It’s trial by fire for David Hockaday and Leeds United’s new recruits as the season kicks off at The Den, home to the always pleasant Millwall. 

We’ll forgo the usual ‘new season, new start’ cliches because it feels as if we’ve been repeating that line for the past decade now (mostly because we have). Times are always changing at Elland Road, we’re a club who seem to be in a perpetual state of transition, whether it’s new owners, new players, new management, it’s been a long time since we started a season on the back of an encouraging transfer window which saw the club strengthen in the right areas and add only key additions to a squad we already believed could take us places.

This season feels no different unfortunately. Our transfer window hasn’t been ideal, most notably for the loss of Ross McCormack (albeit for an impressive sum of cash) and while a few new faces have arrived at the club, we’re still looking to pad out the squad with reinforcements as our opening fixture against Millwall nears and you can’t escape the feeling there’s going to be a bedding-in process that’ll hinder us out of the starting gate.

That said, its early days and hard to know what to expect from both sides, but the bookies seem fairly confident in Millwall having the edge making them clear favourites for this one with odds around the evens mark. Meanwhile, a Leeds United win will get you odds of around 2/1 at Betfair, while a draw is considered even less likely with odds of 9/4.

For David Hockaday, however much the media and some fans doubt his credentials and question whether he’s the right man, you have to have some sympathy for the job he’s been tasked with. At his disposal, Hockaday has a mix of inexperienced youth players, Italian imports with no experience in the English Championship and the remnants of last season’s squad – a squad which must surely rank as one of the worst Leeds United have ever fielded – and while I don’t for one second doubt there’s genuine quality within our ranks, our pre-season campaign has been a bit of a mess and I don’t believe the team are anywhere near as prepared as the manager would have hoped.

And none of this is really Hockaday’s fault. The real problem has been getting players signed and in place quickly enough for Hockaday to work with in pre-season so that when we do kick-off against Millwall, the kinks have been worked out and the whole team has had time to gel as a unit. Instead, we’re still awaiting not only the “icing on the cake” (as is the norm) but also a fair bit of the filling and the hopes and expectations I’d like to see building at this stage are being tempered by that uncertainty.

But this is the English Championship and if we’ve learnt anything from the seasons we’ve spent in it to date, it’s that it seldom makes the least bit of sense, anyone can beat anyone, and as predicting outcomes goes, the Grand National is easier to call. So whatever will be, will be. Our 2014/15 campaign might not end with glory at Wembley, but the football is back and thousands of us long-suffering Leeds United supporters are about to be liberated from Saturday afternoons being dragged around the White Rose Shopping Centre by our better halves. If that’s not reason enough to be excited, I don’t know what is.

On and on…

  • David Lockwood

    Turbulent times, I bedded team, a lot of youngsters with a lot to learn. I think that some of the Leeds United kids may shine through this season. It is a big opportunity for some of them to show what they can do!

  • henrymouni

    Can’t wait!!
    Cellino’s should never humiliate an employee in public.
    He picked The Hock and he should stick by him, in public at least.
    We have not played a proper game yet.
    Our pre-season was a shambles, with poor opposition and not enough games.
    New signings need time to get fully fit, and used to their new club.
    I have been impressed with all the new lads, but we need to see them in a real game. I think they will do well for us.
    I hope Sorensen has signed for us?
    Nothing on the web site yet.
    This will be a really tough league this time around, so we need to be at our best.

    • Matthew

      Dundee United was a proper game. As was Mansfield and Swindon, they may not be big clubs but they still went out there and played football.

      • henrymouni

        How can pre-season friendlies be proper games?
        We played two teams at Mansfield and Swindon.
        Dundee are having to sell their best players, and the game was played without the hard tackles and close marking of a Championship game.
        When Dundee brought on their subs the were all kids!
        I would say Mansfield and Swindon were more effective than Dundee, and more than held their own against us.

  • Tim

    That’s all a bit pessimistic and negative. First you say last seasons squad was the worst we have had and then offer no real encouragement to all the work done so far with new recruits.
    I was at Chesterfield which was poor and we improved at Swindon and I went to the Dundee game and saw real progress. Three more players have arrived since then and I think we will be the surprise package this season. We are starting to play football, keep possession and work hard. I believe the players have bought in to the generally disciplined regime.
    As for McCormack he was never going to repeat last seasons goals, was realistically worth no more that about 3 million and I am reading is already in trouble with Magath at Fulham – a troublemaker perhaps?? I suspect the owner bought him and not the manager!
    So, I for one am excited and optimistic now we have some players who can pass a ball with vision. Yes we may get off to a slow start but that will not dampen my overall optimism! MOT

  • ron

    Morison first goalscorer @ 8/1 looks like the way to play this. On a serious note, despite not being totally underwhelmed, I did hope we’d have replaced McCormack before kick off at the very latest. No way were we going to spend real money on his replacement, but someone. Get the feeling Nile Ranger is on the bench this weekend.

    • Tim

      I haven’t seen any news that Nile Ranger has been given a contract yet??

    • mrbigwheels

      What’s wrong with Nile Ranger?, heaven knows where your feeling comes from. Like Billy Sharp, they both want to play for Leeds. I’d say ‘get in’ to the pair of them. Neither are contagious and can actually score goals.

      • Matthew

        Don’t go there, Diouf was an angel compared to Ranger. If Cellino has any principles he would not touch Ranger.

  • mrbigwheels

    The real deal to me is youth coming into the side rather than umpteen…. ‘where can I get a good deal next’… journeymen…. end of.

  • Tare

    Well there is an angle like in every issue in the walk of life. What comes to pussy cat game I am expecting a draw 1-1. But for the season 14-15 well these boys from the South are in the microscope until the winter has surpassed.

    But always positive here,

    Tare

  • Kevin Scorah

    I love the excitement of a new season. The Championship will be as unpredictable as ever and picking a top 3 is anyone’s guess.
    Also, I reckon that there isn’t much stand out quality this time round. Yes, the relegated teams will have an advantage but there’s room for more unfashionable teams to make a run. I also think there’s 7 or 8 teams that could struggle.
    Sadly though, I’d put us in that group. I hope I’m proved wrong but i can’t see us finishing any higher than last season. But it’s going to be far more enjoyable with The Cello calling the tune!

    • Tim

      We will AT LEAST be in the play offs. Cellino won’t hesitate to give it a push in January with transfers if need be.

      • Dr Zen

        I really hope something magic happens and somehow we get into the playoffs but AT LEAST seems more than optimistic. Why would you ever think that? We have at best a moderate squad, boosted by a couple of Italians who could be anything but are likely as good as their records suggest (not very) and a dude who wasn’t good enough for Peterborough, and possibly Nile fucking Ranger. And mate, every season we do this: we talk up our bargain basement signings as though they were superstars (and just occasionally one turns out to actually be half decent, true, but there are usually good reasons they weren’t considered good enough elsewhere or nobody with real money wanted to buy them) and our youngsters will be worldbeaters (and then we spend the whole season making up excuses for why they aren’t all that).

        We have a manager who found the Conference tough and fans who will get on the team’s back as soon as their unrealistic expectations seem not to be being met.

        And Cellino won’t hesitate to give it a push in January? What? Have you been asleep all summer? He hasn’t spent more than a milly all told. The 15 million plus Ross Mac money “warchest” turned out to be an illusion.

        Realistically, we’re going to be in the big midtable ruck. We might just have enough quality to sneak into the playoffs if, and it’s a big if, the players we do have with a bit of quality perform to their best. But we could also struggle. There won’t be a huge gap between that ruck and the drop zone.

        Having said that, Sorensen might be a quality acquisition and we might still bring in a striker, so who knows? Maybe the Magician will wave his wand and it really will happen.

        • Tim

          It’s my opinion Dr Zen. The Championship is mainly full of dross this season and the relegation clubs from the Prem don’t always do well as their players have to drop wages and are de-motivated.
          Money has nothing to do with signing quality; you just have to look at all the Prem flops to see that! Cellino has good loan agreements with options to purchase.
          So how much did we pay for McCormack and Snodgrass to name but two? Our squad may be young but it looks good to me and I was happy with what I saw against Dundee. It may be a slow start but I believe we will be the surprise package this season.

        • mrbigwheels

          So it’s all about ‘might be’ and ‘maybe’ then.

          Management not Money at this point to me and Cellino appears to be giving a bigger input to the former than all the rest of the previous jokers… put together. imo.

          On and on.

          • Dr Zen

            Well yeah, there are a lot of maybes ;-)

            Cellino’s management has resembled a clownshow, so I’m not sure what you mean. He’s got rid of some of the dross, that’s the upside, but that’s about it. If you think things like hiring a failed Conference manager as “head coach”, the Viviani saga and lying about buying ER are signs of good management, that’s up to you.

            Realistically, I am hoping among all the bullshit there’s some shred of truth: that we don’t struggle all season but at least sit comfortably midtable; that ER gets bought and owned by the club, not Cellino (because if he buys it in his own right, we still have our ground owned by someone else); and that a couple of the new signings do well and at least a couple of our good youngsters get a decent chance and show well. Anything more than that is cream.

  • markman

    I hope the fans give hock a fair crack of the whip.If we lose the first 3 games by a 90th minute goal,having played well,there are not cries of “sack the coach”.

    All the incoming players have represented their respective countries at some level and are a definite
    improvement to the players they have replaced.

    Point taken about needing time to gel but class tends to rise and these imports have a great chance to shine and should be hungry.also,hopefully we have gained a player in a fit Byram and some good academy boys..

    looking forward to a big improvement on last season.

    • henrymouni

      I don’t think ‘hands on’ Cellino will allow us to falter!!
      Apparently he was not happy with our performance against Dundee U.
      Also somebody left all the lights on after the game, and Mr C had to go round turning them all off before he went home!! Got to love that man!
      He may be mad as a hatter but he is family now!!!
      Bring it on!!!

      • mrbigwheels

        And don’t forget his dissatisfaction with the non existant ball boys Henri…
        He’d perhaps forgotten that most of the minions were sacked!.

        • henrymouni

          Good point Mr B, but:-
          Mr C felt the ball boys were being overpaid!
          A bag a crisps and a pie at half time!!
          The one ball boy he had on duty was a bit slow at getting around the ground!!

          This young lad is called Bob!
          Give him the job!!

  • It is certainly a tough task for Dave first up. We all hope for success, even the Boo Brigade. That would mean LUFC does well of course.

    Love your blog boys, I’ll be putting up a predictions post on mine, drop a comment on it and let me know what yours are.

  • Aplanir

    Everyone looking at David Hockaday manager credentials which are not good, but having said that he’s not here as a manager he’s here as a coach which on his CV are a lot better, when Saturday comes I’m sure every true Leeds supporter would agree is to get behind the team. It’s time for Leeds United to be united in there support and not kill any confidence in the team that they have.
    The team have had a massive overhaul which is what was needed, it’s upto us as the supporters to cheer them on to better things, I’ve seen a new team improve each game, it may take a bit of time for them to gel totally but from what I’ve seen there a better team than last season.. MOT

  • henrymouni

    The Sorensen does not seem to be finalised yet!!
    This will be a blow if it collapses!!!!

    • NottsWhite

      It would be poor if it did collapse as this would be the second time that Cellino has said a player has signed when they have not. Not necessarily blaming Cellino for the collapse but he needs to stop opening his mouth before the deals are done.

  • Helen LUFC

    Good article, and I agree with the comments about the team looking a bit ‘thrown together’. The beginning of this season reminds me of the beginning of the last two seasons, both being poor, in the sense that two years ago Neil Warnock was ‘cobbling’ together a team from his old mates and favours routine, and last season GFH were on a PR spin with their slogan about the past being the past. No one wants to be negative at about their clubs fortunes, but selling our top scorer instead of building a team around him and replacing players with foreign players that might not adapt is risky. I hope it goes well, but Cellino will only sack Hockaday if it doesn’t, and it isn’t his fault!

  • henrymouni

    Just to cheer us all up, these are Don Goodman’s (Sky Sports) predictitions for relegation this coming season:-

    Blackpool, Leeds United and Charlton Athletic

  • NottsWhite

    Good old Don Goldman, he hates Leeds

  • Thommohawk

    Granted I haven’t seen Leeds throughout pre season but from what I did see against Dundee United gave me plenty of cause for optimism, Noel Hunt is still shit in a Leeds shirt but I saw lots of give n’ go football players actually making runs and providing an option and none of this hoofball shit that we got in the Warnock era and ended up getting under McDermott too.

    Maybe it’s a good thing selling McCormack because now everyone out there has to step it up as we haven’t got Ross to rely on. Playing quick 1-2 football is a very encouraging start though!

    If that’s going to be our play style this season and we get more academy players in the team this season who can do a job then with big Matt Smith up front as well I can see Dom Poleon having a right season if he plays regularly.

  • spellz

    Away to Millwall is always a tough starting fixture for us, Hollaway is a sound coach just as outspoken as Cellino (which is some feat) and has bought in some talent with the likes of Gueye and Fuller so they will be a better Millwall than we usually face having said that I feel we can pull of a vital opening day win over our bitter rivals.
    It will be interesting to see how we do in our first competitive match as the pre-season has been a mixed bag including fielded a team against ourselves in one of the matches, I do feel that Cellino has definitely brought some talent in they are young hungry players and Bianchi and Dakoura in particular looked sharp against Dundee, I also think Ajose is a good addition we will have to see how he performs at this level, for all the stick Hockaday has had already I feel his tactics and passing style he has implemented is going down well with the boys so good on him I for one wish him luck, for all you that want to see his head already well if we lose a couple Cellino will sure swing the guillotine and we dont want to lose any do we? so get on his side.

    M.O.T AA

  • Matthew

    Positivity. Come Saturday evening we’ll be 3 points better off. No doubts in my mind what so ever.

    • henrymouni

      Agree!
      We have a certain momentum/pressure exerted by Mr C.
      I can’t remember a Leeds manager/coach being under so much pressure from the off.
      Mr C says he will know after 3 games, if we are good enough.
      I hope he is more patient than that, but he seems to kick every ball, with the rest of us.
      It is a new beginning, and we must be 100% behind the club!!
      Onward & upward!!!

      • Matthew

        Very concerning performance that, Hock picking Hunt is bizzare. Anyway, I will wait until the end of August and will patiently wait and see who we get from MC. Because let’s be realistic here, with Ross gone, so are most of the goals, and the man himself created a bit on the field. Without him we lack a lot of creativity. If Hock can’t see that, the man is blind.

        • henrymouni

          I am afraid the performance did not surprise me at all.
          Poor pre-season and chaotic close season.

          Player recruitment on the cheap.

          Ross’s money put aside to buy the ground back!
          When I saw the team, with Pearce and Wootton at the back, and Tonge Austin and Murphy in midfield, and Hunt playing I knew we were in trouble.
          I thought Morison would play for sure.
          I know we have no spare centre-halves, thanks to another fiasco led by Cellino.
          The usual midfield collapse putting more pressure on the back line.
          The usual useless balls hoofed up for our forwards to chase.
          We will never succeed playing the duffers from last season.
          The Hock ‘believes in them’ Really?
          Great bunch of lads?
          Terrible free kicks and corners, not beating the first man.
          Of course we passed the ball against Dundee!
          But this was a real game, and we have not improved at all since last season.
          An absolute shambles.
          The bookies and football pundits have us down as relegation fodder.
          Who could argue?

  • PMH

    Have to agree that the 2014/2015 version of Leeds is very weak on paper. But, also it is true that matches aren’t played on paper, and anything can happen in the Championship. Just a reminder to fans that the results of one match don’t mean too much in the long run. Beating Millwall will not mean we are premiership bound. Enjoy your football, but don’t get your hopes up too high.

  • Mastodon

    There is no 29 goal scorer this season to save us from relegation. Fasten your belts it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

    • Matthew

      I would prefer to wait until the transfer window closes before the doom and gloom. Still think Mowatt, Bianchi, a decent creative midfielder/winger, and Byram pushed into right mid with Berardi in RB, a new CB and a Ross replacement in the starting XI would boost us tremendously.