It seems pretty clear to me that Charlie Taylor is on his way out of Leeds United. It remains to be seen when he goes – now, in January or at the end of this season – but you don’t have to be a genius to realise that he’s coming to the end of the line.
History is repeating itself again. Whatever’s really going on behind the scenes, the fact is that this is another young player produced by the academy who’s running into the last year of his contract and seemingly about to leave. Leeds have had a bad habit of losing good players – Max Gradel, Robert Snodgrass, lads like that – for quite some time but the trend we’re seeing with homegrown players is much more recent.
On one hand I sympathise with clubs in the Championship because, in a financial sense, you don’t have many cards to play. Quite simply, any team in the Premier League will smash a contract offer from a team further down the league. They can smash it without breaking sweat. Lewis Cook will be earning considerably more money after his move to Bournemouth and if Taylor ends up in the top flight then he’ll be getting big dosh too. Leeds can push the boat out so far but richer sides have the power to sink you.
That said, I go back to something I’ve talked about many times: stability. This has been a more stable summer than others at Elland Road and while I don’t think the squad is as strong as it needs to be to have a real go in the Championship, it’s young, it’s fresh and there’s a good coaching team in place.
On the face of it, you could step back and call Leeds a stable club. But think about Taylor’s career here.
He first played under Simon Grayson. Since then another eight managers or head coaches have come through the door. Taylor has played for Neil Redfearn, Uwe Rosler, Steve Evans and now Garry Monk – four different bosses for someone who’s been a regular pick for 18 months.
No matter how you dress it up, that’s not good for your career or your development long term. Every change brings with it a new approach, new tactics and a new way of thinking.
You’re chopping things up constantly and you never really settle. It’s not the sort of environment where young players and people around them are going to stick with if other clubs want them.
Perhaps things are about to change at Leeds and perhaps Monk is someone they can hang their hat on for a good while longer than some of the managers who’ve been here before them. If that happens, I honestly think the club will be in a better position when it comes to retaining their best kids.
It’s good to see contract talks going on with Alex Mowatt and he’s quite a good example of what I’m talking about. Playing in his best position under Monk, and playing in the hope that Monk is here to stay, he might be quite inclined to sign a new deal.
And, if we’re being honest, he probably won’t draw the level of interest from the Premier League that Taylor will. But if we start going round in circles again, the enthusiasm and the willingness to sit tight is going to fall again. As a first port of call in contract talks, you have to give your most talented players a vision. Otherwise they’ll find it elsewhere.
The new season is almost upon us and my biggest wish for the next nine months, aside from the play-offs and all that, is that Monk is left in his job for the duration of it. Let the appointment play out naturally and let him have a proper shot at it. Leave him alone in the dodgy periods and stand by him when he needs backing from the top.
You can only go through so many people before it becomes apparent that the hiring and firing is doing no-one any good. I’d love to think that Leeds are about to go in a different direction.