Wednesday saw Tom Lees leave Elland Road for Hillsborough and while this wasn’t the greatest of disappointments after what had been a pretty poor 2013/14 for the Thorp Arch academy graduate, it did leave Leeds United’s already weak defence looking in desperate need of reinforcement.

For a few hours, that need looked like it would be addressed by highly-rated Chesterfield centre-back Liam Cooper for whom Leeds United immediately placed an offer. After the first was deemed to be below Chesterfield’s valuation of their star youngster, another bid was made by Leeds and was again rejected.

It’s unclear as to what the difference between Leeds United’s offer and Chesterfield’s valuation is, but after the second bid was rejected The Whites took the unusual step of issuing a statement via Twitter announcing that their interest in the player had ended and they wouldn’t be increasing their bid.

The tweet has been interpreted by many as a negotiating tactic designed to unsettle the player and try to force through a transfer at something closer to Leeds United’s valuation than Chesterfield’s and if that is indeed the case (and it works), it stops looking like the work of a stroppy child who didn’t win and has taken his ball home, but instead, a clever piece of PR that’s saved the club money.

The only trouble with such tactics is they delay progress and Leeds United don’t have a great deal of time remaining to assemble the squad for this campaign. Our inexperienced manager is already facing criticism following some poor pre-season results and he desperately needs the reinforcements. His cause isn’t being helped by the club’s failure to get players in quickly so he can work with them before the season gets underway and start formulating a game-plan for what is likely to be a team consisting of mostly new arrivals who’ve no experience playing together or in the English Championship.

While this may sound like the ramblings of a fan frustrated by the slow pace the transfer window invariably moves at, a fact belied by the flashy 24/7 Sky Sports News coverage which makes us believe everything is going to happen in the very next minute (or just after the adverts), my concern is that we’re going to waste the first half dozen games blooding players and by the time we find any sort of rhythm and understanding, we’ll already be playing catch-up and face an uphill battle. Before you know it, another season has been lost to a poor transfer window and we’re counting the minutes until August all over again.

If we’ve identified a target good enough to improve our defence and the statement from the club was a bluff, can we really afford to be wasting time playing such games? Even if that’s not the case and we’ve genuinely been put off by the price-tag Chesterfield have placed on Cooper and won’t be returning to the negotiating table, we have to make haste in finding someone else because the transfer of Tom Lees starts to look very short-sighted with so little cover in defence and no signing lined up to replace him.

We have just one friendly and eight days to get our squad in place before the new season kicks off at Millwall and at this moment in time, I don’t see a squad stronger than the one we ended last season with – and Jose Mourinho couldn’t have done much with that so it hardly seems fair to expect better from David Hockaday!

That said, if we can land Cooper and push through the other stalled deals for Viviani and Benedicic, we may still be missing a couple of important players – the “icing on the cake” if you will – but at least we’d have in place a new core we can build around because adding a bit of flair from a solitary winger or a striker doesn’t fundamentally change the make-up of a squad, but when we’re still waiting to sign another half dozen first team players at this stage of the summer, we’re cutting things a little too close to the wire.

34 Responses

  1. Graham

    Totally agree why on earth everything takes so long when it comes to transfers and Leeds beggers belief!! It is clear we are in desperate need of a centre half and TWO goal scorers!! Why have we not put an offer in for Agard? Looks like we will miss put there as well!! Have we actually spent any money on transfers? Stop messing about go back offer £750k for Cooper then start looking for a proven goal scorer and get Agard who wants to come to leeds i am led to believe? Stop trying to be clever by getting players on the cheap

    • big erch

      Graham why go back with increased bid of 750k for unproven league2 cb? We got Murphy last year for a million from crewe that was league 2 player and look at the stick he got. Have you even seen cooper play?

    • frizbp

      We haven’t been interested in Agard for a while now. Never went further than initial interest apparently.

    • Chareose

      Graham………Agard has been dropping down the leagues like a lead weight until recently, hes had one good season…..they probably see him as a risk
      Cellino knows Italians, he understands what hes getting for his Wonga that’s why hes reticent about spending it on brit players

  2. Tim

    If we can land Hall??? The days of Leeds paying over the odds for crap or loaning crap are well and truly over. We will get the players we need by the end of the window and if they are quality then settling in won’t be a problem. Cooper isn’t worth more than 500k. Cellino and Salerno will pick players carefully so just have a little patience please. Look how many out of contract players have gone and there are more still on the books with a year left to run. You can’t clear up this mess in two months. We will be in good shape by Christmas and top up the squad in January if need be. No doom, gloom and impatience from me – I’m excited and looking forward to seeing all these new Italians et al. MOT

    • TSS

      No idea where I got Hall from at the end, I seem to have deed polled Mr Cooper somewhere between the 7th and final paragraphs.

  3. Bluesman

    This doles sound a bit like panicking to me. I am sure that you are right, but it is just that someone else is playing the shots and we are sat here watching paint dry. Good point,well taken, but again we can’t change it! Cellino does things his way nut is his money, his pockets are deep and he intends to keep it that way. I worked for the local authority for a few years and watched procrastination as things fell apart! I was frustrated, but could do absolutely nothing about it because someone else made the decisions. So, let’s. Calm down and relax. Put our faith in Massimo. He is not looking for promotion this season he is, instead, wanting to start rebuilding so that he can fill the gaps next season. Thus will be a new team.

  4. henrymouni

    I would think that Cooper is a Hock choice.
    Doubt Mr C or his chum, would know anything about him.
    Maybe a bid/ ‘a punt’ based on one good display?
    We are supposed to have a £15 million transfer war chest.
    Ken left it behind!!!
    So IF we really think he is good enough surely £750,000 would be well spent?
    We will have enough midfield players to play one in every position on the field.
    “We like our midfield players at Leeds!!”
    I am pretty sure Massimo is looking for promotion this season!!!

    • Tim

      Would you spend 750k on a house worth 500k maximum? There will be better options than Cooper out there.

      • henrymouni

        I agree 100% Tim, but why make an offer in the first place, unless he is someone who can improve our defence?
        If he is not worth the money why bother to bid twice for him?

    • Chareose

      He was salernos choice because Salerno saw him play V leeds, probably discussed him with The Hock though

  5. Notfamousanymore

    Who is Hall?

    I’m not going to get in a panic because we cant agree terms on a guy who got promoted from League 2. Or indeed on Agard. I have seen neither of them play, and stepping up sometimes works just fine, and sometimes really doesn’t.

    I doubt we will get our business concluded before the end of august, and in terms of a further loan or two, maybe not even then. I’m sure we will see the squad improve piece by piece in the next three or four transfer windows. Cellino and Salerno are hardly unaware of the needs of the squad.

    We unfortunately have people there who shouldn’t be (Kenny, Warnock, Norris, Steve ‘future Leeds legend’ Morison) on senior wages, clogging up the system. Pearce and Wootton (alternatives, Austin, Killock) will do to start, until we get the right option. Last thing we want is a new set of unmovable dead-wood contracts, and I presume Cellino and Salerno are canny enough to ensure that.

  6. Tim

    Cellino may have to buy off some contracts to remove some of the dross still left and we don’t know what deals are still being worked on. Lets just take a step back and think how much Cellino has achieved in a short time. He will do right by Leeds and spend HIS money wisely. A lot will happen in the next four weeks both in and out.

    • henrymouni

      Mr C has done well in a short time Tim.
      He has made mistakes and he will make more, but at least he is making decisions, and taking long overdue action to ‘trim’ the squad.
      He does spend his money wisely.
      As long as he spends OUR money wisely we should be OK.
      He is using Ross’s money to buy back the ground which is good news for him. It increases his assets using money generated by the club.
      His £15 million pound war chest has yet to be opened, and history tells us, it may not exist? Time will tell but……
      We must get behind Mr C and the coaches and squad, to give them every chance to succeed, which be great for ALL of us.
      Mr C returns from a holiday in America in the next day or two.
      As he is both manager and decision maker, he should not have taken a holiday at this time!!!!
      Imagine if The Hock had taken his summer break now!
      Don Cellino would have gone crazy.

      • Tim

        I guess Cooper would be a good buy at £500k is the answer. I agree it’s a strange time for Cellino not to be hands on at ER but I am sure he must be in constant touch though not the same thing. I presume he has family and maybe business pressures. He says his wife is moving to Leeds and his daughter to university over here. However, if his wife has an Italian temper to get her way you wouldn’t want to be near her with a frying pan to hand!!

  7. Ray

    I look at this two ways, last season was terrible as a supporter which followed on the back of many previous bad seasons. This season however I have optimism that genuine re-building has started, although it will never happen at the pace we all want. I am going to Millwall almost knowing we will get turned over (praying we don’t), but to identify which of the new Italian transfers show true fighting spirit. In terms of transfers I would prefer to see an experienced centre back this season rather than a young un…. maybe an Upson for example or Greer at Brighton. In the striker department would love a Craig Mikail Smith type whose natural enthusiasm and chasing everything would rub off on the team. Add to that he is an excellent finisher.
    To summarise I have a feeling we will do a Watford this season when they had the “Italian squad”, average up till xmas and then kick on when the team gel to a play off finish. Good luck to all Leeds fans this season, we are the best supporters in the land and no one will ever take that title from us.

    • Tim

      I am confident we will beat Millwall Ray. What we are starting to see is quality ball coming from midfield. When did we last see that at Leeds and two more midfielders to arrive from Italy. You know, this may just be Hunt’s season to come good. Strikers are only as good as the pass they receive. However, Smith will have to adapt to the lack of hoofball if he is to get a regular place in the team.

      • Ray

        You make a good point Tim about the midfielders. A couple of seasons ago I sat in the Millwall end with a friend (believe it or a not a Millwall season ticket holder) we won 1 nil and I had to hold my celebrations inside, not easy and I punched an hole through my pocket when we scored. Could never do it again though and didn’t enjoy so looking forward to screaming and shouting with my fellow Leeds fans this time. My money is going on a Leeds win but head expecting little if honest. If we played them away 3 months from now we would destroy them in my opinion

  8. Counte Of monte Fisto

    Getting the right players in is vital, every manager who has come in has had to deal with the dross left behind from past bad decisions, cheap buys on big long term contracts.
    Most of our squad last year fell into that category & many are still here, this clogs up the whole club, consuming vast wages whilst adding very little & giving little move for improvements.
    What I have seen under Cellino is a concerted effort to clear this dross out whilst bringing in loanees with a point to prove who if they make it stay if they don’t go back.
    Thats great & I spport it, the problem with this approach is we still DO NEED quality players to be added and that costs. Its a fact that whoever spends the most money goes up, QPR, Newcastle, Wet Sham, Leicester etc etc for every Blackpool or Burnley there are 10 who spend big and go up.
    I am still waiting for most of the £15m MC promised was in place before RM was sold to be invested, even with agents fees etc I am struggling to get to 50% of that so far.
    Add to that the Hockaday factor where many fans are desperate for us to lose so they can be proven right & destroy him & we don’t have much time to waste.

    • Chareose

      good points Count but I suspect we already spent upto 3 million on the players we already got. most were not bought for free. So when wages are brought into it you could be talking about 4-5 million removed off the transfer budget
      So we may only have 10 million left, some of which will be taken for the loan players Viviani and Benedicic
      Many Leeds don’t get or don’t want to get the reality of transfer budgets.
      For me if I was in Cellinos position id go to the fans and say “look lads I know I promised to buy the stadium back but im going to try to spend that money on players instead as I think we need it.”
      Ofcourse it all depends on whether there are actually any targets out there that would be worth spending the money on.
      Gradel ? Mackay Steven ??
      As for Glenn Murray, I doubt that would happen because as soon as crystal palace got promoted they will have added an extra Naught to every players value regardless of their quality.

      • Counte Of Monte Fisto

        Chareose, the details of all of the transfers are not in the public domain so its likely we will never know.
        What I do know is that agent fees will form a vast amount of the money we spend, add on a couple of actual fee’s plus some loan fees & possibly as you say wages I still struggle to get over 50% of the £15m being spent so far.

        I still reckon even over egging it we are no where near what was promised

      • Helen LUFC

        Employed as Cellino’s spokes person? Or just an eternal optimist that doesn’t need any reassurance?

  9. Chareose

    Not Sure I agree with the tone of the article in general but I accept the points made
    1/ Leeds fans are focused on Millwall but Cellino is focused on the next 5-10 years. To be fair hes actually stated that. Which is why hes trying to bring in a pool of young talent
    2/ Its been well documented that we tried to bring other targets in that included both defenders and strikers but we lost out on both Robart and Bellusci. They looked at Ranger but Cellino realised the strength of feeling against that move
    You also have to bear in mind that its not easy trying to find upto 10 players that would ALL have a positive impact on the squad, especially with a 15 million budget that also needs to cover wages
    So when Leeds offer 500K for Cooper we are in fact spending 1 million because you have to cover his wages. That’s a sizeable chunk of the 15 million on one player so you can understand why they are being so careful
    So to summarize I think Cellino IS trying to bring players in but they have to be the right cost because theres only so much money to go around
    Im sure we will get 1 or 2 other signings in but I doubt they will be in before Millwall
    My only criticism of Cellino is that I believe more Priority should have been placed on Wingers, Strikers and Centre backs rather than central midfeilders where with Cook and Dawson exploding onto the scene we are now over manned

    • Helen LUFC

      Cellino is focused in the next five to ten years?! I think you must be an employee of his to make such a ridiculous comment!

  10. Mike

    I agree with there’s no need for the silly games, but at the same time I would like to see them not rush and sign players for the sake of it. That’s what Warnock/McDermott did and we see where that got us right?

    MC is supposed to be back in town today/tonight and I could see him pushing some deals(atleast these two hanging loan deals) through. I’d also like to see a bit of an older Center Back to go with Pearce too but i’d be thinking 30 at oldest so they have at least a few legs/years of top quality. Wootton may yet come good but he’s sure not showing it yet other than in flashes and I have yet to see the Skelton kid in action but he apparently “shows promise?”

  11. Tare

    What comes to Mr. Salerno we have a true pro in scouting, meeting face-to-face, emotional intelligence and strong football know how in mindset. MF we have enough players at the moment, CBs are missing not that I would doubt JP but we need cover here and partner with ball skills. In striker department well everybody knows that we need substitute for RM. But not like him but the real deal executioner like Sniffer in his hey day. Dribbling in the box with devasteting result that would be the icing of the cake….


  12. spellz

    I doubt we will be landing Cooper, Hockaday states we have walked away from it due to thier asking price being double what we are prepared to pay.

    In all truth our defence is in urgent need of a boost as is our attack due to McCormack leaving and not a 20 goal a season striker appears to be replacing him any time soon.
    MC will definitely be trimming the wage bill still and cutting cost as he does not want to be operating a business that is consistently losing capital, the question is where does that leave us for this season with our first game just a week away? well the answer would have to be in limbo until we see the Italians we have signed at work we just do not know how it will turn out but will have a pretty good idea after a few competitive games, he does state that it will take a couple of seasons to get us back to the Premiership, I could not disagree with that as we are definitely not a team capable of promotion at present.

    All being said a new chapter at ER lets hope for once it works out I reserve judgement at this stage and rely on blind faith.

    M.O.T AA

  13. Matthew

    We need Striker(Urgently), CB(Just as Urgent), Midfield Width and Playmaker(Would be nice). I suspect what really limits us is the deadwood we’re stuck with on decent wages. Anyway I would love to see at least 3 players before the season starts, I know we need more, but a decent Striker and CB with say a Winger would win us more games than we lost last season.

  14. PMH

    You never know whether a new team will develop a spark, but this year’s LUFC does not look likely to set the league on fire. It is OK to cut players who are overpaid, but you need replacements who are better, or better value. Suffice to say, If the team cannot afford Cooper from Chesterfield, then any future in the Premiership has to be pure fantasy.

    The argument below that Cellino is thinking strategically for the long term, is a sad attempt to put lipstick on a pig. In the long term we may be in Division 2.

  15. Helen LUFC

    I wrote on here a while back what bad news Cellino is for Leeds, but seemed to get a very negative response because I’d written a negative comment. I think Leeds fans have sadly lost their nerve, and resemble the jelly fish that Gary Lineker was once refereed to by our very own Pavarotti. The facts are crystal clear, Cellino is in this for a short term, money making, gain – hence when he bought the club he was really buying the sale of the playing assets, and will give minimum return to the club because the business model at Leeds is to bring youth along, sell it and then bring youth along and then…Older Leeds fans will remember the frustrations Eddie Gray must have felt with such a talented squad in the early eighties, but the then board, as now, decided to cash in. Net result? Replacements, and so on. Truth is, Cellino doesn’t need to sell, neither does he need to hold back on buying, replacing the squad etc. Does any rational Leeds fan not see he is taking fans for a ride? He’s no intention of investing or buying back the ground. Talk is cheap. Leeds will be struggling to stay afloat this season.

    • RContini

      Sorry Helen, but you’ve got it completely the opposite way round, everything you have said there is contrary to his known character and general MO, this is a long term project no mistake, it would take him 10 years to make back the money he has already spent, we’re a club that ships a million per month. He’ll get players he knows and sees as value and not a penny more. We’ll struggle at first on the pitch, that is to be expected and he will be on the market right until the last minute. This is a total rebuilding project and I don’t expect results for several months yet.

      • henrymouni

        The club is not losing money now and Mr Cellino wants promotion this year or next.
        He says he has turned down offers for the club already, and if he keeps cost cutting he will make a big profit, whenever he decides to cash in.
        He saw an opportunity, and he took it.
        This is Leeds so we cannot expect a smooth ride.
        It all makes for another interesting season.
        If you can be successful on the cheap, we have a good future ahead.

  16. djedjedje

    Excuse the spam…. any TSS / Leeds United fans are welcome to join the TSS fantasy football league that I’ve just registered on the Football League Manager website.

    I think this will be our forth season of entering and, if I remember correctly, the team that topped the TSS mini-league last season came in the top ten or so of the national one (ie. of 90,000+ entrants).

    There’s some different rules and point scoring to last season, especially the new subs bit.

    After you’ve registered for free at: the details you need to find and join the mini-league are:

    League Name: The Scratching Shed
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