Leeds United: Warnock’s transfer beggars belief – Ritchie

Stephen Warnock.
Stephen Warnock.
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Very little in football is black or white.

Work in the game for any length of time and you’ll discover that an awful lot of what goes on has more to it than meets the public eye.

I don’t know the exact ins and outs of Stephen Warnock’s transfer to Derby County but whatever the reasons, the move beggars belief.

It beggars belief because I don’t understand why on earth Leeds United would want to lose him of all people now. Neil Redfearn’s been speaking over and over about the need for Championship experience. Doesn’t Stephen Warnock epitomise that?

Experience isn’t the only issue. Besides anything else, he’s been one of the club’s best players this season; one of their most reliable certainly. Most Championship managers would be happy to have Warnock at left-back and you can deduce that from the fact that Derby have come in to sign him.

Redfearn made a pertinent comment about Rudy Austin last week. He basically said – and I totally agree with this – that if other Championship clubs were interested in signing him, shouldn’t Leeds be taking the hint and realising that they’d be better off keeping him?

The same applies to Warnock and Derby. If a side at the top of the league wants him, he’s not someone who Leeds should be contemplating losing. As I say, I can’t really comment on the politics involved. Maybe Warnock was desperate to go and maybe Leeds felt he’d had his head turned but the transfer seemed to happen very easily. I honestly thought this would have been the sort of loss the club would have fought hard to avoid.

But Warnock goes and we all move on. It’s not the first time Leeds have lost a decent player and it won’t be the last. They’ve got Charlie Taylor to cover for him and going by what we saw at Bolton last weekend I don’t think Taylor’s inclusion is a problem.

The problem will come if he gets injured. Who will Redfearn turn to then. And for all Taylor’s ability, he’s not the sort of lad who can lead the club through the second half of the season. He’s only 21.

With the pressure on, this is when you look to the likes of Warnock to keep the place calm and hold it all together. I can’t speak for Redfearn but I’d be amazed if he wanted Warnock to go.

As for Saturday’s game at Bolton, I came away with mixed feelings – encouragement and frustration.

I thought the team played well, not least because they were away from home, and in the end they were probably a bit unlucky to finish with a point.

And once again I found myself thinking that a few astute additions in the right areas would transform this side completely.

It surprises me to say the least that we’ve gone this far through the January transfer window without any signings. I might be underestimating the pressure on Massimo Cellino or the uncertainty caused by his appeal against the Football League but the last thing Leeds want is to be in a situation where games are running out.

I’m well aware that they’re looking abroad for players again but my opinion hasn’t changed – the club needs lads who know this league. That doesn’t mean that every signing requires Championship experience but it seems crackers to overlook them completely when the team are one point above the relegation places.

In some ways, Leeds are lucky that they can make new signings at all. They’re supposed to be under a transfer embargo and if that was really what it said on the tin, they’d be in very serious trouble.

As it is, they’ve got scope to bring new players in and they have to take advantage of that opportunity. I don’t go along with the idea that the team needs ripping up because, in the main, there’s the basis of a good side here. That’s the truth.

But it’s missing that little bit of nous and that little bit of grit, and they’re going to need both qualities to make it through the rest of the season.

Warnock is on his way and we’ve got no new additions to the squad. I’d say it’s time for a bit of urgency.

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