It seemed like such a good transfer at the time, £3m for a 28-year old in a problem-position for Leeds who had just played 42 games in Wolves’ title-winning Championship campaign. We’d struggled to find comfort in the left-back position since Charlie Taylor had been chased from the club by Massimo Cellino and his ego-driven PR nonsense. In 2017/18 we most often utilised Berardi at full-back because of his glorious ability to play on either side, but he’s not a natural for the position as he’s right-footed. Leeds clearly tried to improve this area by bringing in Cameron Borthwick-Jackson on loan (or Bojack-Crossman as the Scum fans had labelled him), only for him to be the most disinterested footballer since time began.
It seemed a no-brainer and many fans thought it one of the best deals in the Championship at the time. To sign a title-winning left-back who had contributed 14 assists and 5 goals for Wolves previous campaign – and for only £3m. While his last year has been blighted by serious injury – perhaps prohibiting him from being able to fully integrate into the Bielsa-way, Leeds’ recent dreadful performance against Hull in the Carabao Cup has made many fans start to question whether Douglas’ time at the club is nearing its end.
It was clear that Bielsa had selected a squad for the game that allowed other players the chance to impress – first team fringe players like Casilla, Shackleton, Roberts, Alioski, Poveda and Douglas came in, alongside new signing Rodrigo (who still needs time to adapt to our game), as well as giving chances to a pile of Academy players (Bogusz, Cresswell, Davis and Casey. Clearly a strong-enough squad but one meant to offer the chance for others to apply pressure on first-team selection.
Unfortunately, the game was amongst the worst we’ve seen from Bielsa’s Leeds in his entire time at the club. Despite seeing much more of the ball, the side were routinely under pressure and felt persistently under threat. Douglas would spend the game struggling to influence play either going forward or in defence, with little more than a few good set-piece deliveries to smile about. It really makes you wonder – if a player of Douglas’ historical achievements can’t impress in the few games he’s afforded to demonstrate his abilities, it suggests he’s superfluous.
It’s clear where Bielsa ranks him too, given that Stuart Dallas (a right-winger) is our first-choice left-back, followed by Ezgjan Alioski. And this obviously discounts Berardi due to his potentially career-ending injury and uncertain contractual position. For Barry Douglas to be so far down the pecking order indicates exactly how highly Bielsa rates him, but clearly hasn’t written him off, hence affording him the opportunity to play against Hull.
He’ll be a relatively high-earner too. While player salaries are notoriously opaque, a bout of research seems to suggest a range of similar salaries reported from a range of different places, so as a barometer it’ll be vaguely accurate. Douglas is supposedly paid more than Ayling, Dallas and Klich (though whether player salaries were adjusted following Promotion we simply don’t know).
Barry Douglas stealing a wedge
— Tom Huffinley (@THuff1994) September 16, 2020
Barry Douglas is so slow it’s mesmerising to watch
— Rainy (@JtotheRain) September 16, 2020
Wolves definitely sent us Barry Douglas’ twin brother instead of the real one. Genuinely astonishing
— Christopher 🕴 (@CM4892) September 16, 2020
I am sorry but Barry Douglas looked like he is not arsed playing.
— Only one leeds fan in Gurkhaland (@LufcMr) September 16, 2020
Is Barry Douglas ok? Having a shocker here #lufc
— Top of the Kop (@TheTopOfTheKop) September 16, 2020
The rumour at the moment is that Douglas is a transfer target for Celtic, valued at round £1m. I’d say the 31-year old’s stay at Leeds is over and with absolutely no ill intent, I’d seek to move him on. A genuinely nice guy but for a number of reasons, simply hasn’t succeeded at Leeds and with time not on his side, other players in his way and someone interested in signing him? I’d say it’s time to go.