Leeds United: Thomas delighted he opted for Whites

Jerome Thomas.
Jerome Thomas.
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Sat on the settee watching Jeff Stelling and the Soccer Saturday team hold court this season was starting to rankle with Jerome Thomas.

As it was for Leeds United’s other emergency loan window deadline-day signing Alan Tate, with both casting aside a fair bit of frustration to do their bit on the pitch and sample the joyous atmosphere of a winning dressing room in the process for the first time in a good while on Saturday.

It’s something Swansea City defender Tate had, until last weekend, experienced just once this term, albeit in a routine Capital One Cup victory for the Swans against Barnsley, one of just four appearances in 2012-13.

You have to go back to last season for West Brom loanee Thomas tasting that particular sensation, with the wingman having not featured for the bouyant Baggies since the end of April and it was he who was the one clutching the man-of-the-match champagne for his efforts in Saturday’s 2-1 home success over Crystal Palace.

Although it could have easily been Tate who left with the bubbly after a similarly polished performance.

On his own Super Saturday, Thomas quipped: “Like Tatey said, it beats listening to Jeff Stelling!

“It is frustrating to train all week as hard as you can and then have the weekend off watching the results at home. We train on Sunday as well (at West Brom), so it is extra-depressing!”


While Thomas’ West Brom side have been very much the story so far in this Premiership with the Hawthorns outfit further enhancing their reputation with a 4-2 away-day victory at Sunderland on Saturday, it’s been a tad bittersweet for the 29-year-old.

Thomas – unable to force his way back into boss Steve Clarke’s plans after an early-season calf injury – has had to watch on while his team-mates hog the headlines, although he insists that a loan move was not at the top of his agenda.

It took all the persuasive sales-pitch skills of Neil Warnock, who had made unsuccessful moves to land Thomas during his spells at various clubs four or five times in the past, to convince him to move north, with the veteran boss’ decision to hand him a solely attacking brief music to his ears.

And Thomas certainly wasted no time making a favourable impression to all and sundry on Saturday.

He said: “I was pretty adamant I did not want to go on loan and had been asked by a few clubs. It was just a case of Leeds catching me at the right time, really. But I would not have gone just to any team.

“I know there had been talk in the past of Neil wanting me, but people go in different paths in football.

“I think when I was leaving Charlton, he mentioned his interest and when he was at QPR. I also know a few players who have played under him and they have all had positive things to say.

“It’s funny, you can always meet up somewhere and that is why it is important in business never to burn bridges as you never know where you are doing to end up.

“He is the kind of manager, who if I can pick, would play for throughout the whole of my career.

“The gaffer is very straight-forward and tells it how it is. It’s not rocket science with me; if I am given the freedom to play my game and can attack and don’t have to use as much of my energy to defend, I’m going to create chances.

“He has told the other (Leeds) players outright just to get me on the ball on Saturday and he wants me just to concentrate on my attacking game. Once my fitness is up, that is when I can starting adding goals and assists.”

“I think that is what the fans saw on Saturday and hopefully, they will start seeing more of it once I get match-fit.”

Handed his first Elland Road experience playing for the Whites nation was an uplifting one for Thomas, who has heard plenty about the passion and fervour of the United hordes from former Charlton colleague Lloyd Sam.

Coincidentally, Thomas is renting his ex-Addicks team-mates’ house in Leeds during his loan spell and he certainly got his feet under the table in a big way on the pitch at the weekend.

The Londoner has a further opportunity to endear himself to United punters at home to high-flying Leicester City tonight, the second part of a big triple header for the club, who make the short journey across the M62 for a raucous derby at Huddersfield Town on Saturday lunch-time.

And he is seeking to build on a hugely promising start to his Whites adventure.

He added: “Lloyd and a few others have told me about the fans and I witnessed it on Saturday. It was a great atmosphere.

“I have heard so many stores about the fans and they did not disappoint.

“I’m so glad I decided to come here. We were training at West Brom and I had to make a decision when the window was closing in about two hours and that’s when I signed the papers.

“I had discussed it in the (Thursday) morning and then trained, but had pretty much decided to go ahead with it.

“I am actually renting Lloyd’s house, so it all magically fell into place. If that’s fate, who knows.

“Everything fell into place on Friday and I got my house and managed to settle in; that side of it is important. Literally, I had my feet up on Friday raring to go and I actually said those words on Twitter.”

On his longer-term future, Thomas is making no predictions, with his sole focus being on all matters United until January and boosting his match-fitness and getting some games under his belt.

He added: “The (WBA) manager has just said he will be watching the games and that it will be good for me to go out and play. It’s been hard for me with the team doing so well.

“But I can’t think too far ahead, to be honest. It’s been a good start at Leeds and I am just focusing on two things – staying injury-free and getting Leeds some points on the table.

“Saturday was my first game of the season and my calves completely went and I cramped up in the second-half. Once I get my fitness up, I feel I can give more than I did on Saturday and it is exciting times.

“But there’s enough time to recover for Tuesday and I am used to it, having played in the Championship before.

“I want to help get as many points as I can for Leeds, to be honest. It’s not about individuals.

“We are going to aim to get three points. Even in the away games, even though we had some tough ones coming up such as Huddersfield and Derby. Personally, my mentality going into games is always to go and get three points. If the lads have the same mentality as Saturday, we’ll be fine.”

Paul McKay

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