At the end of the season, every season that is, there are players who you desperately want to keep, players you would rather see move on and then there are players somewhere in the middle, who don’t fall under either bracket. Leeds striker Marcus Antonsson is in that mould for me, letting him go so soon doesn’t sit right with me as I feel with some development he could yet be a success.
Antonsson arrived from his native Sweden as Leeds United’s first summer signing and Garry Monk’s first eve Leeds signing at the start of last summer. He cost around £2 million and signed a three-year-deal with the option of the fourth. Antonsson started off quite well but fell foul of the new system that Garry Monk put in place. Quite simply he wasn’t the player to play up front on his own and in all fairness Chris Wood began smashing in goals for fun when we went to one up top. There was no real lack of form or commitment he just didn’t suit what we were doing and didn’t get time to adapt to the role, again not something anyone could really do anything about.
Antonsson first showed what he could do with one of my favourite gaols of the season. He spun and rifled a striker home from a tight angle away at Fleetwood in the dying minutes to take the game to extra time and apparently save the job of Garry Monk. Those sorts of strikes are not something that can be taught on the training ground or by watching videos, you either have that natural ability and split second instinct or you don’t, and Marcus Antonsson showed that he most certainly has it. Goals away at Sheffield Wednesday and Cambridge as well as a crucial equaliser against Norwich at home in the League Cup were to follow but he rarely got on the pitch after November and was left to play in the under 23 games.
Antonsson has potential and is still at a good age. He needs to adapt to the physical side of this league more than anything. He wasn’t using his body well when he did get time on the pitch, something that has surely been getting time at Thorp Arch. James Beattie and indeed Chris Wood are the perfect people to be bringing Antonsson up to the level needed to play in this division. He’s quick, has an eye for goal and was clearly hungry to do well at Leeds United. He still has at least two years remaining on his deal and hopefully he has a good summer to make sure he sees them years out. We aren’t blessed with options in the final third and if he progresses well over the next few months there is absolutely nothing standing in his way to be a success at the club.