Patrick Bamford is often criticised by corners of the Leeds United fanbase for his slack output in front of the goal, but regularly offers Marcelo Bielsa a tactical weapon upfront that is consistently willing to fight for our promotion hopes.
We currently sit atop the Championship standings by a single point to title rivals West Bromwich Albion after 37 games, of which Bamford has featured in 36, started 35, scored 13 times and assisted three goals.
No player to have taken to the field in 2019/20 to represent the Whites during a league game has found the back of the net on more occasions than Bamford, with the 26-year-old’s haul more than double that of Pablo Hernandez (six) who has scored our second-most goals to date.
It is not only his goals that make Bamford so integral to Bielsa’s plans, though, but rather through the forward’s willingness to tirelessly work hard for the team – even when it means he cannot produce the final touch that sends the ball over the line and get fans on their feet.
One stat perfectly highlights the tactical importance Bamford has in Bielsa’s plans and his fight for the side, as the former Middlesbrough man we signed for £10million has committed the second-most fouls (51) by United players, narrowly trailing Mateusz Klich by three.
He has also competed in the team’s fourth-most aerial duels (111) with only centre-backs Liam Cooper (223) and Ben White (206), plus the versatile ace that is Luke Ayling (119) challenging for possession in the air more often.
For a side who’s first-choice goalkeeper Kiko Casilla has played just 154 accurate long passes over his total 1,020 this league season, Bamford has not been afraid to put his body on the line in the call of duty.
Are supporters overly critical of Bamford's performances?
Yes, he offers so much
No, he should score more
One supporter even suggested Bamford is stealing a living after firing blanks against Boro during February’s 1-0 win at the Riverside Stadium, a match which came during what would eventually end as a seven-game drought for the Grantham-born forward.
He put his chance away against Huddersfield Town last time out as we beat the Terriers 2-0 in the West Yorkshire Derby, and Bamford would have been chomping at the bit to face Cardiff City last weekend before the match was postponed.
Some of the criticism directed Bamford’s way is warranted – with the former England U21 international taking our most shots (123) by some way and only directing 47 strikes on target – but his work outside of shooting cannot go amiss.
In other Leeds United news, a 22-year-old talent has been lauded as the perfect summer buy for Bielsa’s Whites.