Thanks to Calvin Daniel from Hudson River Blue the SBNation blog that covers MLS side New York City FC to answer some questions we had about the newest signing for Leeds United, Jack Harrison of Manchester City.
Harrison spent two seasons at NYCFC before coming over to England after Manchester City made a transfer agreement with MLS and their “sister” club NYCFC. He spent some time on loan at Middlesbrough last season, but the 21 year-old will now get a chance to shine at Leeds.
this one has come down to talks between Guardiola and Bielsa. Bielsa has persuaded Guardiola to let him come to Leeds. Harrison was part of City's pre-season tour of the USA.— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) July 30, 2018
As it’s been reported, the relationship between Pep Guardiola and Marcelo Bielsa is the reason that Harrison was allowed to come on loan to Leeds, so let’s hope that Harrison is everything that both Bielsa and Guardiola believe him to be.
1) What kind of player is he?
Calvin Daniel: Jack Harrison is a pacey winger that likes to take on defenders 1v1 and is a pretty technical player who has been known to make defenders in MLS look bad at times with his dribbling skills. He is also pretty good playmaker who flashed excellent vision at times and learned over time to make better use of occupying space and getting into good goal scoring positions when he was at his best.
2) Under Bielsa, the team will line-up in a 3-3-1-3 system with two wingers playing up top with a central striker with support from the fullbacks. How will Harrison fit into that sort of system?
CD: In that type of formation I could see Jack fitting in a couple of ways. The obvious choice is he would probably play as a winger in the front 3. In New York City FC, he played more on the right as an inverted winger, but Vieira would swap him over to the left side at times too.
Another possibility could be at wingback. Harrison showed a decent work rate and a willingness to track back and defend with NYCFC. Vieira would tinker with the formation at times, switching to a 3 man backline at times in games and Harrison played deeper as a wingback in those moments. That only happened a few times, though, so it is much more likely he’d play up top.
3) What does he do best, and what does he need to work on to become a complete player?
CD: Jack is at his best when he’s playing on the right side as an inverted winger. When he’s on the right he’s very good at cutting back and looking to curl one in the back of the net with that left foot of his. He’s got good pace and isn’t easy to knock off of the ball so when he’s going good he’s a nightmare for opposing fullbacks and defenders in general.
While Harrison has shown the ability to have great vision and make plays for others, he can get tunnel vision at times when he’s on the wing and focus more on trying to break down the defense on his own rather than play a nice 1-2 with his teammates to get into a better position. He’s shown to capacity to do so, though, so I think it’s more a matter of continuing to mature as a player.
4) The Championship can be a physical, difficult league with the amount of games, as, for example, Leeds played 51 last season in all competitions. How will he adjust to it after spending some time at Middlesbrough on loan last year?
CD: I would say that his time in MLS was a good preparation for the Championships in terms of its physicality. MLS is a league where pace and athleticism are still ahead of technical skill with a lot of players. Jack showed himself a pretty athletic and physical player himself during his time there. And as far as his loan stint last season, while he didn’t play much I think it was probably very informative for him on what will be expected of him in training and in interacting with coaches and teammates in the Championship.
5) How did he end up at New York City FC, and what are his long-term prospects?
CD: After playing a year of College Soccer at Wake Forest University, Jack Harrison was selected first overall in the MLS SuperDraft in 2016 in a draft day trade that sent him to New York City FC. In his two seasons with NYCFC he tallied 14 goals and 13 assists over 55 games played.
He made great strides in his second season, after an already impressive rookie campaign. Still only 21, Harrison has a ton of upside. While unclear if he will ever become a regular fixture for Manchester City, he has all of the skill and ability to be a starter in the Premier League in the near future.