Leigertwood - Stay or Go?
DANIEL Grigg returns to assess the need of one of Rangers' longest serving players - Mikele Leigertwood.
27 year old Mikele Leigertwood just has never quite made it at the highest level, after playing for a number of clubs and only leaving London and the Football League once, during an unsuccessful spell at Sheffield United in the Premier League, when they were managed by current QPR manager Neil Warnock.
Now out of the first team again, is it time for Warnock to let the Antigua and Barbuda international go for a second time? Back in 2006, United were forced to pay a compensation fee of £600,000 for Leigertwood because of his age, despite him being out of contract at Crystal Palace, who strangely enough were the same club who would later get just £700,000 for young talent John Bostock, when he moved to Tottenham Hotspur.
Within a year, after his new signing suffering two bad ankle injuries and only moderately impressing in the Premier League, Warnock saw fit to let him leave for a fee of £900,000 to QPR, meaning a useful 50% transfer fee profit in not long over a year.
The ability to play in different positions so often becomes a burden nowadays rather than a help and Leigertwood is certainly one who has suffered from his ability to play almost anywhere along the defence or in the centre of midfield. As it means he can be moved about it's ultimately made him more droppable; not managing to hold down a position in the team, with the overall level at QPR, particularly in their defence having increased.
Despite this he still remains a talent and talents will always attract managers with cash who think they can finally make a star out of a relatively cheap signing. Risk, in the sense of spending money on new players with hidden ability, is often seen as worth while in the Championship, where there is so little between many of the teams and a couple of top performers can push a side towards promotion.
However, at QPR, where promotion is now expected and consistency is required, Leigertwood remains too inconsistent in terms of passing and the errors he still makes, for a manager like Warnock who's teams are built on solid defences and team structure.
If Warnock wasn't already tempted to take the money for a player who's hardly played this season, the case was strengthened by a disastrous performance in the Norwich game which showed up clearly every major flaw in Leigertwood's game, after coming on as a utility central midfielder to replace Hungarian Akos Buszaky who was forced off in the opening half hour of the match.
Buszaky passing ability is a lot to have to live up to, but even so Leigertwood struggled terribly to find anyone in the same colour jersey throughout the match, failing on so many occasions that you began to run out of fingers with which to count them.
He looked unsure of himself and caused confusion as to who out of he and Shaun Derry was meant to be tracking runs and QPR were lucky to escape with a draw and a clean sheet in spite of him rather than because, on a day when they might even had been better off with just 10 men. It wasn't for want of trying either and it's always hard to criticise a player who has regularly played and been one of your club's star performers and hardest workers.
Despite this it now feels almost as though Warnock has to consider whether it is worth bringing Leigertwood onto the pitch now, as though he's even becoming a burden instead of an asset. Many QPR fans now feel the time has come to sell in January, with the club looking to make the step up to the top division, which Leigertwood never truly managed, for the first time since 1996.
What are your thoughts? - Let us know!