Uncle Ken insists we must get promoted this year and points out we have one of the largest and most expensive squads in the division (and even by Premiership standards). He’s put pressure on our manager and our players with disastrous effect since he made that ill advised statement.

Having looked at our squad, I beg to differ. In our squad we have exactly 26 senior professionals of which 4 are goalkeepers, 9 defenders, 8 midfielders and 5 are strikers. If Uncle Ken wishes to add Lewis Turner and Zac Thompson to get to his magical 28 number then that’s OK but I doubt that either player is making a truly enormous dent on our wage structure. The fact we have 28 players only tells half a story though. Let’s break it down a little by player position.

Of the 4 goalkeepers we have one decent keeper, an experienced reserve keeper, a keeper out on loan and a young professional. Not too dissimilar from other clubs in the division and I would think when/if Rachubka returns from Tranmere then Maik Taylor will be on his way.

In defence we have the ridiculous situation of Ben Parker unable to play because he’s always injured, O’Brien won’t play but for some reason we have to pay him, then there’s Connelly, Bruce and Bromby that the manager and most of the fans have lost confidence in, Kisnorbo with plenty of guts and determination but no legs, White and Lees with plenty of desire/potential but lacking experience and O’Dea on loan.

I struggle to pick a good quartet from this selection let alone a promotion chasing one. Even with Lees, Kisnorbo, O’Dea and White it all falls to pieces as soon as one gets injured and unfortunately at the moment it seems that five of the nine have injuries

Ken’s magic formula of  two players for every position seems to work in midfield where I could pick any four from Snodgrass, Howson, Clayton, Pugh, Townsend and Sam and have a fairly decent midfield without having to call on Vayrynen or Brown. Unfortunately that is all it is – a decent midfield – not exceptional, remarkable or even very good – just decent with a few players that can win a game when they turn in their best performances which unfortunately isn’t every week.

Up front we have been unfortunate this season with Somma out injured and Becchio still not looking match fit after his injury. McCormack has stepped up to the mark and has a good goals to games ratio midway through the season even after a recent barren patch. Keogh worked his socks off for the cause but didn’t score enough (reminiscent of Alan Smith but not as good) but has now gone back to Wolves. I have been disappointed with Forssell since he arrived, Nunez is a decent squad player but seems only capable of playing in the hole behind the strikers and the less said about Paynter the better.

All in all Ken, I have to say I don’t agree that we have to, or should, get promoted this season. In fact I would say that the squad of players at Grayson’s disposal is over achieving and we are at best a team capable of getting to a play-off place and at worst a mid-table team.

In a perfect world where contracts meant nothing I would rip up most of them and retain only Lonergan, Cairns, Lees, White, Sam, Howson, Clayton, Snodgrass, Pugh, Nunez, Thompson, Becchio, Somma and McCormack.

I would gratefully keep Keogh, Townsend and O’Dea on loan and then try to find other clubs for the remainder of the players before searching the continent and League One for hungry young players with pace, power, determination and grit trusting our coaching staff to improve them technically.

Unfortunately it is not a perfect world and we have a squad littered with aged players on long good contracts and young promising players on short and expiring contracts. This is a worrying situation which I for one can only see getting worse at the end of the season when players like White and Howson don’t sign contract extensions and head off for pastures new.

Written by Sean Wood

40 Responses

  1. Captaincrash

    My only point of difference would be over Bruce who seemed unlucky yo lose his place last year with a broken finger at Swansea. He had played great down at Arsenal and I would still be minded to pick him ahead of Kisnorbo for sure and maybe he is the ideal ‘bench’ player in this world of 5 subs due to versatility in defensive roles- he started at right back on monday and we are told he can play in defensive mid too. Worth holding onto I feel.

    I feel the reduction from 7 to 5 subs has buggered Grayson’s ability to change the game and his substitutions this year have been way less influential than in previuos years on the whole.

    • WoodyUK

      Agreed and the fact he has come out saying he would like nothing better than to stay at Leeds and help them into the play-offs would tell any fan that is interested that he wants a starting place, he doesn’t want to go on loan and he’d rather not sign for another club. It must be frustrating being sent to play for the stiffs for 10 months but when Larry was desperate and he was called upon he played and unlike O’Brien didn’t throw his toys out of the pram and play the prima donna but instead packed his bags, returned from his loan trip to Huddersfield, rolled his sleaves up and fought for the team then made it known he was delighted to be back playing in the White in front of the fantastic support. First team regular or bench player is a question that can be asked but right or wrong attitude surely can’t.

  2. mattbb1

    bob on Sean, the squad isnt good enough, and yes while Larry has to accept some responsibility for not moving along the likes of Bromby, Bruce and Parker at the back the limited funds he has available means hes often played a juggling act fixing one area at a time – if you will. Then things go wrong as they often do, players get long ternms injuries and you cant afford to then deplete your squad, personally i think this is why the likes of kisnorbo, bruce, bromby survived as long as they did. What I would like to see us do more of though is leverage the youth squad, why not use the turner twins (werent they around in the 80s?) thompson, hatfield, payne, a bit more often – how much could it hurt and what about poor old monty, our only signing for most of the summer, and we havent seen him once. Surely he deserves a place on the bench ahead of connolly! Bates is totally unreasonable to not invest and then demand promotion. And if you were SImon Grayson how confident would you be that the £2m you got for selling Howson for example would actually go back into the squad, you just know it wouldnt. Now I know were all morons but max gradel got us £2m of cash, and we saved the £10k a week or so of his wages – that was an immediate cash boost – where the f**k is his replacement and where did the money go? that pklus johnsons kilkennys wages, schmeicels wages £1m transfer fee.

  3. TSS

    £30m is pennies in this league. Barnsley paid £9m in 2009/10 so by that basis, they’re spending more than us. That tells you everything you need to know about how limited the resources available to Grayson are.

      • TSS

        @number1inyorkshire They’re the most pitiful team I can think of in this league, and (like most clubs) they publish their financial reports yearly.

      • number1inyorkshire

        @TSS ok thats fair enough do you think uncle ken will feel your pity and go there instead of making us miserable

  4. number1inyorkshire

    I agree with the sentiment that Bruce has been unlucky ,he was certainly as good as what we had played and better than some ,same could be said about bromby who has had 1 or 2 moments but generally has done ok ..

    lonegan ,mccormack ,lees,thompson cairns ,pugh, bruce white ,clayton ,howson,sam ,snodders for me could be kept the others are all replaceable ,im not saying they are crap but they are pretty much run of the mill there will be others who i’ve missed to keep but the rest can all be replaced easily

  5. henrymouni

    Nothing has changed for us since the first game.

    We knew (most of us anyway) that we could put a decent first 11, along as everyone was fit!

    We have learnt that Paddy (pretty quickly, with mistakes, og’s and lack of pace) is not up to it any more.

    We knew before the season started that our defence was crap, and midfield was weak.

    It is amazing that Simon has now realised it too!!!

    Our displays have been dire for most of the season, with one or two exceptions.

    Our results have been much better than our performances.

    Even KB has, perhaps, realised we are not going up unless we take drastic action.

    How much we have to spend, we will never know.

    Let us just hope we really do bring 3 or 4 more GOOD players this time????

    Past experience tells us we may well end up with tales of who we NEARLY recruited.

    The ball is FIRMLY with Simon and KB now. No hiding place!!

    They lead and we follow.

  6. Mark T

    I think it says something that over halfway through the season we have no idea what our best 11 is. Not even with everyone fit. If we could nick Lichaj back now he’s training again we may be a bit closer:

    Lonegran – White, O Dea, Lees, Lichaj – Townsend, Howson, Clayton, Snodgrass – McCormack, Becchio?

    That’s in an ideal world and only if Ross and Luc could strike up a partnership they don’t seem to have. Plus the subs bench would be dire.

    NEED: Right back, Centre back, creative centre mid, Striker. Then I would go so far as to say I would fancy our chances in this very mediocre/competitive league this season.

    • Irving08

      @Mark T

      Personally I would have tried to sell Becchio and to buy Keogh. But maybe they did – it is the secretive nature of everythng that goes on at the club which unites us in frustration.

  7. WalterCasper

    I’m a regular reader and enjoy the articles. I’ve got a feeling my comments aren’t going to go down to well though.

    At the moment I feel if we were to get to the playoff final, play fantastic, it ended up on penalties and someone stepped up to take the winning penalty and missed, somehow Bates would be blamed.

    I am no way blowing this guys trumpet but right now EVERYTHING that happens is his fault. With regards to the players we’ve signed, you’re running a business, you give your manager money to bring people in, he brings in people like Rachubka, Paynter, Brown, Connolly, (even Mccormack last year) would you give him more money?

    After Barnsley, SG has said he will not play Connolly again so while this is happening he still gets paid his contact, effectively Uncle Ken is paying for him to sit on his backside. Where is the logic in that? This is also the case with O’Brien and nobody actually knows what happened there, so right now 2 players wages are being paid who will never play for us again. How many boss’ in any general business would take it as right for them to be paying out of their own pocket for staff to do nothing?

    As I said before I am in no way pro Bates but things have got to be looked at from both sides.

    Right now I genuinely think there is unrest in the dressing room with SG. I went to the game at Barnsley and before the game started our formation was crazy, Varynen up top and Mccormack on the right. To me that shows issues with the management and SG admitted after that game he’s telling players to do things and not all of them are. Now surely that’s a signal that he doesn’t have control over his players. There doesn’t seem to be any inspiration from the players to play for us right now as maybe no motivation is coming from the management? Take a look at Sunderland, Martin O Neill has got them fired up now and possibly turning things around.

    We’re Leeds United, a great club with brilliant fans that should be about the football and right now there is too much conversation about the backroom. I completely understand the unrest towards Bates as he will do what he wants. The development of the East Stand one of them but realistically in 10 years what will that gain him personally?

    • TSS

      @WalterCasper Hi Walter,

      I see your point with regards to blaming Bates for everything and Simon Grayson being the one that buys the players, but the problem is, Simon Grayson doesn’t do the negotiating – Harvey et al do, and they failed miserably in the summer with the funds Bates made available leaving us with our 3rd and 4th choice players. That’s not Grayson’s faults – he’s identified targets the club have failed to secure (Keith Andrews being a prime example).

      When we can’t compete with the likes of Ipswich Town for players, the problem is at a higher level than Simon Grayson I’m afraid, regardless of how our chairman tries to shift blame.

      This is where lines are getting blurred. Bates rattles on about giving Simon Grayson money to build a squad and refuses to accept any responsibility thereafter. He tries to make it black and white, refusing to acknowledge the grey area in the middle which represents the mess we’re in – not enough cash resulting in poor quality 4th choice players.

      • WalterCasper

        I agree with the wage structure being wrong. We clearly aren’t offering enough in wages. For all we know it might be the case the Bates it’s actually saying to Grayson, this is the players you can have, he may literally be dictating which players but we don’t know. I feel we have some very decent players at this club which have been bought in by Bates ie Snodgrass, Lonergan, Clayton, Mccormack, Schmeichiel, Gradel (yes i know the rant that’ll come from that name..) and forgive me for this next one but Paynter came with high hopes at the time but we should’ve signed Austin in hindsight. We have a good nucleus of players bought in and combined with the good youth players, a bit of motivation and we’ve got a better chance than most give us. @TSS

  8. WalterCasper

    (Had to go on to second comment as my rant was too long!)

    Yes it should have been invested in the team but it hasn’t been and the fact of the matter is Bates out chants etc will only spur this man on even more, he loves to be hated. It’s not like he’s the manager and can be sacked. He owns this football club and isn’t going anywhere regardless of protests, chants, abuse etc.

    In an ideal world I would like a different chairman who will invest more into the squad but right now that’s not going to happen, so I think all we can do is get behind the team as the players hearing on this atmosphere surely cannot be doing them any good as their confidence is pretty dam shot as it is.

    I am in no way pro Bates but people do need to realise he will do what he wants and he will not sell this club anytime soon!

    • WoodyUK

      OK Walter. I do see your point and Grayson has to accept some responsibility as every player at the club was requested by him. However you will note I wasn’t blaming Uncle Ken for our squad quality, I was merely pointing out that I thought stating publically that we have to get promoted and putting pressure on the team and manager was wrong because the quality of the squad is inferior to many of the sides in the Championship. Who the blame lies with for the poor quality of the squad could either be Grayson for requesting poor players and not getting them to play better quality football or it could be Bates and Harvey for not investing in a squad capable of dominating this very poor division and leaving Grayson to hunt around in the bargain bucket to attain some squad depth. I don’t know which it is so I won’t make assumptions and try to proportion blame. The truth stares you in the face that the squad is not as strong as last season. We have lost Collins, Kilkenny, Johnson, Kasper, Higgs, Naylor, Hughes, Bessone and Mad Max (four decent Championship players in that group and a large chunk of salary I would think) and replaced them with Pugh, Brown, Vayrynen, Forssell, Lonnergan and Rachubka. Personally I would say I only count Lonnergan and Pugh as good signings from the form I have seen so far and it shouts out to me loud and clear that the others were a desparate attempt to get the squad numbers up with the clock ticking.

      • WalterCasper

        Yeah I agree, as I say where the blame lies we don’t know. What I do know is there is a lot of aggression towards Bates and every shot missed, goal conceded, red card etc seems to be down to him somehow.

        Just at the moment there is so much about Bates this, Bates that, its frustrating because as I said before it’s not as if he can be sacked. He doesn’t care most Leeds fans don’t like him. He isn’t selling this club anytime soon and people need to accept that.

        Out of the players you mentioned I personally only really rated Kasper and Max. Kasper has been replaced by a very good keeper in Lonergan and hopefully Townsend can fill the gap left by Max. Between Howson and Clayton I think we have a good midfield and start of the season I didn’t rate Brown but out of all our players, the last few games he’s put some good tackles in.

        The bloke isn’t doing completely right, I agree completely but he is a businessman at the end of the day, I know people don’t like it but a realisation needs to kick in that we’re just going to have to make do.

        I’ve got a season ticket at the back of the Kop and I feel that our fantastic atmosphere is on the down and if we used the energy thrown towards Bates by getting behind the players more it could really help the players as opposed to all this negativeness.

        We’re all entitled to our opinions anyway and that’s just mine, we are all United in being Leeds fans and want us back in the Prem ASAP.


  9. Irving08

    Good article, but please note: good mangers do ‘overachieve’ – that’s what they are for.

  10. saltzby

    Mostly agree but I would not keep Sam and I would let Becchio go at the end of this season ( yes I know he is our talisman) In an ideal world I would be in the market for Billy Sharp to make a strike force of Sharp Somma And McCormack.

  11. gary clarke

    reading what mr bates says about our squad being the largest and most expensive how does he work it with the addition of danny pugh the out lay is 2 million pounds even brighton pay more than that for 1 player and has for wages if he paid good money why would so many players even them that are leeds fans are not signing new contracts

  12. leeds60

    We have the 4 smallest squad in the leagueonly Hull Burnley and Leicester have lessand withKeogh and McC arthy departing we now have only 27

  13. lorimerhotshot

    POORER QUALITY OUT (permanently and free when necessary): Rachubka; Taylor; O’Brien; O’Dea; Bromby; Bruce; Connelly; (sadly) Kis; Brown; Vayrynen; Paynter; Forsell (Total: 12)

    BETTER QUALITY IN: One Goalkeeper; Two Centre Backs; Two Right Backs; One holding midfielder; one creative midfielder (Total: 7)

    The amount of movement needed means this won’t happen and I’m only dreaming but if it did we’d be amply covered.

    The amount of wages released by the outs would enable the club to pay or at least come close to paying top championship wages for a core five or six top players, including Snoddy and Howson (captain) and best of new boys.

    All wages, including those staying at fairly tight-arse level should be massively incentivised for one-off payment for promotion on top of obvious rises if can keep place in team in Premiership.

  14. Jagman

    I think I have to agree with the comments regarding the player motivation and team structure. Last season we had Brannan on loan from Villa and Livermore on loan from Tottenham – neither did us any good but yet both are now pretty much first team regulars back at their respective clubs. We then have O’Brien throwing his teddy out of the pram and other players that don’t give 50% let alone 100% and others won’t sign new conracts, so I have to ask if the dressing room is behind SG or not? If not then either he has to change or they do! Having seen the performance at Nottingham and West Ham I have to say that the players we have are more than capable of doing something in this league, present injuries included, if they play the right system and are properly motivated. Maybe it goes deeper than SG and includes current coaching staff, as whoever is responsible for defensive coaching is doing a pathetic job as I don’t believe they are all as bad as their performances would suggest!

  15. KevG

    So after all that analysis you come to the conclusion we have a shite squad. I could have saved you half a day.

  16. saltburnwhite

    Bottom line is grayson has fallen out with half the dressing room , saturday showed that when you have 11 COMMITED players on the pitch they will at least do their best. Grayson needs to ship all the tossers out and start again with a core nucleus of loyal players who wont stab him in the back .

    I would simply get rid of everyone by however means and keep these players as our core and then add maybe 5 -7 new players , which would give us a smaller squad and give time for injured players to return …but a LOYAL one !

    GK lonergran

    LB pugh

    CB lees

    CB bruce

    RB thompson

    RW snodgrass

    CM howson

    CM clayton

    LW white

    ST becchio

    ST mccormack

    SUBS :


















    • Harry

      All the players you want to kick out were signed by Grayson – 4 of them represent the majority of his summer business, he should be the first one out of the door.

  17. Jagman

    Hi Kev, You’re missing the point, we DON’T have a bad squad! We have some crap players, some underperforming players and some poor coaching. Getting rid of the crap ones is a start but we also have to address the other issues too if we are to make any real progress!

  18. morleywhite

    gk lonergan


    lb white

    cb lees


    rm snodgrass

    lm townsend


    acm clayton

    str mccormack


    in my eyes these lads are worthy of startin in a team that i believe are good enough to get out of championship this season,with howson,pugh,becchio o dea and somma good enough squad players with thompson maybe added to that list.so thats four new players to go in to the startin eleven.cant see this happening like.

  19. Chareose

    I think everyone has forgotten the wee lad we have just loaned to Bradford, Taylor ?

    Hes worth keeping and so is Gimpel and a few of the other kids……as i have mentioned before, surely its more logical to try and blood some youth players than go all out for loan players that will then have to be replaced once they leave ???

  20. Chareose

    By the way, keep the anti Bates articles coming mate, its one of the few tools we have to get rid of Ken

    • WalterCasper

      That man is not going anywhere! Anti Bates articles, chants, protests etc. Bates couldn’t care less! He will sell Leeds when he is ready. Surely it’s not doing the players confidence any good!? @Chareose

  21. Mushy

    However you break it down it still adds up to 28 professionals earning a lot of money. If the average wage is, say, 10 grand a week, that’s 280.000 a week or 14.5 million per annum. If the squad were reduced to 20, this would provide Grayson with over 4 million for his war chest.

  22. Gryff

    GK: Lonergan, Taylor

    DL: (Pugh)/White/(O’Dea)

    DR: Connolly/(Lees)

    DC: Lees, O’Dea, Bromby

    MC: Howson, Clayton, Brown, Vayrynen, (Pugh)

    ML: Pugh, (White), Townsend, Nunez?

    MR: Snoddy, (Townsend)

    FC: McComarck, Becchio? Forssell?

    Might’ve missed a few out but that’s what I’d say are our good-enough players. That’s about 16-18. Premiership talks about 25-man squads not including under-21s. Even if we put say Sam & Kisnorbo in, it’s only 20-21. It’s really not that big a squad – like the article says. It’s just full of failed signings on big wages:



    Bruce (who I rate more than Paddy & Bromby & about the same as O’Dea, I’ll admit)


    Four players, at least 3 of them Grayson had high hopes for when he signed them. If we could off-load these 4 we’d have the funds to get a decent 25-man squad. But even then, the only thing that would make our squad particularly big would be our strength in youth.

  23. Chareose

    And….furthermore What part of our business will end up bailing out Kens Hotel, Night Club, Museum when they struggle ?:? Well it wont come out of Kens pocket, it will be the fans that pay…..

    • TSS

      @Chareose Why on earth would a hotel in Beeston fail when you have such picturesque views? I’m only baffled as to why no one thought of it sooner…


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