Patrick Bamford has already answered a fair few critics this season but the Leeds United striker will take even greater satisfaction should he continue to prove his Premier League credentials against his old employers Chelsea on Saturday.
The 27-year-old spent five years with the Blues but was never handed an opportunity to play in the top tier, instead spending the majority of his time out on loan in the Football League at MK Dons, Derby County and Middlesbrough.
Having finally found a home at Leeds, Marcelo Bielsa’s faith in his No.9 has been rewarded with a return of seven goals in his first 10 Premier League appearances since the club’s long-awaited return to the top division in English football.
Much of the doubt around Bamford’s ability ahead of this season stemmed from his previous record of one Premier League goal in 27 appearances, as well as a mediocre strike-rate in the Championship, but there’s no doubt he fits in well in Bielsa’s system.
In Bamford, former Leeds United forward Julian Joachim sees a player brimming with confidence and does not expect Bielsa to be planning on signing a new first-choice striker in the upcoming January transfer window, as had been widely predicted following the closure of the summer window.
“Most definitely”, said Joachim when asked whether Bamford has already proven his critics wrong.
“It’s all to do with confidence in your own ability and I think if you start the season off well you grow in confidence and it looks like he’s done that so far,” he told bookmakers.co.uk.
“He’s a real handful and he’s shown so far in the top league that he can score goals.
“I think they’ll probably stick with him as their main striker because he hasn’t let them down at the minute, but they’ll probably look to bring someone in just to make him aware that there’s someone ready to step in if he doesn’t continue playing well and scoring goals.”
Despite his exploits this season, Bamford bashers are still pointing to one negative statistic which the forward leads the way in – the number of ‘big’ chances missed.
According to the Premier League official statistics, Bamford has missed nine big chances in the league this season, two more than the next striker in line which is Sheffield United’s Oli McBurnie with seven.
However, Joachim – a former striker himself who played for Leeds in the 2004-05 season – insists the fact Bamford is getting the chances bodes well for his performances.
He said: “He may have missed nine good chances or whatever, but you have to look at it the other way – at least he’s getting the chances. It’s possible to be on the pitch and not even get a chance, at least he’s getting those opportunities to put the ball in the back of the net.”
As Joachim alluded to, Bielsa is a little short on cover for Bamford and may look to add some depth to various parts of his squad next month, but the former Aston Villa, Leicester and Coventry man says it’s anyone’s guess what the Leeds boss has in mind.
He said: “I’ve only seen glimpses of them this season and what you can say is that they’re not afraid to have a go, which is exciting, and they’re scoring plenty of goals.
“They do like to go toe-to-toe and if you do that you leave yourself vulnerable at times and that has been the case on a few occasions.
“It’s difficult to pinpoint a certain player who could come in to address that, that’s up to the manager, but I’m sure he’ll be thinking about targeting players with a view to bringing one or two in just to strengthen the squad depth.”
Bamford is 12/5 to score anytime this weekend with Leeds as long as 5/1 to beat Chelsea away from home.