Famous players often define a generation at a football club, whether it be Revie, Bremner and Gray, Wilkinson, Strachan and McAllister, Martyn, Radebe and Kelly, or Jansson and Bartley. These players and many more placed themselves as legends at the club for what they did whilst wearing the white shirt.
In recent generations, there are not many players who fall into that category. However, two players wrote themselves into Leeds folklore not too long ago – Jermaine Beckford and Jonny Howson. Both these players have worn the shirt with pride and still today are welcomed as they never left every time they enter that Elland Road pitch.
Is it time to bring them back?
Jermaine, the goal machine that fired us back from the darkness of League 1 and scored the winner at Old Trafford. He is a player who, for an entire generation, is their favourite Leeds player. Some may sneer at that, but can we name a player who in recent time helped Leeds achieve what Beckford helped achieve?
Jermaine Beckford v Man Utd #LUFC pic.twitter.com/uZTuaOnVjr— #WALMOT (@WALM0T33) May 9, 2017
And then Jonny, the lad born and bred in Morley, the young captain, the ability and midfield nous we’ve never really had since his departure. Jonny also has done something not many players who left for pastures new has done: he has improved in quality. (The only others are Snodgrass and Gradel in my opinion.)
5 years ago today. Johnny Howson scored a dream goal in the final minute v Carlisle to send Leeds to Wembley! #lufc pic.twitter.com/m7larGnIFN— LeedsUtdPics (@LeedsUtdPics) May 15, 2013
So, it’s fitting because of their history with the club, that when talks about them leaving their current club surface, Leeds United is always going to be mentioned.
It’s a strange one, re-signing previous players. I wrote in October about how we should not re-sign Lewis Cook or bring him back on loan if he had become available in January, because sentiment means nothing to football. However, as the season played out, it became evident to me that a Lewis Cook type player was exactly what we needed.
Therefore I believe, to make a fair judgment on both players, we should take out our personal feelings which may cloud our judgement and quickly focus on whether signing Beckford and Howson could make a difference to our push for promotion next season.
I am going to start with Beckford. It was announced the other day that Beckford is set to be released at Preston North End when his contract expires in June. On the face of it, a player who can’t get a game at another Championship side isn’t worth the risk. However, Leeds do lack strength and experience upfront.
Chris Wood was our top scorer last season, with centre back Kyle Bartley in second with six goals. With Marcus Antonsson struggling and not looking capable in this league, or at least in this formation, we do require a goal scorer.
Hopefully, the attacking position will be addressed in the summer and if we keep Chris Wood, we will need an experienced goal scorer who gives everything for the shirt when called upon. There are few out there that would fit that bill better than Jermaine Beckford... though there are certainly a few.
Now on to Howson. I actually hope this rumour has some truth to it and isn’t just Leeds fans on Twitter feeling hopeful, because regardless of where he was born and everything the club means to Howson, he is a wonderful box-to-box, goal-scoring central midfielder.
The central midfield cost us at times last season, and a player like Howson could have made all the difference. We would need to pay a reasonable fee to Norwich, but that could be an investment that would pay dividends going forward.
Sentiment or not, Howson is a quality player with Premier League experience and Leeds would be better with him in the side. And he’s also a Leeds lad, what’s not to love?
I suspect that we will have numerous transfer speculation articles before the opening weekend in August, so consider this the first. As long as Garry Monk is given the job, I am sure he will make the correct decisions to take the club forward. But, personally, I wouldn’t be too upset to see either of Howson or Beckford in a Leeds shirt next season. MOT.