At the start of last month Leeds United released Irish forward Eoghan Stokes. The attacker, signed from St Kevin’s Boys in 2012, was at one point considered one of the club’s top prospects.
However, his development seemed to stop. After being tipped for the first-team by the likes former academy boss Neil Redfearn and former head coach Steve Evans he seemed to fall away.
Under Garry Monk he seemed a forgotten man and Thomas Christiansen was not going to give him a chance.
Two weeks after Leeds and Stokes had a new team. The youngster joined League of Ireland side Bohemians and immediately was thrust into first-team action.
His struggles at Leeds were a shame, considering he had shown so much promise at the club. This week Stokes spoke to the Herald about his time at Leeds, where he made an interesting assertion:
“I was doing well over there, scoring goals every week, but it was unfortunate that at Leeds there was a constant change of manager, constant rotation of players and that didn’t benefit me.”
Stokes’ point may almost seem like an excuse, but he has a point. In the six years the Irishman was at Leeds he saw nine managers come and go at Elland Road. Just after his release, Christiansen was given the boot as well.
Many Leeds fans will point to the example of Ronaldo Vieira and Kalvin Phillips as proof it can still be done. However, both have struggled this season and another managerial change keeps Leeds’ stability slipping.
Leeds have a fine academy and under new director Victor Orta it has been revamped, with foreign talent coming in.
Leeds’ youngsters though need to see a direct pathway into the first-team and that means a head coach sticking around for more than two minutes.
Stokes needed a coach in the first-team who had a long-term plan to involve him. Right now that is what Leeds’ current crop needs and was likely the plan when Christiansen was originally appointed.
Leeds’ new owner Andrea Radrizzani must ensure he keeps things at Elland Road as stable as much as possible. If that remains the case at Leeds, then talents like Stokes may not feel they are fighting a losing battle in the Leeds under-23s.