Jury's out on Jean-Kevin Augustin but status quo still fine for Leeds United's Premier League promotion push - David Prutton

I CAN SEE what head coach Marcelo Bielsa is saying about Leeds United’s striker search from a financial constraints point of view.

By David Prutton
Saturday, 8th February 2020, 6:00 am
Updated Saturday, 8th February 2020, 6:32 am
AGONY: Leeds United's no 9 Patrick Bamford reflects on another missed chance in last weekend's 1-0 loss at home to Wigan Athletic. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.
AGONY: Leeds United's no 9 Patrick Bamford reflects on another missed chance in last weekend's 1-0 loss at home to Wigan Athletic. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.

Bielsa has explained how it would have been impossible to bring in a striker who was ready to step straight into the side as they would have cost too much from a Financial Fair Play point of view.

Instead, it is possibly only a certain type of player in a certain type of condition that is available at that time of the season - such as someone like Jean-Kevin Augustin who has only started three league games in the last year.

It means it’s an intriguing place that Leeds now find themselves in.

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We are talking here about a striker in August who has got some big clubs on his CV but is this the time for experiments?

Obviously tried and tested does help and at this stage of the season it depends what is available out there but this is a team that is fighting for promotion to the Premier League.

If Augustin takes a month to get up to speed and then he comes back with Leeds in the same position and helps them over the line then it will be an absolute masterstroke.

But if he takes a month to get fit, doesn’t pull up any trees and Leeds are in the same position then it doesn’t have any real bearing on the season.

Marcelo is obviously frustrated with the situation, you could tell from his press conference on Thursday.

But if you are a fan and waiting for the news to trickle through of who is coming in and who is available, to hear in January that you have got a striker that is going to be a couple of weeks away from being ready to roll is quite strange I’d say.

Marcelo again talked a lot about Eddie Nketiah in his press conference and his Arsenal recall but Nketiah hasn’t got months and years to wait around to get into Leeds’ team.

With the greatest respect, it’s a team in the Championship and Eddie is at Arsenal so he might as well go and sit on Arsenal’s bench rather than Leeds’ bench.

But with Augustin the proof will be in the pudding and once he gets anywhere near the pitch in any particular fit state we will see what player they have got.

At this moment in time, whoever is saying he could be this and he could be that, nobody knows anything.

He could be a great signing, he could be a poor signing and we won’t know until he gets out on the pitch.

The jury is out and the jury is out with any player unless you bring a bona fide centre forward who has been playing in. Nahki Wells cost Bristol City around £5m.

He knows his way around the Championship and couldn’t Leeds have scraped around to get that type of deal done? I know it’s not small change but it’s not extortionate.

It’s a strange one that and now we will see what happens with Leeds at Nottingham Forest this evening.

We have seen them be their typical Jekyll and Hyde selves over the past couple of weeks, dominating possession, not converting chances and losing to a team they really should be beating in Wigan on the back of playing remarkably well in the second half of the midweek display against Millwall and showing real fighting character.

It will just be frustrating for Leeds fans of what they are and how they go about it.

Bielsa has already said that the adaptation period of previous new recruits has taken more than a month which is an awful long period of time in a season.

In life it’s not but there are seven games in February after which there will only be ten games left.

By that point, the real baulk of the season has gone and it’s about maintaining what they have done so far.

But maybe just maybe, as much as people have moaned about Patrick Bamford and what he can do and what he can’t do, he showed in the Millwall game what he can do and he showed in the Wigan game how frustrating he can be.

Maybe that’s just the way it’s going to be between now and the end of the season.

And I can still see Leeds winning automatic promotion, I absolutely can, the same as I can see West Brom still doing it.

But from what I have seen of Forest, they pose a threat, the same as Bristol City who have recruited well in getting Nahki in.

We have seen Fulham be good one week and not so good the next but you could say that about West Brom, Leeds, Fulham, Forest, Brentford, Bristol City, Preston and probably down to Swansea.

As they sit here now, it's a little bit of a squeaky bum situation and if it remains this way and we see the teams at the top taking points off each other and in indifferent form but it stays as it is then it wouldn't be a surprise. And that would be glorious from a Leeds point of view.

The gap between between second and third was at one stage 11 points and is now down to three.

But as long as it stays like that then quite obviously mathematically in a league position such as this, that will be enough.

Forest away will be tough and in terms of their main threats there is Joe Lolley and Matty Cash and considering he has been playing out of position or what we thought was out of position for most of the season, to suddenly get linked with AC Milan is pretty special.

There’s Lewis Grabban and it’s a case of what if but if Leeds had a centre forward who had scored 16 goals then it might be a different story at this moment in time.

It will be tough but I also saw Forest when we were there the other week against Luton and for 40 minutes they were sluggish and slow with no intensity to the game and Luton let them back in with an absolute gift of a goal.

Then suddenly in the second half they turned it on and they were away and home and hosed.

I can’t think that sort of start will be repeated against Leeds as fresh from becoming manager of the month, Sabri Lamouchi has done a great job and they will be a tough proposition.

The atmosphere should be absolutely electric and it’s set up for a great game.

I can see Leeds getting three points but I can also see Leeds getting turned over and it remains to be seen which incarnation of each team we get.

Nobody has a clue.