ASSISTANT head coach Paul Raynor says Leeds United don’t need to match moneybags Middlesbrough in the transfer market to challenge for promotion, insisting: “We are a little bit more prudent but hopefully will be successful doing it our way.”
Boro sit top of the Championship and will visit Elland Road on Monday evening armed with a new £9m striker in Jordan Rhodes who was purchased from Blackburn Rovers in the January transfer window.
The signing is the type of acquisition that Whites fans yearn for, but Raynor believes United are also building a promising side in their own right, despite acting much more “prudently” with their transfer business.
Leeds did not sign a single player on transfer deadline day – despite head coach Steve Evans admitting the full £3.7m from the sale of Sam Byram to West Ham United was made available by chairman Massimo Cellino, and more.
But Raynor is happy with United’s approach to the transfer market, insisting the arrivals of Toumani Diagouraga, Mustapha Carayol and Liam Bridcutt have still strengthened the Whites squad in a less flashy manner.
Diagouraga was signed for £575,000 from Brentford with Bridcutt and Carayol both brought in loan, from Sunderland and Middlesbrough respectively.
United currently sit 16th in the Championship, 11 points above the dropzone and 14 points away from the play-offs. Leaders Boro are 21 points better off.
Asked if he thought that spending big was the only way to win promotion to the Premier, Raynor said: “No. I think you have got to be prudent with your spending and I think there’s different ways of doing it.
“I think Middlesbrough have got themselves into a very strong position and they have decided now to try and get that top striker to push them over the line.
“Good luck to them, they have got their strategy.
“We are obviously a little bit more prudent.
“We have spent money on players and we feel as though we’ve brought three good players into the football club since we’ve certainly been here in Mustapha and Toumani and Liam Bridcutt.
“We think we are improving like that and people have a different way of doing things.
“We are a little bit more prudent but hopefully we will be successful doing it our way.
“Everybody runs their club how they want to run it and they have chosen to splash big and try and get promoted so good luck to them.”
Despite spending big, Boro will arrive in Leeds seeking their first win in four league games, following back-to-back defeats against Bristol City and Nottingham Forest which have been followed by draws against Blackburn and MK Dons.
Rhodes started the last two games on the bench and has yet to make his full Boro debut.
Raynor reasoned: “They have obviously got themselves a very, very good striker but on the day it’s XI v XI or 14 against 14. If we play to our full potential, we’ll do okay.
“We obviously do our work through the week and we have seen their last three or four games.
“We have watched them in depth so we know pretty much as soon as that team sheet comes in what their thinking will be, what their structure will be and what their formation will be.
“I’d be gobsmacked if Jordan Rhodes doesn’t play on Monday night if I’m being absolutely honest but that’s obviously not our business.
“We will know when the team sheet comes in but I would anticipate that he will start the game.”
Asked if there was more pressure on Boro ahead of Monday’s fixture, Raynor reasoned: “Not really. We put pressure on ourselves.
“We’re Leeds United, we are expected to win every week and that’s quite rightfully so.
“We’re a big club in the Championship and we expect to win. We put pressure on ourselves as a management team and we are also demanding of the players that they go out there and put on the best show that they can.
“But we also know that Middlesbrough are a very good side and they are not top of the league for any other reason than they are the best team at the moment.
“It should be a good game.”