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Catch 22 Andy I think that SG finds himself in a difficult and delicate position with Howson. As club captain his current form is not up to scratch. He is in ongoing talks with Harvey and Co endeavouring to negotiate a new contract which at the moment seems to have stalled. Does SG grasp the nettle and drop his captain and run the risk of loosing him at the end of the season or hope that his form improves. At the moment he is the weakest link in our midfield set-up showing little signs of improvement. I have a feeling that the lad will be away come January. Shame really.. However if SG has the bottle to drop him who replaces him in midfield that is currently in better form ?? You are right in the fact that Johnny is not a leader on the field but as you know that is only a part of being club captain. Lucas R was never very vocal but led by example and he was surrounded by good players. If Johnny's form was up to scratch then we would not be having this discussion so IMO we should cut the lad a bit of slack and allow him to regain his form. I sincerely hope he does and remains at ER but that remains to be seen whether Harvey and Co want him to stay or are they trying to push the lad out knowing that he is being eyed up by others. MOT with Johnny Howson I hope
MOT with Johnny Howson, indeed, Tom – ‘just noticed TOM is MOT backwards; is that intentional?
Anyway, to the points you made, which I think are 'excellent'. They highlight the ‘my way or the highway’ negotiation ploy that Bates’ regime uses with player contracts.
I was not having a dig at Johnny Howson – well, maybe at his captaincy, but not his ability as a player. He has played well enough this term, given that he is out of position. The reason we think his form is not up to scratch is that we are comparing it to last season when he was in a formation that suited his style of play.
If Johnny were in a line-up that allowed him to go forward and produce the ‘perfect hat trick’ performances he delivered last season, his perceived value would increase. In negotiating a new contract with Leeds, this would give him more advantage.
Johnny thrives in a 4-5-1 formation. During the Coventry game, when the Sky Blues switched to 4-5-1, Leeds had the option of matching this formation, strengthening the midfield with, say, Vayrynen and allowing Johnny to do what he does best. Instead, Grayson stuck with a formation that showed Johnny as the weak link.
It is not in Bates’ plan for Leeds to gain promotion before 2013. Johnny Howson has the potential to be a Premiership player and, no doubt, Leeds wants to retain him, but on a four/five year deal at Championship wages!
Reading between the lines, what Johnny Howson means when he says ‘the draw’ of committing to Leeds is its potential return to the Premiership, is that he knows Bates has no intention to get the club there this season. You could be right in your feeling that the lad will be away come January.
I do not think this is a ‘Catch 22’ situation, which has more to do with bureaucracy; it is more like a Mexican Standoff!