By Alex Stevens
Leeds should have signed Joey Barton last summer, according to club legend Peter Lorimer.
The former England international was snapped up on a free transfer by Burnley and has been a revelation for the Championship high flyers.
Lorimer is convinced that Leeds missed a trick by failing to make a move for Barton, 33, after he was released by Queens Park Rangers.
The Scot is unimpressed by the squad assembled by the Yorkshire club and has delivered a scathing assessment in the wake of last weekend’s 4-1 defeat to Huddersfield.
“In my opinion, a lot of our players look like they’re doing just enough,” Lorimer wrote in his Yorkshire Evening Post column on Friday. “They look like players who realise the season is basically over, that the summer could bring major changes at Elland Road and that this might not be the time to take risks.
“One of the big signings last summer was Joey Barton who was available on a free and went to Burnley in the end. He’s been outstanding for them and no wonder.
“He’s a quality, experienced, strong-willed footballer who dropped down a level by coming into the Championship. Nothing in this league was going to intimidate him. It’s meat and drink to him.
“It’s a bit like when I came back to Leeds from Canada in the early 1980s. I went into the second division and, to be honest, I found it a doddle. I couldn’t believe how easy it was. That’s because I was used to playing in better leagues, against better players, and the idea of turning out at Elland Road was no problem at all.”
Lorimer is convinced that Leeds lack a wise head in the mould of Barton who can help the team’s youngsters develop.
He explained: “Who now is able to help young Lewis Cook? Or Alex Mowatt? Who is able to lift the pressure from them and keep them right when the heat’s on?
“I’m tempted to say no-one and that was very apparent on a day like Saturday.”