Still Leeds: Luciano Becchio

This is part 2/2 of Leeds United bloggers predictions for the 2012/13 season. You can read part one here.

Adam Jubb (Fear & Loathing In LS11 & The Square Ball contributor)
Prediction – 6th

So for a second year running, Leeds United go into season still short of players in key positions; this summer though, it’d be impossible to question Neil Warnock’s work to these ends. It seems clear now that for some time he has followed a blueprint for our summer recruitment: to sort the defence, securing proven, reliable players of ability across the back and crucially, signing a goalkeeper he has absolute faith in. Gone is the lightweight midfield, in its place, a fiercely competitive, compact unit with hard runners and hard tacklers; Norris showed glimpses of his ability to support the front men against Shrewsbury while Austin already looks a snip and the anchorman we’ve desperately lacked for so long.

The issues lie in attack; while Becchio and McCormack have both scored freely at the level, neither possess any degree of pace, while the latter appears to be our one and only creative outlet. To my mind, the squad lacks 3 players: a quick striker and right winger as Warnock has publicly stated, but also another attacking midfielder to push Norris for a place (Gradel, Beckford and Howson, anyone?). As things stand, this team feels like a throwback to the George Graham era; lacking in quality but fiercely competitive, maybe enough so to just sneak the final play-off berth. Should the takeover reach a successful conclusion though and Warnock is afforded the significant funds necessary to acquire the players of the calibre required – and pace, creativity and scoring ability doesn’t come cheap – don’t write off a push for an automatic slot. Prediction: Current Squad – 6th. Desired Squad – 2nd.

Zak Lewis (The White Side Of Life)
Prediction – 5th 

Still Leeds: Ross McCormack

The feeling around Elland Road this summer has been fraught with speculation and hope but at the same time filled with ill temper and despair. A typical Leeds United summer you might say. The takeover saga that still looms over the club unresolved has however given it an added twist, whilst once again one of our best players was sold to Norwich City. It’s not all doom and gloom however, our manager is a promotion specialist, one who is known to get the best out of players and his promised overhaul of the squad has certainly gone ahead with ten new signings transforming the team. We are certainly still short on the quality required to be title contenders in my opinion, but you never know with Warnock. If we can acquire a tricky winger, a sturdy backup centre back and another striker I think we may have a chance of automatic. If the takeover goes through, I expect us to get more quality in and push for the automatic spots. As the squad stands I predict a 5th place finish.

Adam (Marching On Together)
Prediction – Play-Offs

The expectation level amongst Leeds United fans ahead of the 2011/2012 season was high following our young players overachievement during their first season back in the Championship. On the dawn of the new season expectations are more subdued. A squad that faltered last season and which was declared not fit for purpose by the new manager has been all but dismantled. A new team has been built over the summer, risen from the ashes of last years failure. The team looks more balanced, the frailties at the back have been addressed and there is a bit more steel in midfield. If we have replaced the creativity lost with the sale of Snodgrass we have a fighting chance at the play-offs.

Giovanni Sanfilippo (Leeds United Brasil)
Prediction – 4th 

We believe this time Leeds United will finally reach the top 6 and make the play-offs. Once in there, all four teams and their chances to win at Wembley are equal, but Leeds should at least make the final stage with help from the fans. The team is strong and has quality players and manager, who knows very well how to get promoted. Having about 8 new players among the first XI could be an issue, though, as they haven’t spent much time playing together as a team yet. Hopefully, in a long tournament like the Championship, this problem will not disturb the final results. Final prediction: Playoffs – 4th

Tim Whelan (To Ell And Back)
Prediction – 10th

Does another Wembley trip beckon?

After our dismal season had finally stuttered to a finish last May, I decided that while the summer was here I was going to enjoy Euro 2012, my holiday and the Olympics, and I wasn’t going to worry about Leeds United’s prospects for 2012/3 until the new season had actually begun. And it’s a good job I made such a determined effort not to let the sorry state of our club get me down. With our hopes of a takeover raised and then dashed and Snodgrass leaving an already depleted squad, it’s hard to predict anything better than mid-table mediocrity. Maybe some of the bargain basement signings will turn out to be surprisingly good, but I can’t see us finishing higher than 10th.

Matthew McKeith (Right In The Gary Kelly’s)
Prediction – Play-Offs 

Truthfully I have high hopes for Neil Warnock’s “new season new start” squad but shouldn’t we all? He has brought in eleven players over the summer, all with Championship experience. You can see him shaping the current squad in the mould of his successful QPR team two seasons ago, looking to use that as the blue print for success with the Whites.

My prediction rests solely on what happens with the outcome of the Takeover/Investment saga. If the finances at the club are as they are today, then the gaffer will need to dip into the English Premier League once the twenty-five man squads have been announced. This would be to reinforce the areas that need strengthening with ‘solid’ and ‘proven’ loan signings.

So my heart is saying we’ll win the league with record points and a superior goal difference, dominating from the off. The realistic prediction is that playoffs will be the outcome and hopefully this will lead to us celebrating promotion come the 27th.

Thomas Hill (Through It All Together)
Prediction – 6-10th

Our squad for me is going to let us down at the final hurdle, and that’s why the prediction is a possible 6th but a more realistic mid-table. There’s some difficult games this season the three sides promoted are no pushovers and those coming down have the potential to go straight back up.

Warnock has tried his best and I think we will have more fire in our bellies. We will be more organised as a unit and hopefully can sneak a 1-0 or a draw where as before we’d lose late on thanks to some lacklustre marking or defending. A cash injection before August could see us make a few late additions but for now it looks like we have a squad who will battle hard and maybe just maybe cause an upset or two.

Summary 

The majority of the Leeds United bloggers seem quite confident of a play-off position this season, although most agree that a couple of additional new signings are necessary and that the takeover is another variable that could determine our ultimate fate.

As for The Scratching Shed, I’ve already filed our predictions for this season with The Guardian (which you can read here). I share the same concerns as most others; that the squad lacks depth, a couple of game-changers are required, I fear the team hasn’t had enough time to gel and that the takeover is an unknown variable. With the squad as it stands, I genuinely believe we can scrape into the play-offs on the back of a solid defensive record. However, a couple of injuries and the whole thing could fall apart. I decided it best to split the difference between what I envisage to be the best case scenario for our current squad, and the worst, leaving me on a fence with a 12th placed prediction.

Here’s a full list of all contributing bloggers predictions for 2012/13. Thanks to everyone who participated.

Blog Prediction
Leeds United Supporters Trust Automatic
Leeds United Brasil 4th
The White Knights 4th
The White Side Of Life 5th
Fear & Loathing In LS11 6th
Howson Is Now Play-Offs
Marching On Together Play-Offs
Right In The Gary Kelly’s Play-Offs
Leeds United MAD Top Six
The Last Champions Top Six
Travels Of A Leeds Fan Top Six
Through It All Together 6th-10th
Becchio Well Placed 10th
To Ell And Back 10th
The Scratching Shed 12th
Leeds Online Mid-Table
  • mattbb3

    I think we’re capable of finishing top half with our squad as it stands, but that if either the tkeover goes through, or we simply manage to unearth a couple more gems then the play offs are achievable, if the squad were to remain unvhagned there simply isnt the depth there to warrant getting promoted in sheer bodies alone. Who have we got for defensive cover for Lees and Pearce? The fragile Kisnorbo and the injured Bromby? this will be our Achilles I suspect and it needs acting upon fast! BTW gutted to see Robbie Rogers not get a shot this season I thought what little we saw of him that he was a decent player, and certainly a good squad player, hope Warnock changes his mind.

  • Matthew

    Third time lucky, we’l get the playoffs.
    1st Season back: 7th
    2nd Season back: 14th
    3rd Season back: 5th/6th
    Believe.

  • oldschoolbaby

    I`m a little disappointed in this summers recruitment. In all the, understandable, gnashing of teeth about the loss of the likes of Beckford, Johnson and Snodgrass we seem to have completely forgottten we are the club that found Beckford, Johnson and Snodgrass and gave them the opportunity to develop at a top club. Efforts may well be ongoing to uncover a gem but it doesn`t appear to be a priority.
    Instead NW`s recruitment focus aoppears to be on the type of character he would like to go into combat with. HOWEVER, it is certainly not my place to question NW`s record. If he can gel a band of brothers anything is possible in the Championship. I`m not going to jeopardise the family finances or deny myself too many beers but I am going to have a bet on us achieving automatic promotion.

  • There’s absolutely no hard evidence that we will be promotion candidates this season. All the positivity is just the usual noise that comes at all clubs before the start of the season.
    We haven’t played anyone, since the end of last season, who is close in skill to us – they were all, at best, a league below us.
    After the first 5 games, we can get a rough idea of where we stand against the competition. After 10 games, we’ll get a more accurate feeling for how we’ll get on this season.
    I’m not saying we won’t do well, but I’m saying that there’s nothing I’ve seen to suggest we’re going to get promoted.
    Warnock has been coming out with some rather sanity check statements on how we will perform (not auto promotion team etc.). He’s not playing a game where he’s trying to lull the opposition into a false sense of security, he’s trying to get expectations of the fans back down from cloud nine to normality. We’ve lost players, we haven’t replaced them, other clubs have been spending, we haven’t. We have a very thin squad.
    If we are going to get promoted, I think it will be similar to Reading last season, disappointing at the start but come on strong in the second half of the season.

  • bash

    Agree that cover in centre defence is vital. It would be naieve to think one of the 2 centre halfa wont get a moderate to serious injury across the entire season or a red card or 2. It allways happens! Striler is a desire but centre half is a requirement.