By George Overhill

28th Oct, 2023 | 3:40pm

Patrick Bamford penalty issue in Stoke City loss a 'surprise' after Leeds United exit debate - Phil Hay

Phil Hay is “surprised” that nobody at Leeds United addressed Patrick Bamford’s problems with pressure penalties during the summer after what happened last season.

The Athletic journalist suggested on the Square Ball podcast on 27 October that, in light of the striker’s high-profile miss from the spot against Newcastle late in the relegation battle (13 May), and the subsequent abuse he was subjected to which prompted then-manager Sam Allardyce to call for the police to do more [Sky Sports, 19 May], the penalty situation could have been sorted ahead of the new campaign.

Bamford, 30, has fallen behind Joel Piroe and Georginio Rutter in the pecking order but insisted on taking the spot kick he had won himself at Stoke in midweek (25 October), only to fire over the bar before the hosts scored a late winner.

Hay said (10m 50s): “When I asked [Daniel] Farke the question about that and said, ‘Isn’t he under too much pressure? Isn’t it too much of a risk because of everything going on around it?’ He said ‘Well, maybe’, and was pretty honest in that it won’t be Bamford who takes the next penalty realistically.

“It surprised me that given everything that had gone on with Bamford after the Newcastle game, with the abuse and everything else, and although it never got to the point that anybody thought this would happen but there was a bit of a debate about, ‘Is he done here? Does he need to move on? Is it in everybody’s interests to do him a favour so there’s a parting of ways?’

“Given that there wasn’t [a parting] it surprises me that didn’t come up in conversation through the summer and there wasn’t a directive to him to say, ‘When we get penalties, help yourself by leaving it to somebody else’.”

Uphill battle

Penalties are as much a mental skill as a physical one and while it is admirable that Bamford is willing to keep stepping up in an attempt to turn his fortunes around he seems like the last person who should be taking kicks with a lot riding on them.

If the Whites win one late in a game they are already winning 3-0 then by all means give him a chance to break his run of misses.

But with the points on the line the player with arguably more psychological pressure on them than anyone in the entire squad is going to have the toughest task to convert.

Bamford has been operating under what must have at times been unbearable pressure for most of the past two seasons, as the primary number nine in a system that appeared unable to function properly without him.

The injury problems he was continually hit with meant he was always trying to rush back for the team but could rarely function at his best.

While the pressure to be available every week has been lifted by the arrival of Piroe and the emergence of Rutter it hasn’t gone anywhere when it comes to penalties.

There is an argument to never let him take a pressure kick again in a Leeds United shirt, not because he’s a bad player or weak-minded, but because the baggage he brings to that specific situation makes it unfeasible.

If he can regain his all-round confidence in open play or with a spot kick that has nothing riding on it then fantastic, but just as most sides wouldn’t send their keeper up to take penalties because he probably won’t score it certainly looks like the Whites shouldn’t let Bamford step forward.

In other Leeds United news, the Whites have been backed for automatic promotion with a January transfer boost on the horizon.