Forgotten Leeds United moment justifies Angus Kinnear transfer revelation in convincing fashion

Leeds United have spent somewhere in the region of £25 million on first-team additions this summer.

While the under-23s have seen renewed investment once again, the first-team has been largely left as it was at the end of the 2020/21 campaign.

A ninth place finish perhaps evoked the old adage of ‘if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it’ at boardroom level, but Chief Executive Angus Kinnear revealed recently it was always Leeds’ intention to spend comparably less this summer.

The lack of activity has been cause for concern for many supporters, who perceive the intentional silence on the transfers front as a death knell for top half ambitions once again.

While other teams strengthen around them, Leeds are somewhat standing still in the eyes of their supporters.

Combined with Leeds’ hit-and-miss record in the January window, and Marcelo Bielsa’s personal disdain for the winter market, there is the fear this could well be Leeds’ squad for the entire 2021/22 campaign.

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Nevertheless, there have been clear upgrades at left-back and No. 2 goalkeeper, as well as securing eight-goal, eight-assist winger Jack Harrison on a permanent deal – but that has done little to ease the worries of many.

Kinnear said when speaking to The Square Ball Podcast last week, that Leeds had ‘front-loaded’ their transfer spending in the first summer after promotion.

This meant the club would spend beyond their means to secure their Premier League status, before scaling back expenditure in year two.

Aside from a handful of positions, Leeds have cover in most areas of the pitch, suggesting Kinnear and his fellow executives were justified in holding off on the £100 million outlay once again this summer, which would have bloated the squad and gone against Marcelo Bielsa’s wishes.

That said, a 5-1 opening day defeat to Manchester United in which the absence of defensive midfield lynchpin Kalvin Phillips was sorely felt, hardly eased those concerns over a lack of transfer activity.

Leeds United’s Luke Ayling (right) celebrates with team-mate Stuart Dallas after scoring their side’s first goal of the game during the Premier League match at Old Trafford

There was one instance during those difficult 90 minutes which provided Leeds fans with some joy, which was ultimately all too fleeting.

Luke Ayling’s arrowed, right-footed strike into the top left-hand corner from outside the box sent the travelling horde of away fans into rapture at Old Trafford.

For a brief moment, all gripes and grievances over the need for an additional central midfielder vanished – until Mason Greenwood was played in at the other end 90 seconds later, that is.

That moment will not exactly be forgotten anytime soon, and certainly not in the Ayling household, but it did pale into insignificance rather quickly.

What it did signify though, was the Leeds Board were justified in not getting an itchy trigger finger after a season in which Ayling featured 38 times but returned no goals and no assists.

Impatient directors and transfer chiefs would have potentially looked at Ayling’s headline numbers and decided they would need upgrading.

But, Leeds’ hierarchy does not operate in such a manner, and the value of Ayling’s ball-carrying, versatility and stand-in leadership whenever Liam Cooper is unavailable, is largely intangible.

The 29-year-old scoring Leeds’ first goal of the season after a campaign of blanks was justification for an avoidance of knee-jerk transfers – and no doubt a rather large monkey off his back on a personal level.

As the final weeks of the window approach and transfer desperation intensifies, extending the tactic of forbearance in the market may help Leeds avoid labouring themselves with a hastily thought-out midfield addition which would clog up the first-team squad, blocking the pathway of some of the standout under-23s.

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