Simon Grayson insisted today that Leeds United were right to allow their transfer dealings to run into the emergency loan window, despite admitting to frustration in his attempt to sign new players.
Grayson bemoaned the collapse of a number of potential deals as another week of inquiries edged towards an unsuccessful end, but United’s manager said he did not regret his decision to make only two significant signings in January.
Leeds negotiated a permanent transfer with central defender Andy O’Brien and agreed to retain left-back George McCartney on loan from Sunderland, but the club’s failure to increase their midfield ranks before February 1 has come under scrutiny after a mixed set of Championship results last month.
Grayson is working to improve that area of his squad and the Leeds boss has been linked with Birmingham City’s Jordon Mutch and Aston Villa’s Barry Bannan. United monitored Manchester City midfielder Michael Johnson last month but are understood to hold concerns about Johnson’s match fitness.
The club, meanwhile, took an interest in Blackpool’s Keith Southern in the final hours of the January window but were unable to conclude a deal. Southern has since featured in the first team at Bloomfield Road.
Grayson repeated claims from his chairman, Ken Bates, that three proposed emergency loans had fallen through recently due to the players’ parent clubs reneging on provisional deals, but he said a dearth of available talent in January was a valid reason for the lack of incoming signings at Elland Road.
“It was difficult in January,” Grayson said. “If you look at the Premier League, there are six or eight teams trying to get into the Europa League and 10 teams who could still go down. Every manager wants to keep players around to change things when required. There weren’t any personnel available to us who we missed out on and who went to other clubs.
“Even if you look at the players who’ve been allowed out on loan since the end of January, there’s nobody there who we thought would really benefit us as a club.
“I thought we’d have a player (midfielder) in on loan by now but circumstances have changed.
“We’d agreed deals for Premier League players to come here but at the last minute they were taken away from us. Those players are now playing in the first team (for their parent clubs).
“That’s the difficult part of the loan market. It’s frustrating for myself and frustrating for the fans.
“It’s just a case of being patient and waiting for the right players to become available.”
United have made one loan signing since the end of January, recruiting right-back Eric Lichaj for a month from Aston Villa, but Grayson still intends to complete further transfers before the Football League’s emergency window shuts on March 24.
“I’m still making calls and I’m sure certain managers are fed up of me ringing them,” he said.
“They’ll see my number come up and press the ignore sign – as I’ve done to managers chasing my players in the past. But I’d like to think we’ll have someone before that deadline.”