financially – has been admirable. But there was what happened with Thomas Christiansen when Andrea came out and took responsibility for that but also threw Thomas under the bus at the same time.
That shows that he is not averse to coming out in public and making statements but if Wolves are operating within the boundaries set out by the EFL and English football, then that’s the way it goes.
I heard a great analogy the other day which was that you could be a Burton fan and say ‘we get X number of people through the door but Leeds get several times that so why are they using that to their advantage?’
It was a very strange time to come out and say what Andrea did, especially when Leeds have been woefully inconsistent after starting the season with designs on the top six.
But they have been nowhere near it from a consistency level and they don’t deserve to be in the top six at all.
The teams that are there have been consistently better over the course of the season and I felt it was a pertinent and accurate reaction from those fans who are saying ‘let’s just concentrate on our club and what’s happening on the pitch.’
You can talk about transfer targets and teams in and around the top of the division but you have to spend good money and more money not only on players but on wages.
That’s just the way it is and you can’t just keep relying on finding hidden European gems. The chance of that happening once in a blue moon is there but on the other hand what we have seen is that consistent Championship contenders have spent big money on players and wages.
I know that the Derby chairman Melvyn Morris has also waded into the debate about Wolves and their relationship with Mendes too, but we know that Derby pay a lot of money to their players. It just smacks of a little bit of envy coming from one club to another.
What you have to ask yourself is why didn’t this Fosun group look at Leeds United? Why didn’t Jorge Mendes look at Leeds United? Why didn’t Nuno Espirito Santo get touted for Leeds United? Why aren’t Leeds in a position where someone comes in and says ‘look, there’s a load of money and I have got ties to some of the best players around Europe that I can bring in to Leeds who will play well for Leeds and get Leeds promoted’. That’s the question – not why are Wolves are doing it.
It’s not necessarily about spending money for money’s sake. But it’s about attracting players of the standard that will push you up to the top six and beyond. Give the manager what he wants and what he asks for in a transfer window and in the course of the off-season because you look at where they are now and the prospect of them getting into the top six is quite a long shot.
You have to make your club attractive from an ambition point of view and from a progression point of view and if that means a mix of older and younger players then so be it.
And so be it if that means taking a punt on younger players or spending a fair bit of money to acquire seasoned Championship professionals to steer the club in the right direction because this season does have the feel again of another transitional season.
Leeds are obviously using a director of football in Victor Orta to source players and that can work if Orta and head coach Paul Heckingbottom work together.
It works if Paul gets the chance to tell Victor exactly who he wants and what he wants and you can go and find that type of player.
This structure seems to be very much the way football is heading and I think Paul will appreciate the help, especially after his experience at Barnsley where he was doing a little bit of everything. It means he can concentrate on the football pitch and the training pitch and the players but that has obviously got to dovetail in with having the players that he wants. I have spoken to managers at clubs where this system has worked and that’s because there has been really positive and open lines of communication between the manager and the man in charge of recruitment if you like.
It can work but you have to take each instance on its own merits but the proof is in the pudding at this moment in time. Until a high percentage of the players that you have brought in are actually deemed a success then I think that is another aspect of the club that needs to be addressed.