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, 13:03

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

@OReillySport: Was just wondering how you broke into sports journalism and what you’d say the best avenues are for it?

The University of Sheffield Journalism Studies degree, finding a niche that I could fill to gain experience (Sheffield Steelers ice hockey coverage for Hallam FM and Look Local Newspaper) and being in the right place at the right time. If that kind of degree isn’t an option there are intensive NCTJ accredited courses where you can pick up the necessary qualifications. And I still swear by shorthand as a vital skill. Mostly, if you want to be a writer then write, start a blog, make a habit of writing and try to improve. Read lots of good writers. If you want to broadcast, start a YouTube channel or a podcast. Show employers that you can do the job.

@Adam_Kelly1996: I don’t suppose you have any update on Forshaw? Getting quite worrying now given the length of time he’s been injured.

Adam Forshaw has not played football in a very long time. There have been positive updates along the way where he was very close to rejoining full training and then all has gone quiet again, suggesting setbacks. You do wonder if he was at another club, where murderball was not a requirement and the intensity of the head coach’s style of play was not so demanding, might he have been able to ease back into things or play without training, as some players have been known to do. Ultimately you can only keep your fingers crossed that he makes it back. I can’t imagine there is anyone more frustrated than Forshaw himself, given what he’s been through. It would be a fantastic story if we were able to report his return.

@Tommy__Pace: What would be your LUFC line up be given all players are fully fit?

Good question. I don’t feel like I’ve seen anywhere near enough of Diego Llorente to be able to put him in ahead of Koch or Cooper. I think Rodrigo has suffered from that spell out of the team with Covid-19 and is still adapting to Bielsaball and the number 10 role, but some of his performances have shown a player with vision and real quality. I’d stick with him. Pablo Hernandez deserves far, far more than a cameo role but to be brutal, he’s not the future for Leeds United, someone else has to be. The rest more or less picks itself, doesn’t it?

Illan Meslier, Luke Ayling, Stuart Dallas, Robin Koch, Liam Cooper, Kalvin Phillips, Mateusz Klich, Rodrigo, Raphinha, Jack Harrison, Patrick Bamford.

@Peteryeates4: Transfers graham? Where are we at, will we do any business, McGurk, Sibley, Pulgar?

I don’t see any business happening this month. Sean McGurk at Wigan Athletic is a player they have tracked, one they like but the price would have to be very right for it to happen this month, given his contract is up in the summer. Louie Sibley is another whose name has definitely appeared on a list but I’d be surprised (pleasantly) if that one was to happen any time soon. He was outrageously good against an admittedly below par 23s when I went to watch them at Loughborough. Pulgar would be first team business and we’re not expecting any of that.

@aeph24: Do the club regret not going after Eze following the summer links?

Eberechi Eze is a wonderful player, so good to watch. I’ve no doubt Leeds would have liked to have got close to that one, as would many others, but he had his heart set on a London move by all accounts and Crystal Palace did a good job of selling him their vision. It’s not always about a lack of desire or a lack of action on a club’s part when they miss out on a signing, he has to want the move in the first place.

@tomwpw: Obviously we want Bielsa to stay forever, but who do you think comes in next, surely needs to be someone in the same mould? How many points do you think we need this year, I think five wins and we are there. Can I have a Yorkshire Evening Post mug?

Three questions, greedy. I could see Marcelo Bielsa staying beyond this season. Perhaps that’s just my feeling that a reunion between him and the fans has to happen in the Premier League. As for who is next, I’m sure Victor Orta has a list. I’m not sure there is anyone in the same mould as Bielsa and I’m also not sure that would be strictly necessary. As long as the next manager has a playing style that gets the most out of the players they inherit and is not a downgrade, in terms of entertainment for the fans, there will be plenty of suitable candidates. Picking a name out of no where, someone like Steven Gerrard who could handle the pressure of managing such a massive club and has shown promise in his first job, might be considered. Carlos Corberan will obviously be a name on many lips but I think he has a lot to do at Huddersfield to make himself the one everyone really wants at Leeds, when the time comes. 

As for points, I think five wins would do it. It’s not really the mindset you’d want from the players and I doubt very much if they think like that. Bielsa certainly won’t be thinking like that. The main comfort for Leeds is how many teams are undeniably poorer tham them this season.

If there are YEP mugs going around I’d like one first, thanks all the same.

@JKButterfield: What’s your favourite football game you’ve ever been to at any level?

Northern Ireland at home to the Republic of Ireland in 1993. As a 10-year-old I had some awareness of the tension around the fixture but none of that mattered to me when Jimmy Quinn scored a beautiful volley to put Northern Ireland ahead. There will have been songs sung that don’t belong anywhere near a football ground but I mostly remember fans singing ‘There’s only one Billy Bingham’ as we left the stadium.

At club level, Worksop Town’s 5-4 win over Mickleover Sports was terrific. Jamie Jackson, half brother of former England international Kevin Davies, got the winner if memory serves.

Chesterfield’s 3-3 draw with Ebbsfleet was incredible. The Spireites came back from 3-0 down, defender Will Evans got a 95th minute equaliser and then had to go in goal when the goalkeeper Callum Burton was sent off for a punch. Evans saved the resulting penalty. 

Leeds’ 5-4 win at Birmingham City was similarly bonkers and made all the more enjoyable by Joe Urquhart’s distress as he attempted to write the on-the-whistle match report.

@Eggchipsn: Which member of the Leeds back room staff either at playing or board level has made the biggest positive impression on you? (Except Mr Bielsa)

Victor Orta is an interesting character. Talking about football with him is fascinating. The scouting database he has got at Leeds United is something I would dearly love to have access to for a day. I did get a glimpse when he showed me a couple of reports in his office last January, including one on Robin Koch. His antics on matchdays take all the headlines but his obsession with player knowledge is what interests me most.

@Dangerous_GK: Who has tested positive at the club since the pandemic?

We know there have been a number of cases at Leeds, for players and staff members. It’s no different to the situation at every club. But since the very beginning Leeds have had a policy of not commenting on the matter. Obviously when a player like Rodrigo tests positive and has to miss international duty, something needs to be said. If you look at his case and more recently Illan Meslier’s absence, the protocol seems to be that the player himself puts something out on social media. 

Marcelo Bielsa has made it clear he cannot and will not discuss Covid-19 cases in his squad, due to what he referred to as a rule. I took that to mean a club-set policy.

If a key player gets it, I suspect we’ll always be told in some way, shape or form. If a player who isn’t expected to be in the matchday squad or the starting line-up contracts the virus, is there any real benefit to anyone in making it known, as long as everyone at Leeds is doing everything they can to obey the guidelines? Probably not.

@LeedsUnited_MAD: Do you think it was always Bielsa’s intention to give everyone who got the club promoted a chance this season and then review again once our PL safety has been assured?

I don’t think it was so much about giving them a chance, I think it’s more that he trusts them as players to be able to carry out his plan. Bielsa has faith in the likes of Alioski, so he will continue to use them in the Premier League as he did in the Championship.

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