Goals from Charlie Taylor and Steve ‘The Shift’ Morison went some way to avenging last years trip to Hillsborough on a day where both clubs remembered the tragedy of Bradford City’s stadium fire.

Hillsborough, infamous for it’s own stadium tragedy, has changed hands since Leeds’ last visit and after a season as disappointing as Leeds’ own, Sheffield Wednesday can look forward to next season with new owners and heightened expectations.

It should perhaps be the same at Leeds. In many ways, 2014/15 went according to plan. Despite the ill-considered appointments of David Hockaday and Darko Milanic, Leeds overcame a brief scare and will finish as comfortably mid-table as most had expected after a year of transition many saw as the cost for a serious promotion push next term.

And in fairness, that plan is still entirely possible. Few of last season’s imports have been a roaring success, but Mirco Antenucci and Marco Silvestri have settled well while Gaetano Berardi seems to have found his feet in recent weeks and won the majority of fans over.

The big success story of the season however was the youngsters. Lewis Cook, Charlie Taylor and Alex Mowatt have stolen the show, while the immensely talented Sam Byram rediscovered his form under Neil Redfearn and Luke Murphy finally started to fulfil his own potential.

Those eight players alone could form the nucleus of a squad strong enough to be serious contenders next season, but there are fears the return of Massimo Cellino could see Neil Redfearn dismissed and if that should happen, we lose the only semblance of stability this club has. An exodus of players would undoubtedly follow and come August we’ll be lining up with a whole new cast of characters for yet another turn on the transitional season merry-go-round.

You may feel the future of our young stars isn’t intrinsically linked to that of Neil Redfearn and there’s some truth to that – they may leave regardless. But if you look at the situation from their point of view, he’s one of the few reasons for them to stay at Elland Road. On the one hand you have agents lining up Premier League deals with secure, big money paydays at clubs without the drama and chaos of Leeds United, whereas on the other, your fate is anchored to the whims of Massimo Cellino.

The dismissal of Neil Redfearn, a man our young players highly respect and want to play for, would confirm what many already fear – that this club is incapable of creating the stable environment necessary to succeed while Cellino is in charge.

But in rewarding Neil Redfearn with the new contract his performance so surely deserves and giving him full control of the footballing side of things (as it should be), including the power to hire and dismiss his own coaching staff, Cellino can still send the right signals.

Suddenly, from a club in total disarray looking destined for yet another season of chaos, Leeds United becomes an attractive proposition. There’ll undoubtedly be Premier League interest in our young talent and there’s no question they can pay more than we can, but here you have a group of kids who’ve grown up together, are close friends and whose only opportunity to stay together would likely be success at Leeds United – something that would look entirely realistic if the club nails itself to the stability of Neil Redfearn and builds upon the work he did in 2014/15.

Eddie Gray believes we can be contenders under Redfearn and he’s more qualified than most to make such an assessment. The future of Neil Redfearn wouldn’t be in question at any other club, there’d be recognition of the great work he’s done under frustrating circumstances and his contract would have been extended months ago, all while the powers that be start tying down key players for next season.

Make no mistake, as difficult and trying as this season has been, Leeds can be genuine challengers in 2016. And that’s what’s so frustrating. Having the opportunity to finally return to the promised land hinge upon the whims of an erratic Italian whose decision-making (Milanic, Hockaday, Thompson arguably) is hard to have any faith in is infuriating.

Sheffield Wednesday will be an interesting yardstick for Leeds to measure progress by next season. Their new owners have had half a season to assess the situation and determine what work needs to be done and I fully expect they’ll be a stronger outfit come August. Leeds could be too. But whether we build upon 2014/15 and are genuine contenders next season or are once again consumed by the chaos depends on one man. And what he’ll do next is anyone’s guess…

  • Walter Lambert

    Good read

  • I’m dreading Cellino coming back, if I’m honest…

  • markman

    good article

    2 things i would like to see in the close season

    1) if any youngsters are sold(only for stupid money)there is a sell on clause for Leeds
    to benefit on any re sale.

    2) A mirror is put up in the home dressing room at Elland Rd so Alex Mowatt can take a look at himself.
    we know you can play but
    get rid of the beard,you cant grow one,lose the Alice band and get a proper haircut.
    you are playing for Leeds united not auditioning for the vacancy in One direction.

  • Pessimistic Pete

    Can’t for the life of me see Cellino hanging on to the young uns if another club comes a’knocking. look at the badge kisser and Matt Smith, the offer of a few(Million) bob reared its head and Cellino was straight in like a rat up a pipe. So the fans will just have to wait it out, see how the decision re Redfearns contract pans out and look out for a interesting closed season with Cellino back at the helm ( till he gets banned again)

    • Martin

      11 million or 7.5 million whichever you believe, was still a great deal for McCormack. Smith was given away too cheap and shouldn’t have gone at all.

  • MK_81

    If we assume that Cellino isn’t fixated or daft enough to remove Redfearn and/or sell half the youngsters, then i’d like to know who will replace Thompson as assistant, or if he will be reinstated given Salerno has apparently exited stage left. Thompson clearly helped and at the very least Redfearn needs someone to help him out the poor sod.

    On the other hand, if Redfearn leaves, there’s little progress with new contracts for key players and no sign of a coherent strategy, I fear a massive wasted opportunity next season and our young stars playing for the likes of West Brom and (God Forbid) Norwich come Summer 2016.

    • Irving08

      The big question then is – will Cellino allow Redfearn to pick his own Assistant, or should he ? Assuming the best of the Italians stay – and they deserve equal credit for keeping us up – Redfearn’s Asistant clearly needs to be someone in whom they have confidence.

  • Writers Holiday

    Excellent article and restores my faith in the hope that common sense can prevail rather than the whims of an Italian owner (God that was conservative!)

    PLEASE READ THIS MASSIMO – the best piece of advice you could ever receive – and free of charge too!
    MOT
    GerryCwmbran

  • Great article… thank you.
    The whole problem for next season, with or without Redders or the Young Guns of course is … how much of it will Cellino be available to ‘run the Club’…. ?.
    One never knows what’s in store for him and his circus.
    He could well be in jail even?…

  • Pointy

    Congratulations Bournmouth AFC, we at Leeds United should sit up and take serious serious notice, capiche Mr Cellino.
    Risdale thanks for f@@k all, Krasner thanks for f@@k all, Bates thanks for f@@k all.

    Bournmouth 2008 season started minus 17 points in league 2 and the fans were keeping the club going with bucket collections at games, and they only get 11k max gate.

    Why can’t we do this at Leeds?

  • Irving08

    And Bellusci ? His partnership with Bamba was crucial to our winning run in the New Year. He was a fixture until exposed on his left side by a misconceived switch to three at the back in the latter part of the Blackburn game. It is not clear what subsequently unsettled him. And Silvestri did more than ‘settle’ – he was arguably our player of the season (assuming Cook can’t win every award). Berardi’s merits are acknowledged, but he is curiously missing from the ‘core’, whereas a good case could be made for his being the most complete full back on our books.

    • TSS

      How’s Berardi missing? “Those eight players alone could form the nucleus of a squad strong enough to be serious contenders next season” – I only mention 8 players, Berardi is included in that.

      Silvestri I’d largely agree, though he had a serious dip in the middle of the season and needs to start catching instead of punching. Bellusci’s had his moments, but he’s often a liability.

      • Irving08

        My apologies re Berardi. Re Silvestri, there’s nothing wrong with punching, done well; it’s common practice, I believe, on the continent. Bellusci usually rises to the occasion: he strikes the ball as well as anyone at the club. But I agree he does suffer lapses, primarily through over-confidence. Still I’d include him in the nucleus.

    • oldschoolbaby

      No prizes for guessing that I wouldn`t have paired Bellusci with Bamba. That said I can`t argue with results.
      I feel that B, B and Cooper all have the same primary problem. They all go to bed dreaming of being Yaya Toure. If Bellusci is to be forgiven for the sorry “injurygate” affair ( and I`m not convinced he should be ) all 3 of them should be sent to Argentina for the summer. Hopefully their defensive attitude of death before conceding and defensive duties being an art of their own might rub off.
      And there`s nothing wrong with Silvestri that a summer with the Royal Marines wouldn`t sort

      • Irving08

        One must ask the question of why we appear to have had problems integrating foreign players when other Championship clubs seem to do so quite successfully. Is it this particular group of players that is the problem or is there something else at work too – dare I say, it an element of Faragism in our make-up ?

        • oldschoolbaby

          Don`t resort to that 08. There has been a massive and unprecedented change in our national make up. Nothing wrong with that if it`s done subsequent to a democratic mandate. It hasn`t been. Farage has every right to raise the issue.
          As long as it doesn`t inhibit the progress of youngsters ( would Dawson have had more opportunities if it hadn`t of been for the influx ) I`ve no problem with a foreign legion. Perhaps though it`s not wise to recruit too many who can so easily form themselves into a nationality based clique of discontent

          • Irving08

            It is not me resorting to it OS – if you listened to Radio Leeds football lately you
            would not have failed to pick up on the distinctly chauvinistic tone of their comments on the Italian players. As it happens, I agree with raising the bigger issue, and the big Parties were and are remiss in not properly addressing the question. I can readily agree with your comment about numbers in our particular case. Thought should have been given to preventing the division of the squad along national lines. It is interesting to note that Berardi and Bamba, who both speak English, appear to have integrated pretty well. Good point about Dawson, though I fear it is the somewhat lop-sided product of our Academy that has done for him.

  • oldschoolbaby

    If you look at Cellino`s track record, the treatment of Thompson and the prevailing mood music you have to fear for NR. I will be incensed if his contract isn`t renewed. He has done more than enough to deserve an extension.

    • Irving08

      I too support the renewal of Redfearn’s contract; it is the decent and honpourable thing to do. Where I depart from TSS is that I do not believe Redfearn should be free ‘to hire and dismiss his own coaching staff’. The club’s coaches should enjoy in equal measure the confidence and support of the Head Coach, the Director of Football and the owner. The Director of Football – in virtue of his being the agent of the owner – is bound to be a central figure in the assessment of the club’s coaching needs. Moreover the stability we hanker after implies a degree of permanency in the club’s coaching department. Given the standardisation of playing styles and the professionalisation of the coaching role, the days of personalised coaching teams for hire are over. I can hear TSS thinking – and of owners too; I would not demur.

  • BEEVOR

    Leave Mr C to fiddle with the club we love and start again. It has been done before (M.K. Dons). We could possibly persuade the council to let us at least have our spiritual home at Elland Road and Mr C can take his bunch of misfits and play on a local park.
    Many thanks NR for all that you have tried to do with your hands tied behind your back at least your youngsters will play for you and dont have access to a box of sick notes.
    Here’s hoping that you stay Redders and can prove yourself next season.