LUFC: A pre-season that poses many questions and demands swift answers

I don’t know how we’ve got here; how a week before the season begins, supporters are finding themselves writing off our season; how a club of the stature of Leeds United is being reduced to the status of Championship ‘also rans’, even by those most partisan. How a manager, sold on the promises of grand plans, has been reduced to desperately trying to sell on the unsellable, just so he can draft in players possessing skill sets as elementary as concentration, passing and pace.

I don’t why, when I surveyed the scene in Elland Road yesterday, the only new Macron shirt that resembled a Leeds kit was worn by Paddy Kenny. I don’t know why I keep trying to give Lee Peltier the benefit of the doubt when he gets caught out as he did in the concession of the second goal, then follows it up by attempting a hopeless back pass that should’ve resulted in a third.

I don’t know why I even get angry with Jason Pearce any more; he’s a fundamentally hopeless footballer whose lack of grace on the ball is only superseded by his inability to concentrate. I don’t know if Tom Lees can ever hope to progress as a player until he has a solid, senior partner to play with in the middle of the defence. I don’t know whether to be pleased that we have someone as proven and experienced at left back as Stephen Warnock, or annoyed that he’s not offering the team more.

I don’t know if Sam Byram’s ever coming back, nor how he’s seemingly further away from a comeback than he was in the week prior to the Slovenian tour, or whether he’d still be more effective now on a mobility scooter as a wide outlet than any of our other options.

Irreplaceable

Irreplaceable

I don’t know how Neil Warnock managed to assemble the worst Leeds United midfield in living memory, how almost every player in the middle of the park shares the same traits of immobility, ineffectiveness in the tackle, mediocre goalscoring returns and an inability to play out wide. I don’t know how Michael Brown and David Norris are even on the fringes on things…and what the hell Danny Pugh is still doing around.

I don’t know why people still see potential in Aidy White, even less so as a right sided midfielder; I don’t know how many more times I can listen to him being referred to as a winger before I question my seriously question my sanity.

I don’t know what Luke Murphy must think; I wonder whether he looks around at the green expanse that surrounds him and at those in (predominantly) white or gold/beige shirts and thinks he’s been sold a lie and that his abilities to pick a pass will be all but lost, playing for a side so lacking in the quickness of thought and pace needed to utilise his abilities.

I don’t know if I want to contemplate the thought that if you take Luke Varney out of the equation, Leeds haven’t scored a goal in seven hours of football. I don’t know how that’s going to change radically without an established, out and out, 20 goal a season striker arriving at the club – but then again, just as with the wingers and the new centre back, I don’t know where the money for that’s going to come from.

I don’t really know where Ross McCormack is supposed to be playing; I’m not sure that he does either. I don’t know whether Matt Smith is going to be used as he really should be at this stage, as a late substitute when the team needs a goal, or whether he’ll soon be figuring more prominently, because as much as Brian McDermott wants to make Leeds United one of the best passing teams in the league, I don’t know if we have the personnel capable of successfully adapting to that style.

I don’t know if like a generation ago, an influx of youth players can reinvigorate our squad, whether some of those players are ready to step up; but without investment, I don’t see any potential for taking great forward strides on the pitch coming from any other quarters.

But, on the positive side of things…

What I do know is that for the first time in almost a decade, we are finally starting a season following a club free from the rotund shadow of Ken Bates; a club now under the stewardship of a board, that despite many shortcomings are a least showing themselves to be responsive to some of the views and concerns of supporters and have a team managed by an intelligent, proven, committed man who intrinsically understands the stature and ethos of the club and fan base he works for.

But while Bates may be gone, his legacy still remains; while the impeccably timed (suspiciously so) revelations of his departure on the eve of the Nurnberg game constituted another PR triumph for David Haigh et al, GFH-C in disposing of Bates have now also forsaken the ‘comfort blanket’ of having a supporters’ ‘go to’ scapegoat whenever questions are asked in the future. The debts that continue to handicap the club going forward may be the doing of Bates, but with him no longer there on his President’s pedestal, there’ll be nobody else in the firing line to deflect the bullets from the board.

Goodwill, reinforced by the Bates announcement, is just about keeping the lid on the simmering discontent following another underwhelming summer of recruitment; six senior professionals were released at the end of last season, to be replaced by three and all the while David Haigh has spoken of backing his manager “to the hilt”. Cheaper ticket pricing, Radio Leeds radio coverage, social media accounts and now finally the opening of lines of communication with LUST – all of these have been welcome (and necessary) steps, but ultimately, like any manager, the success of any board will be defined by achievements on the pitch.

The honeymoon period is now over for GFH-C; a lot of work has been done to re-engage those supporters who’ve remained loyal to the club, but keeping fans on board and winning back those who’ve deserted Leeds can only be achieved by progress on the pitch. Judging the merits of the current squad using FC Nurnberg as a yardstick would be harsh, reflecting on them in the light of the pitiful showing at Walsall and for much of the Stevenage game, less so.

A rare attacking threat

A rare attacking threat

In Leeds United, GFH-C have acquired by far the biggest club outside the Premier League and in Brian McDermott, have secured one of the brightest young managers in the game. If they want to be truly regarded as trusted guardians of the club, they must find a way of giving their man a fighting chance of getting his team into at least the play-off positions, come next May.

Football is a fickle beast, and if come October, Leeds are again struggling in the bottom third and we’re still lamenting the same problems that exist today, criticism will be flying in at all parties from all angles. Brian McDermott MUST be given at least a fighting chance; after the leap of faith he made in coming to the club and hard work he’s put in thus far, they owe him at least that.

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11 responses to “LUFC: A pre-season that poses many questions and demands swift answers

  1. One other point, Mackey d is a winner and everyday that passes without being able to compete will seriously get him down. Just look at his mannerism in his interview after the ame yesterday. Someone who looks very frustrated and pissed off! He will not hang around too long me thinks unless the financial backing improves and fast.

  2. gfh skint,, we have players no one wants to buy,,,MCd wont stick around when it all go”s pear shape who would blame him,,, clear out the dead wood at a loss if we have to,,, then give MCd the funds he needs,,,, cos we need him,,, mot

  3. I watched the first half yesterday it was very poor to say the least
    Saturday and Brighton (good side) will answer some ?
    I think uncle Ken left us in the Poop

  4. For those accusing GFH of not putting money in – they are having to put in £10m this year alone (according to a Guardian article this week) to cover the cash shortfall left behind by Bates; probably the same next year as well, although some of these zombie player contracts will have expired by that point. I think on the Leeds site there are 30 in the first team squad, of which maybe 8 are on relatively junior contracts (Thompson, Taylor, L Turner, Killock, Lenighan, Dawson, Cairns and I assume Poleon). There are several sitting around, the wrong side of 30 and unable to get into the first team (Tonge (30), Brown (36), Norris (32), Pugh (30), maybe Varney (30)). Green (30) is I think a little better than that group, as is Diouf (32) and maybe Drury (34), but none of them are worth anything in fees. So on one hand it’s a big squad and on the other it’s full of dead wood. We can’t buy 5 more players and have a squad of 35.

    When they talk about getting back to the Premiership in 2 years, I have to be honest and take that like everyone else has – it won’t be this year, unless there’s a lucky surge through the playoffs.

    Brian M is between a rock and a hard place at the moment. He needs those mediocre players, since he has few other choices unless he can get rid of them – he doesn’t have much of a squad in between the youngsters and the older players since those are the players that Bates sold on. When Wilkinson came in (read Dave Simpson’s The Last Champions – great read) he set about ostracising and kicking out those players he didn’t want to keep – had them train separately so that the first offer that came in for them they’d jump (he also had Vinnie Jones making their life miserable while they stayed). McDermott can’t afford to do that. Maybe our best chance is if a good offer comes in for Byram that provides room to restructure the squad around a new core.

  5. One of the best posts I’ve read pre-season. No mention of El H Diouf, a player that we badly need to turn up and earn his corn. Looks like we are starting with half a team of players and half a team of freeloaders. Lets hope a few of the freeloaders decide to give something back to the club and the fans with a bit of hard work.

  6. Superb Article.
    GHF did their Due Dillegence and they knew what a Black Hole they were buying.
    They believed and sadly may still do that they could introduce serious investment at worse or sell the club very quickly at best.
    There must be no sympathy for them. They are clueless and in many ways no better than The Great Wretched Dictator himself.
    They need to sell up and go now! Poor BM already looks a beaten man.
    What a tragic mess.
    Thank you Uncle Ken for destroying our beloved club!!

  7. You hit the nail on the head top post will be lucky if we finsh mid table goals are going to be hard to find and with are defense you can work the rest out yourself live in hope die in disappointment think It’s going to be another long season

  8. I really can’t believe how many of these articles I have read.

    Does anyone writing this stuff have any idea the mess that BM has inherited?

    Compete this season?
    No chance, so grow up and live with it.

    A squad full to the brim with overpaid journeyman pros is not gonna sort itself out overnight, this season is all about consolidation.
    We will play a better style of football, but we will have to scrap it out.

    Next summer, a lot of the lead weights will start to fall off, the kids and new signings will be better players, and we can start to move forward.

    Judge BM on the players he brings in, not what he can get out of overpauid plodders, counting the days till retirement, that are so bad no-one else wants them.

    MOT,

  9. I have to agree with Paul K here. You’re all setting the bar way too high. BMcD has been here 3 months, GFH just over 6 – both have been lumbered with a poor squad and a shambolic structure. Expect mid-table at best this season and maybe even next. We have a fine under 18 squad coming through, more investment is being sought. I for one am delighted that we haven’t been bought by a Russian oligarch or billionaire looney. I don’t want plastic trophies attained by spending fantasy money. Give me a real football club anytime. Meantime it should be remembered that it took our beloved Don R 6 years to build Leeds into a formidable and feared force. Give them time. Sure we
    need more quality and we need a leader on the pitch a la Strachan. But forget the instant gratification, live with what we have and get behind them!

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