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Leeds United cash boost – blessing or curse ?

Here's something sent in by a Leeds United fan.

Far-famed Yorkshire Institution, TV Quiz Bulls eye, had a particular renown for what you might call `surprising’ main prizes. The chief one was of course the speed boat.

As a child I remember (as I'm sure many of us did) asking my parents just what a pair of Miners from Doncaster were going to do with said speedboat ? Cut it in half ?

But more to the point what were they supposed to do with it ? Tear it up along the River Don ?

The analogy came to mind as we read about the potential for Leeds United to soon be in receipt of a `war chest’ courtesy of the Haigh Consortium which the Yorkshire Evening Post tells us is looking to tie up a 75% purchase of the club. Now let’s be clear, this is not a Ken Bates style `War Chest’ - it seems some actual money may well be put in the pot to push Leeds from nearly-men in 8th place, to potentially a far higher finish.

History tells us we act rather rashly when confronted with money to spend, much like Dave and Andy from Doncaster (probably still proudly displaying half a Speedboat each in their mid terrace front gardens, like some kind of bizarre gate guardian)

Easy I hear you say. Buy back out of favour Max Gradel from St Etienne and Luciano Becchio from Norwich – tailor made ?

But when was the last time Leeds had money to spend – and did so sensibly ?

The case is not a compelling one. Awash with Champions league riches, Peter Ridsdale famously urged then Leeds United manager David O’Leary to try and buy Frank Lampard (apparently), which would have been a sensible buy. O’Leary ended up spending on Messrs Keane, Fowler and Johnson. With wage negotiations for the latter becoming something of a dictionary definition of high farce 'we’ll give you £25K a week Seth....' cue silence 'ok then £40K...' (Again allegedly).

Since relegation, on those rare occasions when money has been available, it hasn’t been spent too wisely either. Andy Robinson, Kevin Nicholls, Michael Ricketts - just three examples of transfer fees and wages judged poorly, but unfortunately that list is far from exhaustive.

Prior to that, Howard Wilkinson’s post championship squad saw players like White, Rocastle and a whole host of ordinary chaps from Sheffield all have transfer fees paid for them.

But in true Yorkshire style, it’s when there's bargains to be struck that Leeds seem to excel. Gradel, a snip at £200K from Leicester; Becchio a free agent; Snodgrass £300K from Livingston; Jermaine Beckford £100K from Wealdstone. Further back, Radebe cost a paltry £200K from Kaiser Chiefs; Hasselbaink a cool million from Boavista.

And then there’s home-grown talent. That list is truly a who’s who of EPL football glitterati: Smith, Kewell, Woodgate, Batty, Speed, Milner, Lennon, Robinson, Kelly, and Harte.

Current Leeds boss Brian McDermott has tapped into that vein of Yorkshire `carefulness’ and hasn’t splurged to even the levels of Neil Warnock in the close season. Cash was spent on Luke Murphy and Scott Wootton, but that was countered with the release of Somma, Bromby, Kisnorbo and the loaning out of Steve Morison. His other signings have been modest, and his most impressive addition – Alex Mowatt came from Thorp Arch.

If the rumours are true and cash becomes available in January, We can only hope that Leeds manage to blend these two guiding principles. Surely there's a middle ground betwixt Drunken Lottery Winner and parsimonious Yorkshireman - marching on 'carefully’!

image: © Chris Robertshaw

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