Within every club, the discussion around which area to strengthen is always ongoing and Leeds are no different. Since mid-September when things started to change for the club, the centre forward position was emphasised as the priority to be looked at.
The lack of real depth within the striking department is definitely unnerving, even with a goal from Souleymane Doukara yesterday. The lack of movement so far within the window doesn’t help settle those nerves, and I began to wonder...
Obviously, we have Chris Wood. The Big Kiwi is singlehandedly carrying the team in terms of his goals this season. Wood deserves so much praise for his performances this year, especially as he is often unnecessarily criticised even though his scoring record at Leeds stands up against anyone. Our editor joked online yesterday that he might score 30 goals this season... but he’s on pace for 28 in league play alone. Maybe not a joke after all.
Chris Wood so far this season...— Oddschanger (@Oddschanger) January 25, 2017
Games - 32
Goals - 20
Absolutely flying! ✈️ pic.twitter.com/4yTAj5SYox
Mallik Wilks has just signed his first professional contract but the Leeds lad will need a lot more exposure before anyone can say he is ready for the bear pit of the Championship, let alone an intense push for promotion.
The only other out-and-out striker is Marcus Antonsson. However, Antonsson’s standing within the Leeds set-up sometimes puzzles me. For how much I can’t fault his commitment and work rate, the formation and quality of football Leeds are playing at the minute just seems to highlight Antonsson’s lack of quality at this level. Furthermore, there is the fact that in the 16 league appearances Antonsson has made he has only started 3 games, all of which were back in August. His involvement has become even more diminished over the last few weeks. Against Barnsley we were losing 3-2 and chasing the equaliser and Garry Monk chose not to put Antonsson on - that decision for me speaks for itself.
We have other players who could fit into the striker role - both Kemar Roofe and Souleymane Doukara have covered for the absent Wood at times this season. First, Roofe.
After an indifferent start, Kemar has settled into the team brilliantly over the last few months and established himself within the squad. However, for me at least, at this level he is better suited playing in the supporting midfielder role. His pace and control whilst in possession supplements the formation down to the ground and at this level of football, you are best playing to your strengths. In the current set-up that means behind the striker not as the striker.
And that brings us to Souleymane Doukara, a player the internet seems to talk about just as much we do Massimo Cellino. It’s hard to tell which Souleymane Doukara is going to venture out on to the pitch every game. The man is the definition of inconsistent.
In parts this season he has been the unplayable beast bullying defenders for fun, and at other times he struggles to get into the game and everything he does is erratic and poor.
However, I do believe certain opposing sides do deserve recognition for playing a system which isolates and nullifies Doukara. The difference however with Doukara is that he has an eye for a goal at this level (his wonder strike against Forest last night was a pleasure to behold). That is something that we definitely lack (outside of Chris Wood, obviously).
Remember him? Sacko is a wonderful talent and somebody we have missed whilst he has been injured, especially against Barnsley. His pace and drive could have made all the difference but his finishing ability is questionable at times, along with his decision making at important moments. A striker’s ability has to be natural and not over thought, and I simply question Sacko’s ability to do that. He’ll have a spot in the team when he returns, but we likely need more quality in the attack moving forward.
Overall, while the players above have been good enough to get us here, the addition of one more striker in the next week is a must for us to endure and compete in the playoff positions for the rest of the season.
This is the best squad of players we have had in years and, without a doubt, it’s our best chance of achieving promotion. Garry Monk has suggested that he expects at least two new arrivals before the window closes, but time is running out. My fear is that previous transfer window mistakes have cost us the chance of promotion before... and my hope is that we don’t make those same mistakes again. MOT.