To say it has been a slow start for Leeds United’s new £3m signing Chris Wood is probably an understatement. The striker has not only failed to score in his first three competitive matches for the Whites, but he also blazed a penalty over in the Capital One Cup shootout defeat away at Doncaster.
As we know it is still very early days, but the longer the 23-year-old takes to find the back of the net the more pressure he is going to be under, especially being the club’s most expensive signing since Robbie Fowler arrived from Liverpool for £11m in 2001.
It could be argued that the New Zealand international has put even more weight on his own shoulders with his comments after the 2-0 pre-season win over Everton, where he scored a fine long distance goal. In a post-match interview with the club’s website, Wood said: “It’s nice to score but I wasn’t worried because, ultimately, I know I can score goals in this league and I know I can do that come the start of the season.”
Having watched Wood in his first three matches, I’m sure many of the fans are starting to have their doubts as to whether he can score the goals to help us towards a promotion push this season. Billy Paynter is a striker that springs to mind – he arrived at Elland Road as a proven goalscorer but never recovered from a slow start and netted just one goal in his first season with the club. Wood needs to ensure he doesn’t go down the same path; he is full of potential and is capable of netting double figures if he can find his top form.
I think Wood will get better as the season progresses. It’s clear from the first few matches that he is still finding his feet and adapting into the system Uwe Rosler wants the team to play. He is likely to be a lone striker for much of the season with Sam Byram and Stuart Dallas playing either side of him, in what is effectively a 4-3-3 with the ball, and 4-5-1 without it. This means United’s new number 9 will be asked to put in a lot of work, but there is no question he is a presence and is capable of causing every defence in the Championship problems. Incredibly, he has now played for 12 different clubs despite only being 23, with numerous loan moves making it hard for him to settle at a team. The move to Leeds presents the Auckland-born man with the perfect opportunity to settle down and get his career on track. It’s a chance Wood must take if he wants to make the most out of his footballing career.
So in spite of his stuttering start at Elland Road, I firmly believe Chris Wood will start hitting the back of the net sooner rather than later and fire the Whites up the table. Saturday’s game against rivals Sheffield Wednesday would be the perfect way to score that illusive first goal and really announce himself to the supporters. If the Leeds fans stay patient and keep the faith with Wood, then I think he will fulfil his potential at our great club.