New year, new market, new players, old fears • The Square Ball

In what has become something of a ritual for Leeds fans, it’s about the time of “should we, shouldn’t we, should we, shouldn’t we?” Debates on the January transfer window. We are all extremely aware of the current injury issues within the team. It’s hard not to be when our bench looks more like candidates for Junior Bake Off than a collection of Premier League footballers. And the inner cogs of the perennially optimists are already turning as they debate who the club will turn to in the winter market to fill some worrying gaps in Marcelo Bielsa’s training.

I say “eternally optimistic”, but the label “sadly mistaken” can also apply to those who truly believe that we will take important action in the New Year. Leeds United, Marcelo Bielsa and the January transfer window are not, and never have been, cooperative, and even with half the squad in ER, common ground is unlikely to be found. this season. Bielsa has always been clear on his approach to the transfer window, regardless of the time of year: unless the incoming player is better than we already have, there is no point in spending money. . The board has also made its position clear on several occasions: January is a window of cluster fuck, with few real-quality players available and big caveats attached to those who are. Overall, this is not the most functional relationship.

And, let’s be fair, the mistrust is understandable. Looking back on the business Leeds did in January under Bielsa doesn’t make a nice read. Kiko Casilla arrived in January 2018 with the kind of fanfare one would expect from a Champions League “winner” and then drove the club’s name into the mud. A year later, ironically following an injury to Patrick Bamford, it is the turn of Jean Kevin Augustin, who promises to be the savior of the season before finding himself overweight, injured, and decidedly in the bad books of a man who waited two whole years for Adam Forshaw. Last year, despite injuries and seeing his colleagues promoting Fulham and West Brom, the club decided to forgo any kind of activity in January. I honestly think you would have an easier time convincing Katie Holmes to give Tom Cruise another try.

But isn’t it time for someone to sit them all down and try to fix the problem? Some kind of metaphorical couple therapy? Victor Orta and Marcelo Bielsa performing confidence exercises with a cardboard cutout of Huw Jenkins? Now, more than ever under Bielsa’s leadership, Leeds need reinforcements. With so many key players missing and the dates of their respective returns shrouded in mystery, Bielsa and her coaching staff were left with a collection of reservations that, for a multitude of reasons (including skills, consistency and covers them all). – parental lights) are not able to reproduce the quality of footballers like Patrick Bamford or Luke Ayling. Add just two points that separate us from the relegation zone and a utterly monstrous December fixture list on the way, and you envision potential disaster if things don’t change.

Some may point out Bielsa’s background and ask why I don’t trust him to keep us with a thin squad. He did it last year with basically the same band, so why couldn’t he do it again? And they would be right to ask. Marcelo Bielsa deserves every ounce of my faith and he has it unequivocally. If he and the club get through January without paying a single dime on a new caterer for Thorp Arch, I’ll shrug and watch the games like I always do. If they are successful, I will bow down to my makeshift altar and ask for forgiveness. But rather than questioning Bielsa for not wanting to complicate her preparations with new players who may or may not have her system, or who are willing to stick to her notorious fitness expectations, my anxiety comes. of the fact that he and the board put the man in a position where even he will find it nearly impossible to keep this performing team at the insane levels they have already achieved. Right now it’s not about finding better than what we have, it’s about finding someone better than an eighteen year old.

Perhaps Victor Orta would have to become a thug, secretly sort deals for seasoned pros who aren’t playing as much as they currently would like, or find discounted deals on players whose contracts expire in July. Maybe if Marcelo shows up on the training ground and finds a couple of new bodies running during Murderball, he’ll take it easy and make plans for them in his preparation for the day. I am aware, of course, that the “sadly mistaken” label may now be stuck squarely on my forehead, as we all know that is not how it would be. I imagine anyone who works for Lazio or Lille during Bielsa’s time at either club (two days, six months) will be happy to tell you exactly what happens when you walk away from the decisions. of the club.

So I guess we’ll leave it to the powers that be. Given our track record and Bielsa’s strict approach, it is likely that nothing will happen in January. Rumors will abound and players across Europe will be linked as an extremely unsubtle way to increase their value, but we will enter February with the same first team we had in early August. Let’s just hope that by then Rob Price will have been able to put them back together with duct tape to hold on until the end of the season. ??

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