Dare we plan for next season?

18 Mar 2015 07:37 pm, 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.


Marco Silvestri
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.


Sol Bamba
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.

Guiseppe Bellusci
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.

Gaetano Berardi
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.

Sam Byram
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.

Liam Cooper
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)

Charlie Taylor
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.

Scott Wotton
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 Austin
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.

Thomas Bianchi
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.

Lewis Cook
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.

Alex Mowatt
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.

Luke Murphy
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.

Granddi N’Goyi
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.

Casper Sloth
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.

Tavares (Adryan)
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.


Mirco Antenucci
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.

Edgar Cani
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.

Souleymane Doukara
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.

Brian Montenegro
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.

Steve Morrison
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.

Billy Sharp
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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danhirons wrote on 20 Mar 2015 11:17 pm

Nice article, agree with lots of it as I'm sure many Leeds fan will...

Feel Bellusci and Austin will probably stay though...and Adryan and Morison move on - but we'll see how it pans out in the summer!

theleedsmango wrote on 19 Mar 2015 09:31 pm

faaip wrote:If we get an offer for Morison we should take it, I'm one of his staunchest supporters but I think we can upgrade at target man without to much hassle. Sharp is a quality player but one best suited to come off the bench in our 451 formation. Antenucci is similar but can play in the hole and out wide if needed, his movement is better and his distribution better as well. Cani hasn't impressed me yet. I'll not be upset if he moves on.
Unfortunately I don't see many squads being interested in Morison; certainly not for a fee. Might be decent to have around for a year as backup to backup, but I don't see him being happy with that. At 31 he may have another couple of years as a starter, but perhaps for a League 1 club. Just feel he needs to start off scoring and he'll continue doing it.

As for us, I think Sharp, Nucci and another would be a good way to go. I think we are a striker and a left winger away from having a top team and with some money spent on another position or two, we could have a strong enough bench. For example, if we get a left winger in, that puts Taylor back into left back and Berardi on the bench. Berardi and Cooper would give us really strong options to replace any of the back 4. Austin and one of Mowatt/Cook/Murphy on the bench to allow Byram/Cook/Murphy/Winger in midfield or to play a midfield 5. That would give us two strong replacements in midfield. And 1 out of Sharp/Nucci/Striker on the bench. So that leaves a bench consisting potentially S Taylor/Berardi/Cooper/Austin/Mowatt/Nucci. The last spot is up for grabs for any of the youth including Montenegro/Del Fabro if their services are retained. I'd be happy with the strength of that bench. And if you theoretically injure any 3 players in the team, we'd have sufficiently good back up.

weasel wrote on 19 Mar 2015 05:02 pm

As it stands I think only really Sloth and Doukara have really disappointed. Bianchi has perhaps underperformed too but did do well earlier on in the season. These 3 can all move on if we can get better. I think Morisson and Austin are out of contract and I don't see us offering new ones. They have both done well but I feel we need better than them if we are to improve. The 3 young loanees, Del Fabro, Montenegro and Adryan it is hard to say - there would appear to be potential with all 3 but none of them look even close to being in the first team. No real disappointment if they all left.

Defenders and at present I would keep them all. We have 3 capable centrebacks in Bamba, Bellusci and Cooper. We have cover for the centrebacks with both Wootton and Del Fabro. We then have Wootton, Berardi, Taylor, Byram and even Cooper who can play the full back roles. Reasonably happy with any 4 from those although we know little about Del Fabro and wouldn't be suprised to see him return to Italy given his lack of games - or loaned out if we bought him.

Midfield and we are a bit lightweight. Only Cook, Murphy and Mowatt are ones that I would definitely keep, Byram and Taylor if you class them now as midfielders. Would be good to get a look at N'Goyi before the end of the season as presumably we can make it a permanent deal if he impresses. None of the others have done enough to impress sufficiently that we can't look to do better.

Attackers - Keep Sharp and Antenucci with the plan being to use 1 of them with a new striker. Both could be 20 goal a season strikers.

eastyorkshirewhite wrote on 19 Mar 2015 04:03 pm

At the current time this squad is no were near good enough we are getting a few breaks now but it does need a full overhaul starting maybe with Cellino himself.

1964white wrote on 19 Mar 2015 02:32 pm

Last post from me

I'll get the hang of this one day :roll: