"One swallow does not a summer make, nor one fine day; similarly one day or brief time of happiness does not make a person entirely happy." Aristotle [384BC - 322BC]
Aristotle, way back in the misty depths of antiquity had Leeds United fan's very essence summed up perfectly with this quote, especially when considering how we could be about to lose our captain and most consistent performer. Stephen Warnock may well be the 'swallow' in question and, before the chattering masses of Facebook descend and ring the clanging bells of doom, I'd like to take a look deeper into the numbers behind the man, building upon the excellent precis by Jake Porritt, and see whether his departure indeed will turn our glorious summer into a winter of discontent.
First off, there is very little argument that Stephen Warnock is firstly a more-than competent left back and foremost Leeds' most consistent defender of the season thus far; the numbers bear testimony to this.
- 55 successful tackles from 63 attempts - 87.30% tackle success rate
- lowest %age of missed tackles (12.70%) of all left backs with 15+ appearances
- 55 successful tackles leaves him #4 ranked left back/defender by tackles in the Championship
- 56 intercepted passes leaves him #14 ranked defender in the Championship; #1 ranked left back/defender
- 11 blocked passes leaves him #18 ranked left/back defender in the Championship
- 86 clearances leaves him #53 ranked defender in the Championship; #3 ranked left back/defender
- 671 accurate short passes leaves him #6 ranked left back/defender in the Championship
- 67 accurate long ball passes leaves him #4 ranked left back/defender in the Championship
- 24 shot assist passes leaves him #4 ranked left back/defender in the Championship
When looking at it as stark as this, the numbers do not lie and actually help to explain the sentiment behind a lot of Leeds fans when they will undoubtedly start to bemoan the loss of Stephen Warnock. If it is Derby who are the team in the hunt, as is being reported widely in the press, then they are getting a top Championship left back who is both tenacious and reliable?
What for Leeds though, what does it mean for them? If Warnock does fly the Elland Road nest then who will settle on his roosting perch at the left of defence. Two options spring instantly to mind; youngster Charlie Taylor and also Aidy White. Whilst Aidy White is the more experienced of the two, his proneness to injury is worrying and I am convinced that young Charlie Taylor, whilst exhibiting some excellent composure in the games against Sunderland and Bolton, is merely a stop-gap measure at best.
Which leads me to my 'Mr Suspicious' persona...*dons big hat and dark scarf*
Releasing Stephen Warnock on a 'free' as has been suggested releases up another spot on the 'established player' list at Elland Road. This means that Leeds, under the limitations imposed by the 'Transfer Embargo (of sorts)', will now only have 19 established players (21 and over or 5+ starts for the club) out of the maxiumum 24 allowed. This frees Leeds up to bring in another player as long as the incoming player is paid no more than 75% of Stephen Warnock's 'player expense' which is basically the per annum cost of employing him; Leeds must also stay within a total imposed maximum 'player expense' of £600,000 pro rata or £11,538 per week. Suddenly, if looking at it like this, this move takes on an altogether new persona.
Maybe there is someone lined up and waiting in the wings, just maybe.
As Aristotle said, maybe having Warnock was our "brief time of happiness" but one that "does not make a person entirely happy". Maybe happiness is waiting to happen.