I remember writing an article in pre-season, who to keep an eye on and especially Jack Clarke. He had just turned in a very decent performance at Guiseley and scored in the process. The likes of Mateusz Klich, Lewis Baker and Ronaldo Vieira all played on the night, but Clarke caught the eye. Fast forward five months and he’s the talk of the city.
So how good is Jack Clarke?
That’s the big question. There are some fans who believe academy players get an easier ride than the rest, because they are “Leeds”, others who think that label means they are treated more harshly but for me it’s about looking at players and comparing them to the others in the squad. For example, Alex Mowatt. To begin with Mowatt looked a real talent but I thought we outgrew the player. Sam Byram was overrated for me, he wasn’t a very good defender, a better midfielder but nit top-end. I thought Lewis Cook was going to be a phenomenal player but was sued out of position and couldn’t develop in such a poor team. Charlie Taylor was the real deal at this level, a top talent and potentially underrated. I judge how I see each individual.
This campaign there are more players than we have time to discuss. Leif Davis made his debut yesterday and after a shaky start he impressed. He showed some good touches, tight defending and a good left-foot. Jamie Shackleton has impressed time and time again in an unfamiliar position and Kalvin Phillips and Baily Peacock-Farrell continue to develop. Jack Clarke is a rare find in a youth team. Making the step-up is physically and mentality draining and there is a clear recent history at Leeds United that shows you we don’t bring through attacking players, because none are deemed to make the grade. Mowatt the most attacking in recent times, a central midfielder.
😍 What an impact! What a goal! Jack Clarke glides into the Villa box before curling into the far corner! pic.twitter.com/WoUQB3pBVe
— Leeds United (@LUFC) December 23, 2018
Clarke is having no such problems, at the tender age of 18-years-old. He hasn’t started a game yet and Marcelo Bielsa is being very particular in his development which is fair enough. I am desperate to see him from the start of a game but the impact he’s having is quite remarkable and it’s hard to argue that whatever Bielsa is doing it’s working. Clarke changed the game yesterday, again, in fact he does nearly every time he comes off the bench. He was my man of the match at Bolton having come on at half-time and yesterday he wasn’t far off. His goal was simply brilliant and that represents a huge moment for this club. We finally have an attacking player from the academy who has bags of ability and the mentality. A huge part of our future and one we should watch and enjoy as he grows this season.
There are those who will play down youngsters so we don’t have raised expectations, but leave that to the professionals, the Bielsa’s of this world because this lad is exactly what Leeds United fans crave. Direct, exciting and with bags of ability. Under the watchful eye of Marcelo Bielsa, with the potential he possesses this is a frightening scenario for potential opponents.