'Refreshed' Jack Harrison thinking outside the box as winger looks to Leeds United future
JACK Harrison says he feels refreshed and ready to reach the impressive individual heights scaled at the start of the season.
Determined to “think outside box” off the field, the Leeds United winger has benefited from the help of a psychologist in a bid to resume excelling inside the box on the pitch itself.
Not that Harrison’s game is solely about producing the goods in the box, far from it from a player who is continually jetting up and down both ends of whichever flank he is selected to play on.
The 24-year-old has been a virtual ever-present in head coach Marcelo Bielsa’s line up since first joining the Whites on a season-long loan from Manchester City back in July 2018 having only signed for Pep Guardiola’s all star City outfit from New York City the previous January.
Three years on, the former England under-21 international is coming towards the end of a third season-long loan at Elland Road and has confirmed that something is in place with a view to joining United permanently in the summer for a fee believed to be in the region of £10m.
At his best, such a fee would be another United transfer snip – one year after landing Brazilian star winger Raphinha for just £17m from Rennes.
Still only six months into his Whites career, Raphinha has already amassed six goals and five assists and Harrison also began his season with a handful of goals and assists.
Lately, however, the City loanee had found himself in the unfamiliar position of sitting on the bench as the winger lost his place in the side to Helder Costa for the recent fixtures against Aston Villa and West Ham.
Yet Harrison was restored to the starting XI for the games against Chelsea and Fulham before the international break and hopes that with the help of his work with a psychiatrist that he will now be back with a bang.
“I hit a little bit of a rough patch mentally and physically and maybe I was just a little bit exhausted,” said Harrison, reflecting on a dip in form that was only minor but one he insists “felt like forever”.
“But I feel refreshed now, I feel ready to go and hopefully I can get back to how I was playing at the start of the season.
“Football is full of ups and downs and these things happen and it was about accepting that.
“I always try to resist it as much as possible and I was getting quite frustrated because I know I was doing everything I could to try and feel good and stuff in the games.
“But just everything I was doing off the pitch whether it was ice baths, treatment or nutrition, sleep, whatever it was it just wasn’t working and so that was the most frustrating thing for me. Once I stopped resisting and tried to press the reset button a little bit I found things have been going a lot better.
“It was just about changing my mentality and I have been working with a psychologist who does NLP training which is neuro-linguistic programming and so I was trying to just change my mindset and change my perspective on a couple of things. That has really helped me to kind of change my mindset a little bit and it’s been working so it’s been good so far.
“The nutritionist can tell you as well that I am always trying to find different things to help me out on the pitch and the mental side of things especially now in the game has become massive.
“That is something that I have really started to understand, just realising how important your mentality can be going into games and so during that time I had my agent reach out to a couple of people.
“We tried to just find out what could benefit me and what could help me out in that situation because I knew I was doing everything I could off the pitch to feel good but it just wasn’t happening.
“Sometimes it’s just kind of thinking outside the box a little bit and finding other solutions that not many people think of
“It can work. I have continued doing what I know works and I think with having that as an addition has really helped me.
“Obviously it can be different for other people, it might not work, it might work, but for me it’s seemed to work so I have been grateful for that opportunity.”
Harrison now looks all set to be handed another opportunity on the pitch for today’s Yorkshire derby against Sheffield United at Elland Road.
Should Harrison again get the nod he will be making his 110th start and 121st appearance for Leeds since arriving at the club in the summer of 2018.
Impressive statistics for a player who has actually never ‘belonged’ to Leeds as part of three season-long loans from City but that looks set to change.
“Something is already in plan for the summer so we will see,” said Harrison, speaking in an interview with BBC Radio Leeds.
Asked if it was difficult to still think of himself as a Manchester City player, the gratitude felt towards both clubs is clear.
“It is a little bit difficult,” admitted Harrison.
“Obviously I have only had one pre-season there and I did learn a lot there working with Pep and some of the other players, it was a great experience.
“But obviously most of my time here in England has been at Leeds and I have been grateful for everything that they have provided for me here and with Marcelo showing a lot of trust and faith in me as a player to have had so many appearances here as well.
"It’s been great for me as a player to develop and continue learning.”
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Thank you Laura Collins