You should never get too carried away by pre-season friendly scores, after all, the fixtures are more about getting players fit than they are about results, but a 2-0 defeat to lowly Mansfield Town serves as a reminder of how bad the remains of last season’s squad are and the level of work still to be done.

I spent the weekend at a music festival in Spain and aren’t back on English soil yet so didn’t see the game myself, but reports from those who did attend the fixture pointed to the same problems we spent last season moaning about – a lack of creativity, width and most crucially of all, capable defenders.

The first of those concerns (creativity), could be addressed by the signing of Roma midfielder Federico Viviani who was in attendance at last night’s game and is set to sign for the club on a season-long loan. He’s said to be a natural playmaker, which alone could make a marked difference on our squad if he’s of decent quality, testament to which is the difference Craig Bellamy could single-handedly make for Cardiff City.

Once that deal’s done, the most obvious area to focus on would be our useless defence or the Ross McCormack-less attack, but I’d focus my attention elsewhere and address the width above all else as I’ve long believed it to be the root cause of all our squad’s problems.

It’s a strange argument to make that signing two attacking players would fix the defence and I’m not trying to convince anyone we don’t need better centre-backs, but our squad has lacked balance for a long time and we’ve attempted to address that by having the full-backs push up, particularly last season when we played with wing-backs for a while, thus leaving us vulnerable to quick counter-attacks down the wing. It also created the additional problem of 3 central defenders trying to cover the width of the pitch creating holes and confusion other teams effortlessly exploited.

It goes further than that though, it’s often said that the greatest teams defend from the front and Leeds have simply lacked any sort of protection for the full-backs. This has led to central midfielders trying to cover a much wider area of the pitch than they’re ever going to be comfortable with and created even more holes the opposition can exploit – just think back to how many times you saw Austin putting tackles in on the byline, that’s not a position you’d expect to see a central midfielder in as often as Austin was last season.

Simply put, we’ve been trying to fit square pegs into round holes for a while now and it all comes back to our lack of wingers. Every other player on the pitch is suffering because we lack width, our central midfielders are coming wide leaving the centre-backs vulnerable, the full-backs – who have no protection themselves – are trying to push up leaving the centre-backs vulnerable and since we’re so busy trying to fill the holes, the opposition have very little to worry about from our attack so can play a much higher line, leaving just a single man or two back to deal with our striker(s).

And that brings me on to my final point – decent wingers of the Snodgrass and Gradel quality give the opposition something to think about. No team in this division is going to risk an all-out-attack strategy against a team with quality wide-players because they’d get torn apart, which means by simply playing decent wide-players, the defence is already under less pressure.

There’s the small matter of Matt Smith plus some decent balls into the box too, which could go some way to replacing McCormack’s goals, but I don’t need to point that out to anyone.

On and on…

 

  • Chareose

    An excellent diagnosis, I completely agree
    We have 4 OK to good central midfeilders in Cook, Murphy, Mowatt and Bianchi. Five if we haven’t scared Viviani off with last nights performance
    We also purchased a right full back which is helpful but not a necessity with Byram and Wooton……
    The areas we desperately need re-enforcements in, attack, wingers and a CB or two have so far been ignored
    The other thing is to get the quality we need MAY ACTUALLY require spending a wedge of money. The Ross McCormack money may need to be spent. I think all leeds fans would view avoiding relegation as more important than buying back the stadium. I certainly do….

    • Reiver

      The coming season will be all about avoiding relegation. I’ve seen no reason whatsoever for optimism … yet. Of course we still have the “in Bates we trust,” “in Grayson we trust,” “in GFH we trust,” “in Warnock we trust,” in Cellino we trust,” “in Hoc a doodle doo we trust,” half-wits, looking through their rose tinted glasses and thinking we’re heading for the promised land.

      • mick23

        you sound like you are just a glory hunting knob, if you are so down about the club why dont you do one and stop pretending you support them.same for all the whingers and moaners, sick of hearing why dont we buy good english talent, why are we getting foreigners in. well fools england aint got much talent and leeds have a good deal of young talent that will eventually blossom with the imports , this leeds is for the seasons coming ,not just next season, so shut up get down the match and follow our team

        • chris

          yup!!! well said!

        • Dr Zen

          All he said was you sound like the same people who told us GFH would bring back the glory days or one of the Bates arselickers. Supporting the team is not the same thing as blindly supporting everything the latest dude in the boss’s chair does.

          Look, this is what Cellino does, what he did at Cagliari. He brings in players no one really knows but he personally thinks are good. Some work out, most don’t. That’s what we should expect here.

          The best of them will probably be Viviani. Is he any good? Well, if you play the game at Italian pace, he is decent enough probably. But there’s a reason there aren’t too many Andrea Pirlos in the Champo. He might turn out to be an inspired signing all the same. But expecting a few Serie B journeymen to set the Championship alight is the same bullshit we’ve had the past few seasons. I’ll bet you were one of the clowns who told us Rudy Austin was a worldbeater.

          There’s nothing wrong with being realistic. The side needs some serious work. If some of the signings work out, great. If some of our promising young players deliver, great. If that sneaks us into the playoffs, great. But let’s actually see it in action before we start spunking our drawers over our latest saviour.

      • Matthew

        While I agree that the Hockaday thing may potentially implode our season. If money is spent on a decent Striker to replace Ross, we’ll finish at least mid table. The squad needs decent attacking players, should Cellino bring such players in, I would feel more confident about our chances this season.

        • chris

          mid-table forget it…what the point in buying all these players and expect to finsh mid table at best? no chance,,

          • Matthew

            At least is the key point I’m making. There wasn’t an at most there. There are so many variables that it would be deluded to suggest we’re going up this season at present. While I would love for it to happen, I just can’t see it at present. More signings desperately needed.

          • chris

            friend,top 6 is not delusional it achievable..if they make the top 6 they can qualify in the play-offs ,at least they have a hope….we have to hope and believe in this guy.. i think top 6 is possible..if we buy another few players we will have a good chance..and the signs are they are searching for at least two to three more..

          • Matthew

            Finishing in the top 6 isn’t a guarantee with this squad. We desperately need a 20-30 a season goalscorer to replace Ross, and a bit more quality in the midfield/defense. I’m not feeling too bad about the upcoming season, I’m optimistic, I just see us finishing marginally better than the last with the current players.

          • chris

            who said we have stopped spending? I agree about the need for a good striker though..but they plan to buy and have tried to buy already…let wait and see.i believe they will have the Striker by next week..

          • Matthew

            I never said we had, I’m just basing my opinion on how we will finish this season on who is currently here. It will change if decent players are brought it.

          • chris

            let hope friend..i know your frustration,i know the feeling believe me..been frustrated for many years over Leeds demise… but at least we are buying players now..that must be seen as a good thing..let hope..a few more players we will be alright cuz we have up and coming talented youngsters..

          • Dr Zen

            You can buy as many players as you like but if they all suck, you are going to suck.

          • chris

            how do you know they suck? that pure speculation. we have to get behind the team and the gaffer right now,,better that he is spending than not..if not,we would all be complaining we are not buying and blaming that for next season’s performance,

          • Dr Zen

            They are mostly Serie B players. Serie B is not a particularly high standard. Does that mean they’re no good? No. But it’s how Cellino works, man. He buys players he personally thinks are good. If he buys six, maybe one or two work out. But quantity is not going to make us better. We had a dozen midfielders last season and our midfield stank. Buying a dozen more won’t help if they’re no better. Let’s wait and see what we have before getting ourselves worked up, hey?

          • chris

            no, i THINK they are mostly Serie A But were on loan in Serie B? But i know what your saying and I hope that we will see better results than last season..

          • chris

            I don’t claim to be right on this but I wait and see what happens and hope we buy a really good Striker ..i think the few buys so far are quite good..the Roma guy is going to be good and that striker will be good in Mid -field.Byram playing on the right wing..just a few more Adjustment let hope anyway.

        • chris

          we can get the striker ,,and what we ned is good midfielders to feed the ball to the strikcers up front.. but we plan to buy the replacement

        • chris

          we can get the striker ,,and what we need is good midfielders to feed the ball to the strikers up front.. but we plan to buy the replacement..but what we really need also are creative midfielders..

      • chris

        I disagree..Leeds will be looking to finish up top 6 and anything less will be a disaster for me

    • chris

      Byram is wasted at the back,,he will be used as a Midfielder ,probably on the right and floating elsewhere also..

    • chris

      yes,better to focus on promotion also than buying it back..they can buy it back later after they win promotion..not a Priority right now clearly.

  • NottsWhite

    I watched the game against Mansfield and agree with the comments made. Although we tried to play on the deck, our lack of movement and guile led to no clear scoring opportunities. Players who performed poorly last season still seemed to have a hangover (I understand that this is only a preseason friendly), Lees was out muscled for the second goal after a Thompson slip. White constantly lost the ball etc….. The result is in some way irrelevant but the team should be showing a style of play. All they showed is that quality is severly lacking

    • Chareose

      Its clear that some of those played are being pushed out the door so having them in the first team squad is simply detrimental to morale
      Phill Hay has now stated that last nights performance has effected Viviani’s desire to join and we are now out of the running for Dalort as well………. bad few days at the office

      • chris

        that negative and speculation that Viviani has has had a change of heart because of what he saw. I doubt that the case.and the other guy also,was he even there?

  • markman

    I am sure many fans will be worried by the number of Italian(untried in the championship) players
    that we have signed. Watford established an Italian connection and they seemed to benefit.

    If we become trendsetters and it is seen to work,and other clubs follow with imports from other european leagues,unfortunately, that will obviously lead to less opportunities for English lads.

    however,as,i am sure these Italian lads are costing less than homegrown players and have a good pedigree having represented Italy at various levels,just maybe the market will eventually work in our favour and the price of English players will begin to drop.

    why are there no young English players,of championship/premiership level,playing in top European leagues? I dont mean the chelsea model of farming young players, It cant all be down to lack of initative it is because they are to expensive.

    • mrbigwheels

      To your latter paragraph…. Far too expensive in wages and fees for what they really offer… imo.

    • Joe

      The first problem is the weak, weak standards youth systems in the UK. Teams like Southampton, Swansea and to an extent Leeds, who have continental standard youth teams are very few and far between.

      Then you’ve got the inflated transfer market, because of the money in the English game and more importantly, the depth of money. Every league has its Bayern Munichs and Real Madrids, that are equivalent to Scum and Chelsea in terms of spending power, but there is no other league in Europe or anywhere, where even relegated clubs can pay in Champions League wages. QPR are a case in point, last year they had a wage bill higher than Athletico Madrid And Borussia Dortmund (and were still shit!)

      So yeah the English market is unusual to say the least, but the key thing that’s lacking is a proper monetary incentive for teams to grow their own players and think long term. As things stand, teams have more luck when they just spunk lots of money they may or may not have on a gamble at Premier League football. Then once they’re up they have to spend even more just to stand still.

      It doesn’t work, but it suits a handful of dodgey people with deep pockets, so it’s going to stay that way, and any hope you might have of England or the EPL ‘doing a Germany’ is extremely unlikely.

    • spellz

      Judging by how the players tweeted it was the hardest 2 weeks of thier life in Italy, I am pretty sure the physical difference in the italian league will pay dividends for us as in the championship if you have a team consistenly fit and playing well you will succeed, now for the playing well part.

      M.O.T AA

  • JosephM1

    There are probably still four or five players in the squad that need to be moved on. They will never be up to the standard required so it should be done quickly. Then Cellino needs to start spending some serious money on three/ four signings with that extra bit of quality.

  • Mike

    Hunt, Morrison, Warnock, Norris, Tonge and Lees need to move on. I still think guys like Dawson and Poleon need a full season out on loan to get games on a professional level as well.

    Honestly I think Pearce would be a good CB if he had a competent partner since he spends half his time worrying about what the other’s doing and mopping up after.

    What its seemed like so far and I half expected this is Cellino/Salerno are going typically Italian and building from the back which is why all the targets seem to be defensive minded. I’m foolishly thinking once they’ve got the back 7-8 in place they’ll start splashing a bit for attacking players to make a difference but i’m probably just overly optimistic.

    • mick23

      agree with the ones you say need moving, cellino/salerno are no fools and they no what is needed, but remember at the moment we are hardly very attractive to most out there, so this building is going to take time.lets all be optimistic because the tide is turning, lets also give hock a chance, and if he wrong choice we will know sooner rather than later. we have good foundations at club now and i for 1 thank fuck we have the character known as cellino

    • chris

      i would keep Hunt,,he struggled last season with Injury..I believe this
      man will shine this season for Leeds..I really think he is a very good
      striker. yeah

  • Matthew

    We have a huge Ross McCormack shaped hole left in the squad that’s clear as day to see.

    • chris

      i would keep Hunt,,he struggled last season with Injury..I believe this man will shine this season for Leeds..I really think he is a very good striker.

      • Matthew

        He’s a sub player for me. I think he’ll come off the bench and get his long awaited goal. And will likely get a few this season. I just want to see him get something.

  • chris

    excellent Article..this could have been written by Alex Ferguson it was so good. I agree with this writer wholeheartedly..would like to add,rumor has it that Byram is going to be used on the wing.if that true,that is excellent. and the signing of that Powerful black striker,doukara,he will be also a good powerful player that will run at the defense,,yeah,Midfielder,that what I feel he is joining Leeds for..creative midfielder..but we still need to get hold of another two defenders and one prolific Striker..and one extra midfielder again to play on the left wing. then we will have a decent chance

  • Nigel

    Haven’t we done this in the past? Instead of getting lots of very average players on the books we should be getting three or four quality players and use the promising youngsters with them.

  • Jay

    Bang Right.. I say if we added 4 wingers (2 quality, 2 up nd comers) we would have a good chance of doing well.. He’s goin with the Mourinho philosophy of 2 good players for each position and ALL capable of putting a tackle in by the looks of things.. Cant say as i disagree with that.. as much as i despise mourinho..

  • henrymouni

    I have a funny feeling the Hock may not make it to the Millwall game?
    We have Redders and Gibbs who must be better than him anyway.
    You need a strong defence if you want success.
    This helps you to get points on days when you are not playing well.
    Towards the end of the season when form disappears, it is the defence that keeps you in games.
    You need to get your foot in, in our league, or you get over-run.
    The spine of our team is weak, even against ‘lesser’ teams.

    • Matthew

      We really do need that McCormack replacement if we want to get somewhere this season. You can make up for being weaker at the back with some decent attacking players.

  • spellz

    Personally I think we need to go back to basics a bit with our defence as poor positioning, complacency and a lack of desire costs us time and time again, they need to be instructed to defend and make like a wall, we leak more than Gazza chopping onions and boosting the attack will always take a little pressure and heat off the defence as sometimes they do have a lot to do also.

  • lufcboy

    Viviani deal is now off – sounds like the performance at Mansfield has gone some way to putting him off and, up to 8 other Italians have turned us down as well. If as reported we do have a £15m transfer fund then lets start spending it please. The priority has to be upfront. No to the dross we have been linked with (Ranger-Delafonso etc) lets spend some money.£$€£$€MOT

    • henrymouni

      Crushing blow losing Viviani – too good to be true I suppose.
      What were they thinking of, introducing him to the coach AND allowing him to watch out diabolical team play.

      We have ended up with the Italians and Swiss no one wants!!
      Sounds familiar.
      Massimo is the Italian Bates.
      Warchest with a lock no one can open,
      Will Byram be the next to go?
      “Demanding to leave, while Massimo begs him to stay”.
      Just now this squad, without Ross, in going down.
      Progress nil.

      • Matthew

        It wouldn’t surprise me if come November the promise of buying ER using the Ross money too hits a snag and the date gets pushed back. Not saying it will, but it wouldn’t surprise me. We urgently need a Ross replacement, a 20-30 goal a season player, the current squad wouldn’t get more than 30 goals between it. If we get the Ross replacement, I’ll be more optimistic. As for Hockaday, I would be surprised if he’s here come Christmas.