Patrick Bamford has had a very eventful season for Leeds United. He was brought in back in August for the largest transfer fee that Leeds have paid since the days of Ridsdale to be the number one striker at the club after failing to nail down a starting place at Middlesbrough. And while Bamford has shown flashes of skill and scoring touch that made his signing a priority for the club, he also has been injured and also banned for diving. With his return from suspension, he’s now got an opportunity to demonstrate why Leeds shelled out all that money in the first place.
Patrick Bamford ready to repay Leeds after ‘stupid’ suspension, says Liam Cooper pic.twitter.com/W3FBRcygmW— footainment (@F00tainment) May 14, 2019
The 25 year-old former Chelsea striker has made 24 appearances for Leeds this season, scoring 10 goals and picking up two assists. Normally, that kind of return for a striker would be considered money well spent, as a goal every-other-game ratio is about what you would expect. The problem, of course, comes with the number of appearances and his goal scoring record down the stretch for Leeds, when it seemed he missed a number of chances in key games.
Leeds have played over 46 league games this season, two League Cup games, an FA Cup game, and now a Championship Playoff game, which adds up to 50 games so far. And while Mateusz Klich was the only player to appear in every game for Leeds this season, it’s reasonable to assume that a player brought in for a large transfer fee would appear in more than half the games. Spending money on a striker is good and all, but if the player can’t make the pitch, then what good is he?
Bamford also appears to have “won” his starting spot more because of the injury to Kemar Roofe than by his own merits. Roofe is the leading scorer for Leeds this season, and while he’s also gone a bit dry in the second half of the season, he still has managed 15 goals in 34 appearances this season. The two of them have been played together, with limited success, as while Roofe doesn’t have the height that Bamford has, he’s more of a poacher when it comes to converting opportunities.
Bielsa was happy with Bamford's performance, despite chances going begging. Said it's worse for a striker if they're not getting into positions to score. Bamford took up plenty of good ones today. #lufc— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) February 23, 2019
The other reason Bamford gets a lot of criticism is because of the chances that he has been unable to convert. Bamford had a rather significant dry spell about the time that Leeds were dropping points, all leading up to the Villa game where he “simulated” being struck in the face, getting a Villa player sent off unjustly. While Leeds fans can usually excuse someone trying hard and just not converting, to get a ban for pretending to be struck and getting an opponent sent off is just shameful.
Bamford now has an opportunity to put all of this behind him tonight. If he scores, or at least plays well, he’ll answer his critics and reward those who have backed him. Derby didn’t look like they would score in a million years the last two times these two team played, and if Bamford is able to get an early goal, they playoff match could very well be put to bed. Here’s hoping it plays out that way for Leeds fans and Bamford himself.