Snoddy's injury raises questions about squad depth

TSS welcomes James to the team for a new feature called ‘United we stand?’ where James will be analysing the different view points from Leeds fans across the web.

As Leeds fans, we all have strong opinions on our club. The same passion that drives the atmosphere at Elland Road makes for lively and interesting debates across the internet, from message boards to Twitter and beyond. Although we all love the club, our views can often be poles apart despite the fact we watch the same team and read the same reports.

This week, we’re taking a look at the varying views about our squad. Do we have enough depth? Is it balanced? Will we be able to cope with the inevitable injuries and suspensions that build up over a long season? Predictably enough, the debate on this question is wildly varied, ranging from the scarily optimistic to the depressingly negative. Injuries appear to have highlighted some areas of potential weakness, and suspensions from last season may leave us thin for a few games – but what are the fans on forums, Twitter and Facebook thinking?

We’ll start with a positive view. Trickysns on the BBC’s 606 forum feels that the ‘age, height, experience and quality’ of the team will stand us in good stead this season. Indeed, the new signings appear to be of a decent age (mid twenties), decent height and with, on the whole, decent Championship experience. Unfortunately for Trickysns, he has used the player stats on the official website to find out the player’s heights. This lists Max Gradel as 5 feet 9 and a half. This would make the diminutive Neil Kilkenny a strapping six footer, although to give him credit he was head and shoulders above the Wolves midfield yesterday.

This conflicts with fears from many fans across the boards that a central midfield of Howson and Kilkenny may be a little lightweight. @Cossacklufc, a #twitterwhite, feels we are light in midfield, although he could mean numbers not physicality! Mojoluafc on TSS agrees that a holding midfielder would be a bonus. Many contributors also pointed out the possible lack of pace in midfield and defence. There were hopes from some, however, that the ‘different style’ of play in this league will suit players like Kilkenny more than League One. Time will tell.

@Knowlesm on twitter is of the opinion that we need more midfielders and is ‘v worried about the lack of depth there’. To counter this, many fans have pointed out that we have a degree of flexibility in the squad. Alex Bruce, it is pointed out, can play as a defensive midfielder as well as a defender. Side Before Self, on this esteemed website, feels that this makes our squad of 30 closer to 40, when you count the various positions players like Snodgrass, Bromby and White can play in – although he states ‘My problem is quality not quantity’. Let’s hope he is talking about the squad there.

One very interesting point, which I will credit mojoluafc with even though I have stumbled across it elsewhere, is that three of our transfer listed players are sat on fat wage packets, and nobody wants to buy them. Sheehan, Lubo and Robinson are probably draining quite a lot of the wage bill, and are definitely surplus requirements. Most fans are in agreement that we need to cut the excess weight from the squad, and getting rid of these three would be a good start. Losing these non-players, especially Robbo, would cut pounds from the squad, and maybe allow us to start spending a little money… we can dream can’t we?

A brilliantly paranoid piece of Leeds fan thinking comes from James on Facebook. He sees a conspiracy, where the selling club ‘just use our name to generate a sale to another club, like Hooper going to Celtic, were we ever in for him? there has to be money to spend, think its a case of getting rid of some players’. Seeing as everybody hates us, I can well believe this thinking. However, the assumption that there is money to spend is probably a dangerous one!

Attack wise, we seem pretty happy with our new wide man Lloyd Sam who has been a stand out signing according to @VicPetit on twitter, with @kennedy_no8 plagiarising a song sung by some team we beat one nil last January about an old bloke with the line ‘Lloyd Sam will tear you apart again’. The supporters in N3 yesterday certainly would agree with this, as every time Sam or Gradel got running at the shaky Wolves defence they were on their feet. Somma didn’t appear particularly popular amongst these fans, as one teenage girl rapidly pointed out ‘that one’s s**t!’ Perhaps this was a little unkind after he had only been on the pitch for 5 minutes in a game which was losing its shape.

This relative optimism is tempered by the comment below from Simon on TSS, who said ‘again, it seems like a case of 11 defensive players, try and beat them! have becc’s who can sneak a goal. Feasible, but feckin boring lol Squad is unbalanced.’ He appears to be classing our lone striker Becchio as a defensive player here, and hoping he can sneak a goal too – it will be a very long season for the Argentine front man in that case.

The final word from the fans goes to TSS Facebook fans Ashley and Keith who are in direct opposition – Ashley feels that the two signings hinted at by Ken Bates on Yorkshire radio mean we will be ‘just dandy’ which is rather lovely. Keith disagrees, feeling that we have ‘2 many players that will struggle 2 step up a division’ and lack a 20 goals a season man and a holding midfielder – funnily enough, he expects a hard season!

So – who knows what will happen? Not us it seems. A vague consensus appears to exist around the defence – we have a lot of defenders. Some worry we will lack midfielders, whereas the versatility in the squad reassures others. As ever, watching the same team and reading the same reports leads to a wonderful variety of thoughts on our beloved team.

With another week of speculation before the season begins in earnest, keep your views flowing through the usual online routes – but keep Marching On Together!

You can send your opinions to The Scratching Shed by commenting on the site, becoming a fan on Facebook or by following ScratchingShed1 on Twitter.

  • TSS

    Just me that doesn’t buy the argument about versatility? I understand where you’re coming from with that Side Before Self, but it strikes me as a ‘jack of all trades, master of f’ all’ kinda scenario.

  • Gryff

    I don’t have any worries about our midfield. If you look at the wingers, we have Sam/Gradel/Snodgrass/Johnson/Robinson. If we got one more left-winger we’d be swimming in them! Possibly we need another centre-mid though?

    Also agree with TSS on versatility. Any specialist can try his hand in another position and it doesn’t take that much training. But a versatile, average player is only good enough to get average results wherever he plays.

  • trueyorxman

    Like I’ve said before we desperately need a ‘ball-player’ in the middle of the park, someone who can pick a pass (a Shezza/Macca type player) & then someone up top to get on the end of said passes, as well as what should be an endless supply from the wide threat of Sam & Gradel (when he’s available). Only then will I feel comfortable with our squad. Our home form is going to be vital in this league, just look at the Championship promotion odds only Watford & Scunny are 20/1 or higher!!

  • Tim Hodge

    I think there’s a general consensus that we need a good midfield player. One who can win the ball, pick a pass and cover the defence allowing Howson, Kilkenny etc. to attack. Unfortunately I’m not sure how many of those players of real quality exist at this level.
    We could also do with a striker to add competition for places but if we’re going to play with one up top supported by two wingers I can’t see Ken wanting to cough up for someone who may spend a lot of time on the bench.

  • yorkwhite

    I think the first few weeks are going to be especially tough if Snoddy and Paynter are both out and Mad Max is banned. I’ve been impressed with Sam though in the tiny bit I’ve seen of him and I think Howson could surprise a lot in the championship this year. Come on you whites.

  • Dje

    It’ll be interesting to see if Sanchez Watt maek sthe cut in Wenger’s squad of 25. He hasn’t made it into the the squad of 22 that was used this weekend in the Emirates Cup so I reckon a loan move for Watt’s could be on the cards – with Watt on the left and moving Sam onto the right wing – although this depends on the verdict of Snodgrass.

    Regarding a progressive key pass midfielder I think Kilkenny will be given more license to roam this season and I wouldn’t be surprised if Darel Russell is brought in (on a free of course) to play the defensive midfield position that Doyle had last season and we need to consider options for the position if we go with the 4-5-1/4-3-3 formation that seems to be taking shape.

    I doubt a striker will come in (barr a loanee trialist perhaps) unless we clearly need one for Christmas. Somma will take up the ‘playing off the shoulder role’ to fill Beckford’s boots when we go down that line of play (ie. at home, full of confidence, playing 4-3-3 rather than the defensive, nervy, away-prone 4-5-1 option).

    IMHO.

  • RickHx

    Sanchez Watt doesn’t need to get in arsenals 25 man squad because he’s under 21.

  • Colin

    I’m not so sure I really value depth particularly much.

    For me, we’re not going to get promoted this season – if we do we’ve either been very lucky or everyone else is very poor. We don’t have a single prolific goalscorer and our defence is a patched up set of freebies and players no longer wanted by their previous clubs and is ridiculously lacking in pace. The midfield is good, but we’re going to concede a lot of goals and struggle to score.

    More important for me is quality – we’ve got some potentially really great midfielders. We haven’t got any potentially (fit) great defenders or potentially great strikers. I’d like to see us over time get more and more potentially great players – spend less on getting depth and just concentrate on getting quality players – quality not quantity.

    Is it just me or does this team seem a little like the Blackwell squad – a collection of okay Championship players, but with lesser quality strikers?

  • lar

    midfield this,back four that,strikers this,goal keeper that,the club is been run the exact same way since ken bates took over.if one wants to keep there heads just above the water level..this is the way to do it.as for a play-off birth in may…i wish.if leeds keep in this division and hope a buyer to come along is another tale.as a leeds fan for 40 years and i hope for 40 more it pains me to see where this ship is bound and who is at the helm.as for a top six team in the next ten years dream on.we got one foot on the train and the other deep in the grave a hard place to know.they could have made a deal with beckford…but they did not…thats the future at leeds.but what ever happens my heart and voice will always be leeds unitede.

  • les irwin

    the best teams in the world until the last few years have always played there best 11 you only need strenghth in depth if you decide that you are gonna go to win stuff a cup run etc, in my opinion the cup run last season nearly cost us promotion. you need 2 players of nearly equal stature for each position alright a defender cant be a striker week in week out but a defender should be able to play anywhere in the back four and maybe midfield, same with strikers into midfield and visa versa its only football not brain surgery .
    we should decide that we are not having a cup run and grayson barring injuries should decide to always to play his best 11 .he changed it too many times last season looking for a miracle cure to something .
    we need a striker fact , but to a degree leeds are coming back from L3 because since 2000 to 2009 we had 160+ players add all those in the last 2 seasons its nearer 180+
    ive been the biggest advocate on this site of the need to spend some money on quality asside from sam i dont think we have really this year but at some point we are gonna get some heros that we know will be here for a season or 2 that we are not gonna sell or are just simply not good enough to be leeds players and be gone lets have a bit of quality but also a settled 11 and a settled squad
    as some else said QUALITY NOT QUANTITY

  • richard

    I think the squad we have is reasonable, barring the 3 i deem as excess to our plight. When i say we need a holding midfield player, this to me is a Strachen, Macca or to some extent a Vinnie jones. Someone who can read the game and be more than comfortable on the ball. Killa,Doyle and Jonny have had to play in league 1 which was unlike the premiership which is fast, has been more of a frantic kind of pace, plus they were in a big fish team in a small pond where their scalps were major prizes. In the NPC i reckon these lads will shine, a bit more time on the ball to spread passes and control a game.

    Players can improve, we dont always need to splash the cash.

  • Herbman

    We are definitiely light in Midfield and attack, a central midfielder is a must, i also think we need cover for Snodgras, we have 5 left midfielders and only 1 on the right and let’s hope he isnt out for toooooo long.

    In attack I felt we were 1 light last year, Mike Grella tries but just gets knocked off the ball too easily, i heard Beccio wasnt going to get his contract renewed at the end of the season either. Therefore i think we need 2 more strikers, one proven at this level plus somebody that can come on and make a difference.

    Not much quality around when Premiership clubs can blow a few million on a gamble, but we need somebody to score the goals in what is a harder league.

    Also appears to be a lack of overseas players, not sure what our scouts are like now, but this appears to have dried up.

    It looks like SG has concentrated on defence and GK, so hopefully some more additions before th eend of August and a couple of loanees, Sanchez Watt may be interesting if he comes back.

  • Colin

    Thanks Jenny! Do you have any info on any African investments I can get into where I give you my account details and you put thousands into my account?

    • TSS

      @colin Oh my God, I have more anti-spam devices in place than most billion-pound corporations and they still get through!