Leeds Utd Starlet Lewis Cook Could Finally Replace Legendary Batty

Amitai Winehouse (@awinehouse1)

Leeds United have been blessed in recent years by the exceptional run of young stars produced by their academy.

It is to the benefit of those stars that Neil Redfearn, the man who oversaw their development, is now in charge of the first team, having been appointed as head coach after the sacking of Darko Milanic.

His arrival has heralded the full integration of Lewis Cook, who was kept on the fringes of the first team by the two previous coaches.

While his partner in the middle of the park, Alex Mowatt, has won most of the plaudits, understandable given his recent goalscoring exploits, Cook offers significant hope for the future.

Leeds’ great sides have always had a steely option in midfield.

The most famous player to play in that role was Scottish midfielder Billy Bremner, who came to define what Leeds fans expected from a player.

Billy Bremner

Tiny but filled with a combative spirit, Bremner possessed talent in bucket-loads, but also knew how to handle the darker sides of the game.

Bremner also had a key role in the development of another Leeds midfield great, David Batty.

Batty made his debut in 1987 under Bremner during his spell in charge of Leeds, and like the Scot, Batty was small but tough.

The relationship between the two was such that Bremner used to make Batty come to his office every morning to drink a sherry with a raw egg stirred into it, due to a belief that Batty was slightly too lightweight to succeed.

Batty prospered from there, winning Division One with Leeds under Howard Wilkinson, the Premier League with Blackburn and making 42 appearances for England.

Batty’s retirement in 2004, after his return to Leeds, came after a long spell out of the side, but many Leeds fans would tell you that the Whites have never really replaced him.

There have been attempts to bring in defensive midfielders, but they’ve never been like Batty or Bremner, strong but skilled, supreme players but with an edge to their game.

Cook looks like he could be the first true replacement for Batty in a decade.

Lewis Cook

Like the former Newcastle man and Bremner, Cook stands at under 5 ft 10 inches, but those who have seen him this season would be aware that no opponents can bully him out of the game.

Cook wins nearly two tackles every 90 minutes, cutting opponents off before they can start an attack.

He also has the passing skill that the ex-Leeds duo possessed, able to launch attacks after picking the ball up front defence.

It’s not just in recycling play that he impresses, with Cook providing over a chance every 90 minutes.

One of the major plus points of Redfearn’s regime so far is that Cook has played every game.

He has made the defensive midfield role his own, and with more attack minded talent around him, has impressed in every game without demanding much attention.

The clash with Blackburn on Saturday, the team with which, to Leeds fans’ chagrin, Batty won the Premier League crown, symbolises an opportunity for Cook to further cement himself as the natural replacement to Bremner’s old charge.

When Batty arrived, Leeds were at a similar mediocre ebb in their history.

While it is risky to put too much pressure on the 17 year old, if he can have a similar effect as Batty did, Leeds could finally start climbing once again.


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