Leeds United: Deadline-day deals ‘obscene’ says Mac

Leeds chief Brian McDermott will have been delighted by the return to action of Sam Byram.
Leeds chief Brian McDermott will have been delighted by the return to action of Sam Byram.
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Leeds United manager Brian McDermott explains why he will never be panicked into rash buys. Leon Wobschall reports.

For a considered, methodical, sensible manager like Brian McDermott, throwing money around with abandon on a manic Monday transfer deadline day is something that just would never sit easy with him.

Panic measures and impulsive transfer decisions have never been the Leeds United chief’s way throughout his management career, especially when negotiating the minefield that is the final day of the summer and winter transfer windows – when premiums on players can be high and value is often short.

Ahead of the deadline, McDermott may have been keen on landing a wing recruit to boost his attacking options – he still is. But every player has his value and paying what he considers to be over the odds, especially given that his transfer pot is not exactly brimming over at Leeds, was never likely to be his way.

United inquired about the availability of an experienced winger, believed to be Birmingham City’s Chris Burke, on Monday, but the asking price of £600,000 was deemed too prohibitive – with age and the fact the player could leave his club for nothing next summer being key factors.

Mindful that the emergency loan window opens on Sunday and lasts until November 25, the hullabaloo surrounding the race against the clock for clubs to bring in new signings before the door slammed shut at 11pm on Monday hardly seemed worth the hype, particularly for Championship clubs.

Diving in, for second-tier clubs at any rate, on deadline day can come with risks and with Premier League managers now finalising their 25-man squads after the completion of their incoming summer business, options could be just around the corner for patient Championship managers, a number of whom kept their powder dry on Monday like McDermott.

In contrast, many top-flight managers made last throws of dice with a certain amount of panic to push deals through.

McDermott said: “I watched people panicking around, making rash decisions. We spoke about things, but nobody went out and nobody came in. But the loan window soon opens again and we still have that option. We signed Scott Wootton and it was really important to get Ross McCormack’s deal done. That was big – as was Sam Byram coming back playing.

“We have to be very careful at this time of the season not to be rash. You can pay for that in the long term if you are.

“We’re trying to build something here. There’s been enough quick fixes.

“You have to respect the club’s money. They (owners) don’t know me well. But what I do and this is what anyone at Reading will tell you – probably to my detriment in a way – is that I completely and utterly respect the club’s money as far as being a manager is concerned.”

On Monday’s enquiry, he said: “I said to the owners that even if you were going to do it, it won’t be my advice to do a £600,000 deal for a 30-year-old at this level. That’s how people get in trouble.

“It’s got to make sense and be financially right as well as the right player. In eight months’ time, he’ll be a free transfer.”

Top-flight clubs spent around £140m on deadline day compared to £110m on the same day last year, with the late shopping spree taking the total splashed out in the summer transfer window to £630m – smashing the previous record of £500m in 2008.

Sky Sports viewers may have lapped up the late-night entertainment on TV, with the ubiquitous Jim White at the heart of it, but for McDermott, his real concern was with the exorbitant amount of money shelled out which he labelled as ‘obscene.’

On the deadline-day frenzy, he said: “It’s complete hype and the emergency window opens (for Championship clubs) soon if you want to do a deal. What happened on Monday was obscene. If you look at the money some clubs spent when some people probably cannot afford to go to a game, it’s absolutely obscene.

“There isn’t the money around in this league like there was. There is in the Premiership for everyone to see. I never thought I’d see the day when Arsenal would spend £42-million quid on a player, I just think that’s incredible.”

Anyone who cared to avoid all the hype and headed to Elland Road on Monday evening to watch United’s young development squad, including emerging home-grown talents such as Alex Mowatt and one who has already made the big breakthrough in Sam Byram, in action was probably afforded a heartening contrast to the feverish transfer ballyhoo.

United may not have made any additions on Monday, but the sight of Byram coming through his latest fitness examination in playing 65 minutes in the 2-1 win over Derby County, ensured the day finished on a real positive.

Given future Financial Fair Play regulations, nurturing your own players as opposed to just bringing them in has never assumed higher importance, which all at Leeds are aware of.

McDermott said: “Sam looks like he came through well and we’re pleased. He made the second goal and we’re absolutely delighted. We’re just crossing our fingers.

“If we can get Sam Byram back, how much would a Sam Byram cost you? We can look at that as a bonus as well, along with Alex Mowatt and Chris Dawson as these young lads are coming through.

“From from my point of view, you have to respect your own and the people at your football club. Because you want your own to come through as well. You have to try and give them chances.

“We’ve got some good young players coming through and that’s what we want and what Leeds have been renowned for over the years.

“It’s finding the right young players to come in and join the group.”