Leeds United Pre season: Good, bad or ugly?
Results-wide it’s been pretty impressive, but the whole operation has been held at gunpoint by the takeover saga. I say ‘saga’, I could use the word ‘debacle’, ‘torture’, ‘exercise in futility’. At the beginning of the summer we had a squad of players we cared little for and wanted to very quickly discard, but had minimal prospect of doing so. In the middle of the summer we had the very real promise of a takeover, and whilst not necessarily a huge injection of cash, enough to get us a decent promotion-challenging squad, which may or may not have been enough to tempt Snodgrass to stay at the club. Whilst the change of ownership took its natural course Warnock assembled a decent, solid-looking squad and we all anticipated the ‘icing on the cake’ signings. At the end of the summer, Snodgrass has run out of patience, we are still waiting, and whilst the last few days have raised hopes that the takeover will still happen, Leeds fans have been stung too many times. With the end of the transfer window looming large I am beginning to accept that there may be no ‘icing on the cake’ and we will have to settle for rock hard, stale scones, or maybe a pineapple upside-down cake with just a semblance of moisture.
Hopes for the season:
With no immediate resolution to the ownership situation it is impossible to say. Warnock’s singular aim in his supposedly one season at the helm is promotion and nothing less, but many fans would settle for just an improvement on last season if it meant a fresh start under new ownership, and re-building the bridges with the disaffected support. Most fans just want to enjoy going to Elland Road again and whatever happens on the pitch, happens. We want to see players with the right spirit, and the return of invigorating Saturday afternoons. Currently, with everything up in the air, there is no direction or long-term thinking and our ambitions are changing every couple of days. With the patchwork quilt that Warnock has assembled we should definitely be hard enough to beat to avoid a relegation struggle, but we lack the offensive edge to make that difference at the top of the table. That said, El-Hadji Diouf is pretty offensive.
The worst-case scenario is that the ownership situation drags on and on, and fans continue to be disengaged with the club
Fears for the season:
The worst-case scenario is that the ownership situation drags on and on, and fans continue to be disengaged with the club. Regardless of whether Warnock has enough time to work his magic in the transfer window, we need a new outlook on life, and we need to breathe life into the lifeless carcass that is currently Leeds United. We talk about how brilliant Leeds fans are, but with the current boycott from many on home games, and the general downbeat demeanor of those that do attend, Elland Road is a soulless vacuum of disenchantment, and the longer that continues the more it will affect the team and its manager.
Absolute bare minimum you’ll accept:
New ownership by the end of August, a bit of vitality at Elland Road, and the suggestion that we might spend a bit of cash in January.
Fixture you’re most looking forward to?
We have a decent record in Lancashire derbies in recent years, so Blackburn at home on September 1st is looking quite tasty.
Thankfully, Warnock seems to understand this club
Got the right manager?
For the situation we are in, undoubtedly yes. It is clear that Warnock gave up on last season, and the last month or so was appalling, even with the dross he had at his disposal. Thankfully, Warnock seems to understand this club and has seen enough of the fans positive spirit (in away games!) to know how to tap into that. Some of Warnock’s signings have been designed specifically to trigger and subsequently feed on the sometimes unique Elland Road atmosphere, and that has been sorely lacking in recent years. Warnock has still to convince many fans, however, but what can’t be denied is that few managers could have constructed a decent squad with so little to play with this summer. Of course we didn’t want to lose Snodgrass, but in general the squad is better and hungrier than last season, and a lesser manager in the trying and ever-changing circumstances that have surrounded this summer may have crumbled. With question marks over the ownership and leadership of the club all summer, we have needed a strong manager at the helm and Warnock has done some decent business and seemingly held it all together. Had Warnock walked, like he was perfectly entitled to do at times, the club could have crumbled like a pack of cards.
By Christmas you’ll be…
Just about able to recognize our first team players. Eleven in so far, and the squad is nowhere near finished yet.
Player you’d most like to sign?
We have been linked with several strikers, such as Nicky Maynard, Jay Bothroyd and Craig Mackail-Smith and I would settle for any of them. The name Jermaine Beckford won’t go away and is a contentious issue amongst Leeds fans. I keep hearing that he is too expensive wages-wise, but nobody truly knows what he is on or what he is prepared to accept to come back to Leeds, which by all accounts he wants to do. It definitely won’t happen under the current ownership, and many people say you should never go back, but getting Beckford back would be explosive for me. Him and Leeds United works, we know that.
Jamaican international Rodolph Austin appears to be tailor-made for Leeds United
Which player should we look out for?
Jamaican international Rodolph Austin appears to be tailor-made for Leeds United, and the strong, athletic warrior we have wanted in midfield for about a decade. We need heroes; players we actually like rather than ridicule or want to strangle. Austin ticks most of those boxes.
Which player would you love to ditch?
Danny Pugh symbolizes everything that has gone wrong with the club in recent years. We don’t know whether previous manager Simon Grayson actually wanted to sign him or was coerced into it, but we wasted a precious £500,000 on a previously-talented Premier League player and he froze in the suffocating despondency of the Elland Road atmosphere. If we get a fee at all I would be surprised, but certainly any club who shows an interest in him should be forced, possibly at gunpoint, to follow that interest through. Billy Paynter, Paul Rachubka and Paul Connolly are another trio of painfully inadequate players who we are lumbered with contractually for another season, and the sight of them leaving alone would re-invigorate a lot of fans.
Opposition hate figure?
I have enough on dealing with people within my own club that I dislike to worry about the opposition.
Paddy Kenny’s having a party, bring your vodka and your Charlie
What won’t happen this season?
I would like to think we won’t be getting tonked at home as often. Shipping seven, five and four last season was unforgivable and whilst it may not become ‘Fortress Elland Road’ as quickly as we would like, I would hope it isn’t the ‘Discount Warehouse, come-and-take-everything-you-want-and-we won’t-even-charge-you Elland Road’ that it has been in the last couple of seasons.
Favourite chant? ‘Paddy Kenny’s having a party, bring your vodka and your Charlie’.
Where will you finish? Sixth, just, with a couple of signings in January.
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