Leeds United: Salt
You know when you’re cooking. And your hand slips with the salt. And before you know it there is a lot of SALT in your food. And you think, “this is going to taste “salty”. But still, you hope, even as you watch the granules of salt slowly dissolve and go that weird grey colour while desperately scrabbling for a spatula to try to lift out at least some of the salt, that it won’t taste “that salty”. But then you do taste it, and, despite all your hopes that it wouldn’t taste very salty, it does, in fact, taste very salty.
Well, that was how I felt watching Leeds vs Nottingham Forest. I thought it was going to taste salty, given all the salt we’d put in - the sale of Roofe, the failure to sign Kent, and the apparent insistence that Patrick Bamford would be enough - but, as of 12.30 on Saturday, there was still hope it might not be too salty. There was the 3-1 win at Bristol and Leeds were top of the league and bookies favourites to go up.
But, obviously, it did taste salty. Bamford missed, and missed, and missed again as Leeds pushed for the second goal that would have made the three points if not safe, then safer. So what follows probably isn’t going to be constructive, or informative, it’s going to be salty. It’s, hopefully, going to be cathartic.
Selling Roofe will be, perhaps already is, the single worst decision of Radrizzani’s reign. It makes absolutely no sense. Bielsa will not give Leeds another year and he is the only reason promotion is even possible, let alone likely. He has made it abundantly clear he did not want Roofe to leave. Roofe scored 13 and 15 in the last two years respectively to finish Leeds’ top scorer in both. His movement stretched defences and gave Bielsa-ball its greatest moments (like that header against Derby which is footballing perfection). And it was clear what Leeds were missing on Saturday, it’s what we knew Leeds would be missing - a man now tucking into some waffles in Anderlecht, Kemar Roofe.*
Instead, he has been sold for £7m rather than risk losing him for free at the end of the season. Promotion is worth at least fifteen times that.
*A quick caveat, Roofe probably wouldn’t have played anyway, he’s still recovering from his ankle injury.
But it was about what the game represented, the same problem that cost Leeds promotion in the summer rearing its ugly head again - a lack of finishing prowess. The failure of ambition; the failure to seize the moment; the failure to take a gamble on a season where almost everything appears in place is staggering. For now, we will have to pin our hopes on Eddie Nketiah - forced to sit out , and hope his shoulders (and ankles) can take it.