Leeds United need Kyle Bartley and Kyle Bartley needs Leeds United, it would seem.
There exists a bond between Kyle Bartley and Leeds United fans. The Englishman is a very, very well liked character around Elland Road, and in all honesty, they could really do with him now. Not the new version, but the old. The new one is awful.
The Whites brought Kyle Bartley to Elland Road in 2016 when Gary Monk dipped into his old club Swansea and handpicked the fan-favourite-to-be, who had been limited to just eight appearances in all competitions the season before. And Monk could not be happier. “He’s at a stage of his career where he wants to prove himself and try and fight for a place,” Monk said. Adding, “He’s big, he’s strong and he’s a very good defender. He’s a good leader, he talks very well, he’s a good organiser and a good communicator.”
The non-specific chat which dribbles out of managers mouths when they introduce new signings can often offer very little insight. After all, Gary Monk also said about Marcus Antonsson, “He scores goals, has great movement and he has the mentality to be able to adapt to this league.”
How much of that was true?
In Bartley however, Leeds really had themselves a player. Every fan will fondly remember the partnership formed between the Englishman and Pontus Jansson during the 2016/17 campaign and how their combined efforts nearly guided the team as close to the playoffs as they had been in the almost 15 years they had spent away from the top flight.
Bartley inspired the players around him – he gave them that bit extra to push them forwards. Jansson and Ayling, and Berardi they all looked like world beaters that season Leeds had one of the staunchest back lines in the Championship. There was even a chant allocated to them.
Sadly the move never happened, and Bartley faded away like a good dream on a Monday morning as reality slapped Leeds United fans straight in the face.
The Manchester-born man returned to Swansea in 2017 and was signed by West Brom in 2018, as the Baggies looked to force their way back into the Premier League – much to the displeasure of the Elland Road faithful. All of whom were very keen on bringing the defender back last summer.
Heading into the final games of the season on a terrible run of form with a weakened defensive unit, will Bielsa rue the day he did not pursue Bartley?
Leeds United fans, what are your standout memories of Kyle Bartley? Join the discussion by commenting below…
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