Wheeling and dealing

Game date: 8th August 2009

In the past, I’ve been a little trigger happy when it comes to bringing in new faces to a team, invariably with an effect on team harmony; so this time I’ve tried to go in with an idea of what the team needs and try not to be swayed by impulse buys, especially around free-transfer season. That said, we’ve still brought in 5 new faces and let 4 go by the eve of the new season.

Players In

Ian Walker

Goalkeeper
Free Transfer
Contract: £2,700 p/w until 30-06-2011
Stats Screenshot

At 37, ex-England keeper Walker isn’t getting any younger but he should still have enough experience and ability to provide a solid last line of defence for the promotion campaign. A 2 year contract gives us a little headroom next season before we need to find a long-term number 1.

Elliot Omozusi

Right Back [Defender (Right, Centre)]
Free Transfer
Contract: £4,500 p/w until 30-6-2013
Stats Screenshot

Bit of a coup this one as a number of clubs went in for the up and coming right back. Recommended by Glynn and with a 4 star scouting rating, it was worth adding some extra to his contract request to bring him to the club. Already better than Crowe and with plenty of potential; the 4 year contract is a bonus.

Sol Campbell

Centre Back
Free Transfer
Contract: £10,000 p/w until 30-6-2011 w/ £1,100 appearance bonus
Stats Screenshot

I know I said the main problem with the heart of our defence was its lack of pace and ex-England international Campbell doesn’t exacly address this problem, however the opportunity to bring him to Leeds was too good to pass up. With tackling, heading, bravery, decisions, determination, positioning and strength all at 14 or over, Campbell is a fantastic centre back. Obviously the lack of speed is still a minor concern but a central defence of Kisnorbo and Campbell in front of Walker fills me with much more confidence than before.
Campbell also has the added bonus of being a born leader and with an influence rating of 19 is the perfect choice for cub captain, especially as Naylor is out for another few months and is unlikely to break the starting 11.
Based on the above I thought the higher than average wage (for Leeds, that is) was worth it. I actually dropped the asking salary and boosted his appearance fee when offering contract terms, gambling that the overall gain would be enough to bring him in while safeguarding us (slightly) against prolonged time out of the first team in the future.

Carlos Merino

Central Midfielder [Attacking Midfielder (Centre)]
£110K from Albacete
Contract: £1,700 p/w until 30-6-2012
Stats Screenshot

A Bilbao native (a soft spot with me) with good passing and technique (15) as well as the ability to dribble and bring a touch of flair and creativity to the middle of the park (14) with a professional attitude and at the right price. Spent time at Forest in the late 90s so shouldn’t have too much difficulty returning to English football.

Leandro

Left Winger [Defender / Attacking Midfielder (Left)]
£85K from Debrecen
Contract: £4,800 p/w until 30-6-2013
Stats Screenshot

Hungarian international winger who I was linked to in the media. After taking a look over his stats and the fact he was going cheap with Debrecen looking to ship him out (he had an £18.5 million release clause), I decided to splash out, with his versatility as either left wing or left back helping his cause. As his primary position is left winger, I’m looking to bring him in there with Snodgrass moving to wide right and cutting in on his stronger left foot. Leandro’s flair should help him out as a winger, even if he’s not brought anything to the pace of the team (pace 11, acc 12).

After unveiling him, Leandro was the signing the fans got excited about, no doubt because us fans are a fickle lot when it comes to a winger who can showboat. Unfortunately, the press conference revealed something I’d overlooked before putting metaphorical pen to paper – Leandro doesn’t yet speak English, which could cause issues for the first few months at least. Lesson learnt here, check the spoken languages!

Players Out

Mike Grella

To: Derby County for £210K
Unlikely to see any action for the club other than in an injury crisis, I offered him to clubs for £250K (value, ~£100K). I got an offer from someone (I can’t remember who, now!) for £250K and one from Derby for £210K, to whom he decided to sign based on status. Receiving double his value has been seen by fans as a bit of a coup, which is always nice.

Casper Ankergren

To: Brondby for £75K
Another player offered out to clubs for around double his value, former club Brondby came in as the only bid. Thankfully, Brondby are a favourite of Ankergren and things went nice and smooth.

Rui Marques

To: Exeter for £24K
Despite clubs being interested, offering out at £100K and £45K (his current value) didn’t attract any interest. Needing to get the wage bill down after bringing in new faces, he was successfully offered again at £24K, which upset the fans a little.

Paul Huntington

To: Notts County on loan
Unlikely to get opportunities this season ahead of Campbell, Kisnorbo, Bromby and Naylor, it’s worth giving the 21 year old some competitive experience. Upset Becchio who went on record to say it was a bad decision.

Conclusions

I’m still feeling short of a quality left back and another striker, but the squad is already feeling disharmonious and with the season upon us I’m putting the cheque book away until winter. Leandro’s lack of English is going to be a stumbling block until at least Christmas, and a number of other players (brought in by me or new to the club prior to me arriving, such as loanee Doyle) are going to be trying to blend so focusing on that will be more useful than adding more faces to the mix.

We’re currently £4.5K under the wage budget (£97,909) with over £200K left in the transfer fund so things are looking stable for us. In terms of outbound players, we had a £95K deal for Kandol from Luton fall through because the basic wage wasn’t enough, which is a shame as, at £3K a week, he’s the highest paid unneeded player on the books.

All in all, however, I’m feeling pretty confident in the squad, a view shared by Mr Snodin (who celebrated his 50th IRL today). The squad’s weakest area has now shifted to striker and Glynn is recommending more ex Bilbo players to me (Santiago Ezquerro), who I have shortlisted but, at 32 and not an English speaker, is unlikely to go any further.
I’m also pleased to note that we share the same opinion of the strongest starting XI for the first time.

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