Jack Harrison has conceded that his debut season with Leeds United did not result in the Manchester City-owned winger displaying the best version of himself, via quotes by the Yorkshire Evening Post.
Harrison was a firm favourite of Marcelo Bielsa after arriving in West Yorkshire on an initial one-season loan deal in 2018, making 42 appearances across all competitions and consistently lining up on the sides of the Argentine’s midfield.
But the 22-year-old often left the Elland Road faithful underwhelmed as he returned the manager’s continued faith just four goals and three assists, and endured lengthy droughts on the scoresheet with no involvement in the end result.
Word that Harrison could return to West Yorkshire for the 2019/20 season initially resulted in a lot of questions being raised, with supporters shocked at Manchester City’s alleged £20million asking price.
Even suggestions of a second term on loan failed to raise much optimism from the Elland Road faithful, but Bielsa persisted with his confidence that Harrison could become a much more lucrative asset for the Whites, and struck a loan-to-buy agreement with the reigning Premier League title holders for the £3.6million-rated forward.
To succeed in the Championship with Leeds, Harrison knew he would need to improve his game and focused on what he deemed to be his weaker aspects over the summer break.
“I know I wasn’t at my best [last season], and it was something I wanted to do this summer,” he said. “I worked a lot in the off-season on my game, it’s been good this season, and I’m always looking for ways to improve myself. I know I have plenty to work on.
“It’s important not to dwell on the past. We have to keep it in the back of our minds, but we have to learn from it and move forward.”
While Harrison kick-started the new campaign promisingly with the third goal during our opening day victory at Bristol City, the former England Under 21 international is at risk of slipping into the same trap that blighted his efforts last season.
Across his 39 second-tier outings, he averaged 1.5 efforts on goal in 2018/19, but only found the target a third of the time, as 33 per cent of his strikes were wide of the mark, while the remainder were blocked.
Already this season Harrison is averaging 1.4 efforts on goal per ninety minutes, and has increased his percentage on target, but the 0.1 gain has been a result of his efforts not being blocked, with 64 per cent currently failing to find the target.
His efficiency in front of goal is one area of the 22-year-old’s game that must be improved for Bielsa to see Harrison as a viable goal threat, as he is currently showing a change of tack to present himself more as the creator – despite impressing in pre-season with his goal against Girona.
From his 313 minutes in the Championship this term, 5 ft 7 Harrison is averaging an extra key pass per ninety minutes than he did in the 2,685 minutes achieved in his debut Whites campaign.
If he can maintain his creative involvement, and improve his efficiency, United triggering the option-to-buy next summer should be met with much fanfare and few glum faces.