This transfer window was supposed to be different. With the shadowy spectre of Ken Bates removed from the club, this was a month where the comings were supposed to be the big news, and the goings were the culling of the no-hopers that Brian McDermott inherited from Neil Warnock. Yet here we are again, Leeds United fans sat nervously ticking down the days till the window slams shut, hoping that no one comes in to steal the remaining family silver.
An initial bid for Ross McCormack from Middlesbrough was laughed at, with there surely being no way that the board would sanction the sale of one of our few quality players. That feeling seemed to be reinforced by the statements emanating from our new chairman, Salah Nooruddin, who told Ben Jacobs on Talk Sport on the 6th August that the manager would be backed financially to make two more signings.
However as time as worn out, and Middlesbrough have persisted in their pursuit of McCormack, the tide of opinion has changed, and suddenly all the optimism leading up to the start of the the season of a new start at Leeds United has dissipated into the same old wariness of what exactly out owners are up to.
It seems clear that whatever investment has come in over the summer, it has been swallowed up to service outstanding debt or to provide cashflow for a business that is still struggling to recover from two seasons of supporter disenfranchisement. There is no money for incoming transfers unless there are some outgoings.
Herein lies the problem. Barring McCormack and the stricken Sam Byram, there is little in terms of saleable assest in the Leeds United squad. We are top heavy in grizzled veterans with absolutely no resale value, and relatively high wages which means cancelling contracts is financially unviable, and makes other clubs unable to match salaries, even if they are willing to take on our deadwood.
We would all love to see the likes of David Norris, Danny Pugh and Michael Brown move on, preferably for a fee but more importantly to free up some wage budget to give Brian McDermott something to play with. Unfortunately, thanks to Warnock, we are stuck with Brown for another year and there are not too many takers for Norris and Pugh.
That leaves us with very little option but to sell if we are to bring in players of the quality required to compete at the top level of the Championship. El Hadji Diouf would be the preffered option to move on, but his age, temprament and salary all combine to make a sale a highly unlikely event. The best hope of moving Diouf on would be for a Qatari team come in and offer him one last bumper pay-day.
Last week I wrote about our need to find a consistent goalscorer and despite the majority of you disagreeing that up front was the area to strengthen, Saturday highlighted that perfectly. It was another performance of grit and determination but, bar one shining moment, totally devoid of quality. We had no goal threat with Dom Poleon running down blind alleys and Luke Varney being ... well Luke Varney!
The one moment of quality came from Ross McCormack . His run and finish was sublime, good enough to make Leeds hating Garry Birtles nominate him as the Championship goal of the week. The celebration that followed his goal showed that he wants to stay here, the reception given to him by the supporters showed that the vast majority of us want him to stay. The manager has said that he doesn't want to sell McCormack and the player has said he doesn't want to leave. The only people being silent are the ones that really matter.
However they say that no news is good news. GFH simply may want to test how far Middlesbrough are willing to go. If they offered £2M+, who is to say that isn't a good deal. McCormack is our best player at the moment, but he is far from the Messiah that a lot of people are portraying him as. I may be being controversial but he doesn't convince me as being the answer to our goalscoring problems. He is a creative player who will has a history of getting on a goalscoring streak, then going long stretches without netting. I'm not sure he has what it takes to be a 20 goals a season man.
The next 12 days are going to be very long ones. Twitter will burn up with wild speculation and opinionated bloggers will all have their tuppence worth to say on the matter. None of what we say or do will matter, only the powers that be at Leeds United know what is really going on. My heart says he will stay, my head says he will go, my guts say that if he does go he will be replaced. We will just have to wait and see.
PS - While I was writing this the club brought in Chris Wooton, a centre back from Scum for an undisclosed fee. I've never heard of him and they don't often sell players that go on to be superstars. The transfer may have an influence on the McCormack saga.