Taken from Neil Warnock’s press conference ahead of Leeds United’s trip to Middlesbrough (09/03/2012).

We start with injury news.

“Aidy White will probably train a little bit today and might be involved tomorrow, but nobody else will come in to the reckoning.

“We were hoping to get a game for Andy O’Brien this week, but that didn’t materialise – the physios don’t think he’s ready just yet. [Leigh] Bromby’s not ready yet and [Alex] Bruce is not ready yet”

Is it just a case of match fitness with O’Brien?

“Yeah, he’s had a couple of months without [playing] and the physio thinks it’s too early, so we’ll just have to go by his opinion”

Happy with Tuesday night’s 0-0 draw away to Hull?

“Yeah. The only disappointment for me was that we had so many opportunities, to make better opportunities in the last third. […] We got the ball in wonderful areas and never made the goalkeeper work. That’s the only disappointment for me.

“Unlike the other two games where I thought we made good chances (against Southampton and Portsmouth). But you have to give Hull credit for that […] they’re a defensively solid unit that don’t give much away and you can see they’ve played together for a while.”

Do you think the team is close to what you’re looking for?

“The lads are giving me everything, 100%, I can’t ask any more than that.

“When I came I said ‘look, between now and the end of the season, as long as you give me everything and you come off the pitch knowing you’ve given me everything, you won’t hear me criticise you’, at the moment, [they are doing and] I can’t ask any more than that

“I think we do need a little bit of quality in certain areas, rather than quantity, you know, I think the squad has got the numbers. But I think there’s a little bit of quality missing in certain areas, and it’s up to us to try and bring that into the club”

Are you at the early stage of planning for next season already?

“Not really no, I think we’ve got to [stick with what we’ve got for now]. After the Doncaster game, if you’d told me we’d go to Portsmouth and Hull and not concede a goal, and the disappointment of Southampton, that we should have won that… If we can get a point away from home and win all our home games, then we’ll be very close and that’s how I’ve set my stall out, but we do have to win away and it’d be nice to start at Middlesbrough.”

You did say on Tuesday this was a must-win?

“I’m not sure it’s a ‘must win’ but it’s one we’d like to win. I think we have to win one of the five away games coming up and it’s an opportunity to put that to bed early doors if we can.”

How much do you know about Middlesbrough? They’ve had a good season by the looks of things?

“Yeah, I think they’ve calmed down haven’t they? Tony [Mowbray] is a steady manager and they’ve brought good signings in, steadied the ship and I think they’re looking like they’ll not be far away.

“I think consistency – listening to Tony’s comments – is probably missing here and there, but if that’s missing, they’re not doing bad really are they? If they do get consistent last couple of games, they’ve got hell of a chance”

They’re another play-off contender you’ve got to take points off?

“Yeah, we thought that at Hull, and Middlesbrough – with their current league position – will be expecting to beat us.

“But, it’s a derby and I’m sure we’ll be taking our full quota of supporters who’ll make themselves heard, so, it’d be nice for me to give them a little bit more to shout about going forward.

“We’ve sorted one or two problems at the back, and I don’t think that’s stopped us creating, I just think we made bad decisions in the Hull game, and that we were OK against Portsmouth and Southampton (going forward).”

You said after Tuesday you weren’t sure whether you’d be looking for a centre back, have certain players surprised you?

 “I’m not in a rush at the back now, I think they’ve listened and come on board with what we wanted and apart from the goal against Southampton, I don’t think they’ve really put a foot wrong in the three games.

“And even when they have done, Lonergan’s pulled a good save off so, that’s a good recipe for a back five really.

“I think Michael Brown’s playing his part, he’s probably been the unsung hero for me, since I’ve come to the club. I think he’s been instrumental both in the defensive and attacking side, he’s showed a cool head out there”

It’s interesting because he wasn’t really involved before you arrived?

 “I know, and yet if he got injured at the moment I think we’d struggle to replace him with the squad we have”

How do you think his game has changed since he played for you nine years ago?

“Back then, I just gave him the freedom to go forward. If I did that now, he wouldn’t get back [laughs]

“But he’s still got a lot to offer I think, his contribution since I’ve been here has been fantastic and I think he’s brought the best out of Adam [Clayton], although I think that was probably Adam’s poorest game against Hull, and he’ll be disappointed with his performance.

“That little bit of creativity he normally gives us wasn’t there and that might have been because he put so much into the Southampton game that he was maybe a little tired, so I’m hoping the extra day will see Adam back to normal for Sunday.”

Was Adam disappointed? Because when he plays with his head up, he’s some player, isn’t he?

“Yeah, he is and he’s got so much more to learn. He does need help at times, he tries things in the wrong areas but he’s a young lad and you’ve got to learn by your mistakes. Hopefully that doesn’t cost us.

“You look at what he’s good at, and not what he’s not good at. We’re trying to put elements in his game for discipline, and at the same time, not take away the creativity that he gives us. He’s got a lot to work on there.”

Is there a points tally you think we’ll need for play-offs? Last year it was 75…

“It’ll not be far away from that…”

Which is a big challenge?

“Yeah, we have to win every home game and get a point away from home but it won’t work like that, I do think we’ll have to win away from home to get anywhere near that sort of tally.”

If Leeds can’t make it, what’s the challenge for the players?

“I think you have to ask that when we can’t get there. First of all, we’ve got to try and step up to the challenge. We’ve got to do a little bit more positive decision making to create and score goals, whilst at the same time still keep concentration at the back.

“It would be nice, between now and the end of the season, to give the fans something to shout about. I think they see where we’re going, but we probably want to get there yesterday, not tomorrow. It’s frustrating at the minute.”

Bringing Paul Robinson in – is he one of these ‘leaders’ that you mentioned?

“Yeah. I look at the type of player I think we need and he fits that bill. There’s not many at this time of year that you can bring in so to get one like Paul was a plus for me.

“I will be using him shortly, he’s here for a number of games and we’ll play that by ear.”

“I think senior pros are important in certain areas, but it’s not just that, it’s being a leader and the attitude he’s got is what I want from my players – that little bit more than what’s necessary”

Have the team been a little more vocal?

“They seem to be talking well during the game. I thought we started the game against Hull very well, the first twenty minutes, there was only that period up to half time and late on they had a flurry.

“It’s so close the Championship, between success and failure, and you’ve only got to look at the top now – they’re all trying to help us get in the play-offs and we haven’t been able to take advantage of that, but it’s not been for a lack of trying.”

There are teams with games in hand on you?

“It’s not going to be down to other teams, it’s ourselves that decide whether we get in the play-offs, or anywhere near the play-offs. And that will be decided in the next 3-4 games I think. You don’t get much tougher than Middlesbrough away, West Ham at home.

So it’s still possible?

“I don’t think anyone is running away with sixth position, everyone is leaving up in the air. That’s why it’s disappointing not to have got more points when you look at the run of [previous] fixtures, even before I came, there’s 2-3 fixtures there where we’ve probably missed out on points, so it’s frustrating more than anything.

“Whether we’re good enough at the moment is another thing, you don’t let opportunities go if you can help it.”

All this bodes well for next season either way?

“The time I’m having now with the players, I can’t tell you how important it is to look at everyone at the club and see where we need to be.

“I can’t remember exactly how many, but I brought somewhere in the region of seven players in at QPR that summer, and I’d had two months to look at what we’d got. And I do feel we’re probably in that sort of mould.”

With that in mind, contract talks are still on hold until the summer?

“Well, we haven’t got enough time, but I’ve already spoken to 2-3 players and I will speak to their agents in the next few days, next week. You’ve got to look ahead to that. But at this moment in time, there’s not enough hours in the day.”

Tom Lees, has he pleased you so far?

“He has, he’s done really well Tom. He’s come out of his shell a little bit and his personality is coming through a lot more. He doesn’t talk a lot, but his desire and will to do what I want him to do has been very, very good. I’m very pleased with him.”

When you first came, did you feel he needed some protection?

“Well, I just thought he was a good player but that we needed leaders in those areas. That’s why we went after one or two players, but at the moment if he continues to play like that I don’t think I could bring anyone in to play better.

“I don’t see the point of bringing someone in if Tom can sustain the consistency that he’s shown me.”

Back to Robert Snodgrass, have you had any reaction from Scotland regarding his 4am arrival back in the UK?

“No, I’ve not had time. It’s all water under the bridge and we’ll move on quickly, but I will speak to Craig”

He didn’t look like he was suffering from exhaustion?

“No, he did well, didn’t he? I’ve no complaints really.”

Two weeks left in the loan market, will you be bringing any more in?

“If I can, I’d like to bring one or two more in with a view to looking towards next season. It would be great to bring in a couple and see if they’re what I’m looking for.”

Is Snodgrass’ contract one of those you’ve looked at?

“All the players that have a year or less I’ll be talking to, Robert is no different.”

  • The WhiteLizard

    He does talk sense, doesn’t he? Not used to that. Scary!

  • Armoured Farmer

    What’s he done with Roy Rogers then?

    • Colin

       @Armoured Farmer I’ve got a bad feeling for Robbie Rogers. I’m not sure he’ll feature for Warnock this season, and that doesn’t bode well for the future. He won’t get his chance to prove his worth to the manager and Warnock will probably have an almighty clear-out at the end of the season.
      I want to see what Robbie Rogers is made of and I think he would need a good run of games to allow him to adapt to the English game. A substitute appearance here and there won’t really give him his chance to shine.
      I doubt he’ll feature or make the bench for Boro. However, if we get to the point that the playoffs is imposible/highly unlikely, I’d like to see him played for 90 mins game in game out to get experience. there’s nothing to lose in that experiment if we’re not going up anyway.

      • TSS

         @Armoured Farmer You prove your worth in training Col, and if Rogers is any good he’ll get his chance. Warnock has never been a bad judge of players, so we’ll see. 

        • mattbb1

          with our lack of goals youd hope rogers would be more of a likely lad than the likes of payneter and forrsell i’ve found his non apparence disappointing,

        • Colin

           @TSS I see it slightly differently TSS. Warnock has a plan – to get Leeds promoted, that’s it, not to build a new future squad a la Wilkinson or O’Leary with his babies. For sure, Grayson would have given Rogers his chance. But I think Warnock would choose a 30+ ‘leader’ over a Robbie Rogers any day. it’s not his job to make Rogers great in 2 or 3 years time, like Gary Mac did with Delph/Howson, he needs to get instant results.
          That worries me somewhat. I feel we need to build a squad like Swansea and Norwich did, and Southampton are doing that now. I just get the feeling that Warnock would piss his pants if he got Shaun Derry at Leeds, but I don’t think it’s the answer long term.
          Okay, Norwich and Paul Lambert are in the Prem, but for me, he got Howson for a steal – £2m – he’ll be worth double that next season and double again the season after. Cute purchase.Howson is still a work in progress.
          I fear that Warnock won’t be looking for the next Howson, he’ll be looking for another Michael Brown. That may get us promoted, but it won’t keep us up.
           
          I feel that Warnock’s plan is short term. I reckon we need a long term plan as per Wilko and O’Leary. Would Warnock have pushed through and developed the like of Batty, Speed (Wilko) or Kewell, Smith, Woodgate (O’Leary)? I doubt it.
           
          I hope Warnock does it, but for me, I wouldn’t have minded giving a young manager the chance to build a dynasty. I feel Warnock is the Fixer –  a guy brought in to sort out a shit situation. Long term, he ain’t going to be around.
           
          That said, the ‘young manager’ was meant to be Grayson and that didn’t work. And ultimately, the Chairman is Bates, who seems to be clueless on how to support any manager!

        • TSS

          It’s a balancing act Colin. You can’t keep “blooding” all these unknowns at the expense of progress or we’ll be in the Championship forever. Bates will continue to sell the proven quality because we have all these other players waiting in the wings, and the squad that should have taken us up will be wearing yellow and green. 
           
          Neil has blooded enough players in his time, if they’re good enough, they’ll get their chance. If they aren’t, that’ll be visible in training and we’ll never see them play – his judgement is better than ours, I’ll take his word for it. If it was down to Leeds fans, Nunez would probably be a regular just because he has the odd moment of class. That’s counteracted by a thousand moments of pure dross, but fans forget that bit.
           
          Are you really going to cite Wilko at me after all the talent he sold? Had he kept that team together, Scum would never have been as successful as they were and we’d probably have cleaned up.
           
          Look at Scum, they’ve never bothered with all that, they’ve done it player-by-player, sticking with whatever approach worked until it didn’t any more. They’ve never risked it all on a bunch of unproven, experience-lacking players with bags of “potential” because you’ll always have 2-3 years of mistakes until they fulfil their potential, by which time, half the squad will have gone. 
           
          You either want promotion or you don’t. The long term plan has gone now, Bates did that when half our first team was sold/let go. The squad that won promotion from League One would have gone on to win promotion from The Championship under Larry, of that I have no doubts. But when push came to shove, Bates cashed in and here we are – looking for a quick fix and an instant approach to it all. 
           
          Rogers was never a long-term plan anyway. Look at how old he is, if he was good enough for the Prem, he’d have torn the MLS apart. The Championship is probably his level at best. But if it is his level, then he still needs months, probably years to work out the kinks, by which point he’ll probably be surplus to requirements. Getting in someone capable of playing the position well, who has the experience not to make silly mistakes makes more sense. 
           
          The crux of the matter is this. “Potential” doesn’t get you promotion. It might do, if you can keep it all together for 2-3 years but that’s unrealistic because A) Leeds fans won’t wait that long and B) Bates will sell the better players every time we fail to get promoted. Experienced pros get you promoted, Neil should know – he’s done it often enough. 

        • TSS

          Case in point – Max Gradel. He was the most inconsistent player I’ve ever seen for his first few months at Leeds, but with experience came genuine quality. If we played the Max we first signed in this league now, he’d make far too many mistakes for it to be worthwhile. The experienced Max on the other hand would tear it apart – although still cost us points defensively. 
           
          It’s a balancing act as I say. An experienced Max is an asset to any team, you can play him as an attacking player (nothing more) and cover his defensive duties with someone else. But the inexperienced Max would cost you points regardless. He made bad decisions in attack, put in clumsy tackles because of his desperate need to impress and if he was just joining us now, I can’t see how he’d be useful as anything more than an impact sub – much like Nunez. 

        • mikelufc

           @TSS Like Barn door billy must ave done to mention just one.
          If they do that then it is not important how they perform in matches.

        • Chareose

           @TSS
           Scum (man U) did do it on “potential”, they blooded David Beckhams youth team eg scholes, giggs, neville 1 & 2 etc  Leeds blooded a youth team under O’leary and thanks to Radebe and Nigel Martyn giving it backbone it worked………… but yes our beloved Bates has pushed us into the position where our new manager will have to bank on experience to get us promoted because hes only got 1 season.
           
          That said…..grizzled old championship veterans wont KEEP you in the premiership, the days of being able to nick a strachen or mcallister from somewhere have gone. So to survive in the prem you need kids with potential that grow and learn in a new more demanding environment……. 
           
          To summerize under the format you alluded to Leeds will become a Yo yo club
           
          cheers

        • TimPM

           @Chareose  @TSS I’d say we’ve done more or less the same this season.
           
          Tom Lees(21), Aidy White(20), Zac Thompson(19), Adam Clayton(23), and we gave Charlie Taylor(18) a couple of chances. Now we think of those four as definitely part of our first team. This summer (nearly last summer, hurrah!) I don’t think many saw them anywhere near as important.

        • Colin

           @Chareose Spot on!

        • TSS

           @Chareose Yes, they did. But then they stopped. We had the team, stripped it apart and started over – both under Wilkinson and Grayson (the latter being Bates’ fault). Ferguson stuck with that team for over a decade and look at the rewards – that was my point. 

        • Irving08

          ‘Wilko didn’t follow a youth strategy to get us out of the the second division (that’s neither approval nor disaaproval, just a fact.). As for Mr Rogers, like Danny Pugh he could be just another case of money not well spent. Our priority is to reduce the squad to a size where can give higher wages to the players we really have to keep, first and foremost, in my view, Aidy White and Snodgrass (at least till May 2013). As for wingers, I would work on Sam’s confidence before deciding on Mr R….. 

  • AndyHirstLeeds4ever

    Well All Seems to be going in the right direction just as long as we remember its a marathon not a sprint pleased to see he is already looking to the future will not be shocked if he brings in another striker aswell as a deep midfielder for next year my prediction is 8th but still going forward for next year ………

  • Captaincrash

    Refreshingly straight, refreshingly reassuring,

    • TimPM

       @Captaincrash I particularly liked the lack of “weeks, not months” and “we don’t do our business in public”.
       
      I’m encouraged as well about Tom Lees? He’s a good lad I reckon and given his inexperience at a good level he’s been very good. I can only remember one or two real problems for him and one was being muscled about by a couple of massive guys – he’ll learn how to counteract that with experience.

  • AtillatheWhite

    What is really important is not what Wrnock syas as what Warnock DOES, which so far is very little, unless you are misty eyed.

    • TSS

      Aside from sort the defence out you mean? We also hammered Saints, regardless of result. 

    • Atilasezeffofftolivefyre

      Atilla is mikelufc who is fed up of trying to log in without partaking of the services of the evil 1984 twitter/facebook/lyvefire etc
      In my pissed/pissed off state I made spelling mistakes and I hate that.
      Why do we have to give our life story just to make a simple post?
      Well I dont but I am nearly alone, you lot have sold your souls and wont know it for a long time and there is no way back.

      • TimPM

        Heh. Mike I gave Livefyre my email address and they gave me a username to post with. Not all that sinister? though Google etc. are!