21 Mar 2015 10:52am, by Shields53
Football fans love a moan don’t they, and as Leeds fans we’ve got used to having a good chunter after the last few years we’ve had. Since the turn of the year we’ve had a great run though, 5 wins, 2 draws and 1 loss in our first 8 games of 2015. We rose from a potential relegation scrap to mid-table safety and potential dreams of the play offs. Though we are still a pretty long shot in the football betting markets for promotion to the Premier League. It’s perhaps understandable then that after the defeats to Brighton and Watford some Leeds fans has a good old moan about stuff. Sol Bamba who had been declared the best defensive signing since Lucas Radebe was suddenly the worst defender anyone had ever seen and Neil Redfearn having secured 17 points in just two months was suddenly clueless.
This latest run of three wins and a draw was great then for quelling those grumbles, for settling those nerves. Our young team is something we can really be proud of, they are improving every game and with a little bit of strengthening in the summer they could really achieve something next year. The icing on the cake was the three nil victory against Fulham mid-week. It would be fair to say they were all over us for the first half an hour, their £12 million strike-force had 27 shots in the game but we held firm and took our chances. A goal against the run of play from the ever improving Sam Byram before half time and one from the beaming Sol Bamba after the break secured the points for Leeds. A game we would certainly have lost earlier in the season but the character and confidence of this squad is really showing now.
With relegation no longer a worry we can look forward. Some may be glancing up at the play off places but with a 14 gap and only 24 points available that would be a tall order. For me we should be taking a look at some of the players who have not featured this year but have shown promise within the development squad. Montenegro and Del Fabro both deserve a go and it will be good to take a look at them in the first team ahead of making a decision on their loan deals at the end of the season. Granddi N'Goyi also came with good reviews but having aggravated an existing injury shortly after arriving has not featured so far. Having returned to training in the last few weeks it would be good to see him in action before the end of the season. Decisions will also have to be made on Adryan, but with him not having featured recently maybe Redfearn has already made his mind up there.
This season has all been about the youth though with Taylor and Cook emerging as first team players joining their fellow academy graduates Mowatt and Byram in the starting eleven. The question is who will be the next to break through? Zac Thompson and Chris Dawson will certainly be hoping they get their chance to prove themselves before the season is over.
18 Mar 2015 07:37pm, by snodgrass17
Although this season has a while left to go and Leeds have some momentum to build on in the closing weeks, you cannot stop looking towards next season. The one thing this fantastic form since Christmas has given us is hope going in to next season and a belief that there is real quality in our squad. Neil Redfearn has done a brilliant job and it is surely just a matter of time before he and we get reassurance of his place in the dugout for next season. Much will depend on the in-comings and outgoings that will undoubtedly go on this summer (whoever is in charge of them). In Leeds' case, it could be that simply keeping hold of most of what we have and only strengthening in key areas is what is required. There is a core of excellent Academy products that we can build around and giving them a platform to push on will be important in keeping them at this club for as long as possible.
I am going to run through the players in the squad with my verdict of whether we should keep them or move them on whilst offering my views on areas to bring players in and would love to hear people’s views/opinions on the matter.
Ups and downs in first year in England, started fantastically before a slight mid-season wobble. Performing well again now and has earned the right to be our number one going in to next season.
Stuart Taylor & Alex Cairns
Taylor a solid back up and Cairns will be learning a lot from these 2 players. Could look to loan Cairns out but otherwise happy enough with the GK situation.
Keepers seem settled and no need for change. If Taylor was to move on for whatever reason then another experienced back up should be brought in but otherwise not much to discuss.
Probably our standout player since he came in. Been part of some fantastic shutouts and stood out as a leader at the back. Wrong side of 30 but his know-how has been vital and looks every inch a top Championship defender. Signing him on a permanent would be as good a bit of business as we could do this summer.
Divides opinion, started off as a fan favourite with his passion and ability to drive forward. Shown to be rash in the tackle and struggles with strikers holding him off. Could be a good squad player but wouldn't be surprised if he moved if an offer came in.
First few months of the season looked nothing less than a liability. Early on you couldn't see him lasting a full 90 without being sent off. However, in recent games he has looked reliable when called upon and was excellent at Wigan. A good squad player who can cover either full back spot.
Not sure whether he falls under defence or midfield. In my opinion we should look to bring in a right sided midfielder and let Byram overlap him from full back. Looking back to his best after struggling last season and early this campaign, could get some attention from Premiership clubs. Definitely one to build around and show some ambition to keep him.
Will have learnt so much as a player this season. Did well in his first few games before calamitous own goal at home to Wigan in December. Looked shot of confidence at Derby soon after but has looked better in recent months with Bamba next to him. Could be battling to partner Bamba next season but bags of potential.
Dario Del Fabro
Not seen him in a Leeds shirt apart from Under-21 fixtures and the Cup defeat at Sunderland. Young player who could be one for the future. Whether he stays will probably depend how happy he his here and a return to Italy would not be a surprise.
KEEP/LEAVE (Up to him, LEAVE more likely)
A welcome, unforeseen bonus for Leeds this season. Supporters noted his successful loan at Fleetwood last season but Warnock's brilliant form until January kept him out of the team. People (myself included) were shocked we let Warnock go in Jan, but Taylor has made the left back spot his own and been fantastic. Moved up to LW in recent weeks due to injuries but all being well will surely start next season at LB. Another academy graduate and a fantastic breakthrough this season.
Surely thought he had played his last game for us. Unused for so long then loaned out to Rotherham. Got much needed game time at Rotherham and was called back to allow Byram to push further forward. Has looked decent enough at RB and given us extra height defending and attacking set pieces. Unlikely to start week in week out next season and offer of regular game time could see him leave. However, a good professional and a good player to have in the squad, can cover RB or CB.
So at the back if all my decisions were final we would be left with 6 remaining players to choose from. 2 young full backs with great energy would be the first names on the team sheet with good cover from Berardi and Wotton when needed. I would bring in another centre half with experience at this level to rival Cooper, with one of them partnering Bamba at the heart of the defence.
Rudy has been an ever present in this side for 3 years now since being brought in by Warnock in 2012. Started off fantastically, but since then his form has varied massively. On his day he can hurt any side in this league, on others he can look lacklustre and poor in possession. At his best when driving from midfield and running at opposition. Will be interest from other teams in the summer and this could be the last we see of Rudy in a Leeds shirt. If so, on the whole he will be remembered well.
One of the players brought in by Cellino/Salerno and in my opinion has really struggled at this level. Had the odd ok game first half of the season but hasn’t done enough to get a place in our team, especially with the emergence of Cook and resurgence of Murphy. At times looked off the pace and poor in all areas. Should leave in the summer but an Italian influence could see him stay another year.
Could save you reading this and just put PLEASE KEEP under Lewis Cook’s name. An England U-19 international that has been fantastic since coming in and looks our brightest academy prospect since Delph. Has great energy and ability and has shone in so many games since coming in. Still a lot to learn but someone we should be building our team around. May have people interested in the summer but at 17 we should be able to persuade him he is better off staying put, for the short term at least.
Perhaps our most important player since Christmas. Scored winning goals against Middlesbrough, Milwall and Wigan in recent weeks that have steered us to safety. Has developed physically and at only 20 could be a key player next season. Comfortable from the left or through the middle, Redfearn must find the best position for him and let him flourish next season. Alex could be better off in a wide position cutting in, thereby letting Taylor or Byram overlap him on the outside. Been rumours of interest from West Ham and Spurs and could be the hardest to keep this summer. Playing with his mates from the academy could persuade him to stay for another year.
Thought he was out of the door even more so than Wotton. Seemingly stayed at one point simply due to a lack of interest from elsewhere. Came back in at Sunderland and has not looked back since, developing a great partnership with Cook. Has added a few goals that reminded us why we paid £1 million to get him from Crewe, most notably a great winner against Bournemouth. Could be in a fight to start week in week out next season if we strengthen in midfield but has finally shown his quality and will be in the mix next season.
The lad has not featured yet. Seems a strange signing, a loan signing who is injured from the start for the majority of his loan. Getting back to fitness now and one player who has the final stretch of the season to impress.
Perhaps the most disappointing of the summer recruits. Came in as a former Danish international with lots of experience. Had decent moments (one or two) but has never been given a run in the side. Doesn’t seem worthy of making an impact off the bench and will be a surprise to see him here next season.
The definition of a footballing enigma. The one player I have no idea what we will do with but I could talk about all day along. Redfearn seems sick of talking about him but he doesn’t know what to do with him. Talks him up saying he could be key for us in the future but would rather have a bench some weeks with no midfielder and 4 strikers rather than include Adryan. Style over substance seems to be the fear but has shown glimpses and seems to have put his head down and worked hard in the Under 21s. Was given a run in the team while they were struggling earlier in the season but has been deemed too lightweight for the recent relegation scrap. Now we are safe I think I can speak for most fans when I say we need to see him given another run. 6 or 7 games on the spin in the No. 10 role behind Sharp or Morrison will surely give us more indication as to whether he can do it in the Championship. The agreed fee of £3 mil seems steep but that could probably be renegotiated if required. I genuinely have no idea what will happen with Adryan, a player that divides opinion but could be a regular match winner if things clicked into place. My heart says KEEP, head says LEAVE.
The midfield has a lot of sorting out over the summer. Cook, Murphy and Mowatt are the only 3 that will surely be here next season bar any big money coming in for the youngsters, all the others could easily stay or go. The lack of true wide players needs addressing. Would guess Mowatt will occupy one wide role next season, so would like to see another central midfielder come in and at least 1, possibly 2, wide players with pace come in to add balance to the side. This would enable us to keep Byram and Taylor at full back and offer us a real attacking outlet. Also worth noting academy players such as Dawson and Phillips could come through at some point next season. Two very good players worth noting and looking out for but I don’t think they will be first team regulars in the short term. Then there is just Adryan, whatever happens with him we shall see.
I have a lot of sympathy for Antenucci. He was probably our best player in the early winter months when we really struggled. At times he seemed to be working in the final third on his own and he did it tirelessly and earned a good rapport with the fans. Since Christmas has struggled to get back in to a team winning games but on his day is someone who can get in behind defences and is a good finisher. A good option to have off the bench if we use it but could end up being too similar too Sharp. Hopeful he will stay but wouldn’t be surprised either way.
I don’t want to slate Cani as he hasn’t really had a chance to settle. However, his goal return before signing was poor in Italy and he has looked off the pace even in our U-21 games by the sounds of it. Was seemingly given to Redfearn rather than chosen by him and Redfearn has decided he has better options already here. Redfearn and the fans would not miss him but the Italian influence could just see him here a bit longer.
Shown glimpses of quality (I think) at the start of the season with 2 goals in the League Cup against Accrington. That is where the praise ends. Games since then he looked off the pace, uninterested and simply not good enough. The team’s performance away at Derby in late December was poor, with especially poor performances from Bianchi and Cooper. However, his performance that night was as bad as I have seen from a Leeds player in some time. He has rarely been involved since and with good reason. Would be amazed if he was still here come August.
A young lad brought in and barely used in the first team who has the option of making his stay permanent. Seems to be bright in Under-21 games and did okay against Sunderland in January. I wouldn’t be surprised if his loan was made permanent in the summer despite him barely featuring. Looks a handful and with a year in this country under his belt could slowly start to make an impression next season if given the chance.
Score a goal, nothing would please us more. Morrison has been one of Leeds’ best performers since January, coming in and making a massive impact. Our best striker at holding the ball up and brining our midfield into play, he has helped players like Mowatt and Byram and been involved in many of their goals. He really has been brilliant and also works tirelessly, offering us defensive duties in both closing down defenders and defending set pieces. However, no team can sustain a play-off push or have those kinds of aspirations with a lone striker that doesn’t score. There is a difference between not being prolific and not scoring at all. You feel Morrison either needs a goal scoring partner or to end his own drought. A couple of goals between now and the end of the season would at least show he can score a goal and it would be no less than his overall play deserves. A definite keep in terms of the squad, but the lack of goals could hinder his claim to a regular starting place.
Back in the side the last couple of weeks and has done exactly what Morrison can’t. He doesn’t have the overall game Morrison does but he has led the line well in the last couple of games and his record shows when he plays regularly he scores goals. Has shared his frustrations at points this season but he now has his chance. If he goes on and gets 5 or 6 goals in the last few games of the season then it could be his shirt to lose come next season. A system that enables Sharp to play regularly would be a fantastic bonus to Leeds, as a 20 goal striker really would be a massive boost to us and that is something that Billy Sharp definitely is at this level given the service.
In the forward areas, we have different types of strikers but you sense none are exactly what Redfearn is after. A big striker that can score goals would be the perfect man for Redfearn and you sense if the club can find one he would be delighted. Also, you feel we could do with a bit more pace in the side, whether that being from out wide or upfront to stretch teas and it is something they should try and address in the summer. In the meantime, there isn’t a bad mix to choose from and potentially Lewis Walters could get a chance to step up from the youth team and show what he can do.
Thanks for reading guys; I’m sure there are many areas for disagreement or discussion. This is Leeds United after all, nothing is ever simple!
Article submitted by Steffan Ladley (@SLadley17) via out Submit an Article feature.
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