27 August 2007 :: by
Dennis Wise has spoken frankly about Leeds United's desperate search for players as the end of the transfer window looms. Wise was subject to a transfer embargo until just eight days before the season kicked off. But despite a flurry of activity that immediately saw a dozen players put pen to paper the high profile activity has been on moves out of Elland Road with David Healy (Fulham FC) and Eddie Lewis (Derby County) moving to the Premiership and Robbie Blake returning to Burnley FC and Stephen Crainey and Richard Cresswell also finding a Championship berths.
"The next few days are very important. I need to get some players in, I really do.
Referring to Matt Heath and Rui Marques he continued,
"I'm playing with two centre-halves and that's unfair on them. I've got to have competition there, and I probably need a second goalkeeper and three more (outfield) players."
The need for outfield players has been exacerbated by the late move for the influential Eddie Lewis to Derby County. Lewis had looked all set to play for Wise in League One and Wise has already publicly lamented his loss to the team. Lewis is a big loss because he played internationally for the USA at left back and more usually for Leeds United on the left wing - versatility is a bonus for smaller squads in the lower leagues.
"We've put offers in for certain players, and people know who they are. We're still trying to go back because they're the players that we've singled out and the players that we'd like to sign. I hope we get them because we need them."
By being so open Wise is hardly being a poker player here but Wise is maintaining the pressure on Simon Gayson at Blackpool, Ronnie Moore at Tranmere Rovers and John Collins at Hibernian, all of whom have stated that they do not want their targeted players to move to Leeds United. But the players (full back Shaun Barker at Blackpool, winger Steve Davies at Tranmere and central defender Rob Jones at Hibs) will only only focus on the words where they have been 'singled out' and are wanted. So will their agents who know all three (and themselves) will get a better financial package at a Leeds United now free of debt. As three experienced managers they know they are involved in a dangerous game of chicken with Wise at this late stage of the transfer window. If they continue to resist and Leeds come in with late improved offer then the decision may be taken out of their hands by a board that may want to cash in on what they perceive as too good an offer to refuse. Then the managers are left with very little time to spend the money before the transfer window slams shut on them. One or more may decide the writing is on the wall and cash in so that they can get a good replacement in before their season is disrupted by the loss of a player to Leeds. Of course in any game of chicken their is risk to both sides and Wise could end up without making a signing and an under-strength squad until after Christmas!
Whether Ken Bates will have the money available to prise the players away from their clubs remains to be seen. Apart from the three high profile players already mentioned Wise is also looking for at least goalkeeper and another two outfield players. Buying six players maybe more that the budget can take but Wise is adamant that he will not take up the slack by temporary loan players as he was forced to do in his first, relegation, season. Leeds fans will also call the relegation season from the Premiers League where the squad was full of, largely foreign, loan players too.
The loss, at short-notice, of Bolton Wanderers loanee Lubomir Michalik last season still clearly rankles with Wise who said,
"I don't like loan players because last year I got murdered with Lubo.
"At twelve-thirty on a Friday afternoon, when we'd finished all our set plays, I got a phone call from someone saying he was going back. That's why I don't like it, and I need to sign players permanently."
Like thousands of Leeds fans, Dennis Wise must now sit and watch the clock and see if Ken Bates can find the money and the persuasive powers to bring in the players that Wise believes will give him a fair chance to overcome the ludicrous fifteen point Football League penalty.
(Thanks to the Yorkshire Evening Post
- our source for the Dennis Wise quotes.)
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