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Ask Steve Claridge

Steve Claridge
Claridge is a pundit for The Football League Show and Football Focus

Jermaine Beckford hit the headlines again at the weekend by scoring the winner for Leeds in their superb FA Cup win over Manchester United.

The 26-year-old striker continues to be linked with a move way from Elland Road, so I'll tell you what I think is the best move for him and his club.

I also explain why I didn't pick out any Newcastle players when I discussed last week which Championship players had impressed my most so far this season.

I've got a few views of Crystal Palace's highly-rated young forward Victor Moses, too, plus the sacking of Preston boss Alan Irvine.

If you have a question for me, you can submit it through Twitter at http://twitter.com/AskClaridge or use the form on the top right of the page.


As an ex-striker yourself, I would love your opinion on Jermaine Beckford. As a Leeds supporter, I feel we should surely keep him - even if he goes on a free when his contract is up at the end of the season - because if he helps us go up then that's worth more than £2m. What's best for him - moving on or staying put?
Steve Graves, England

I don't think Leeds are going to sell Beckford. If they were, they would have done so in the summer. They don't have to for a start. They made £4m last year, after getting all the big hitters off their wage bill, and this year they have sold Fabian Delph for around £8m to Aston Villa.

Jermaine Beckford
Jermaine Beckford celebrates Leeds' shock FA Cup win at Old Trafford

Their crowds are up from last year, too, and they have drawn Liverpool, Manchester United and now Tottenham in the cups, so they are in good shape financially.

They shouldn't sell him anyway. If he walks away on a free in the summer and they are promoted to the Championship, then so what? Leeds might even be able to pay him what he wants to stay then.

The only way they would sell him now is if he spat his dummy out. So far he hasn't. If he gets a nice big contract out of Leeds for getting them up, good luck to him.

He doesn't really have to leave Leeds anyway. They are a huge club and he can develop with them. I can see why he might be tempted by Newcastle, but he is clearly going to be playing at a higher level soon one way another.

It will be interesting to see how he gets on. I haven't seen him do anything in the last few weeks to change my opinion that his all-round game needs to be better, but, having said that, he is just one of those players that is going to get you a goal because he is such a cool finisher.

His control was awful for the goal against Manchester United, but he was still able to get to the ball because of his killer pace, and he put it away so well.

Plenty of people have made a good living out of just being great goalscorers. It's just that they usually have to be playing for sides who create a lot of chances.

Put Jermaine in a good side and he will score. You put him in a bad side and he still has questions to answer because he is not the sort of player to create a lot of chances for himself.

In last week's column and your Championship players of the season so far, there was no mention of any Newcastle players. Why?!
WeAreTheMags on Twitter

A lot of the players I picked out aren't household names but they have exceeded my expectations. I just felt that there has been more of a team effort by Newcastle to get them where they are.

If you look at Newcastle player by player, then of course one or two have stood out. Kevin Nolan has been fantastic, Fabricio Coloccini has had a good year and Jonas Gutierrez has played well, too.

They have had a great season so far, but the reason they are looking so likely to bounce back to the Premier League is that they have kept the nucleus of their squad together and one or two fringe players have stepped up to the plate. People like Shola Ameobi, for example.

Given Victor Moses' recent form, it looks likely he will leave Crystal Palace in January. After Palace's bad experience of selling John Bostock to Tottenham through a transfer tribunal and not getting what we think he was worth, what do you think a player of Moses' quality is worth?
Gregga, England

There has been a lot of speculation about Victor - who wants him and how much they are prepared to pay - but Palace, who are struggling financially, will want to get as much money as they can.

Victor Moses
Victor Moses is being watched by a host of Premier League clubs

When you buy players like Victor, and John Bostock before him, you are buying potential and there is always an element of chance. Victor is a talented player, but he hasn't put 20 good games together yet - and that's why you get those players at what is seen as a low price if it goes to a tribunal to settle the fee.

What Victor needs more than anything is a team that will look after him, and he is better off playing first-team football in the Championship than getting lost at a Premier League club.

The only way to learn the game is to play first-team football regularly, so he needs to be very careful about his next move, especially at the age of 19.

Hi Steve, what do you make about football clubs not paying players, as has happened at Crystal Palace and Portsmouth in the last few weeks? How does it affect teams?
Kevin, Bradford

I was just a kid at Aldershot when it happened to me, so I know what it's like not to get paid.

At Portsmouth, it will have no effect at all, while at Palace it might be a bit different because their players won't be earning so much money. But not getting paid isn't an excuse for playing badly. You know you are going to get paid eventually because the Professional Footballers' Association make sure of that.

The people that are sometimes forgotten are the non-playing staff. These people have got a mortgage to pay and they are the ones you have got to worry about in these situations, more than the players on £20,000-a-week.

I am really annoyed about Alan Irvine being sacked as Preston boss. A manager who got any team into the play-offs the season before does not deserve to be sacked, does he?
Lewis Morgan, England

Alan Irvine
Alan Irvine took Preston to the Championship play-offs last season

Tell me about it. No, he didn't deserve to be sacked. It was a ridiculous decision.

Preston are the Bolton of the Championship for me. Their fans have been spoilt in recent years, so their expectation levels are ridiculously high.

Don't get me wrong, Preston are a decent club. But when you look at their fan base compared to other sides in that division as well as their infrastructure and their budget, then they should be expecting to finish in 10th to 15th in the table.

Preston may have been on a poor run and their strikers had stopped scoring, but I didn't see Irvine's sacking coming and I don't really understand it.


Steve Claridge is a BBC Football League pundit who played more than 800 matches for 15 clubs over the course of a 24-year playing career. He was talking to Chris Bevan.



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see also
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