THERE was good reason why Leeds United left-back Barry Douglas was labelled as one of the snips of the summer at just £3m.
The defender arrived at Elland Road on July 28 with a Championship winner’s medal from Wolves, topping the division’s assist charts even as a left-back.
After cutting his teeth at Livingston, Queen’s Park and Dundee United, the Glaswegian also checked in at Leeds backed by European success at Lech Poznan and Konyaspor – a Polish league championship and Super Cup triumph at the former plus Champions League experience followed by Europa League outings and a Turkish Cup final at the latter.
Five months after his move to Elland Road, Douglas has been a virtual ever present when fit for a team sitting top of the Championship after 26 games.
But by his own admission, the Scot admits he has yet to reach the heights expected of him with the 29-year-old now hoping to “dig deep” and rediscover his best in the second half of the campaign at Leeds.
The fact that Douglas talks in such a frank and honest manner speaks volumes about the defender’s ambition and the Whites’ left-back was one of several United players to take to social media apologising for his display in the 4-2 loss at Nottingham Forest on New Year’s Day.
The Scot was actually one of United’s better performers but the defender was substituted for Tyler Roberts in the latter stages and clearly not happy with his contribution or recent form.
“Personally, not been good enough for me lately and I hold my hands up,” he said.
“With the highs comes the lows and it’s how we deal with it that defines us individually and as a team.”
On the face of it, not words you would typically associate with a footballer who has made 21 appearances with his side top of the division.
But the high standards set by Douglas are clear and with back-to-back defeats over Christmas evidently hurting the defender, the Glaswegian is now backing himself to turn both his own and his side’s fortunes around.
“I still feel myself personally that there is so much more that I can give and I have not found myself in this situation personally,” Douglas told the YEP.
“I just need to dig deep and, hopefully, I can rekindle my form and help the team move forward.”
Reflecting on the busy festive period at Leeds which saw the Whites take in four games in 10 days Douglas admitted: “It is demanding.
"But I can’t stand here and say we are tired because everyone is in the same boat.
“Everyone is tired, everyone is working really hard and it’s maybe why there has been a few upset results because of the relentlessness of this period.
“But, looking at the bigger picture, we went on a fantastic run going into this period so there’s definitely a lot of positives to look at moving forward.”
Douglas was forced to miss the first of United’s four festive fixtures with the defender having to be withdrawn during the warm-up of the December 23 clash at Aston Villa with a sickness bug with Leif Davis handed a first start at left-back in the absence of Douglas, eight days short of his 19th birthday.
Two days earlier, Douglas was one of the many United players happy to give something back to the community with the players’ annual visit to the children’s wards at Leeds General Infirmary where the defender reflected on his summer switch to Leeds and at how quickly he and his young family have settled in.
Wolves’ decision to sell a player regarded by many as the best left-back in the division came as a big surprise – as did the fact that United were able to land the Scotland international for just a £3m fee.
“It was a surprise but if it’s taught me anything it’s always expect the unexpected because football is a business,” said Douglas at the LGI visit.
“But the transition has been brilliant – a great group of boys, a great manager and different styles and philosophies that obviously I had to try and learn and adapt.
“But I am bedded in now, I am settled in the team and the vicinity and I am settled with family.
“I think coming in, the owner and the manager likewise were very ambitious and that’s why this project appealed to me so much because I had the same ambitions to go and try to achieve success.
“But there is still a long way to go and you can’t compare Leeds and Wolves.
“This is a unique squad in its own way. It is different boys, different philosophies but we have all got the same goal and that’s come May, hopefully, try and achieve promotion.”
For the first time this season, United will now have to pick up that promotion drive following back-to-back defeats but Douglas is keen to highlight the obvious positives as both he and
Leeds seek a quick return to their best ahead of next Friday night’s Championship hosting of sixth-placed Derby County. But third-round FA Cup duty away at QPR this coming Sunday awaits first.
“If you look at the last nine games we have won seven so there’s a lot of positives,” said Douglas. “Yes, that’s two losses on the bounce and it’s a little bit of a sticky situation but if we want to be where we want to be come the end of the season then in these situations we need to stand up and be counted.”