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Jonny Howson: Deal Or No Deal?

Tuesday 24th January 2012
News last week that Leeds United had accepted a bid of around £2 million pounds from Norwich for club captain Jonny Howson infuriated the Elland Road faithful, leading them to criticise the club over its lack of ambition. The proposed deal is the latest in a long line of Leeds players who have seen negotiations over new contracts fail to come to fruition, and as a result have moved on to other clubs. However, it is the particular case of the imminent departure of the club's Leeds born captain that has really got their blood boiling.
To the fans, Jonny Howson is one of them. He is a local lad whose dreams have come true to play and captain the team that he supports. As captain of the club, he has played a major role for the team and has been involved in the some special moments. Leeds fans will always remember his late winning goal against Carlisle in the League 1 play off semi final that helped the club to Wembley in 2008. Two years later, his vital equaliser before Beckford's winner against Bristol Rovers set the club on their way to securing promotion to the Championship on the final day of the 09/10 season. It is moments like these that has attracted interest from clubs in the top flight for his signature, and at 23, he has a big future ahead of him. However, for me, though disappointed to see an important player for the side leaving, the deal made by Norwich is actually quite a good one. Bear with me on this one Leeds fans.

Last season was arguably Jonny's best season, scoring 11 goals and a string of impressive performances which was recognised with a call up to the England under 21's. This season, and many fans will probably agree with this, Jonny has been well below par. For whatever reason, he has just not been the same player. As captain, you would expect him to dominate the game, driving his team forward. Sadly, I haven't seen any of this from him during this year's campaign. A major criticism of his performances this year is his tendency to go missing in games. This is hugely frustrating for fans watching him and most certainly for the player himself. We all know the talent the lad has in his locker, but his inability to dictate games and dominate the midfield has been a major problem for the team.

The speculative reason behind his poor form could be down to the failed contract talks between himself and Leeds. Talks have been ongoing for the last 12 months but no deal has been agreed. As captain and a fan of the club, Jonny Howson would love to get promoted with Leeds United, but with his sale to Norwich, it suggests he doubted the club would be doing that in the near future. He has stated in a number of reports of his desire to test himself in the Premiership at the nearest opportunity and I like most fans can respect that. When Norwich came in with an offer of Premiership football, it must have been very hard for Jonny to turn it down. What young player wouldn't want to play in the Premiership? I, like the majority of Leeds fans would have loved for Jonny to stay and lead the club back to the Premier League. This is now not the case, but the deal on the table actually benefits the club.

Simon Grayson and the club had a huge dilemma, keep Jonny and let him go for free in the summer if the club failed to get promotion, or take the money and invest it in the squad. Looking at the club's current predicament, I would have taken the money and agree with the club's decision. Leeds, sitting just outside the top six, needs new blood, especially to improve the leaky defence. With the money from the Howson deal, the club can bring in new players who can make an immediate impact. Leeds needs players in now, to make an impact right away. Jonny Howson is currently injured, and at the latest would be back in March. With this in mind, and his poor form, it is most likely he is not going to be vital in getting the club promoted. With Howson being sold, along with money from Max Gradel's move, money is now there for Simon Grayson to spend on areas of the squad that are lacking quality and are needed to be improved if the club are to meet Ken Bates' aim of promotion this season.

Jonny Howson is a talented midfield player who has been a great servant to Leeds United, and if Norwich can unlock his true potential they have a real classy player on their hands. For Leeds, Jonny's presence as captain will be missed, but if his sale means the club can bring in better players to improve the team and boost the chances of Leeds United gaining promotion, surely that is a good deal?

Michael Wood
Michael Wood

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