A familiar tale hung over Leeds United this week as yet another of its home grown players flew the nest. Fabian Delph may only have played one season in League One for Leeds, but in a very short space of time, the 19 year old made a big impression. The tenacious midfielder was a firm fans favourite but his undeniable talents soon caught the eye of the ‘big’ clubs in the Premier League and every one knew it was simply a matter of time before he departed Elland Road.
While current Leeds gaffer Simon ‘Larry’ Grayson only oversaw the 2nd half of Delph’s season, he resided over arguably one of the best young midfielders in the Football League. No doubt the link between Larry and the Villa boss Martin O’Neill was a huge factor in Delph’s move – Larry played under O’Neill at Leicester and he is in no doubt that the Bradford born player has the world at his feet, saying “”He has players capable of playing at the highest level and it’s a massive opportunity for Fab.”
So why Villa? Well as we all knew it was because of the manager he would be playing under and Delph was keen to be part of a side that has developed precosious young, English talent. And while Leeds themselves have been ‘praised’ for their handling of the transfer, adding that a bid from free-spending Man City had been turned down after they accepted Villa’s bid, Delph is adamant he was simply not tempted by the Eastlands club as he is ‘not motivated by money.’ He simply ‘wants to be the best he can and Villa can help him develop.’
So what next for Leeds? There is no doubt that there is a Delph shaped hole in midfield but there are players capable of filling it, from Jonny Howson, to Neil Kilkenny – if he stays and newly signed Micky Doyle; while that is some consolation for the Leeds faithful, fans can’t help but be disappointed their hottest prospect has moved on. Despite assuring fans that the club didn’t need to sell, Ken Bates somewhat inevitably gave in to the lucrativeness of the deal which would take Delph to Villa park, however many of the fans are divided, not only on the transfer but on the tenure of Bates himself.
On the one hand, the club have made – depending on which paper you read, around £8m from a 19 year old who has played just one season in the 3rd tier of English football. It is undoubtedly a huge sum for a relatively unproven player, despite his involvement with the England u-19 squad. On the other hand though, his was a talent which does not come along every day and one which may not been seen around West Yorkshire for a good while to come. In the center of midfield, Delph was often the driving force behind the team, his work rate was second to none and his willingness to run tirelessly for the team, making crunching challenges and his precision 40yrd passes was one which made him a firm favourite in the Geldard.
So with the money in the kitty, many would think Larry has money to spend, and if you believe Bates, he has as much as he needs however many are wondering how much will go towards the planned hotel in the East Stand, and the buy back of their training ground in Thorp Arch. Larry is certainly keeping his cards close to his chest, most of his signing’s this summer have surprised the fans; then again, that’s the type of manager he is. Intelligent and extremely shrewd. Some say there are no surprises left in football these days, tell that to Leeds fans because we never know who’s going to be coming in the door next.
Or out for that matter, with Beckford rumoured to have rejected another new deal , Bates seems to be keen to cash in on the prolific striker now, rather than see him leave for nothing next summer.