STEPHEN WARNOCK is well placed to comment on the merits of left-backs and indeed what it takes to be a left-back at Leeds.
A career that took in 540 appearances in the Football League featured 67 outings for the left-back with the Whites.
Three and a half years after his departure, the 36-year-old will be running the rule over Marcelo Bielsa’s new-look United this season as a studio expert for Quest’s English Football League highlights.
Knowing exactly what it takes to excel in the position, Warnock expects rave reviews of new Whites left-back recruit Barry Douglas, described as “one of the buys of the summer” by the former incumbent of the same position.
Five and a half years have now passed since Warnock signed for Neil Warnock’s Leeds from Aston Villa on the January transfer deadline day of 2013.
The left-back went on to become United’s captain and only wishes his time at Elland Road could have extended beyond two years.
It was a massive honour to play for Leeds and to captain them especially.Stephen Warnock
The defender eventually left for Derby County in January 2015 with Charlie Taylor eventually then becoming first-choice left-back and the position is one in which United have had their troubles in since Taylor’s move to Burnley, notwithstanding the huge promise shown by youngster Tom Pearce at the back end of last season. But as he prepares to witness United’s forthcoming season in a rather different role as a TV pundit, Warnock has been mightily impressed with the capture of last season’s Championship winning left-back at Wolves in Douglas whom Warnock believes will prove a snip at just £3m.
“I think he’s brilliant,” Warnock told the YEP. “I can’t believe they have got him if I’m being honest. Hopefully it will be one of the buys of the season at that price. He was up there with the most chances created and assists last season for Wolves and for Wolves to pass him over for £3m is just incredible. It’s a great buy because the left-sided players these days are very difficult to find, especially of the quality of him. I am sure he will be a fans’ favourite straight away with the way he plays because he is an exciting talent.”
Douglas joined from Wolves last Saturday as part of a whirlwind few day days for arrivals at Elland Road.
Winger Jack Harrison arrived on a season-long loan from Manchester City on Monday with striker Patrick Bamford signing from Middlesbrough the following day for £7m. And Warnock is now urging Leeds to sign another centre-back to provide both cover and competition for Pontus Jansson and Liam Cooper.
“You always need strength in that area,” said Warnock. “We know Pontus is prone to a yellow card here and there and Coops has had his fair share of red cards as well so they both play on the edge which is a great way to play as well because they wear their heart on their sleeve and they give their all.
“But you need cover there and especially at this level you need to go out and buy a quality one. It’s just very difficult when you are bringing a player in to tell him he’s back-up but then if you are at Leeds United and you want to be fighting to be top of the league then you are going to have to be fighting for your place. That’s the way it should be, you should accept that challenge and enjoy that challenge to be at a club like Leeds.”
It is a challenge Warnock relished when he signed shortly before Massimo Cellino took over at Elland Road. Warnock subsequently had five different managers at Leeds in Neil Warnock, Brian McDermott, David Hockaday, Darko Milanic and Neil Redfearn.
The footballer also has ten former football clubs but there is no denying there will always be a particular soft spot for Leeds.
“It was a massive honour to play for Leeds and to captain them especially,” said Ormskirk-based Warnock, who hopes to go into management longer term. “I didn’t really want to leave Leeds, it was forced upon me a little bit with the previous owner and I think if he’d moved on quicker, I would have still been at the club for a good number of years.
“I loved my time at Leeds and that’s just the disappointing side of the way things went.
“I have very fond memories of there and hopefully I look forward to coming back in the future and working at the club either in a media capacity or coaching or whatever it may be and then things that just might crop up in the future.”
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