Guest blog for Fear & Loathing in LS11
So what can we expect from the Leeds United new boy? Sheffield Wednesday fan Laura Jones, shares her thoughts on the latest addition to the Elland Road squad, based on his performances during a loan spell earlier in the season with the Owls…
“He’s the new Paul Gascoigne”, a BBC commentator raved as Ross Barkley slotted home his second goal of the game against Ipswich Town for Sheffield Wednesday.
Don’t let this mislead you Barkley isn’t going to turn up to Elland Road with a Family Bucket of KFC and a four pack for you all. The commentator was talking about his ease and confidence on the ball. However it did take him weeks to show his potential, certainly longer than his ‘initial’ month’s loan. The Everton loanee came to Hillsborough on an initial month-long deal and his contract was extended on a week-by-week basis because the Toffee’s were reluctant to let him sign for longer. Barkley is very highly regarded by David Moyes and his development is seen very much like that of Leon Osman, with the expectation is he’ll be playing Premier League football in the very near future.
So what kind of player is Ross Barkley? He’s a creative midfielder who likes to play through the centre. He has decent pace and the ability to utilise a bit of feet trickery. For his age he has a striking natural style and looks graceful going forward. As a creative midfielder he also knows where the net is, depressingly more than some of our current strikers. There are also negatives – Barkley is also lightweight in the tackle and can be overcome by a slight breeze at times. He also disappears from matches. There can be long periods of games where you will wonder where he’s gone. To me he’s more Steve McManaman than Paul Gascoigne.
The big problem for Sheffield Wednesday was that Dave Jones (yes I know he’s a swear word in your language but I have to use his name), modified the team to fit around the young midfielder. Regularly playing a 4-5-1 formation to cope with his roaming creativity meant that we were left without essential strikers from a traditional 4-4-2 formation. I understand that it was a condition of Barkley’s loan that he would be played if he was capable, which in the early days of his loan when he was yet to find his feet annoyed a lot of Wednesday fans as he had ousted another decent signing Rhys McCabe in order to accommodate him.
Ross played 13 times for The Owls and scored four goals, the pinnacle of his Wednesday career being the 3-0 win over Ipswich Town. It was a very impressive performance but there has to be a caveat placed on this performance regarding Ipswich’s ineptitude at that time.The telling point is that Sheffield Wednesday have gained more points without Barkley in the team than with him. (13 games with Barkley 8 points, 13 games without Barkley 17 points) As a team in the relegation places he is a luxury The Owls could ill afford. Barkley was recalled to Everton after Phil Neville was ruled out due to knee surgery.
Don’t expect to keep Ross at Leeds United, give him time to settle in and enjoy him whilst he’s with you and wish him luck for the future when he leaves. Whether he’s what you need right now only time will tell.