Leeds United: Rams’ move is tailor-made for Warnock and Leeds – Lorimer

Stephen Warnock.
Stephen Warnock.
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It goes without saying that a move to Derby County is a very good deal for Stephen Warnock.

He’s 33 years old and at that age you’re into that stage of your career where contracts are more and more difficult to come by.

I played professionally until I was 39 but for an outfield player that’s almost unheard of these days.

Look at Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard – even with players as good as them, clubs start to act cautiously when they’re thinking of handing new deals to veteran stars.

Warnock’s contract at Leeds United was due to end in the summer and if the club had made him the sort of offer he was looking for – another 18 months or maybe two years – they’d have tied him down until he was 35 or thereabouts. It’s not the done thing anymore.

And with the best will in the world, it doesn’t tie in with a major rebuilding plan so even though I think he’s done well for the club this season, I’m not really surprised that it’s ended for him at Elland Road this month.

He’ll want the security of a much longer deal and given that we’ve got Charlie Taylor – a talented youngster – to replace him at left-back, Leeds probably thought that it was better to get him off the wage bill now than pay him for another six months.

In fairness, we do need a bit of a clear-out at Elland Road (which isn’t to say we don’t need fresh blood too).

There are quite a lot of older pros who’ve been here for a while and should probably be thinking about moving on. If you consider the way things have gone for us in the past three or four years, you couldn’t say that many of them have been pulling up trees on a regular basis.

Derby and Warnock are a good match for one obvious reason.

There’s a high likelihood that Derby will get promoted this season and Warnock’s ability and experience over the next four or five months can only help them.

If they do go up, it’ll do them good to have a little bit of Premier League experience in the squad, just while the squad acclimatise to a tough division. Warnock isn’t going to go on forever and he might not get a game in the Premier League but he’s someone that Steve McClaren can always rely on if and when he needs him.

At Leeds, we’re going through massive restructuring on the field and off it.

The squad’s changed a great deal since the end of last season and we’re relying on a much younger group of players.

The owner’s been trying to cut the wage bill down too and I don’t doubt that Warnock was one of our higher earners.

Given that we’ve got a gifted left-back in Taylor, it makes sense to me to make the most of the money we’ve invested in him through the academy by actually playing him.

He had an excellent loan spell at Fleetwood Town last season but that’s about the third or fourth time he’s been sent out to another club.

He’s got plenty of experience and appearances behind him so if this isn’t the time to test him, when is?

Obviously it would be nice if we were blooding him in different circumstances – without the pressure of a relegation fight – but you need character to be a professional footballer and this will be a good test of his.

As everyone knows, he won the play-offs with Fleetwood in May so that suggests he can cope with pressure.

None of this changes the fact that new signings are needed but I’m confident that we’ll see at least two or three before the end of this month.

From the point of view of Massimo Cellino’s long-term strategy, it’s imperative that we stay in the Championship this season and there’s no way he’d want to see us get relegated.

He’ll know himself that action is necessary to make sure we get through the second half of the season safely and that’s why I expect to see positive movement soon.

The circumstances at Leeds are tough just now but I do think there’s a plan here – and letting Warnock go doesn’t change that.

It’s simply the way the football world works these days.