Enter a new club when everyone around the club is unsure about you, and it often pays to keep everyone onside. Jesse Marsch, though, seems a little different. Though glowing with his praise for the playing staff to the press, reports around Elland Road and Thorp Arch suggest a very demanding, dedicated coach. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that Marsh is already making some big calls about his Leeds team.
And one call might come as little surprise to some fans – Dan James is, according to reports, already on the chopping block. Frustrating and ineffective at the worst times, James has become a master in annoyance for Leeds FC fans. Add in the fact he signed for Manchester United and then proceeded to put in some big games against Leeds, and his arrival was met with lukewarm appeal by some fans.
His season so far has been more than frustrating for the player, the club, and the wider fanbase. Arriving as the wing wizard needed to add more pace into the side, James has lacked cutting edge and has become frustratingly inconsistent. Good days are rare, and it is even rarer that a good day is followed up with a second performance.
For Marsch, though, the loss of Patrick Bamford (likely for the season) and the continual injury strains faced by Joel Gelhardt means he might need to persevere with the Wales winger until the summer. Indeed, it could be the case that James continues to play through the middle, where it is hoped his pace can add some more penetration for Leeds in the final third.
Gelhardt suffered an injury against Crystal Palace in a reserve team win with the U23 side, and it could leave Marsch with a major headache ahead of the weekend.
Why has Dan James struggled so much?
It is hard to say, but the simple reason might be the most worrying – he is not the standard required. Having looked good in the relatively spacious English Championship, James thrived in his early days at Manchester United. When given respect by top-flight opponents, though, his lack of decisive planning and his on-ball decision making was soon shown up.
The fact Leeds spent so much on a player who had already looked out of his depth at the top level was concerning. In 30 games, a paltry foul goals and four assists have arrived – not enough for a player who cost Leeds so much money. In an era where the club has to be more sensible with its money, it might be wise to try and recoup something in the summer from a Premier League or Championship team who values the youngster.
His best games have come from the left wing, and to be fair to James he is by no means a striker. He is doing a manful job trying to fill-in up front, but it is clear that James might be running out of team. Out of position or not, Marsh might look to replace the Welsh winger with someone different when the season comes to an end.