Leeds United, the original ‘crisis club’.

No one does it better than Leeds, which is probably the only thing we can claim to be maintaining a competitive edge in these days. As we head into the latter half of the 2014/15 campaign, the club is surrounded in ownership, legal and financial chaos, while performances on the pitch are inconsistent and our league position is starting to become a genuine concern.

Here we take a look at some key areas the club need to address if we’re to stop the rot and get things back on track.

Leadership

Hardly a new problem, but it’s still noticeably lacking at Leeds.

Stephen Warnock aside, Leeds don’t have an experienced head who’s been around the block a few times and knows how to turn games in his side’s favour.

There’s an art to managing a football match. Leeds need someone in a key position (preferably central midfield) who can dictate tempo and instinctively knows when it’s necessary to suck the life out of a game for a few minutes when the opposition are getting a head of steam or to push on and apply heavy pressure when they’re vulnerable.

He’d be the type of player who knows how to frustrate the opposition by working the referee and winning fouls, someone who gets under the opposition’s skin and becomes the focal point for their ire. He’s a man who can identify areas of weakness and instruct one of the younger players around him to adjust his game accordingly while simultaneously ensuring the rest of the team keep their shape and cut threats out at source.

I know what you’re thinking, ‘we need Gordon Strachan!’ and that’s exactly right. But in today’s terms, Howard Wilkinson’s capture of the fiery Scot would be like Neil Redfearn signing Steven Gerrard – an exceptionally talented and successful Premier League player who’s coming towards the end of his career at the top. That seems somewhat unlikely…

Width

Over the summer Leeds signed a lot of new players. This was in part due to the understanding we’d be embargoed by The Football League for failing to comply with FFP regulations and unable to act in January. Luckily for us, the embargo borders on laughable and restrictions leave plenty of room to get new players in.

You may feel that adding more new players to a squad who’ve yet to find their groove would compound the inconsistency issues for Leeds and there’s certainly a case for that. However, Leeds have high concentrations of players in central areas and very little in the way of width making us one of the least adaptable teams in the division.

This isn’t just an issue from an attacking point of view, it prohibits a change of shape Neil Redfearn may use to ‘match-up’ and nullify the opposition threat when his side are being overrun. Perhaps most crucially, it makes us less predictable. Leeds only really have one way of playing and if our opposition can deal with that, there’s precious little we can do to surprise them.

Redders

He has to stay.

Bad results will see pressure mount on the Leeds boss, but replacing him won’t help matters. We’d probably see a brief up-tick in form before things got even worse and we started to regret the decision in what is oh-so-typically the ‘one step forward, two giant leaps back’ existence of Leeds United Football Club.

Besides, Redders is giving the fans what we wanted. As noted above, the youngsters need a leader on the pitch to guide them but they’re at least getting the game time now. It’s only worked for us in patches, but there’s no hoofball or ‘crabbing’, Leeds are at least trying to play the right way and when it does click together, we’re a genuine pleasure to watch.

The reality is, Leeds are a team in transition surrounded by constant off-field chaos and struggling for consistency. This season was never going to be our promotion year, we’re simply laying the foundations and working out the kinks – on and off the field – for a genuine push next year.

No distractions

It’s easier said than done, but resolving the conflict with The Football League and moving the conversation from our owner, financials and legal troubles needs to happen ASAP, we simply can’t afford all these distractions again next season.

Both Watford and Blackburn Rovers have been in a situation where the club’s were too distracted by the chaos and their owners for football to register as the priority but they’ve managed to put most of that behind them and are now quietly getting on with things. Both teams currently occupy places in and around the play-off zone, some dozen places above lowly Leeds and whatever new crisis has befallen us since I started writing this piece.

If the off-field dramas can be set aside and Leeds can break free of our crisis club tendencies, what you’re left with is a young and inexperienced side who are predictably inconsistent but require nothing more than time and a bit of reinforcement.

We don’t need major surgery or a complete overhaul, just a little fine-tuning and an improved environment. The team gelling together and cutting out the individual errors which have been a feature of recent games will take care of itself, it just won’t happen overnight. But bringing in a leader to guide the players, protecting youngsters from being overrun by having the players to facilitate a system change, keeping someone in place they trust and admire and cutting out distractions to allow the team to focus on football will all help to expedite the team’s progress.

  • henrymouni

    IF the slide continues, Redders will be replaced.

    • TSS

      Undoubtedly so, I just hope the fans don’t turn on Redders and Cellino exercises more patience than he historically has.

      • Chareose

        I agree about Redders, we should try everything to keep him in his current position. The only point that changing coach should be considered is if we are in relegation form after February. I hope he can steady the ship by then as we need stability at the club in every area. Changing managers doesn’t help at all. A few years of the same guy in charge is what we need.

  • NottsWhite

    Changing Redfearn at this stage would have no benefit to the team as we have suffered too much change over a short period already. However, Redfearn needs to learn from his mistakes and become more adaptable in order to survive in this league. The insistence in playing the diamond formation, come what may, is short sighted and bordering on stubborn. The matchday squad does lack players to change the formation/style of play however Redfearn has to work with what he has got (due to obvious circumstances). Players such as Montenegro, Bryam, Doukara can be utilised as wide players however, in the case of Montenegro, you have to select them on the bench instead of 2 defenders, 3 central midefielders and one attacker

    • henrymouni

      I cannot see anyone else doing a better job than Redders just now.
      But if we continue to slide into a relegation battle, he may well be returned to the academy.

      • NottsWhite

        Henry I agree that due to the circumstances Redders is the best man for the job however he needs to start helping himself a bit and embrace change in his tactics and selections. Is the persistance with the diamond due to way Cellino wishes to play ? I hope not as this would demonstrate a lack of testicular fortitude

  • Raymond Pettersen

    Like how you bring into light that the club doesn’t need major surgery. Just a few adjustments here and there. In conclusion progress has been made so far this season – even with the bad results. We have to remember how we ended last season, and the transition the club still finds itself in.

  • Lars

    I think we should see if we could pull off a coup for a player like Darren Gibson or Steve Sidwell, both of which fits the role that was spoke of in this article.

    I also agree Redders must stay at this point mainly because I fear that demoting him would only aggravate the team and especially the former academy lads who you know have a strong allegiance to him.

  • PAUL W

    It’s now all about Leeds fighting their way, away from the bottom half of the table and building for next season.
    The away form is absolutely shocking and it puts a huge amount of pressure on Leeds to win at Elland Road, which is not always going to happen.
    Neil Redfern is definitely the right man for the job, but he has to dig deep into his huge squad or he has to try to bring in some key players on free transfers, if the transfer embargo will allow that.

  • Thommohawk

    In Cellino and Redders we have the right people in the right places to do what needs to be done and face what we are going to have to face in order to see better days. Cellino is decisive and ruthless, also can bet your bottom dollar still controlling things behind the scenes DQ’d or not. And Redfearn is a Yorkshireman straight shooter and brutally honest as well as a likeable roll sleeves up kind of fella.

    Ideal mix for what we need right now.

    Beyond that we need a few players in to take pressure off and give us an option but not an overhaul. We do need width though, just need better than Kebe and Stewart of last season…..I’m sure Cellino will work his magic there too. Can’t argue so far with his transfers.

  • oldschoolbaby

    I didn`t comment on the Bremner post. I felt a bit nauseous that side before self had, very comfortably, become money before everything in my lifetime – and I`m not that old.
    I mention it as there is an obvious solution. Football needs to change and we need damned fine men to drive that change. We need grit. We need nous. We need width. We need a talismanic figure. We need a role model for the kids.
    What`s the point of being fondly remembered in South Shields or east Manchester ? What`s the point of being in the chorus line when you could be the leading man ? Why not be a cult hero, a legend, an icon in your home city. Someone forever revered as Bremner is.
    James Milner is out of contract in the summer. Time to start an internet campaign to bring him home on reasonable wages. Instantaneous folk hero throughout football. Worshipped in your home city. He would create a buzz that would drive us into the PL in a season. Money can`t buy you that.

    • Chareose

      Milner would be epic at Leeds again, we both know it….like you said wages would be the issue but if you don’t try you don’t get. Wilkos side got promoted because Silver was ambitious. Granted things have changed in terms of players attitudes and wages but you never know and you wont unless you try these things……….. Im sure if the deal was right for him Milner wouldn’t hesitate, hes made it clear hes still a Leeds fan
      Meanwhile theres talk about Gradel again….id love to see him back but again wages would be the issue. Like Milners hes made it clear on twitter in recent weeks that he would come back in the right circumstances….. Loan to buy in the summer ????
      Its a dream but we need them

      • Irving08

        Fab Delph is not getting a regular place at Villa……He has self-belief, drive and leadership quality. He’s one of us.

    • Irving08

      Yes! (And McCormack may be available and attainable in January.)

  • Helen LUFC

    Laughable some of the comments about players we’ve had coming back! Why would Milner, Delph, Gradel ( who isn’t in the same league as the other two and nearly cost us promotion against Bristol before being dragged off and booed off by leeds fans against Bristol) come back to a failing team like leeds?! If you played for Man City would you really come back to a corrupt club over the Penines or look elsewhere? Hilarious. Problem with comments like the ones below are they are written by people that don’t go to games or watch leeds. Non of the fans I talk to talk about Milner coming back, they’ve more sense. Might as well say let’s bring back Mccalister as player manager! Absolute rubbish names Chareose comes out with. Obviously doesn’t follow LUFC.

    • henrymouni

      This is just a discussion group Helen.
      Dreams are all we have just now.
      I cannot see us every getting back to the Premier league, in the coming years.
      It is always ‘next season’ with us.
      Without dreams and self delusion, we might as well pack it all in.

    • oldschoolbaby

      Here we go, the true essence of Christmas. Are you a refugee from a Dickens novel ? I will look out for you at games. I`m guessing you will look like one of the women who used to sit knitting in front of the guillotine.
      Depressingly, I actually agree with you. I`m not generally a fan of players coming back. And I wouldn`t empty my wallet in the bookmakers in anticipation of Milner being prepared to come back. In an ideal world I would opt for a CB rather than a midfielder.
      However I, perhaps naively, cling to the belief that there are still a few decent people in football. I could be completely wrong but Milner gives me the impression that he isn’t short of common decency and humility. If you cross reference those personal qualities with the type of footballer we need he could solve a lot of our problems. .
      in the SEASON OF GOODWILL it can`t harm to sow the seed

      • henrymouni

        I think James Milner would return a hero, but I doubt City would want to lose him osb.
        He features in a lot of games these days.
        We live to dream!!

        • oldschoolbaby

          I don`t know, I read he is out of contract shortly in the paper. I`m sure he`s well regarded at City but if the mutual admiration was that intense I reckon he`d be signed up by now.
          Players are hugely suggestible. Agents play with their heads all the time. I reckon there`s one or two out there who would choose martyrdom over money. No idea if Milner is one of them but I sense he`s closer to that end of the spectrum than the narcissist, materialistic end.
          The thought police have yet to outlaw asking questions.
          Shame it`s a black and white photo. Has she enough joy in her heart to knit a Christmas jumper ?

          • henrymouni

            They were only allowed black & white in those days osb.
            The Revolution was very strict.

            The only way the French are going in is if we tell them we found truffles in Iraq. – Dennis Miller

            Q: What Does “Maginot Line” mean in French?
            A: “Speed bump ahead”

          • Helen LUFC

            Sounds like you’ve been on the sherry truffles if you think Milner isn’t as materialistic as any other footballer. Bet he doesn’t give his weekly wages to the home for poorly puppies and kittens, does he? He doesn’t even drink he’s that tight with money, so he’d be rubbish fitting into this leeds team.

          • oldschoolbaby

            Did you nod off during the charm and etiquette lessons at your Swiss finishing school ?
            I`m really not sure you would find that many jaundiced individuals, on the liver transplant list, in modern day professional football. Milner`s drinking opportunities will be that limited as not to be really worth it
            If I were to accept your proposition that Milner is materialistic as the rest there is still another way of looking at it. That heroin addled nob Russell Brand is merely pretending to be a man of the people and he`s all over the media. If a player were to leave one of the wealthiest clubs in the world to resurrect their ailing hometown club it would be a massive story. A good agent could milk that for all it was worth. Your materialistic Milner could, potentially, have his cake and eat it.

    • Irving08

      Do you have anything constructive to say whoever you are ?