Morley born Jonny Howson is currently travelling to East Anglia to hold talks with Norwich after an 'undisclosed' fee was agreed between the two clubs thought to be around the £2 million mark. Club Captain Howson, whose contract is up at the end of the current campaign has been a major part of the Leeds side since making his debut in 2006 during a League Cup tie with Barnet. After making his debut for the first team, Howson has gone on to make over 200 appearances for United, in a number of different positions including all over the midfield and just behind the striker, a role in which he has flourished. The 23 year old ironically scored his first goal for Leeds against Norwich at Carrow Road during the year that would see the Whites relegated to League One for the first time in their history. The midfield man has hit a total of 28 goals in United colours and could always be relied on to score a vital goal for the club. Some of Howson's more important goals include his two against Carlisle in the League One play-off semi final second leg to steer United to Wembley, and his equaliser after coming of the substitutes bench against Bristol Rovers in the game that saw Leeds climb out of League One and back into the Championship.
However, Howson was not only known for scoring goals. Since his injury against Millwall at the start of December, United have lacked a real creative spark and a team that couldn't stop scoring goals during the last season and a half is now barely troubling the score sheets. These seem to be very worrying times for the football club and part of a club statement read " The club had been in discussions with the player about a new contract at Elland Road for more than 12 months, but he has been steadfast in his position that he would like the opportunity to play Premier League football and on that basis Jonny hasn't felt in a position to commit himself to Leeds United at this moment in time ". How can the club fail to make the homegrown, club captain and longest serving player at the club 'feel in a position to commit himself'? Jonny Howson obviously feels that signing a new deal at Leeds United means he wouldn't be getting Premier League football anytime soon and feels joining Bradley Johnson at Norwich is a better option.
If Howson feels the need to jump ship, what chance do we have of securing Robert Snodgrass and Adam Clayton on long term deals? Both of whom will be in the exact same position as Howson this time next year (if we keep them that long). Meanwhile another homegrown talent, Tom Lees is being pursued by Bolton, a team who are also taking an interest in Adam Clayton. Furthermore, it has been reported by the same newspaper that broke the Howson news that Ross McCormack was at the Wigan game on Monday night with his agent, so there is a strong posibility that come the end of January we could be without our captain and our top scorer.
Of course unsuccessful contract negotiations are not a new thing at Leeds United but I think the failure to tie Howson to a new contract is the last straw for many Leeds fans. Should Howson agree personal terms with Premier League Norwich he will be following a number of key first team players out of the exit doors at Elland Road since the club won promotion from League One. These players include Jermaine Beckford, Bradley Johnson, Neil Kilkenny, Kasper Schmeichel and Max Gradel. All of whom would have agreed fresh terms with Leeds but for inept contract talks with the men in charge whether that be Bates, Harvey or Grayson. Neil Kilkenny made his feelings about Ken Bates clear when he scored at Elland Road in the recent game with his new side Bristol City. The Aussie angrily ran over to where the chairman sits at Elland Road to vent his frustrations at Bates. Both Bradley Johnson and Kasper Schmeichel went public to defend their name after Bates had publically slated them over the breakdown of talks, while Max Gradel had made clear he wanted to stay at Leeds in the press before the club allowed the saga to drag on and on so much that Gradel's head was turned and he too eventually wanted out. Leeds United can attract some great players such as the Gradel's, the Beckford's and so on but they can't hold on to any of them and now the same goes for promising young players the club produce at Thorp Arch. As soon as a players contract is nearing an end we are forced to get rid in a cut price deal or risk losing them for nothing at the end of their contract. The sad truth is we all know the exact same thing will happen again and again with the likes of Snodgrass, Clayton and others.
Ken Bates still expects the dedicated Leeds support to pay Premier League ticket prices though and for what? So we can see the likes of Danny Pugh wander round the Elland Road pitch having no effect on the game at all? Or maybe a new loan star? I've been a season ticket holder for 15 seasons now but this latest chapter is really making me question whether it is worth making it 16. I probably will because I enjoy going to the game too much but I know that this is the last straw for so many hardcore United followers, some who have even seen the likes of Bremner and co give their all for Leeds United.
The good news though, is that the Fabian Delph stand is nearing completion while we continue to sell our best players and who knows, he may even be back in time for the grand opening.