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…