The results on the pitch have gone Leeds United’s way since the away draw with Brentford, as the Whites recorded their third straight win in League One away to Stockport County.
Leeds were impressive in the 4-2 win as they came from 2-1 down to end up comfortable winners courtesy of late strikes by Leigh Bromby and Jermaine Beckford. The controversial striker Beckford has been the centre of attention for all the good and not so good reasons. Some have questioned his loyalty to the Leeds United cause when he refused the contract extension offer tabled by the management, yet his goals on the pitch have helped to quiet down the critics.
His contribution to the team has been invaluable, as shown by his brace against Stockport which propelled Leeds even further ahead in the league standings. The problem with Beckford is not his scoring record or the criticism which goes his way when his contribution is limited to his mere presence on the pitch, but rather to his rejection of the Leeds offer to extend his contract.
With the January transfer window officially set to open, Beckford has already been linked with a move to Newcastle United. In fact there were reports of an offer tabled by the Magpies for £1.25 million which was rejected by the management of Leeds. The Newcastle Manager Chris Hughton is a known admirer and it is believed the Magpies offered Leeds the sum following Beckford’s recent bust up with the striker when he refused to shake Simon Grayson’s hand following a recent substitution. The Whites have rejected the offer because it does not meet the club’s asking price which is believed to be in the range of £2 million or around this figure. It may seem as a low asking price but the player will move for free come the summer as he will be a free agent so the two million pounds are better than nothing if Beckford is no longer focused on the Leeds cause.
It has also been rumoured Beckford would like to move away but not before participating in the hyped clash with old rivals Manchester United. It remains to be seen how the supporters of the Whites will view this conundrum, as the striker was highly regarded until his contract debacle during the summer. Manager Simon Grayson will have a hard task replacing the prolific striker who cost the club close to nothing when he signed for a mere £45,000 in March 2006. It does appear as if the FA Cup clash at Old Trafford could be Beckford’s last in Leeds colours unless Newcastle’s offer is not up to the valuation of Leeds.
Grayson is perhaps concerned with Beckford’s status, but the results on the pitch have once again begun to swing Leeds United’s way as the players have recovered their killer instinct in front of goal. One positive news for the Boss is the renewal of Max Gradel’s loan contract for another few weeks. Gradel has been a bright spot since joining the Elland Road side but he is certain not to feature in the FA Cup as he is ineligible based on the agreement.
Grayson admitted he was ecstatic to have Gradel remain with the side for another three weeks, as he will give the club a boost of the bench or as a starter in the next two League One matches prior to his departure. The winger who is on loan from Leicester City has found the back of the net on three occasions in a total of 12 matches played, mostly while he came off the bench.
The Manager took the opportunity to praise his players after building an eight point lead over second place Charlton having played a game less as well. Grayson also stood by his players after his side’s disciplinary record came to the attention following the £2,500 fine incurred as six Leeds players were cautioned against Stockport. In Grayson’s defense none of Leeds United’s players have received a red card in 32 official matches played by the Whites this season.
Grayson’s main focus will be on continuing the strong drive towards promotion to the Championship, while acknowledging the club is bound to face a few bumps here and there in the quest to win the division.