leeds fansOnce again, The Scratching Shed has asked some of the biggest Leeds United sites and blogs to offer their predictions for the coming season. Here’s what they think…

Thomas Bradley – I’d Radebe Leeds

The team is lacking quality in key areas and with El Hadji Diouf and Sam Byram on the injury list, Leeds are missing two of their best players ahead of the new campaign.

McDermott has made just three signings over the off-season, with Noel Hunt, Luke Murphy and Matt Smith signing up at Elland Road. All three players will enhance what is a distinctly average squad – barring Sam Byram, Ross McCormack, El Hadji Diouf and Rodolph Austin.

With transfer funds sparse, the backroom staff can look no further than the likes of Dominic Poleon, Chris Dawson and Alex Mowatt to inject a freshness in what will be a long season for all involved.

As things currently stand, this squad will struggle to set the league alight and a play-off place seems a stretch too far for a side that languished in 13th last season.

Brian McDermott must right the wrongs left by Neil Warnock and galvanise his troops if there is even a slim chance of gaining promotion. Funds need to be found for the addition of a leader at the back, a winger and a goal scorer. Without more signings, Leeds United will arguably flirt in mid-table mediocrity.

Season prediction: 10th

Moscowhite – The City Talking/The Square Ball

I get an uncanny feeling about Leeds United this season, because everything is different, and yet everything is still the same. Just like last season, we’re starting with a manager who had the end of the previous one to decide the side aren’t good enough; and just like last season, he hasn’t had the resources to change it. Crucially, Brian McDermott seems much more involved and, basically, interested, than Neil Warnock ever was, and that’s going to be worth a few league places on its own, but I think anyone hoping that we’ll challenge for automatic promotion this season will feel let down. My hope is for some entertainment in place of last year’s relentless dross: I keep thinking to how shockingly good the first half of McDermott’s second game was, at home to Burnley, and I’m hoping for more of the same. I’m hoping too that we’ll back McDermott through whatever disappointments come our way as a result of still having Brown, Pugh and co. clogging up the wage bill.

I’m looking forward to seeing a fit-and-used-properly Rodolph Austin dominate the division, and I’m backing disguised Frenchman Mathieu Smith to erase all memories of Cantona. At the other end of the scale, I just hope Sam Byram’s okay.

Predicted finish: 9th, a point off 8th.

Thomas Hill – Through It All Together 

The 2013/14 season for me will be a chance to find the old Leeds United. We don’t have the funds at the moment but we seem to have a hungry squad and manager and a fan base that is finally rid of the Ken Bates era. I think we will be in transition, and our hard working team will have to get us out of the shit when needed. A good team bond can get you a long way in football as several clubs have shown and if the fans are behind the team throughout and understand the bigger picture we could have an improved year.

I still think we will fall away due to the clear lack of quality in the squad but I’m just hoping the bad vibe that has overshadowed us for so many years can be lifted and everybody can sing from the same hymn sheet.

I’m going to say that we will finish 11th this season with a platform to build from.

Matthew Brown-Bolton – Right In The Gary Kellys

Pre-Season has been far from a Turkey Shoot, with worrying defeats to Ferencvaros, Domzale, Nurnberg and the dire display at Walsall. In those games we didn’t seem at the races, sure they were friendlies, but the team still looked like a Warnock one. Flat and low energy. The side still lacks real pace and creativity, and until we shift out some of Colins 4,000 or so central midfielders we won’t get movement inwards. What Price Tommy Rowe? Albert Adomah? We desperately need that spark.

That concerns me, and while I’d like to cite the `feel-good factor’ as enough to warrant a top 6 finish, I can’t.

For me our lack of depth in defence, and lack of creativity means we can at best hope for a finish in mid-table. If we get investment, only then could we hope for more.

Prediction – 14th

Gary Cooper – Chairman of the Leeds United Supporters’ Trust 

Okay here goes my predictions for this season:-

I am going to predict a play off position so as not to put too much pressure on Brian McDermott and the players, I hope we go up automatically but I think that is a big ask this season.

We will begin the season with a win, 4-1, against Brighton.

Performances will improve as autumn becomes winter and for once we will go unbeaten over the Christmas/New Year period.

2014 will see big changes, I see a busy January transfer window as McDermott thins out the squad to allow for that key signing or two that will help us push on during spring. I think our league position and the likelihood of consolidating a play off position will bring new investors out of the wood work! (I am guessing I am guessing I don’t know anything honestly!)

Ross McCormack’s name will be sung loudly as we mount a serious cup run that has us all loving being Leeds even more!

Our average attendance will break championship records this season because we are all behind McDermott and the team as they sweat blood in the name of Leeds United.

Ken Bates will develop a nasty rash as a result of consuming a rank piece of humble pie!

Last but far from least 2013/14 will forever be known as the season we all got our club back, that we campaigned for change and won the fight to be united once more, truly marching on together for the first time in a decade.

Prediction – 3rd

Colin Sowerby – Man On The Post

When trying to predict where Leeds United will finish, it’s far too easy to be swayed by the magnitude of the size of the club and its fanbase. It draws you into thinking that Leeds always have a chance of promotion. Sorry, but not this season.

Kenny is a fine keeper. Lees and Byram apart, the defence is ordinary. The midfield is a mishmash of mediocrity. And worryingly, Leeds no longer have a ’20-a-season’ striker. There is no Beckford. There is no Becchio. The Morison experiment failed.

Leeds have added two League One players (Smith and Murphy) and Noel Hunt to the roster of a team that flew perilously close to relegation towards the end of last season. That is not enough transfer activity in terms of both quality and quantity.

I don’t believe that Brian McDermott is sure of his best XI or his formation just yet. There are clubs, like Watford, that already have a plan and have quality players. McDermott still needs to develop his plan, and that will come with time, but for sure he hasn’t got the quality players he needs right now for a promotion push. Final Position: 11th

Edward Jones – Bakke The Net

Prediction – 8th

As things stand, McDermott and GFH’s work in transforming Leeds into a team that; plays good football, has a positive atmosphere, and is capable of winning promotion (though play-offs if necessary) is far from complete. However, we’ve made some strong and meaningful strides in the right direction – particularly in fixing the non-football related problems that Ken Bates left behind.

Our pre-season was one that could be described as typical of Leeds united with ‘ups and downs’ including McDermott paying for rounds of drinks in Slovenia, Varney Army in Stevenage and a home loss to Nurnberg. Most importantly though, the squad has appeared to be in good spirits and has gotten closer to match fitness.

McDermott’s signings so far have impressed me. Murphy, Hunt and Smith are all of the quality that we need. However, McDermott’s desired continuation of this has been limited by our inconsistent cash flow. Player retention shouldn’t be underestimated though, as for the first time in years we haven’t sold our most important players – Byram and McCormack. Furthermore, I’m optimistic of the roles that Diouf, Poleon, White, Austin and possibly Dawson can play next season – all of whom I believe could flourish under McDermott.

Adam Jubb – Fear & Loathing in LS11

Bates is gone, Harvey’s gone, prices are down, supporters are scrambling for tickets…hell,  there’s even the prospect of being able to listen to post-match analysis on the radio without the need for either a DAB radio or to be a resident of York.

Yes, there have been many positive changes around Elland Road this summer under GFH, although one constant has remained: our chances of success are still being dictated primarily at board level, rather than by the signings and training ground work of our manager.

Last season, Leeds were a long way short of being a competitive outfit, a fact that Brian McDermott clearly isn’t hiding from; pre-season performances have only served to reinforce this view: indifferent in Slovenia and outplayed for the most part against Walsall, Stevenage and FC Nurnberg. The defence still lacks a commanding presence, the midfield offers little pace and width, while up top, the void left by the departure of the prolific Becchio remains.

Without significant funds (£3-5m) to address these shortcomings, the season holds little more to hope for than transition and the emergence of youth team players like Dawson, Mowatt and Walters. If funds are forthcoming then promotion is not inconceivable; secure the necessary players before the August window and Leeds could be securely sat in the top six come the new year, at which stage a further push for the automatic places could be considered, if not, McDermott’s brief has to be to stay in touch with the play-offs in the hope that funds will arrive for January.

Prediction (without investment): 12th

Prediction (with investment): 5th

Zak Lewis – The White Side Of Life

We have seen the end of Bates tenure at the club, first as Chairman and then his short stint as President was ended acrimoniously by GFH. We’ve seen GFH make a vast amount of positive changes (lower ticket prices, Sky Bet and Heineken deals, the removal of Williams, Harvey and his socks) whilst McDermott completed the £1m signing of Luke Murphy which had us fans giddy at the prospect of more… unfortunately that seems like it might be the extent of our spending spree this summer. We seem to not be able to get this ‘crucial’ fourth signing over the line and unless the Red Bull rumours are literally waiting in the wings (pardon the pun) or the Saudis are about to come riding over Beeston Hill on some camels then I can’t see us finishing in the play offs this season.

If the squad stays as it is then our only hope is for Brian to replicate his Reading run and get us up there in the mixer (Shudders as I think of Warnock). I think we may threaten to do so intermittently throughout the season, which will no doubt get us excited and dreaming of a return to the big time, but realistically I think we will finish 9th which is an improvement on last season and a step in the right direction.

Prediction 9th

Ethan – LUFCLoaded

I feel a lot of confidence this season (I know I said that last season too) but this season just feels different to all preceding ones. There is an air of optimism going around the club and fans and it really does feel like everyone is now going in the same direction as one rather than the in-fighting of previous seasons. This I think is due to several reasons and not just the one, that is blatantly obvious; firstly I feel we have the right man in charge of the team in Brian McDermott, he knows the game and has pretty much done all the jobs going in a football club up to and including the manager. Secondly our owners are getting in touch with the fans and acting on what the fans want, which to me makes it more than just a public relations exercise as the fans opinion actually matters and isn’t ignored like it has been under our previous owner, which brings me nicely on to my third reason for saying it (yes here is the obvious reason for the optimism) Ken Bates has left the building… for good.

Player wise we will miss Byram, Diouf and Austin in the early games but feel we do have the players to compete with the likes of QPR and Wigan etc. Ok OK we haven’t brought many players in, only 3 in fact but I think they will fit in really well with the players we have. McDermott came in and the team was completely different to that Warnock was playing despite it being the same players. This I feel is because Brian has got them playing the way the players find more natural – passing the ball, rather than the Warnock tactic of hoof it and run!

We will be in the mix but it’s been a struggle for me to decide where I think we’ll finish, automatic or play offs, so I’m gonna go with my confidence. Leeds will finish: 2nd

Dan Moylan – The Square Ball 

Still waiting on The Square Ball’s prediction (Dan has been busy preparing both the podcast and magazine), but I reckon they’d have gone with relegation. Damn pessimists.

Will update once I get a prediction from them.

The Scratching Shed 

I’m going to consider 2013/14 a development season and not get too hung up on where we finish.

It’s clear we haven’t been able to strengthen in all the areas we’d hoped to, and that Brian McDermott is still struggling to find a system to suit the players he has. But there are enough distinctly average teams in this division for Leeds to sit comfortably mid-table without any danger of threatening the “business end(s)” of the league.

What we lack in key first team players, we more than make up for in talented and hungry youth players who are set to be the story of 2013/14. Chris Dawson. Alex Mowatt, Dom Poleon, Ross Killock, Zac Thompson, Charlie Taylor etc. etc… are all making in-roads into the first team and I’m excited to see how they develop.

I predicted 12th last season and it’s difficult to imagine much of an improvement on that. But if Brian McDermott can use 2013/14 to develop a few youngsters while creating a system that Leeds United are comfortable with, it’ll be far from a wasted season. I’ll go one better than last season and predict 11th.

Below is a round-up of where each individual site/blog thinks we’ll finish. Please feel free to add your own predictions at the bottom of the post. 

LUFCLoaded 2nd
Leeds United Supporters’ Trust 3rd
Bakke The Net 8th
The White Side Of Life 9th
The City Talking 9th
I’d Radebe Leeds 10th
Through It All Together 11th
Man On The Post 11th
The Scratching Shed 11th
Fear & Loathing in LS11 12th
Right In The Gary Kellys 14th
The Square Ball 24th*
*Awaiting genuine prediction