Having struggled with multiple injuries last season, he was restricted to just 10 games for The Whites in all competitions, scoring twice and assisting a further three. Without him Leeds were almost relegated, only staying up on the final day after a 2-1 win over Brentford saw them seal a 17th placed finish.
Bamford is the most important player at the club and without him Leeds will struggle again this season – it is imperative that his fitness holds up better.
Not only is it evident from the last two seasons how important he is as a goal threat with the impact of him being out of the side showing heavily in the goals scored column. But also, his all-round performance as a striker is what sets him apart from other forwards at the club.
No other striker possesses his ability to pin players with his hold up-play and strength back-to-goal. It is arguably the best of any of the forwards at Leeds’ disposal. He possesses both the height and physicality to ensure the ball sticks up front instead of being constantly turned over. This also gives the defenders and midfielders some respite from defensive duties.
He also has the link-up play to bring others into play, as his eight assists in the previous season before last highlights. His running in behind is another valuable attribute of his, as it forces defenders into mistakes as they back-track towards their own goal.
His movement is perhaps the most impressive thing, though. Rodrigo looks to build-up possession by dropping deeper but lacks the instincts to attack the box and move into dangerous spaces to essentially poach the ball to score. The England international constantly gives the opposition defenders something to think about. The miss against Brentford is emblematic of this ability, as he looked to find space in the box which the defenders struggled to track, albeit lacking the finish at the end of it on that occasion.
The Whites failed to recruit anyone of the Bamford profile this summer, and that is why it is imperative he remains fit for long stretches of the season. He is the natural striker the club needs to stave off relegation once more.
Josh Hobbs, a Leeds United fan and analyst, took to Twitter to voice similar, he said: “In the time that Bamford was on the pitch the difference it makes having a proper centre forward. We could play to his feet and chest and get around him and play higher up. There is zero excuse not to find another player like that. We’re so much worse without it.”
Do Leeds need to source Bamford cover?
Unfortunately, Leeds will have to wait until January to look for any option similar to Bamford. Despite Rodrigo’s good early season form, Hobbs believes Bamford is far better for the team as a whole, he added: “Rodrigo scored a few goals early this season but he cannot hold a candle to Pat [Bamford] as a centre forward. The team is orders of magnitude better when we have Bamford in it.”
Some may see Bamford as the most important player as hyperbolic, pointing to the likes of Marc Roca and Tyler Adams in the double-pivot, or Luis Sinisterra who has already showed his class in big moments, among other players; but Bamford’s all-round game is so heavily suited to Jesse Marsch’s system and attacking at real speed after an effective counter-press, and also for holding the ball up when we go more direct into his feet and chest to get others up the pitch.
Leeds are now winless in three and will hope Bamford’s hat-trick for the development side recently will give him the platform and confidence for their next league game as he continues to build fitness. He is the answer to many of Leeds’ problems this season.