Sam Byram signed a new contract in January.
When this fact is taken and removed entirely from this discussion, given the negatives and positives that come from such an agreement where youngsters are concerned, there are reasons to be concerned about Sam Byram’s future at Leeds United. Given Byram’s inherent ability, I think it is worth the time discussing these.
In early January “AssMan” Mick Jones gave a press conference on behalf of Neil Warnock about the upcoming window. In retrospect, his talk about Luciano Becchio and the financial clout required to sign him was not a hands-off warning, but in fact an effort to put Becchio in the shop window. “He’s buyable”, Jones was saying, “come take him” in other words. Lo and behold, Becchio departed.
What concerns me, however, is the other name that was mentioned at the same press conference. Sam Byram, Jones said, would not be kept if the offer was right.
What this suggests is that in the first weeks of January, after 6 months in which Sam Byram had come to establish himself firmly as a fans favourite, looking clearly the best young talent to have come out of Thorp Arch in recent years, after 6 months in which Sam Byram had clearly shown how indispensable he was in the eyes of the fans, someone at Elland Road with the power to decide thought it was possible to dispense with Byram’s services.
Maybe the decision was we could lose one of them. Maybe the decision was made that they were both overhyped and overvalued. However, whoever made that decision, whether it was the coaching staff, the technical directorship or otherwise need to understand that selling Byram in the summer would be a grave mistake. Over the last few seasons we have come to assume the sales of those we hold dearest.
Contrast however, the departures of Becchio and Howson. Both had done great things in the club colours (to the extent that they could, given the level they played at). Becchio inspired no real ire, except from those who are getting increasingly angered at Warnock’s repeated jabs.
Howson inspired protests and the growth of the Leeds United Supporter’s Trust to ever greater levels. His sale probably led to the true dismantling of the Bates regime, as fans came to realise no one was safe from departure as long as building projects could continue apace. “Jonny Howson paid for that” became a chant of choice.
I think people are truly reaching the end of their tether with regards to player departures. The sale of another young star, produced by the academy, who has captured the imaginations of the Elland Road faithful is definitely not recommended. Protest would probably begin, and to a level higher than before.
If GFH-C want to avoid that scenario over again, they need to give fans confidence that they have the capacity to keep our best players and get Leeds United moving forward. There’s a reticence in the Leeds supporting populace to trust them, because Leeds fans have been burned over and over. Given the last ten years, it is no real surprise.
In the words of The Who, “we won’t be fooled again”.
Follow Amitai Winehouse on Twitter (@awinehouse1).