TSA - Is there some wind beneath our wing-ers?
Tim Steere is to write a weekly article for Vital Leeds United, his first focuses on the potential on the Leeds wings.
Hopefully over the weeks and months you will grow to enjoy Tim`s articles that will always start with the prefix TSA - Tim Steere Article.
If there was one particular area of the pitch that Leeds fans wanted a new signing for, it would be pretty much all of the back four, and maybe a new midfielder, and possibly a striker. But what`s new.
But since the departure of Max Gradel to Saint Etienne in the summer, there has been a void on the wing. Gradel had the capability of running past defenders, causing all manner of problems and even getting into double figures for goals in a season.
The loss of an 18-goal winger is difficult enough, but just having a real attacking threat down both sides is a rare luxury.
Gradel and Snodgrass provided that in abundance. Two highly rated young, goal scoring midfielders who could create chances.
Once the Ivorian left for France, the job was finding a replacement. The swapping of Aidy White and Danny Pugh between left back and left wing has had its successes as both could cover for each other.
Both have been solid and White is definitely showing the signs of a promising winger. Yet, something was still missing. I can describe this in an action in front of my computer screen but I can`t find the word. Does oomph count as a word? There`s just been something lacking to get the fans excited like Max did.
After a disaster at Barnsley, the new year saw Simon Grayson ring in the changes. Some of the squad would never play for him again. But there was one addition which created some excitement.
Andros Townsend, a highly rated winger from Tottenham joined on loan until the end of the season. His boots got their own personal driver up to Leeds from London. This has got to be some signing!
Much like the debut of Gradel, Townsend instantly left an impression on the home fans. The away fans were frustrated by him as well, after Kieran Trippier was sent off trying to stop one of the loanee`s many marauding runs down the left wing.
And it was Townsend`s long range effort that led to Ross McCormack`s dramatic late late winner in the 97th minute which sent Elland Road into delirium. Thanks to Lee Grant for spilling the shot by the way.
Spurs boss Harry Redknapp rewarded Townsend with a new contract until 2016 recently, and we can see why. The 20 year old was a cut above in the Burnley match. Unfortunately for him, his first team place at White Hart Lane is being blocked by someone called Gareth Bale.
Of course, we have to wait and see if he can impress on a regular basis in the Championship. If he can, the Gradel gap could be filled. One thing on his side is that he has played in this division before after loan spells with Ipswich, Watford and Millwall. Many a time have premiership players gone on loan to Championship clubs and struggled because of the nature of the league. Leeds fans will no doubt name quite a few players who have impressive CV`s in top divisions but have failed to impress in the Championship and League One. I`ll leave you to mention them!
For now, Simon Grayson is looking forward to 'exciting times` as like a kid at Christmas, waits desperately for Snodgrass to come back after his appendectomy from December 29.
Expected to be out for all of January, he is rated touch and go for Crystal Palace on Saturday. He trained on Monday at Thorpe Arch, and with 8 goals to his name from the right wing plus nine assists, the thought of Townsend combining with Snodgrass on opposite sides is appealing to say the least.
But wait, there`s more. The latest import from the MLS, albeit less well known than Henry and Keane, Robbie Rogers has joined subject to a work permit.
Although his name lends itself to a potential comic strip playing for a side akin to Melchester Rovers, the 24-year-old American jetted in from Columbus Crew to watch the Arsenal game at the Emirates. Simon Grayson has clearly been impressed as he plans to put him straight into the first team once available.
All depending on obtaining a work permit. Having played nowhere near enough first team matches for the USA national team, Leeds must look for another way in that doesn`t involve smuggling in a suitcase through customs or in the back of an 18 wheeler.
Today, Southampton signed Tadanari Lee from Japan. Refused a work permit initially, the football league agreed he was an 'exceptional talent` whose arrival would be of benefit the game in England.
How they came to this conclusion is unknown and what the criteria is, but if we say Robbie can juggle twelve balls on his head whilst playing Hey Jude on the banjo, would that be enough? Is that exceptional enough for you?
We assume that if the club are going ahead with the move, they must be confident of getting a permit somehow.
But that`s not to say some of the youngsters already at the club should be discounted.
As mentioned earlier, Aidy White has looked very threatening swapping between the left back and left midfield role, and Zac Thompson has impressed many after his debut against Burnley playing centre midfield as well as right back, and extremely competently as well. Bar the one mistake against Arsenal letting Henry in for the goal, Thompson has hardly put a foot wrong. And very few would blame Thompson, considering it was only his second game in senior football.
With these attacking fullbacks adding to Snodgrass and Townsend, it means there are four potential threats on the wings, with overlaps a plenty.
With the touch and go form of the strikers, Townsend and Snodgrass along with their respective full backs in White and Thompson, could be the key to a successful start to 2012.
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