Leeds United: Rodolph Austin, unjustly criticised?

Back in the summer, everybody was very excited about Rodolph Austin and his arrival in Leeds. In fact, by all accounts we were signing a player who seemed a bargain, one of genuine quality. Things haven’t exactly gone to plan, and the more recent reaction to Austin has been lukewarm, to say the least. I’m convinced, on the back of recent games, that this has been unfair. Austin has been the only player recently to up his game, as the rest of the team has collapsed around him.

Think back to why he became a shambling husk of what he was before – a supposed broken leg that he recovered from in about 4 weeks, rushed back without any real fitness. The game against Forest clearly showed that Rudy was not ready, he was noticeably carrying additional weight and unfit, yet he played again and again following that. Aside from the injury, Austin has gone nearly a year and a half without a pre-season now, without a holiday. I’ve previously described Austin as being like a Victorian Steam Engine experiment run amok. During the winter, his supply of coal had burnt down to the last embers.

He was allowed a rest, and he’s come back stronger. Against Huddersfield, he was the best player on the park, breaking play up and keeping hold of the ball when no one else would. Since then he hasn’t necessarily been our best performer, but he has provided solid displays, doing little wrong.

The problem for Rodolph, I feel, is that he’s our only player (aside from Sam Byram) with any real ability on the transition. This is the phase of play between attacking and defending, or vice-versa. The transition is considered imperative to modern football, and explains the importance of counter attacking to any sensible coach. With Rodolph lumbered by midfield partners unable to turn and respond quickly to a breakdown in an attack, he’s almost entirely responsible for covering when the opposition break. Similarly, when an opposition attack breaks down, Rodolph’s driving runs are often incredibly useful for carrying the ball over half way.

He does it exceptionally well, and has done over the last few games, but he needs players around him to support him. One man cannot run end-to-end alone, especially one without a break or pre-season in a long time. The next manager (McDermott, by all accounts) needs to be sensible enough to understand that a figure like Michael Brown cannot “break up play” on the counter – he’s far too slow to get anywhere near the opposition when they burst quickly into our half.

If he plays on Saturday, I expect Austin will be one of the better players on the pitch, doing nothing spectacular but still imperative to any result that comes our way. At the very least, I look forward to seeing a refreshed Austin next season, preferably with the players around him that he needs.

Follow Amitai Winehouse on Twitter (@awinehouse1).


12 thoughts on “Leeds United: Rodolph Austin, unjustly criticised?”

  1. Totally agree, not his fault that Warnock over used him knowing full well that he wasn’t fit to play. Should have allowed him to get fit before playing him. I think at this time anyway we need to be getting behind our players not getting on their backs. I hope to see a fully fit and firing Austin next season.

  2. the only things wrong with Austin as a player is he shoots from silly distances wasting a good opportunity to pass to someone in a better position and he cant do quick 1-2 passing because of his size /shape . i would use him as an holding midfielder in hard games and let him loose on the weaker teams .
    Hes very good player to have in the squad

  3. Was one of the few that werent excited when he came dont rate and never will offers little and often caught out of postion, he is an average champ player at best signed a league from a standard of league 1 the Norwegian league. Dont know how people dont realise theres about 6 players worth keeping in the squad and he is not one

  4. Agreed. His abilities will only flourish when he has decent support around him. He needs another quality holding midfielder next to him (I think Clayton could have done this job well) and a flair player sat in front of him behind the forward(s). Someone that can pick a pass and provide a quick thinking link between Austin and the strikers. It’s because we don’t currently have this that he finds himself with no option but to shoot. I’m sure McDermott will address this before the end of the summer.

  5. He’s showed real class at times, he needs a big rest. I wanna see him run forward more often, haven’t seen it enough. Shooting from range is one of his strong points but some of his efforts are mad, and finally, I wanna see him crushing people in half again, against wolves he flattened half of the opposition

  6. Also, he came into the season after completing a full season in Norway. Add the travel to and from Internationals. I had a feeling he’d wane after Christmas. I believe he’s a good player if utilised correctly. I think we’ll see the best of him next season. when he has creative players around him in midfield and he’s deployed in the Batty role that he was signed to do.

  7. Definitely think austin is one of our best I don’t think we have seen half of what he can do he needs pace and creativity around him so he can stick to smashing people and breaking play down. Once again we need to clear out the dead wood in the squad and also I like pelts but he shouldn’t be skipper. On a different note the majority of leeds fans have been let downs this year

  8. Perhaps one of the few to thank Mr Warnock for … pity he overplayed him when unfit and wrongly utilised him when he was.. Agree with IanLeeds, we’ll probably see the best of him next year.

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