Good Morning. It's Friday 23rd September, and here are the latest headlines from Elland Road...
Joffy admits lack of game time have affected his performances
Academy Dreams, the first of a six-part series, going behind the scenes of last season’s developmental squad, goes live today on Amazon Prime. Narrated by Vinny Jones, the documentary gives a close and personal account of life as a teenager, trying to make a career out of the game they love. To mark the promotion, Phil Hay sat down with Joe Gelhardt and Sam Greenwood (who feature heavily in the documentary), for a quick fire Q and A session, where Joffy in particular pulled no punches.
He spoke about his frustrations of last season, due to a lack of match time, and indicates that it effected his performances. Although physically fit, by not playing matches, he was rarely match fit, and the 20yo believes he lost his match sharpness.
Sometimes people just see the lifestyle of footballers but not what they go through. You’re not getting picked or you’re getting abused on social media if you’re not playing so well. People forget that we’re humans sometimes and we have feelings. It’s part of the job, though. You get on with it.
We weren’t playing many minutes at all (last season). You’d have maybe 45 minutes for the ’23s and then 10 for the first team. It’s hard to keep your fitness up, your match fitness. You can run all you want but when you don’t have match sharpness, you’re not going to be at your best. For me, that was the most difficult part of the season. Every time I went down to the ’23s, it was doing my head in that we were in a relegation battle as well — the first team and the ’23s, it was both important.
Orta speaks of European ambitions
Victor Orta has European ambitions - but before anyone begins to panic, his aspirations are very much focused on Leeds Utd. The flamboyant Director of Football has been widely tipped to join up with Todd Boehly and Graham Potter at Chelsea, ahead of a bust January transfer window, but during a down to earth interview with 'The Telegraph, Orta spoke of stability, and building a successful future at Elland Road.
It is as problematic to be too conservative as it is to be too ambitious. I think Leeds have to consolidate the project, to be between 14th and 10th, to take steps to reach the top 10 on a regular basis in two years’ time.
It is complicated. With the current business model in the Premier League, the top six is almost unattainable. Leicester and West Ham have broken through in recent years, but it's not easy. To be in the top 10 would already be a great success.
I’d be delighted if something else comes along, like being able to play in the Conference League or, of course, the Europa League. I have that as a goal. Ever since I arrived, it’s something I’ve been obsessing about. But it wouldn’t be to do anything new, but to put the club in its place.
We have stable shareholders and a way of working that does not put the club at risk. It is one of our keys. Nothing is going to change in the short term. I’m sure [chairman] Andrea Radrizzani is very happy here. He set himself five years to get promotion, and he got it in three. Now we have stayed in the Premier League these two years, and now we are trying to stabilise. We have used all the money from the sales to strengthen, and that speaks well of the owners.
Greenwood's relegation frustrations
During his Interview with Phil Hay, Sam Greenwood spoke of his frustrations, having seen the U23's relegated last season. He was desperate to try and assist his young teammates and steer them out of danger; but having been promoted to the senior squad, his game time had been slashed, even though his contributions to the first XI were negligible
It wasn't until March, when Marsch took over the Reins at Elland Road, that the duo (including Joffy) would start to receive regular cameo first team game time. There was absolutely no reason why two 19yo's (as they would have been last season) couldn't have contributed a lot more to both causes!
At that age, they'll want to be playing at every opportunity, and obviously the situation would need to be carefully monitored; but a rare cameo role here and there does little to help their development or keep them match fit! According to Greenwood...
We didn’t play every minute for the ’23s but when we did, it meant you had to be on your best performance. I liked the challenge of trying to stay up and when we stepped down, because the ’23s were struggling too, there was the challenge of being a role model to the other lads, trying my best to get us out of it. It can be frustrating when you know you’re only going to play 45 minutes for the ’23s. You can only try your best in the time you’ve got to make an impact.