Our club is slowly but surely confirming itself as a joke

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The Leeds United soap opera is something that we are all accustomed too, chaotic owners, an embarrassing football team and a managerial merry-go-round, this season, however, has seen all three of these things bought to the forefront in an overwhelming fashion and has ripped apart our fan base like nothing I can remember.

Firmly, for myself, and an ever-growing number of Leeds fans are well and truly awakening to where the blame belongs and that is firmly at the door of our “President” Massimo Cellino. Firstly, let’s roll back to the January transfer deadline day of 2014. A deal had been agreed for Cellino to take over pending a football league fit and proper persons test, which he subsequently failed. He fired our manager, which he had absolutely no right to do as he wasn’t in charge of the club at the time, tried to bring in players which also failed as he had no right to do. Started off on the wrong foot and is still doing whatever he likes, and nothing in the best interest of the club.
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Redders has a selection headache for Saturday. Who should he pick?

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After the surprising, yet quite familiar Leeds performance against Sunderland in the FA Cup, Neil Redfearn has a dilemma. When he threw in some of the outcasts last week I don’t think even he expected them to put in a much better than the ‘first’ team has been doing in recent weeks. That may have been partly down to the change in formation, away from the diamond at last to a 4-3-2-1. Here is the team that I would pick for the game away to Bolton –

Just how good is Lewis Cook?

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What I got from yesterday’s game at Forest was that Lewis Cook is already a brilliant player, and will only get better. I think we should really consider giving him a long contract soon, given he’ll still be on his scholar contract and Premier League clubs will be hovering. There’s no doubt they will be. In fact, it was quite widely known that even before he broke into the first team, teams were watching his progress. He won the Euros with the England U17s and was seen as one of the more important players. Read more

Questions arise as Leeds face January Window transfer embargo

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This week we have endured more hardships from the Football League. The club now has a transfer embargo placed on it and our owner has begun his appeal process to defend his role at the club. This might be one of the (many recent) toughest times being a Leeds United supporter. Not to mention a 1-0 loss to a poor Fulham side at Elland Road. This week just needs to pass on by.
However, the good news is that there is a small loophole to this transfer embargo for the January Window. We can bring in players that are free and will only cost the club around 10k per week in wages. It will also allow us to use loans. However, we must have available spots on our roster for these players. Currently, it appears that we have 4 available spots in or 24 man roster. It seems that the game plan may have to change to “survival” compared to “playoff spot”. It’s pretty obvious we could use some speed in our squad. Also, we could use a defensive midfielder and a Centerback. With Premiership clubs looking to thin out their squads and with a little research needed, my question to you is, who do you think we could bring into the club to strengthen our squad?

I have seen some names float around the internet to be offloaded from other clubs…and just to name a few: Ricardo Vaz Te, Matt Jarvis, Scott Sinclair or Anthony Knockaert. Any of these could do a job for us.

Keep the faith!

No Home Away From Home

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Due to the fierce competitiveness of the Championship, the away form of the sides often separates the men from the boys.

It will come as no surprise to many of you that our away form has not been up to scratch this season, hence the focus of this article. We have participated in a total of ten away games so far this season, yet we have only managed to muster up a pitiful five points, these coming from one hard-fought win and a couple of disappointing draws, with these points being saved, quite literally, by the man between the sticks, Marco Silvestri.

 

Marco Silvestri saves vs Norwich, courtesy of LUTV & WALMOT3

 

These five points from ten games give us an average of 0.5 points collected per away game. At first glance that sounds terrible, however I am afraid the situation is a fair bit worse than that. After looking at the final league standings from the last two seasons, it shows that we are way off the mark of the top six in terms of away points collected, with the top six teams collecting an average of 1.5 points per away game. As things are, it shows us finishing 23 points off of the top six in terms of away points throughout the season.

So, just whereabouts are we in terms of average away points per game? Well, again looking at the previous two seasons, it shows the bottom three averaging a total of 0.8 points per away game. Now that is the average of the last six teams to be relegated, however looking at individual averages, the worst was Bristol City back in 2012/13 with an average of 0.57 points per game. As it stands, our away form is worse than all of the last six teams to be relegated out of our division. Nevertheless, we are only 23rd in the away form table for this season, but it’s not much consolation to know that Blackpool are the only team worse.

In terms of comparing us to this season, with an average of 0.5 points per away game, we are collecting less than half of the average points gained per away game which currently stands at 1.09. We are also scoring less per game on average with 1 goal per away game (1.13 average) and conceding more, 2.2 conceded per away game (1.46 average). We are also currently suffering from a three away game losing streak, making up half of our six away game streak without a win, with none of our ten away games ending in a clean sheet for us. Buy hey, at least with an average of 3.2 goals scored in our away games, no one can say we are boring!

There are many reasons for why someone will argue we are not picking up enough points away from home, but every opinion comes down to the obvious two factors; we don’t score enough and/or we concede too many. Never mind refereeing decisions and whatnot, it comes down to those two fundamental factors. Personally, I feel we concede too many, as I am sure most of you will agree. Oh, and the fact we have dropped nine points away from home after being in winning positions certainly doesn’t help our cause. Anyhow, I had a little gander on whoscored.com just to see how dire the situation really is. It was not pretty viewing.

We average a total of 9.9 shots per game away from home, with only a mere 2.8 of these being on target, putting us 22nd and 23rd in the table respectively. Ten of these have found the back of the net, so with an average of a goal every away game, the situation doesn’t look too bad, hence why I feel the problems are within our defensive capabilities away from home. We allow the opposition an average of 18.5 shots per game, which puts us 2nd in the table on that statistic. Almost double the amount of efforts we have on goal. My reasoning for this is we miss too many tackles, possibly due to inexperience our revamped squad has in this league. Too many are looking to impress and thus a number of players dive in to try and win the ball. This has led to us only completing an average of 15.3 tackles a game away from home, which puts us at 23rd in the league.

There were a couple of positive statistics though. After collecting 17 yellows and 2 reds in 10 games we are only 17th in the away discipline table, so there are 7 teams dirtier away from home than ‘Dirty Leeds’. Clutching at straws I know. However, we also have the 5th highest possession average away from home, with 51.6% and the 4th highest pass success percentage, standing at a mighty 78.4%. This clearly shows that when we do have the ball at our feet, we are not doing anywhere near enough with it. To have half of the average shots than the team with less possession than us is quite frankly embarrassing.

I do, however, feel it is important that I mention that seven of these ten away games we have played are against opposition currently within the top nine of the Championship, whereas the final three are 19th, 20th and 21st.

Let me leave with this final statistic. I calculated the round-trip distances from Elland Road to our respective opponents’ home grounds. I used this to calculate that we have travelled an average of 657.6 miles per away point gained this season. Partner that with fans spending around £60-£70 in tickets per away point and you have an astounding statistic. Let that sink in.

Oh, one more thing. We were also knocked out of the Capital One Cup to a League One team after a 2-1 defeat. No prizes for guessing if we were playing home or away.

Stephen Warnock HAS to get a new contract

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At this level, there aren’t many better at left-back. Given that he doesn’t have a wide player in-front of him, he does an even more impressive job. Every team we play against tries to attack us through Byram’s side, simply because they know how good Warnock is. He offers much experience in a very inexperienced side, it says a lot that he has been promoted to captain, even when Jason Pearce played. I think it’s very unlikely that Warnock will get a new contract, because he’s one of our higher earners. However with the ongoing Massimo Cellino – Football League problem who knows who our owner could be later this season? I don’t think Cellino would give Warnock a contract but a different owner is very likely to see it very differently.

Arguably, he has been our most consistent and best player this season, he has a massive impact on games from left-back. Maybe this also tells a story that the rest of the team hasn’t been good enough… On the basis that Cellino stays, I don’t see him signing any experienced players, he seems to favour signing young players with potential, Antenucci and Taylor being the only real exceptions. I also think keeping Warnock for another season would be good for Charlie Taylor, as they could both have proper competition for places and I’m sure he’d learn a few things.

Another player that has to stay, more long-term than Warnock, is Adryan. With Cellino or without Cellino, he is loving it here, you can tell from his interview in the YEP. I think next season really could be a great season for us, one that sees us properly challenge for the first time in years and Adryan needs to be here. Keeping Adryan would show great ambition, we just need a new CB and a big strong central midfielder oh, don’t forget the wingers.

What, if anything, could make Leeds a better team?

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As wearying and apparently pointless confusion and acrimony is again thrown at Leeds United from the Football League, plunging our club into needless hysteria once again, one constant source of distraction from this week’s hyperbole for me has been the unquestionable and certified promise regarding on-field matters, especially in light of the wonderous 2-0 dispatching of Derby County last weekend. I have found it a jollier pastime over the last few days to daydream about our promising youthful squad, symbolised by the feats that Lewis Cook and Alex Mowatt are achieving with a regularity be lying their tender years. There is undoubtedly a uniqueness to this side under the stewardship of Neil Redfearn, a positivity and starry possibility that far outweighs the hollow delights garnered from our blustering successes achieved around this time last year under Brian McDermott. This team is one with a future, and I felt compelled to write this piece, firstly as a measure of distraction for myself from the current off-field torment, but mostly to put down what I think could possibly make this Leeds team any better than it is now and how this young group of players could best be fostered to achieve in the years to come. I also want to know about what other Leeds fans think on this question, special as I feel these crop of players are. Below I have listed three things that I will be discussing as I believe these to be the areas of most contention when approaching this subject:

– An experienced and bold character in the midfield

– Strikers

– Creativity/pace, or a ‘Plan B’

Experience

In my view, central midfield is a position where I believe our academy talents in Cook and Mowatt could definitely use a fellow midfield operator with experience, distinctive leadership skills or strength of character. Tomasso Bianchi works extremely hard alongside the two cited here and recycles the ball proficiently, but I would say that someone with these same capabilities combined with an experience within the English game, along with knowhow and hardiness could help Cook and Mowatt to an even greater extent on the pitch. This is no slight on Bianchi, I just feel that sometimes, when the going is getting tough and the team finds itself under real pressure, as against Blackburn at 1-0 for instance, that for Mowatt and Cook to be playing with an established performer who’s seen it all, relishes the battle and is constantly geeing up everyone around him could provide the visible and nearby stimulant that Bianchi perhaps doesn’t at the moment. Stephen Warnock is a terrific example of such a ‘stimulant’. It must be a heartening sight for the other Leeds defenders, particularly youngsters like Liam Cooper and Sam Byram, to see someone like Warnock fighting for everything during a game and doing so with total conviction. In general, Warnock provides for the defence what I feel is needed in the midfield. A Michael Brown type player but veering more towards the Scott Parker end of the spectrum. However, I can’t for the life of me think of or find such a type, having pored through Premier League squads for players barely featuring and thus more likely to be loaned or sold, but to no avail. I would be very glad to hear suggestions. As I have said before, I feel that we are in a very blessed position at this moment in time, as a veritable wellspring of talent flows from Thorp Arch to the first team squad. You could not quite call it a golden generation, since this is usually based on the success this generation achieves in later years, but it is a suitably plentiful batch of prodigious young’uns that tends to send me all rosy when I think about how it could all come together. A fully home-grown midfield of Cook, Mowatt, Philips and Dawson with Adryan and Montenegro wreaking havoc up top maybe, or a defence that gets finer with age composed of Silvestri, Byram, Bellusci, Cooper and long-term left-back Charlie Taylor. However, in checking all of this wild conjecture and fantasy in my head, I stop to think of other clubs who have had fruitful years of talented youngsters making the grade in the first team simultaneously, and then going on to achieve great success with their teams. Think about Barcelona 15 years ago, when Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta were manufactured and have themselves gone on to win three Champions Leagues, or at Ajax even further back, when Edgar Davids, Patrick Kluivert and Clarence Sedorf all came through together and experienced similar European success in 1995. These youngsters were not brought into teams entirely composed of similarly aged players, they were already carefully composed sides, crucially containing experience or leadership like Luis Enrique and Carlos Puyol for Barca, or Frank Rjiakaard and Danny Blind at Ajax.

Of course I’m not for one minute likening Leeds United’s current set of youth players to that which Barcelona and Ajax produced in these times, and we probably aren’t going to win the Champions League any time soon. The point I make is that when clubs have experienced bumper years of youth development, the young players brought through have been able to experience success relative to the club’s stature when coming into teams containing established pros. The strength that these experienced players bring ensures that the vibrancy of youth is matched with an acquired fortitude, ultimately forming a stronger team. Leeds could benefit in following this model, with maybe just one more hardy soul.

History in the Making: The Memorable Leeds United Goals From The Past

After Jordan Rhodes scored a late winner to secure ten-man Blackburn Rovers an unexpected win over Leeds United, the Yorkshire club were forced to consider what might have been. Now 16th in the Championship table and ten points off the final play-off place, the club face yet another year in the wilderness and a huge challenge if they are to revive their former glories. Leeds remain one of the best supported clubs in the whole of the UK, however, and this betrays a long and illustrious history that is almost impossible to ignore.

The Leeds United Goals that Shook the World

With this in mind, let’s take a look at three of Leeds United’s most famous goals and where they stand in the clubs’ history: –

Jermaine Beckford (19”, vs Manchester United, 3rd January 2010)

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While it may not have won a trophy, secured promotion or earned a league title, Jermaine Beckford’s winning goal for Leeds United at Old Trafford remains a firm favourite among fans. Having travelled to the home of the Premier League champions as a League One side for the third round of the FA Cup, through gave them a chance of recording anything more than a heavy beating. Beckford’s early, break-away goal secured one of the greatest FA Cup upsets in modern history, however, and expedited Manchester United’s earliest exit from the competition in more than twenty years.

With the 3rd round draw for this seasons FA cup fast approaching, we wouldn’t mind seeing a recreation of this moment.

Mark Viduka (74”, vs Liverpool, 4th November 2000)
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Australian striker Mark Viduka polarised fans during his time in Yorkshire, although few could deny his natural talent and individual brilliance. He managed to secure cult status during a famous premier league clash with Liverpool at Elland Road in November 2000, however, as he scored all four goals to secure a dramatic 4-3 win over the Reds. Having trailed 2-0 after just eighteen minutes and lost influential defender Jonathan Woodgate to injury, Viduka had already hauled Leeds back from the brink and left the game evenly poised at 2-2 come half-time. The sides exchanged another goal apiece before Viduka’s final intervention, as he raced onto French midfielder Olivier Dacourt’s pass to lift an exquisite chip over keep Sander Westerveld.

Lee Bowyer (88”, vs AC Milan, 19th September 2000)

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The turn of the century was a glorious period for Leeds United, as they rubbed shoulders with some of Europe’s most elite and prestigious names. The club reached it zenith by progressing to the semi-final stage of the coveted European Champions League, before being beaten by an extremely talented Valencia side. The highlight of this campaign was an initial group stage encounter with Italian champions AC Milan at Elland Road, which the home side dominated despite being unable to turn their vibrant attacking play into goals. This changed in one glorious moment two minutes from the end of the game; however, as Lee Bowyer drove forward and hit a swerving, 30 yard shot that goalkeeper Dida could only fumble into the net for the winner.

5 Centre-Backs that Leeds could sign

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We recently did an article on 5 wingers that we could sign and then I thought, which other area is a bit of a problem? The CB position fits the bill, we may be doing fine in terms of the number of CB’s that we have but the quality? It’s not there I’m afraid. Bellusci is too error prone, on his day he’ll be fantastic, the day doesn’t come often enough. Jason Pearce also has an error in him and I think if we’re being honest, he’s not good enough if we want to be successful. Liam Cooper I believe is good enough and will only get better, I think he needs a good partner. Here are 5 CB’s that I think would improve Leeds:

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Steve Cook – Bournemouth have been brilliant this season and Steve Cook has been a vital part of this. However given that he’s vice-captain and only 23-years-old, it may be a difficult one to pull off. However, the name Leeds United does still mean something so it’s a possibility. Oh, he also signed a three-year contract in the summer, good luck lads.

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