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[Blog] £2.65 Million and Waiting?
Written by Keaneish on Thursday, 19th Apr 2012 13:35

It feels like every day since September 1st 2009, Ipswich Town fans across the globe have been debating (arguing) about the effectiveness of a particular Roy Keane signing, Grant Leadbitter. Now, at the end of his contract, the debate rages ever more, still without much in the way of resolve. Here’s my take on it.

After a dismal summer in the transfer market, Town kicked off the 2009/10 campaign with two draws and three defeats (not a bad start considering what was to come!). So, in true Roy Keane managerial fashion, to the chequebook was got and in came Carlos Edwards and Grant Leadbitter for a combined fee of £4 million.

Ouch Marcus! Carlos Edwards? Great, he’s been tearing full-backs apart for years. Grant Leadbitter? Well, as the pivotal all action midfielder in Sunderland’s successful promotion campaign, a string of England U16 – U21 honours and a one in 10 goal ratio, he must be worth the reputed £2.65 million price tag right? Only time would tell, and, being the patient type of fans we are renowned for, time is what he’d been given. Three seasons or 961 days to be precise.

I guess the best way to approach this debate is to consider what we expect from this type of midfielder, putting the price tag aside for one minute. It’s fair to say that during my lifetime we’ve been spoilt in that department. Pictures of Ipswich legends must litter the corridors, and, although we play different systems these days images of midfielders like John Wark, Brian Talbot, Colin Viljoen, Roger Osborne, Arnold Muhren, Frans Thijssen, Matt Holland, Mick Stockwell and Vemund Brekke Skard are a timely reminder of what we expect!

Surely they serve as inspiration enough as to what it takes and means to play that position in an Ipswich Town shirt week-in, week-out? So, given the never say die, cover every blade of grass on the pitch, box-to-box mentality that these predecessors instilled in the ITFC Hall of Fame, has Grant Leadbitter shown these qualities which we demand?

It’s fair to say that during his tenure he’s been integral to some of the worst series of results in our history and some of the worst performances in recent memory. No wins in 14 (nine for Grant due to his late addition to 2009/10) to start the campaign, the second worst in out history. 7-0 in an FA Cup game at Chelsea, 7-1 away defeat to lowly Peterborough and bottom of the table on several occasions under back-to-back managers.

Clearly Grant doesn’t shoulder all the responsibility for this as it’s a team game but the CV doesn’t make impressive reading, especially presiding over some heavy defeats home and away as skipper! So, what of him as an ‘all action, combative, goal-scoring’ midfielder. Well, 115 games in Town shirt and 13 goals would suggest that we still have the same goal scoring midfielder that won Sunderland promotion all be it many of those from penalties. Until recently we never saw the type of long range effort rippling the back of the net that he has so often tried in countless games over the course of his time here.

At no point can I remember him bursting into the box and gambling a la John Wark to provide a much-needed goal for his side and that added spark of ingenuity and endeavour to rouse a slumbering, apathetic team display.

A moderate disciplinary record would suggest that although he gets stuck in he isn’t reckless, or particularly feared in a tackle. There have been some silly yellows along the way resulting in needless suspension here and there but on the whole not the strongest in a tackle. What was Roy Keane doing with him on the training ground I wonder?

A neat, tidy footballer that retains possession well but then all too often struggles to find telling passes and looks for the easier sideways ball. A poor set-piece taker at best who too often can’t clear the first defender at corners.

A tireless worker yes, but even alongside David Norris, who eclipses even Matt Holland and Micky Stockwell for blades of grass covered per game, the huff and puff was all too meaningless when possession was regained only for it to break down time after time on the edge of the 18-yard area. Box-to-box? Not really.

A towering presence in the air? Most definitely not. A leader of men? No. Possibly worst choice of captain in my lifetime. A varied repertoire of long and short range passing? Sadly not.

‘So what?’, some might say? ‘Paul Scholes doesn’t have a lot of these attributes and he’s one of the best midfielders England have produced in the last 20 years’ (Mr Keane likened Grant to Paul on his arrival). However, Mr Keane, there is one very major difference between the two. Paul Scholes was always in the right place at the right time, which negates a lot of these points above. That can’t be taught, it’s a gift as a footballer, which separates the good, the bad and the great.

Grant is a million miles away from this comparison but given Keane’s managerial ability, we should maybe ignore statements of grandeur like these. After all, we should be in the Premiership by now.

So, after three abject or mediocre at best seasons we look to the contract situation of Grant and offer him another! I can only assume to save such a large shortfall on a large transfer fee. Roy Keane had 15 out of contract when he took over and Jewell has repeatedly stated he wants to avoid that situation so an offer is made early, and subsequently rejected!

Negotiations are re-opened under the Financial Fair Play rules and a time limit placed on Grant to respond to the club's offer. A ‘fair’ offer we can assume, but given the restraints in place and previous failings in these situations it’s futile to even begin to understand what happens in these discussions between Simon Clegg and players' agents. As fans we always come up short. So, given that the initial contract offer was rejected prior to the Financial Fair Play rules we can only assume his ‘No’ answer is a formality.

One point of note that supports this theory is that when Sunderland were relegated from the Premier League in 2006, Grant stalled on a contract offer allegedly waiting for other offers to come in. We can only assume this didn’t as he signed on again for Sunderland but with the rumour mill already predicting an imminent return to the North East and blogs up on Teesside such as ‘Is Grant fit to lace Barry Robson’s Boots?’, we have to assume that he may well have played his last game in a Town shirt.

In my opinion, an over-inflated and slightly desperate transfer fee for a young promising player who, aside from the last 10 games out of 115 in a Town shirt has failed to live up to expectations and is some distance off emulating those that were great.

A slow burner? Keane couldn’t get the best out of him but maybe Jewell has begun to show he can? Maybe, but I think there are many better free or cheap transfers currently out there and a fresh installation into that midfield is needed to partner Andy Drury for me. In any case, shouldn’t we be asking ourselves if he’s fit to lace John Wark’s boots?

Note: stats were taken from and Wikipedia, if they’re not right then don’t bother posting a comment ridiculing them. I’m a football fan not an armchair stats geek!

Please report offensive, libellous or inappropriate posts by using the links provided.

saffronblue added 14:13 - Apr 19
Very good blog and I loved the last para. Bye Grant and thanks for the last 10 games

rosseden added 14:30 - Apr 19
good blog, sums up my thoughts as well...... if he plays like the last ten games and develops as a player then hes welcome to stay, after all, Jewell must see something in training that makes him want him here.

On another note, i think with the financial rules coming in over the next two or three seasons, we'll start to see far more deals being done early. After all, your budget is your budget then, so unless a Messi player meets a local lass and opts to come here for £10k a week on transfer day, then once the squads in place, itll be steady until people move on...... im guessing itll take a few decent players to get caught out of contract with no deals before people cotton on however.......

im_marcacus added 14:32 - Apr 19
Good thoughts well written, what a frustrating player he's been to watch.. the man should never be let near a corner flag.

Len_Brennan added 15:01 - Apr 19
Can't disagree with any of that.

I have been impressed with the Drury/Leadbitter partnership though & would be happy to see them start next season in the middle for us; although not for another 3 year contract at something like £15k a week.

cwb91 added 15:15 - Apr 19
Superb blog. Too often, after his great performances of late, have his countless previous disasters in midfield been recognised. Has he turned the corner? He still hasn't paid back his fee, and if he wanders off in the hope of emulating that fanciful contract we gave him before (much in the same way as Norris did), then good riddance. Time for a bit of loyalty

HARRY10 added 15:16 - Apr 19
"I’m a football fan not an armchair stats geek!"

......but I did trawl the internet to find the figures

if you are not concerned about their accuracy why bother with that search ?

Keaneish added 16:54 - Apr 19
The blog needed quantifying to the best degree available Harry10. The accuracy does concern me but i can't validate them in their entirety without investing a hell of a lot of research and calculator time!

I thought acknowledging the sources would be enough...for most!

Thanks for the positive responses to date all. Lets see whether he signs...

Lightningboy added 16:56 - Apr 19
Glad you made the Scholes comparisons cos that's what I was thinking..basically,he's a very,very poor man's Paul Scholes at best.

Not buying his recent upturn in goals - this is because he wants out.

Will not be missed for one single second as far as i'm concerned and my only worry is that he signs a new contract and we get lumbered with him for another 3 years.

So please Grant,do us all a favour and tootle off back up north..Middlesbrough are a fairly boring team,you should fit in well there.

Ipswich24 added 17:50 - Apr 19
On current form one of best centre mids in league. Lets hope we sign him up and he keeps this level up, he is a very good footballer just hasnt shown it enough.

CornardBlue added 18:21 - Apr 19
Good interesting blog, i thought he played well when he first joined Town, and his last 12 or so games he has been great, its the time in between he was not worth a place in the team.
The question is has the last 12 games been a shop window to move on to a bigger pay day somewhere else or is he now committed to Town and wants to stay.
We should know soon.

buryblue77 added 19:19 - Apr 19
Um....have I missed something? Vemund Brekke Skard?

TimmyH added 19:31 - Apr 19
Without doubt the worst captain I have seen play for this club, even comparing him to Linighan (which some did on this site is embarrassing, believe me I saw David Linighan play quite a few times and he was easily a better captain and probably more adept as a central defender than what Grant has been in midfield). The question you have to ask is his current spell of better form down to Town playing differently with Drury alongside or just that he has decided to 'wake up' and get himself a renewed contract (and agreed he scarcely deserves).

Good blog and wonder if a poll came up about the possible departure of Leadboots how many would be disappointed to see him go?

TimmyH added 19:33 - Apr 19

buryblue77 added 19:41 - Apr 19
Timmy, I wondered if he was using irony, but it was lost on me! Good blog however.

alfromcol added 20:34 - Apr 19
Great blog, very interesting.

If GL is doing a "Norris" then the sooner he owns up the better and gets the hell out of PR. If not, if he signs and plays like he has over the past few games then he will be an asset next season.

Sindre94 added 00:59 - Apr 20
Vemund brekke skard hahahahh... great blog mate. ill wrote more in the morning. on the phone now


buryblue77 added 09:28 - Apr 20
Even Wiki can't tell me where Vemund is, maybe we should start a campaign. Where is vemund Brekke Skard now?

RegencyBlue added 09:30 - Apr 20
Once Leadbitter is gone it will be interesting to see who you all turn on next!

At times he hasn't covered himself in glory but then who has in recent seasons?

As for all those calling for loyalty, would you accept a one third cut in your wages if you could avoid it? No, me neither!!


JW_ITFC added 12:02 - Apr 20
Vemund brekke skard...what a great 3 appearances they were...ha!

Good blog, well put together. I wouldnt mind either way if he signs or not. He has been hugely wasteful with his potential, judging by the last few games - on that basis indicates a lack of passion for the club (or anything!?) and so deserves to be shown the door. But if Jewell can coax more of the same for next season we could all be eating our words in amongst mouthfulls of bitter humble pie!

Lightningboy added 12:38 - Apr 20 Leadbitter's 1/3 wage cut..i'm guessing that he probably earns in 2 weeks what it takes me and the majority of fans earn in 52 weeks.

There's way too much greed in this game these days..he can afford a 1/3 wage cut if he really wants to play for us.

Mark added 12:41 - Apr 20
Very good blog.

If Leadbitter leaves for free I make that our 4th biggest ever transfer fee loss:

Sereni: Bought for £4.8M, left for free.
Hreidarsson: Bought for £4.5M, sold for £0.9M.
George: Bought for £3.1M, left for free.
Leadbitter: Bought for £2.6M, leaving for free?
M.Bent: Bought for £3.0M, sold for £0.45M.

reyes added 13:12 - Apr 20
Good post. Sums it up: 100 games of meh and in the last 10 games becomes indispensable. Let him go. Rather take a chance on others. Grant's been here since 2009 and enough's enough.

reyes added 13:15 - Apr 20
Good post. Sums it up: 100 games of meh and in the last 10 games becomes indispensable. Let him go. Rather take a chance on others. Grant's been here since 2009 and enough's enough.

Anyone else remember Jermaine Wright playing a blinder towards the end of his contract?

buryblue77 added 13:46 - Apr 20
@Mark, there's been far too much of that over the last few years even down to the sub million pound signings like Lisbie (ok, he was useless) Fulop and David Wright (who only cost £200k) but it all adds up and all these players who have walked away, been released or sold to next to nothing have cost this club millions over the years.

Sindre94 added 15:48 - Apr 20
Vemund Brekke Skard is in Brummundal, a Norwegian football team in the 3. or 4. tier...
Well. I agree with you on this blog, but Id actually like to see leadbitter stay, as his technique and ballskills are superd on his day. Him and drury can make a good partnership
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