Lewis Cook signing just the start

13 May 2015 07:35pm, by YorkshireSquare


To be fair to Massimo, and I’m often not, the signing of Lewis Cook on a new two year deal is a positive step. There are those who will still be critical, sighting it as a stunt to get the fans back on side after his enforced absence. Many still remember the last minute sale of Matt Smith to Fulham shortly after he signed a new deal last summer and wouldn’t bet against him doing that again. But this move is what the fans demanded and in delivering it he has started the summer off well. On the signing of Cook’s new deal Cellino said;

“Signing Lewis Cook is a good way to start the summer. We must be truly ready for the new season. Lewis Cook deserves his new contract, he was one of the most exciting players last season," he added. I knew we had a wonderful talent when I first saw him in the summer. At first, I thought he was much older than he was. He plays like he has lots of experience. My hope is for him to stay at Leeds for a long time and continue growing with Mowatt, Byram, Taylor and the others. We don’t want to sell."

But it’s just a start, and it needs to be followed by further positive steps to secure the future of our young players. Signing the likes of Mowatt, Byram and Taylor up to long term deals when possible is vital. Cellino has always spoken positively about young players suggesting they have always been a big part of his plans at Leeds United and he has echoed these sentiments again recently;

“My plan for this club is to grow, not to sell our best young players. I have a lot of trust in the young players here. It is a special place for them and it has been for many years. Young players at other clubs say they love their club but they don’t really mean it. Here at Leeds, I can tell they mean it. The club is really in their hearts. That is what makes it different here and it can be something special.”

Eight more young players have also been offered new deals also; Lewie Coyle, Tyler Denton, Eric Grimes, Luke Parkin, Alex Purver, Jake Skelton, Lewis Walters and Kalvin Phillips following his first team debut this season. The production line at the Leeds United academy is in full swing and it points to a bright future.

I do fear though that without Neil Redfearn at the helm for the second part of this season we would not have seen Cook and Taylor given their chances and may have seen much less of Alex Mowatt. His knowledge of the academy players and the trust he shows in them and respect they show him has been vital to them slotting into the first team so well.

Many fans question Redfearn’s tactical abilities and Cellino is known for changing manager at the drop of a hat but for me the long term strategy has to be based around our youth players, signing them to long deals and ensuring the are nurtured in the correct way. If Redfearn is not in charge next season it is important that whoever is has a good track record of bringing through and nurturing young talent. They are our future.