12.15, Saturday 13th September and the two week international break is over. The whistle will blow its shrill trilling and the ball will be in play; the game between Birmingham City and Leeds United at Birmingham City’s St Andrew’s ground will be underway. Birmingham sit in 20th place in the table with a 5 point return from their opening 5 games whilst Leeds sit 2 places above them in the Championship table with 6 points from their opening 5 games of this season. This really is one of those clichéd ‘6 pointer’ games; a win for Leeds would move us further up the table and away from the clinging mire of a ‘relegation battle’ and closer to the rosy glow of the playoff places. Looking at it with positivity, we are only 3 points from 6th place; OK there are a few teams between us and that 6th place but it’s within touching distance…just…and if you strain your eyes…a lot.

Thing is, nothing is ever simple at Elland Road and we’ll arrive in Birmingham carrying some unwanted baggage and, I promise, I won’t mention players currently being bandied around as ‘not worth wearing the shirt’ (not my view, paraphrased from friends, Facebook comments etc). Firstly, Leeds will arrive on the team bus without, in all likeliness, actually having a coach in place; I know Redfearn will most likely be in charge but I was thinking more about long-term appointment (in Cellino terms that could be anything from 70 days to [insert random number here]). Secondly, Leeds will also arrive with the threat of a League-imposed ‘transfer embargo’ hanging over them meaning that in the next ‘transfer window’ (January 1st-31st) they will not be allowed any dealings in the transfer market for failing to meet Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations during the 2013/14 Championship season and that further participation in the transfer market is dependent on improving financial management. A really useful guide to the FFP regulations can be found here. Finally, Leeds will arrive with a team bolstered by 15 signings made since the 2013/14 season ended on Saturday May 3rd this year including 3 signed in the final few days of the transfer window in Brazilian youngster Adryan, Italian youngster Dario del Fabro and the wonderfully-named Paraguyan striker Brian Guillermo Montenegro Martínez; all three yet to make an appearance in a Leeds shirt.

It is, perhaps, the signing of Adryan that Leeds fans are looking forward to the most. More on-off than a bride’s wedding dress on her honeymoon, the ‘is he, isn’t he’ saga of Adryan’s signing was finally completed on 30th August after protracted discussions between Massimo Cellino’s and Adryan’s representatives. Little is known about Adryan Oliveira Tavares other than what can be gleaned from YouTube clips and compilations and the general t’Internet. The thing is, you don’t get to play for both the Brazilian Serie A side Flamengo and the Brazilian U17 national side if you’re not much good. In his career at Flamengo he played alongside such Brazilian household names as Ronaldinho, Kleberson and Vagner-Love but it is probably his form in the 2011 Brazilian U17 team that Leeds fans will be most hoping for. In that side, he lined up with Lucas Piazon, now of Eintract Frankfurt (on loan from Chelsea) and Marquinhos, who currently plies his footballing trade for Paris St Germain; the team reaching the last 4 of the U17 World Cup in Mexico and winning the U17 Sudamericano. In the 2011 U17 World Cup, the Brazilians ended up in 4th place and Adryan himself finished as the tournament’s ‘Bronze Ball’ finishing with 5 goals including a brace in a 4-3 loss to the German U17 side in the 3rd/4th place game. In this tournament he played in an attacking role, largely behind the front two. It is in this position that it is hoped that he will show his form of old and help kick start what has been, in most Leeds fans’ eyes, a pretty lacklustre set of performances over the opening 5 games; lacklustre apart from segments of the displays against Middlesbrough and Bolton which were both hard-fought 1-0 victories.

Whatever happens from now on in; it cannot be denied that the start of the 2014/15 Championship season has been a bit of an odd one even by the standards of our club. Oh and take heart from this: last season after 5 games we were only 2 points better off than we are now and we were in the promotion playoffs on Christmas Day when we were opening our Chrimble presents.

  • John Brown

    Kick a fellow while he’s down, why dontcha! What a mean spirited sentiment.

  • matt86

    Im hoping for a 3-1 win as ill be there hoping to see Silvestri..Beradi…cooper…bellusci…C.taylor…Bianchi…Adryan..Sloth..Montegudo…Sharp…Doukara
    Subs..Taylor…Cook…Antenucci..Warnock..Pearce…Dawson
    Would be great team although think pearce will get the nod over cooper which in my mind is a shame.

    • Graham

      I’m hoping for the line up to be: Silvestri, Berardi, Cooper, Bellusci, Warnock, Bianchi, Sloth, Cook Adryan, Antenucci and Sharp.

      • Bornawhite

        Yeah but who is the captain in that team. Get real Pearce is the captain and he will play. It is after all quite an important role.

        • Conceived-a-White

          Cooper over Pearce any day

  • Jimmy

    Come on Graham, yes your factually correct in what you say, but there is no harm in being a bit more positive and upbeat, we do have new signings, Redders can ready the squad for the Birmingham match and for once we can afford the luxury of being positive!

    • TSS

      I think we have to temper our expectations a little. It’s going to take a while for players to settle and gel and for the new ‘Head Coach’ to work out a system which gets the best from them. There’ll always be that ‘maybe, just maybe…’ in the back of my mind, but I don’t think we can realistically expect this season to end in promotion. We can hope for it, sure, but it’d be unfair to expect it.

    • Graham

      I’m positive but edging on the side of ‘let’s-wait-and-see’ for the moment. The reinvigorating of the midfield when Redfearn brought in Cook and Mowatt and played Sloth worked and, in a way, I was glad Luke Murphy was suspended and Austin injured (although I do like Austin). Passing-wise I think we need some incision to cut open defences and I do hope that Adryan can provide that.

      I’m really hoping that, with Bianchi and Sloth that Adryan can fire for us. Looking at some of the footage of him playing for BrazilU17 definitely gives a “WoW” factor; he actually finished above Piazon that season in goals scored for the Brazil U17s. I am also looking forward to seeing Benedicic play a little more.

      Hopefully the Antenucci and Sharp partnership will kick in too; Antenucci can score (19 last season in Serie B I think) and his passing will create chances too.

      Get Berardi in, get Warnock fit and find that solid CB to partner Bellusci and we are laughing…

      • Rex

        You like Austin ?!! You want incisive passing? Austin can’t do incisive passing, unless it’s to row Z.

        • Graham

          Rex, daft as it sounds but Austin is currently the 9th ranked passer by ‘average passes per game’ with 63 attempted and with 83% accuracy. Fair enough, he’ll not be threading through balls like a seamstress threading a needle but he was dependable in front of the back four. Last season he was to-ranked midfield player for defensive duels (tackling player taking him on, headers etc) in the Championship. I do fear that, in the more silky smooth Leeds midfield, he’ll be redundant.

          • oldschoolbaby

            This is a good example of statistics obscuring the problem.
            Austin can do a lot of things extremely well. Get up and down. Put in a tackle. Pick a pass. Let go of a screamer. He`s better in the air than many we have.
            What he can`t do is consistently amount to the sum of his parts. In fact, I feel, he is spectacularly poor in this regard
            To be fair this probably stands out as so many of his recent peers have got nowhere near as many parts to amount up.
            I think his inconsistency means his opportunities to pull on the white shirt will be limited from now on

          • Graham

            Fully agree oldschoolbaby; what I was trying to clumsily say is that he is a more accurate passer than given credit for and that, for a defensive midfield player, he’s showing up a fair few more ‘natural’ ball players in the middle of the park.

            Inconsistency and change in formation to not suit a holding mid will likely do for him.

          • oldschoolbaby

            The next team line up and formation is anyones guess. If you are to play the youthful zeal of Adryan, Cook and Sloth then I would have thought a holding midfielder important, especially whilst an unfamiliar rearguard gel. ( As Cellino`s pet project Adryan will, I suspect, get to play in the pocket if he wants to ) I agree with you Bianchi has been tidy and should get the nod though I will be interested to see if Benedicdic can play a holding game
            For me that is the irony for Austin. If he could be consistent this might well have been his time
            Murphy will struggle for game time now aswell. I am not sure what he can achieve in the game but I have a nagging feeling we haven`t seen his full potential. I have long felt that Austin`s inconsistency / unpredictability have distracted him and impeded his development.

  • TSS

    I hope this Adryan is as good as our fans are expecting him to be, we need that kind of spark around which everything else flourishes – a bit like Taarabt did for QPR and Max and Snoddy did for us.

    • Graham

      I’m quietly optimistic; he’s got to be better than the last Brazilian we had.

  • Irving08

    Not remotely thinking about promotion this season – or even next. It will just be a pleAsant change rolling up to the ground, not having to think about ownership issues, finances, or the overall direction of the club, liking the Italian feel of things. and having some young talent to watch develop, or not, as the case may be. I know the goal has to be the Premiership and beyond, but I am not too fussed about getting there quickly or, in some moods, even at all. Do I want to be associated with the kind of game top class football has become ?, I ask myself.

    • Graham

      Fully agree. It’s refreshing that Cellino has spent £1.6 million on Bellusci where Bates would have spent that on Private Jets and caviar snuff [allegedly]

  • Darren Hodgson

    I love you LUFC.X