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What Leicester City Can Expect From Jermaine Beckford - By A Leeds United Fan

by James Brown
6 September 2011 27 Comments

Written just before Jermaine Beckford joined Everton, this Leeds United fan considers what the player has to offer. Fans of Leicester City take note...

Written just before Beckford joined Everton, this Leeds United fan highlight the ups and downs of Jermaine Beckford and considers what the player has to offer. Fans of Leicester City take note…

For those whose football teams lie some distance from the Champions League, perhaps in a small working class port, or the sort of light industrial city The Office was set in or perhaps, like mine, within the stadium of a fallen giant, there are times when the dissatisfied views of the fans of the ‘Big Four’ seem not only spoilt but also downright bizarre. Such a moment came last year when a frustrated Arsenal fan was screeching down the phone to 5Live’s 606 phone-in that Arsene Wenger should take a chance and sign up Jermaine Beckford.

For those of us football fans who have witnessed the ups and downs of Beckford’s three seasons in the first team at Elland Road the suggestion seemed as weird as British Forces asking for Action Man to be sent to Helmand Land. Sure his physique and goals scored record might well have fooled disorientated Gunners into thinking Jermaine might be the Second Coming of Thierry Henry but in reality I believe JB could only currently be described as a Netto version of the Va Va Voom Ball Handler.

Fans of Everton, who JB is believed to have signed a pre-contract with, will shortly come to realise that Beckford benefits from the perspective that things always look better from a distance. Just as football fans admire players from foreign leagues and fantasise about how they might do fitting into their own side, so some fans look down the divisions, see a fantastic goal rate and assume if the player can do it against Swindon or Carlisle they can presumably do it against Aston Villa or Liverpool. Ok let’s face it, he’s just shot my team out of the Third Division and into the Second and now he’s legging it, I’m slightly disappointed but most of these impressions have built up over the last two seasons when he was perceived to have been flying.

In the modern game when International Stars fill the shirts of our leading clubs many Lower Division legends never get the chance to hit the big time, others – perhaps wisely choose not to. Wolves’ Steve Bull was probably the last centre forward to carve out the sort of reputation Jermaine Beckford has fashioned for himself outside of the top division, only Bully spurned the opportunity to leave his hometown club for brighter lights and bigger stadia. There are those amongst us at Leeds that wish Beckford would spend a few more years examining the value of the Steve Bull Career Guide than following a path which has prompted Leeds’ manager, a steady no-nonsense fellow who played most of his career in the Premiership with Leicester, Aston Villa and Blackburn, to suggest ‘Jermaine is being badly advised.’ At the heart of this lies the belief that Beckford’s been great for us but he isn’t good enough to play in a Top Eight Prem club and that both he and Leeds would benefit from a year in the Championship first.

Such is the lure of the big time and better money and the chance to play against some of the biggest names in world football that Beckford appears to be jumping a division and a club higher than his ability warrants. There is no doubting his ability to score goals in the Third Division but few who have seen him play week in week out believe he has the footballing brain or skill to go up against average Premier League defenders never mind the international stars of Chelsea, Manchester United and co. There is no Dunne, Vermaelen or Vidic at Yeovil, Tranmere or Hereford. One who does believe Beckford will prosper anywhere is Leeds and Scotland great Eddie Gray who sees him as an out and out natural goalscorer who will only improve from better service.

Beckford certainly performed excellently in Leeds United’s three FA Cup games against Manchester United and Spurs last season, embarrassing Wes Brown by highlighting what a poor defender he is, but to me it was a poor first touch and then a great finish that gave him the beating of Brown. Call that luck. We will take it thank you very much but it’s unclear how tolerant fans of a team with greater European expectations will be when Jermaine misses chances, as he often does, and the luck goes the other way. At Leeds he was our most prolific striker so when he was off target and off form we had to lump it, this just doesn’t happen in the Premiership does it?

The main opportunity for Beckford at the highest level in English football is that he becomes a student of the Lineker Owen Poaching School. His pace will ‘always make him a threat’ as Grayson and other managers happily report. However this is countered not by a poor first touch but a poor second touch. That’s not to say he can’t finish. At Walsall last autumn he put seven balls onto the motorway before hitting a beautiful spinning volley into the back of the net from distance. Like Henry at Arsenal Beckford is best when picking the ball up in the inside left position and charging into the goal area curling the ball round trembling centre backs and a blinded keeper. His hunger to drive into the box though waivers and his talent is often undermined by a lack of effort, patience and even confidence -which can all make him a baffling and frustrating player. Notably within a game his popularity can see him range from being called ‘Jermaine’ or ‘Beckford’ by the same fans within seconds. At times he has managed to be both one of Leeds most prolific strikers and one of our most unpopular. Fans love attitude and application and JB can at times make a lazy f***** like Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink look like Tevez or Bellamy. Despite all that most fans would want him in our side on any given week. They just feel he tends to drift out and toss it off sometimes when he should be chasing down.

Leeds plucked him from Wealdstone where he had ended up after being released from Chelsea’s youth system. He spent time in the LUFC reserves and out on loan at Carlisle and Scunthorpe where he fired in 8 goals in the last two months of a season that saw Scunthorpe promoted to the Championship and Leeds relegated to League One. Clearing out senior forwards like Richard Cresswell, Robbie Blake and David Healey, who hadn’t responded to him Dennis Wise decided it was time to give the two bargain basement reserves – Beckford and Kandol a go. And they did well at in league One. Beckford fired in 20 goals in his first season in the first team as we racked up 91 points but had 15 taken away for financial f***-ups. Carrying an injury on the day, he failed to push Leeds past Doncaster in the Play Off Final at Wembley. The following year he notched up 34 and this season just gone he joined the great John Charles in being the only Leeds United players to score 30 goals in a season twice.

What has rarely been highlighted in his rise has been the arrival two seasons ago of Robert Snodgrass, 22, the one senior player on Leeds United’s books that most people agree could definitely fit into a first team squad in the Premiership. Until the latter half of this season when he has looked tired Snodgrass has been Beardsley to Beckford’s Andy Cole, sending in crosses and through balls that have given JB goals on a plate. It was no co-incidence that Leeds’ goal drought throughout spring coincided with a loss of form from the tough young Scot.

Beckford’s tally of 85 odd goals in three first team seasons has thankfully and finally been enough to drive Leeds United back onto an upward trajectory but there are many of us that believe a season in the Championship with the club he has grown with, who plucked him from obscurity, would serve his career better than a season spent in the Everton reserves before he is farmed out to Preston on loan. Players like Michael Carrick and Matthew Upson have shown that a gradual move from club to club will see their career better structured than the wild leap into the dark that the move from second in the Third Division to eighth in the Premiership offers.

But at this exciting time with the champagne still flowing into the drains at Elland Road I am being uncharitable. In scoring the winning goal at Elland Road to give Leeds promotion to the Championship Beckford went out in style, with his name ringing round the stadium. The perception might have sometimes been he didn’t care but his delight at bagging the winner against Bristol Rovers and the weirdly blue tongue that he stuck out in delight as he celebrated, showed the true joy he experienced in finishing the job at hand. Unlike Harry Kewell who slunk away from his last possible appearance at Elland Road claiming a bereavement of a distant relative of his wife was more important than the chance to say goodbye – an understanding that his star had fallen in the eyes of the Super Whites fans, but a failure to understand that come the end of the season everyone is normally given a fond farewell. Beckford was captain for the day and now he will remain a hero for a lifetime.

This was a truly fantastic way for Jermaine Beckford to depart and Leeds fans will wish him the best of luck. His finale has meant he will be well and truly admired as a short-term LUFC legend. We would like him to stay, but he obviously isn’t going to, lets hope the next time he plays at Elland Road it isn’t for someone smaller than the club he’s leaving.

Leeds United Need a Striker Not a Concierge

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image descriptionCOMMENTS

Richard Pearson 1:29 am, 10-May-2010

Completely agree. Most of beckford's goals come from his ability to be in the right place at the right time, rather than his finishing skills, which are erratic to say the least. In The Championship he will struggle to get in those positions and in The Premier League, find it nigh impossible. he needs at least a season in The Championship, preferably two. He is definitely being badly advised. What bigger club will there be in The Championship than Leeds Utd? Ok I'm not saying LUFC will be the best club in The Championship, but they will be the biggest, whatever the results of the play-offs. If Beckford is going to Everton, then he will spend a lot of time bench-warming and is likely to throw his rattle out of the pram. Are Everton a bigger club than LUFC in any case? They are better-placed at the moment but potentially Leeds are bigget than The Toffees. In short, if JB goes to Everton he ill go from being a big fish in an ever-growing pool to being a minnow in a pool which is no bigger and isn't likely to become so. In the final analysis, I feel he's the one who'll suffer from such a move, not LUFC. We have a good squad and I argued at the beginning of the season that Becchio was Leeds' biggest asset and I'm convinced that he WILL make the transition to The Championship. In Becchio, Leeds have a player who gives 100% commitment 100% of the time and his skills are developing rapidly. Losing him would, in my opion, be a far bigger loss than saying bye-bye Jermaine!

John Boocock 6:47 am, 10-May-2010

Bates should pay the wages and keep Beckford at Elland Road as part of the process of building a team to challenge everyone in the Championship. If and when the club is promoted back to the Premiership beckford will be in a much better position to further his career - or does he really want to end up playing at Hull?

Tom Arnold 8:01 am, 10-May-2010

Another year would be great for us and Beckford - I'd agree with that. Possibly one of his great performances on Saturday and wearing the armband too. Whose to say this can't be replicated for another season? But, part of me thinks that a wholesale clear out is needed so I await with baited breath to see some early positive movements in the transfer market, coupled with some quality coming through the youth ranks. And someone getting some consistency from Howson. That would be nioce too. Either way, whatever happens, Paris, I would like to say thank you very much indeed...

Johnny Two R's 9:09 am, 10-May-2010

Whatever happens he's achieved legend status, albeit slightly stained by the odd bout of petulance. I think he'll do well wherever he goes. He's got a goal scorers instinct and with improved service he'll easily convert the chances that come his way. I'd prefer Leeds to offer him the contract he deserves and prove himself at the next level, but he's at that age where he's got to seriously think about realising his ambitions while he's at his peak.

Jason Wild 9:49 am, 10-May-2010

I ain't gonna rant on, BUT, I wholeheartedly agree with your comments James - a legend he now remains after poaching the winner on Saturday, when 2 months ago, he was being labelled as a lazy f*cker - if JB does sign for Everton and plays like he did for 80% of his games for Leeds, I reckon Big Ron would've openly said so !!! Nonetheless, he got the job done in so many times when (we) needed it, so Good Luck JB, so long & thanks for the best memories of the last 5 years - RESPECT.

joe lq morrow 9:54 am, 10-May-2010

Agree with just about all of that.Persuading JB to stay coupled with a bit of investment for team strengthening, I see no reason why we can't have a good go of at least making the play offs. Leicster weren't much better than us last season + look at what they've done. Give him a 2 year deal + try and persuade him to give it one more season with us + let's see where it takes us.

Greg Humphreys 10:32 am, 10-May-2010

Great read... though the word 'legend' always sticks in my craw a little. Andy Hughes, playing here, there, every blooming where.. top off at the end, doing the Leeds chest thump salute and sharing the joy. That's the stuff of legends.

Stuntman 11:26 am, 10-May-2010

You got spellcheck?

Neil Sheasby 11:46 am, 10-May-2010

Nice piece James..What was that blue tongue all about ? It'll be interesting to see how he fairs, personally I can't see him cutting it in the premiership and to be honest I'm not sure how many starts he'll get anyway. Leeds are ( thankfully ) in the ascendency now and his best move would be to stay put and take that journey with the club but we ... See Moreknow that's not gonna happen and I guess money dictates especially as he's no spring chicken either. As you rightly say though, a good and fitting way to bow out and I'm sure he will be remembered fondly. Onwards and upwards mate and about fucking time too.

James Brown 11:46 am, 10-May-2010

yeah but go on what's spelt wrong?

Simon Martin 11:52 am, 10-May-2010

Fair assessment and an entertaining read. I trust our manager to find players who will score the goals. We set up to use JB as our main threat and when he wasn't scoring we had top change that. I expect Becchio and JB's replacement to convert the chances too even in the CCC. I don't blame JB for seeking out the contract that will secure his financial future as you don't get many chances to dot hat in football if you started late as JB did.

Stuntman 12:26 pm, 10-May-2010

"second in thre third division to eigth in the Premiership offers" or "bereavement of a distanct releative"? But that's just nit-picking. Good article, and nice to see at least one fan whose feet remain on the ground and know that HE WILL LEAVE.

Paul Sherman 12:34 pm, 10-May-2010

Beckford will make his decision, he did a u turn once before, who knows if he will again. Whatever the outcome it is imperative that Uncle Ken backs Larry with hard cash in transfer fees & wages so we can compete effectively in the Championship. In the meantime I would like to share my version of an old classic that battered its way through my hangover on Sunday morning.... Leeds Way! At last promotions here We’re going up and that is certain Out of this tinpot league after three long years of hurting We did it in the end We went to each and every shithole And more, much more than this we did it Leeds way! Great wins, we had a few Especially the one at Man United We did what we had to do to win the points and get excited Simon planned each charted course, each careful step along the byway And more, much more than this we did it Leeds way! Yes, there were times I’m sure you knew We started great then blew a fuse But through it all, there was no doubt We pulled together to fight it out We faced it all and we stood tall and did it Leeds way! We won, we lost, we drew We had our fill, our share of losing And now as we move on we find it all so amusing And we must say, not in a shy way Oh no, oh no not us, we did it Leeds way! Now this is our club, what have we got? Great fans, top players and a boss Now chairman please put your hand in your pocket We don’t want to fall we want to rise like a rocket The table shows we took the blows and did it Leeds way! We did it Leeds way!

Neil Howson 12:43 pm, 10-May-2010

exc indepth feature; I could see him going and coming back once the enovelty of prem subs bench wears off. BTW the blue tongue is a Leeds badge transer!

Johnny L 9:09 pm, 10-May-2010

You know what? Forget the football, mediocre with a couple of flashes of brilliance, it's the atmosphere, the buzz, the roar from the crowd and, yes, the pitch invasions that will have captured the next generation's of Leeds fans young hearts yesterday. That's something Bates will never comprehend but to us it's intuitive. A given. Beckford may stay or go it doesn't really matter. We're Leeds United not the players, as daft as it seems. Only time will tell how well he'll play in a higher league. I think he'll be okay but we'll have to wait and see. Said it last night - If Beckford and Ian Baird walked through the pub door who'd you buy a pint? Answers ranged from Baird to I'd go outside and see if Kevin Hird was there before I'd buy Beckford a beer. For such a prolific goal scorer it's a strange relationship he has/had with the fans isn't it?

Stu Greenham 11:09 pm, 10-May-2010

Fantastic article and great read. As much as we dismiss the bad days of Jermaine Beckford, his goals got us promoted, and his goals have been consistent three years running. Team's want a player like JB who at any point in a game can pop the ball in back of the net regardless of how well he has played the rest. I do hope he stays so we can see how he would do in the Championship but I think an offer from a prem team would be too hard to turn down. Be a damn shame if he spend the next few years bench warming, he's not the youngest player around!

Tripledub 8:53 am, 11-May-2010

Interesting that the video on youtube of Uncle Ken's squiffy rant at the Annual Player Awards has been removed today. Anyone who has seen that will be in little doubt that Becks to the Toffees is a done deal, although Bates echoed Larry's line about JB being badly advised.

Tatey 12:38 pm, 11-May-2010

Good article.Do think he got some unfair stick at times for not running around like a headless chicken.A deterioration is decent service didn't help his goal tally in the second half of the season. Still think you invented flubber.

David Smith 12:22 pm, 18-May-2010

My honest opinon of this lad is I will be glad to see him go. I've been all over this place this season with Leeds: Gillingham, Swindon, Tranmere etc. Now I do not believe this lad has talent. He's had a lot gifted on a plate for him, very good supply from the midfield. A lot of his goals have come from very bad defending and goalkeeping mistakes. He couldn't care less about Leeds and what we've done for him so why should we care about him? If he can only just cut it in this league against (lets be honest) poor defenders and not the greatest goalkeepers. How will he fare in a higher league. I would not have a problem with the lad if he played every game like he did against Bristol, he was a different player then. A big fact to look at is, he's probably not played in 9 or 10 games for us this season and a fact that is quite interesting is our win ratio without him which is very high. So JB didn't get us promoted and doesn't deserve all the plaudits. 1 to 11 deserve it. One other thing, my other opinon is if JB would've scored more of the chances he had earlier in the season agains Carlisle, Exeter, Wycombe etc last day of the season wouldn't have been as neccessary. 2 years time I firmly belive he will be back in League one with a team much smaller than LUFC. I hope everyone will recognise the efforts of other unseens players such as Paddy Kisnorbo who has had a great season and deservedly player of the year.

WG 8:44 pm, 23-May-2010

David Smith, you're having a laugh, surely? Beckford doesn't care about Leeds? In isolation, his handling of Gradel demonstrates his affection for the club. If he were in it for himself, with a move seemingly in the bag, he didn't need to lead from the front against Bristol did he? You also mention Gillingham away - you are aware he came on as a sub when the game was lost anyway? You also mention Swindon away which was the worst performance of the season for my money, but interestingly fail to mention Bristol away (where he was outstanding), Colchester away (ditto), Brighton away (ditto) and so on. People say he doesn't care about Leeds United. Tell me, then, why he learnt to speak spanish to assist his partnership with Becchio? I can see why he gets the stick he does, sometimes, but I think a lot of the anti-JB stuff is chinese whispers, usually started by a bunch of happy-clapping bigots that post on message boards and never go to games. Interestingly, he got his most abuse (and deservedly so) for the way he reacted to his substitution against Southampton. When taken off against Millwall, Becchio did something similar, while Grella went practically nuclear when subbed in the JPT. Still, it's always been the Leeds way to praise the clubman and criticise the talent, only to view things differently when the main man has gone. Look at Viduka and Smith...

David Smith 9:24 am, 24-May-2010

He doesn't care about us hence not commiting to the club when realistically we could be back in the PL soon and him going to the PL now IS a mistake. And for the record I'm not a "bigot that post and message boards and never goes to games". Like I said been all over away this season and got my season ticket application through. Look everyone has a very very strong opinion of JB. You either love him or hate him. Think its quite obvious which I am. I respect your opinion and I hope you respect my because we are all entitled to it. Thing that gets me is these people who go to one game a year ie Scumchester, Tottingham and think they know everything after watching 2 minute highlights and reading the paper every week. I personally feel JB is a problem in the squad to the other players as well. When he has come off a great example is Southend, 2 minutes after he went off the game changed immediately. As for gillingham that is a one off and you can't put it down to him not playing, the whole team were terrible. And like I said IF he played like he did against Bristol all the time I would not have a problem with him I cannot knock him for that performance. On his captaincy on that day though I believe more than anything Grayson was giving him an ego boost (which yes it did work). His attitude is poor though. Anyway mate its very opinonated on JB and like I said I do respect your point of view but I just disagree with it. MOT

WG 12:18 pm, 24-May-2010

I do respect your opinion, of course, and I would never have wanted you to think I was referring to you when I mentioned the 'bigots' - they tend to be the ones you mentioned, the one-game-a-season merchants. Those that saw Old Trafford and Spurs believe Ankergren is the best goalkeeper outside the Prem. Those that have seen him every week don't think he's the best goalkeeper in Leeds, and so on. I find it hard to believe that a player can score 85 goals in three seasons and not care about that club, but, as you say, it's all about opinions!

Doug G 10:17 pm, 25-Aug-2010

Becks is a hero and minor legend, he saw out his contract in the age of free agency when many would have engineered deal, he also didn't put himself in cotton wool or hide from injury. It was short sighted of Leeds (Bates) to not offer him a contract sooner which he would have signed. The mans record is 2nd to none irrespective of the league he played in and I wish him well at Everton and hope he's a success. I flew back from Chicago for the scum game and was sat behind the scum goal when he put the ball in the net, what a day and what an effort, he ran Brown ragged that day (the whole team were immense). I also came back for the Brisol game and Becks was inspired that day, he ran for everything and was even dropping back to defend. Becks is a professional footballer in the modern age, I do believe he has Leeds in his heart and always will, he won't have it in his heart like Billy, Norm, Eddie or that generation because it's a different era and the onset of free agency will never allow that to happen again the last Leeds players who will probably ever only play for one club are Lucas & Kells unfortunately but that is the reality of the modern game.

Dan B 9:45 pm, 7-Sep-2011

Got to know him well at Wealdstone. Good lad, loved a smoke, always late for training as couldn't drive despite him fixing car windscreens. Exasparated the management yet scored some amazing goals. Amazed he reached the heights of the Premiership - very talented but a bit inconsistent.

Jon B 10:12 pm, 8-Sep-2011

The reason he did so well too was his partner up front none other than Mr workhorse himself Becchio. I never did take to this petulant striker and found it hard to get excited about him scoring goals. Never in my 40 yrs following the Whites did I ever think i would say that. I do however like to chuckle to myself and say 'I told you so' in reference to him not cutting it at the highest level.Leeds for me have become a much better team since him departure as we no longer have the individual player thinking they are the 'I Am'. Just a team full of honest pro's wanting to play for the team/club. Onwards and Upwards, MOT !

Fiery jack 11:58 pm, 8-Sep-2011

I never had a problem with him wanting to go I was just glad he got us up. He played on instinct and scored some crackers, but needed four chances to net one. I hoped hed do well at efc but I saw him miss some howlers...sitters but even moyes admitted he was 3rd trying to step up. His final goal of last season was classic jb.. Ran on to a through ball, stumbled past a defender, nearly fell over and managed to poke it in. Hope leics play long all!

mick pipe 5:54 am, 9-Sep-2011

what a load of tosh,never heard such a load of bollocks in my life,sour grapes or what!!

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