Leeds United: It’s a risky business bringing foreign players to English football – Ritchie

Marco Silvestri.
Marco Silvestri.
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Former Leeds star Andy Ritchie talks football

LEEDS UNITED have brought in two Italian players and are after a number of others – and it remains to be seen how they do in the Championship which is a really hard league.

I know a few lads from the top clubs – and I know I am making comparisons here which might not be right – struggle when they come down. I know a couple of Italians at Manchester City who played in the reserves moved over to Oldham on loan and couldn’t hack it because of the ferocity of the game. It’s a different game over in Italy.

For me, it’s a risky business for Leeds bringing in players from the continent into the hustle and bustle of the Championship and Football League.

At Leeds, don’t forget you don’t get a lot of leeway with the supporters and must make an impact quickly. I was lucky enough to make a quick impact with them and in my first season, I was top-scorer and it was great.

They want something extra; a bit of guts and if they see people really trying and even if it doesn’t happen, they will back you. If, say you aren’t scoring lots and lots of goals, they want you to really work hard. If they see that, they will forgive a multitude of sins sometimes.

As a manager, the budgets I worked under meant I didn’t do a lot of business abroad. I did sign a French lad at Oldham who did really well for me once and I also went over to Holland to look at players. I felt that the Dutch along with the Scandinavians were more suited to English football than the Italians and the French mainly. You have to be very careful bringing players in from abroad into the Championship.

You also have to make sure the dressing-room harmony is right as well. If you bring seven or eight players in from one country, it’s natural they are going to pal around together and speak their own language and sometimes things can backfire.

For Leeds, it’s now important they keep their core players now. I see there’s some interest in Millwall in Matt Smith and if Leeds lose him, it would be another big blow.

We always said if the money was right, Ross would go, although we have not heard the full extent of it from Ross yet – it is obvious he was not happy with the place.

But football is about players who score goals and if Matty goes as well, you don’t see many coming from anywhere at the moment.

Ross’ was a transfer waiting to happen. With all the will in the world, despite the talk about Ross not being for sale, everyone has a price. I think there was no way he was going to stay after what had happened.

The World Cup draws to a close tomorrow and the final between Germany and Argentina will be fascinating.

On Wednesday, two of the major players in the tournament in terms of flair in Robben and Messi just couldn’t get into the game because of the way they were shackled.

For the Germans, they have Muller – who is not being talked about in the same breath, while for Klose to get the goalscoring record he has is absolutely fantastic. I was willing him to get that record against Brazil.

If the Germans can shackle Messi without taking anything away from their play which was scintillating in the first half against Brazil, I really fancy them. I am leaning towards Germany to win it. Looking at Argentina, they have another really big player in Di Maria who is a big doubt.

Every time Messi got the ball against the Dutch, there were two or three players around him and that took a little bit away from the Dutch’s play as well.

As for Ron Vlaar taking the first Dutch penalty, I couldn’t believe it. You have to get one on the board straightaway and one of your bankers to take the first penalty.

When I was manager of Barnsley and we won the shoot-out in the play-off against Swansea, I was lucky as I had seven or eight bankers.

Everyone is still talking about the Brazil game and they just didn’t turn up, did they?

Before the tournament, I picked Brazil to win it. I had to stick with them, but silently, after watching them in the tournament, I didn’t think they would beat Germany. But I certainly didn’t think they would capitulate in the way they did and they lost all their discipline on the pitch. The goals they conceded were just ridiculous and as a footballing nation, I think it will take them a while to recover.

Everyone was going on about the outfield players, but I thought the keeper, Julio Cesar, was terrible. Both for Klose’s goal and Kroos’ first. The other team I picked were Holland, who I thought were dark horses. And then they go out on penalties!

Harrogate Town fans.

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