Brian McDermott can forget about having a nice relaxing break once this season finally ends. After an eventful twelve months which has included a promotion to the Premier League, his subsequent sacking and now his appointment as Leeds United's boss, the summer recruitment drive is on. After years of selling off whatever talent there was at Elland Road, concerted efforts need to be made to help them drive back up the table, albeit on a budget less befitting of a club of their stature. With this mind, here are my five players I think Brian McDermott should target to bolster every department in their squad.
Phil Neville (Everton)
I'm kicking off this by saying Leeds United should sign Phil Neville. Yes, he’s a red but in bringing him to the club they’d be getting someone who is more than just a player. He will bring a winning mentality, the leadership qualities of a winner and above all the authority to gain the respect and influence the players around him. He’s still a canny player who can organise and cajole players around him to up their game. In the same exemplary manner of his ex-teammates Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs, Neville has looked after himself to the point where his age is less of an issue as it might be with other players and whilst he has been quoted as saying he could perhaps play at the very top for at least another year, surely two years at Championship level would not be beyond him too. Giving him a coaching role to gain experience wouldn’t be a bad idea either as he could be a hugely influential figure out on the training field. Most importantly, he’s free.
Craig Dawson (WBA -Currently on loan at Bolton Wanderers)
If there is any money made available to Brian McDermott this summer, his main priority should be to snap up Under 21 international Dawson. Leeds have lacked a commanding presence in defence since those heady cash abundant days under O’Leary and Craig Dawson is exactly that. McDermott's success at Reading was built on clean sheets and bringing Dawson in alongside Tom Lees would provide a solid base to build on. Aerially dominant, he is a huge threat at attacking set pieces with an unerring timing to meet any kind of quality delivery. He’s steadily risen through the ranks from Radcliffe Borough to West Brom via Rochdale and is continuing his progression as part of Bolton’s recent up turn in results under Dougie Freeman. Not in Steve Clarke’s first team plans at the moment, a bid of around £1.5 - £2 million might be enough to prise him away from The Hawthorns.
Bakary Sako (Wolves)
Malian born winger Sako has been by far and away Wolves’ most dangerous player this season. Strong, direct and a left foot that possess power and skill in equal measures, he’s been a stand out in every game I’ve seen him play. With Wolves still in the Championship danger zone, Sako’s price and desire to play League 1 football will both plummet if they were to go down and Leeds could take full advantage of that.
David Perkins (Barnsley)
In the pre-match briefings of almost every opponent of Barnsley this season, managers have picked out Perkins as the player to target if they are to overcome a side who have won 11 and drawn 4 of their last 19 games. He’s the heartbeat of the side and and his boundless energy drives the whole team up the field. He has a knack of being the first player to trigger the team to press teams high up the field, dragging everyone up behind him and gaining his team valuable territory. Not many will know the name but in the last two years many fans of Championship clubs will have left games talking of the influence Barnsley’s white-haired pocket dynamo had on the game. Having spent much of his career in the lower reaches of League Two and Conference football, there’s still plenty of evidence the 30 year old’s best years are still to come.
Niall McGinn (Aberdeen)
Leeds have already been linked with the 25 year old Northern Ireland international striker and will no doubt test the resolve of the Dons board with another £500k+ bid for a striker who already has 19 goals this season. This has been achieved despite playing in a team who will finish in the bottom six of the SPL. Seen as a wide player in the past, he’s flourished in a front role this year, drifting in from the left on to his right foot to finish. A threat as a set piece taker around the box too.