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winger no. 2 lands at leeds: jimmy kébé

winger no. 2 lands at leeds: jimmy kébé


Leeds United have officially signed their second winger in two days, bringing in Jimmy Kébé on loan from Crystal Palace.

The loan will run to the end of the season, at which point there is an option to sign the 29 year old permanently. 

It’s a cliché now to say ‘we wouldn’t have signed him under Ken Bates,’ but in this case there is evidence to support the claim; as Reading struggled to stay in the Premier League and pressure mounted on Brian McDermott, Kébé gave a forthright interview that shifted the emphasis onto the club’s chairman, pointing out that the team was a good Championship side trying to stay in the Premier League.

“People are going to talk shit about us, like, yeah we are shit, or the manager needs to leave blah blah, that is bullshit,” he said. “We have to ask the owner if he wants to spend any money in January to make the team better, or there is nothing to expect.”

Despite that intervention from Kébé – whose middle name, it should be noted, is Boubou – McDermott, thankfully for Leeds, was soon looking for a new job. After relegation from the Premier League, Jimmy Boubou sought escape from Nigel Adkins’s Powerpoint presentations at Crystal Palace, only for Ian Holloway to decide he just couldn’t cope any more, leaving Kébé in the club merchandise-laden hands of Tony Pulis, which has put the 29 year old’s career on standby; with only a potential escape route to Newcastle to ponder.

Despite a difficult end to his time there, that involved Adkins questioning his attitude, Kébé remains a popular figure at Reading, where his assist record is darned impressive: season by season, Kébé notched 12, 9, 10 and then 11 in the season they won the Championship title under McDermott. That season he was also famously involved in ’sock gate’ with West Ham’s Jack Collison, who took exception to Kébé pausing to pull his socks up near the end of a 2-0 win over ten man West Ham. On the Football League show Steve Claridge shook his fringe forlornly at such arrogance, but a little bit of that sort of showboating would probably be welcome at Elland Road, where the watchword has been ‘workmanlike’ since the bright summer day that Snodgrass was sold. 

Inevitably the highlight reels from Reading make him look ace, but there’s not really any fooling when a man is filmed running the length of a football pitch with the ball on several separate occasions – and in this division, too. After roaring a confused Jason Pearce along the left wing in recent games, Kébé’s ability to run with the ball, beat players and cut inside to score or set up, let’s say, Ross McCormack, gives an added edge of anticipation to the upcoming games.

Leeds needed it. The last time Leeds United were on a football pitch, they were deservedly getting bawled out by 3,500 extremely angry fans. That foul mood could have carried over to Hillsborough and then to Elland Road the week after, but signing Jimmy Boubou Kébé and Cameron Stewart (middle name: Reece) has given Leeds what the fans – and the manager – have been crying out for all season.

Increasing the Reading old-boy network might even get Noel Hunt playing well again. Anything could happen now.

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