Leeds United's 'agent' in the field earns praise from two managers in a week despite not playing
Sam Greenwood left Elland Road to spend the season on loan with Middlesbrough and has quickly made himself a favourite on Teesside with four goals and a couple of assists. The importance of his most recent goal, a beautiful free-kick and the only goal of the game against league-leading Leicester City, was not lost on Daniel Farke, who is enjoying Greenwood’s work.
"He's showing what he can do and for that I am delighted with him because he's a really good player," said Farke last week ahead of Leeds' 3-2 victory over Middlesbrough. "It was also important for him to play and it wouldn't be fair to keep him knowing we couldn't give him those minutes. There are no regrets and he has good chances to look back on a really good loan and the main topic is that he won't score against us and this won't happen. You then also think of the end products he has produced against some of the teams around us in the table, which is very beneficial. So no regrets."
Loan rules being what they are, Greenwood sat out the game against his parent club at Elland Road at the weekend, but he will return to Michael Carrick's thinking for the fixture against Ipswich Town on Saturday, when Farke will be hoping to see the loanee back on the scoresheet in a victory against Leeds' fellow top-three outfit. As Farke watches on from afar, Carrick is seeing Greenwood's development up close and likes what he sees in the 21-year-old. The Boro boss told Teesside Live: "I'm delighted for him. I always enjoy seeing players who have got their potential thriving and growing. We try to give them a platform to do that and Sam has been terrific. He's played a bit of football but is still in the early days of his career, so to come in and develop so quickly - and we can all see what he offers to the team, along with his attitude and how he helps the team - he's been absolutely first class. He's another one where there is still loads more to come as well, which is really encouraging. I really enjoy seeing the boys grow and develop and, just as importantly, enjoying themselves as well."
Greenwood's major struggle at Leeds, beyond game time, was a lack of clarity surrounding his position, under successive managers. Although he was signed from Arsenal as a striker, Marcelo Bielsa saw him as a number 10 and then a deeper-lying central midfielder, while Jesse Marsch used him predominantly in the midfield, ostensibly to come on and take set-pieces. Carrick has been playing him as an attacking midfielder, with a focus on the left hand side, and appears to be reaping rewards right now. Leeds, could of course come to reap rewards of their own if Greenwood's development continues.
"We are happy that he’s progressing in the right way because in general, not just about Sam, when you loan a player out you have two targets: either that he comes back in a good rhythm after a good loan with good performances and good confidence "If you want to improve and create a value you have to make sure you play day in, day out as a young player and also 90 minutes. And let’s be honest, the situation for him was a little bit unlucky due to a mid-term injury in pre-season and in his positions we’ve got [Crysencio] Summerville, [Daniel] James, [Wilfried] Gnonto, [Jaiden] Anthony, [Joel] Piroe, [Georgino] Rutter, [Patrick] Bamford – it would be difficult for him to get this game time. He needed five or six games [with Middlesbrough] to get into his rhythm but I think he's had eight starts in this campaign so I think he’s on the right way to earn his spot in a really good possession side."