Answers to Leeds United's big questions - January transfers, Sean McGurk, Joe Gelhardt, loan moves, Jay-Roy Grot and Adam Forshaw

The big question on the lips of Leeds United supporters is simple - will the Whites make any moves in the January transfer window?

By Graham Smyth
Wednesday, 20th January 2021, 3:49 pm
HAPPIER TIMES - Leeds United's battering of West Brom feels a long time ago, thanks to defeats at Spurs, Crawley and at home to Brighton. Pic: Getty
HAPPIER TIMES - Leeds United's battering of West Brom feels a long time ago, thanks to defeats at Spurs, Crawley and at home to Brighton. Pic: Getty

That, and the status of midfielder Adam Forshaw, were the two most common subjects in today's Q and A, along with some more left-field topics.

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You can find our answers to those and 41 other questions in our blog, below.

Leeds United Q and A

Last updated: Wednesday, 20 January, 2021, 12:09

  • A quiet transfer window for Leeds
  • Midfield concerns
  • Diego Llorente’s return
  • Loan moves

@MrROSSii1990: Leeds in for Pulgar?

We were told it would be a quiet window before it began, reaffirming what we suspected given the obvious drawbacks of January signings for a Marcelo Bielsa set-up and Victor Orta’s dislike of this market, and we continue to be told it is and will be quiet. We’re not expecting Erick Pulgar to arrive in January, or anyone really in terms of first team business. Leeds are often linked with many players and some of those links will have a grain of truth deep down, because the Whites have perhaps asked a question about a player - Orta is very much alive to the fact that he must be ready to react if a crisis presents itself before the deadline - but don’t get your hopes up for January arrivals. 

Of course a midfielder is the one thing many would think Leeds need. The continued absence of Adam Forshaw, a dip in the form of Mateusz Klich and the failure to bring in back up in the summer make that an obvious talking point. But Bielsa likes Jamie Shackleton and he has full faith in Klich. I wrote recently that the only thing you could ever really worry about with this Leeds team is when the chances dry up. That’s why the Brighton game was cause for alarm. If a lack of creativity were to suddenly become a trend then worry would justifiably become panic. We’re certainly not at that stage. I expect Klich to bounce back against Newcastle.

@robyncollinsonx: Do you think there is any pros of the fans not being allowed at ER?

It’s an interesting one. I suspect it’s easier for some players, when their mistakes are not met by the collective anguished groans of tens of thousands of people. Stuart Dallas says it doesn’t affect his performance, playing in front of fans or behind closed doors, but I doubt that’s the case for everyone. What we’re not likely to see is a player admitting he finds it easier, playing without supporters present, given the backlash he might receive and the fact that fans will one day return. If you were a goalkeeper guilty of a bad error, that buzz of nerves every time a cross comes in or the ball gets passed back to you cannot be helpful, so that might be one pro. A striker guilty of a bad miss might be able to refocus much more quickly without the response from a crowd. When this generation retire we might get some admissions from players who quite enjoyed playing in an empty ground. For others it will hampering them, because they feed off the energy from the stands. 

For journalists, there are no real pros, grounds are largely soulless. Being able to hear Marcelo Bielsa has been nice, but I’d trade it in a heartbeat for a full stadium and some atmosphere.

@StyleLufc: Leeds player of the season so far ?

Good question. Before Mateusz Klich’s little spell of not quite hitting his usual standards, I was very impressed with how he’d adapted to the step up, creating so many chances and showing himself to be every bit as much as an athlete as the top names. Given the dips that most players have experienced, even just for a game or two, I’m not sure there’s a candidate to quite match Patrick Bamford. His impact has been unquestionable, thanks to a goalscoring efficiency that would have brought 30 to 40 goals in the Championship. It’s nice to see, because he had far more than his fair share of critics last season. 

Beyond Bamford, I’ve really enjoyed watching Raphinha and I suspect that by the end of the campaign he will be challenging for the awards. His movement off the ball is terrific, his touch is first class and he’s a nightmare for opposition defences. Never stops running either, which helps when you play for this team.

@JoeWOCraven: Besides CM and LB, where do you want to see us invest and improve?

I wrote about this last week in the YEP, enlisting the help of smarterscout. I’ve embedded that piece in this post. For me they need a goalkeeper to provide competition for Illan Meslier and to clear the air, somewhat. Kiko Casilla is a divisive figure, he has critics for on-field and off-field reasons and does not inspire confidence among the fanbase. It would surely be easier for all parties if he moved on, although finding a club to take on his sizeable contract, which runs to 2023, will not be easy. Marcelo Bielsa clearly rates him and continues to back him, so don’t be surprised if he stays for next season. I’d agree that they need to bolster the midfield and the left-back position, and bring in another centre forward. But all of this can and likely will wait until the summer.

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@lambo1903: How big of a difference is it doing match updates in an empty stadium? Do you feel that it is more relaxed with no crowd? Or that there is more pressure on you for more constant updates given nobody is there?

For several games I found I wasn’t ‘switched on’ and fully prepared, because the time between arrival and kick-off had passed me by without the natural build up of noise and atmosphere that signals the approach of 3pm. I don’t like empty stadiums, but the football is fantastic to watch and we’ve seen some memorable performances. There is always a thought in the back of your mind that it would be so much better with packed stands - think Villa away or Newcastle at home. The responsibility to provide updates feels greater, however, because everyone else is at home. You’re well aware that almost everyone is watching the game somehow but you want to try and bring a sense of what’s happening in the ground that the cameras don’t see.

@dewhirstjack1: What has been your most enjoyable experience so far whilst working at the YEP?

My first Leeds game, at Bristol City, was a great experience. Pablo Hernandez’ goal was a little like a light being turned on, a realisation of the quality of football I was about to experience, as a job. Games are the highlight and the reason any of us do this job, I think. I enjoyed Barnsley away, Arsenal away in the FA Cup and Huddersfield at home has taken on special meaning as the last game when fans were present. Being there to witness Marcelo Bielsa lift the Championship trophy was great, obviously, and although it was a controversial moment, it was hard not to feel a buzz when the team went outside onto the open top bus, purely because of the raw emotion in the Leeds fans who had gathered and the players who deserved that acclaim. It was such a shame it had to play out the way it did, however.

@AbrahamsDavey: Hi Graham hope you are surviving through lockdown. What made you want to be a football journalist? Was this always your chosen career path? Or was there something else you really wanted to do? Stay safe and thanks for the hard work.

I loved writing about football at primary school - reports about games I played in, reports on fictional games I dreamed up between Rangers and, most often, Marseille, in which Ally McCoist would inevitably score a hat-trick of screamers. I might not have decided at that age I wanted to be a journalist but it became an obvious choice of career path. It was a dream job when I was writing about Worksop Town and still is today.

@tinyfield33: Do you think that Klich’s recent downfall in performance is tiredness or lack of support from Rodrigo? I feel that when Pablo is back in the team he plays more freely? I’ve admired Klich from day one and was ridiculed for it but need him to continue to pull through for me here!

I think Klich would be the first to admit he hasn’t been hitting the heights he’s evidently capable of. I don’t think tiredness is a factor - he was given a break when Leeds went to Crawley and still seemed to be running pretty freely against Brighton, albeit without making much of an impact. Rodrigo struggled on Saturday, so did Pascal Struijk and that needs to be taken into account. When Kalvin Phillips plays he gets Leeds moving forward from deep and Klich obviously benefits from that. Pablo Hernandez pulls the strings when he plays, in a way Rodrigo hasn’t yet mastered, so that probably helps Klich too.  Brighton did a job on Leeds in the middle of the park. Goals have dried up for Klich and he’s probably in that horrible place of wanting to contribute so badly that he tries too hard when chances come his way. But you don’t become a bad player overnight. Newcastle might just be the perfect game to get him firing again.

@robbiggins_: Will there be a boy born that can swim faster than a shark?

Not as long as the shortfin mako shark is around Rob, no. I’d back Jack Harrison, Ian Poveda, Helder Costa and Raphinha to run faster than many sharks can swim, however. And that’s the real quiz.

@Gribbo_: Joe Geldhart injured?

Not as far as we’re aware and we did ask the question this week. His 23s absence this week wasn’t Covid-19 related either. We have been hearing good things about him since he arrived, and seeing good things. There are no suggestions of any obvious issues, so hopefully he’s back in the side very soon. He and Sam Greenwood look like players who could justify the excitement around them.

I would be reassured by Marcelo Bielsa’s latest utterance when it comes to Gelhardt: “With respect to the young players, Jenkins and Casey and Greenwood, they are in an under 23 team that has been growing and been shining, they are players who can be submitted to some bigger challenges than the under 23s games, and there was a lot of expectations that these players could have minutes as well as Cresswell and Gelhardt because they have been playing well to deserve minutes.”

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