Danny Mills: Leeds United must stand by their guns in explosive transfer window

Ross McCormack.
Ross McCormack.
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Leeds United have a habit of relying on one goalscorer going back a few years.

For a long time it was Jermaine Beckford and after him Luciano Becchio. Now it’s Ross McCormack’s turn to put the chances away week after week.

It would benefit Leeds to have someone else who could share McCormack’s load and chip in when he has his off-days but the way he’s playing, I’d be more concerned about the possibility of fresh offers coming in for him in January.

Leeds were able to fight off Middlesbrough in the summer and the way things are going for them and Brian McDermott, they’re in a strong enough position to deal with approaches from most clubs in the Championship.

What worries me is that a lower-end Premier League side is going to look at someone with 15 goals to his name by the start of December and decide that he’s worth a punt for the second half of the season.

There are managers in that division who are crying out for reliable strikers and I think we’re all agreed that McCormack has the ability to play at that level.

So whatever Leeds are planning for January, nothing is more important than keeping him at Elland Road. I accept that he signed a four-year contract in August and that might look like a ball and chain but all a long deal does these days is give a player security and inflate their value.

We’ve seen before that the Premier League is a strong draw for players at Leeds. Norwich City have raided their squad time and again, offering top-flight football and increased wages. It’s pretty tempting when the deal’s on the table.

You get the feeling that McCormack is very loyal to Leeds and wants to stick around for the long term but January is a time when clubs in the Premier League start thinking seriously about relegation and get a bit twitchy. The reason fees are excessive in the winter window is because managers look at their circumstances and get the urge to take a bit of a risk.

I don’t think any of us want to see Leeds gambling stupidly but given the Championship table, I think the time’s right for telling additions to the squad.

To my mind the best time to strengthen is when you’re in a position of strength. It’s like Arsenal at the top of the Premier League. If they get to the turn of the year at the top of the table, I fully expect them to push the boat out and try to shore up a trophy they’re desperate to win.

Leeds are seventh in the Championship after 18 games and they’re pretty well-placed for the second half of the term.

If they were halfway down the table or 12 points adrift of the play-offs then I’d understand if Brian McDermott or the board were questioning the sense in investing straight away in expensive players. In those circumstances, there’d be no guarantee that expensive players would want to come to Leeds anyway.

But as it is, they’ve got an opportunity and I’d love to see two additions next month – another goalscorer who can help McCormack out and a top-class creative player in midfield, a natural number 10 if you like. I’m not pretending that these players are easy to come by or that they’d come cheap.

It might be that to find them, McDermott needs to take a bit of a chance on lads from the lower leagues. But he’s gone down that route plenty of times before and increasingly it’s the best way of finding gifted footballers who don’t cost the earth. And it could make a huge difference.

I’m not talking about squad players because Leeds have got enough of those. I’m talking about guys who would sign on a Friday morning and start the next day.

You almost feel like the club are through the first stage of McDermott’s plan and now’s the time to kick on. That’s what the best or more ambitious clubs do – strike while the iron is hot. Manchester United used to follow up every title success by adding to their squad big-time.

The other trait of good clubs, of course, is that they keep their best players.

To my mind there’s a real danger of interest in McCormack developing next month but Leeds need to stand firm against all of it. I’m not saying they’re a one-man team but where would they be without McCormack’s goals? None of us want to find out.

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