Leeds United: The Season So Far
In keeping with the upcoming Yorkshire Chat feature topic "Your clubs season so far" Vital Leeds United takes a closer look at the successes of a rejuvenated Leeds United side. This is part one of a feature that I don`t as of yet know how many parts there shall be!
When it was announced earlier this month that Leeds United were to be handed a 15 point deduction from the Football League, many were beginning to wonder if the clubs first ever season outside the top two divisions would see them relegated to the wilderness of League Two.
3 league fixtures and a cup win at Macclesfield later, Leeds United fans are already looking less at the likes of Rochdale, Morecambe and the infamous Accrington Stanley, preferring to re-ignite dreams of showing a good sense of 'bouncebackability` with a return to the promised land of the Championship. The 2008/09 season however is some way away yet, and Dennis Wise`s men will know that they will have to continue their battling displays if they are to stand any chance of promotion back into the old First Division.
Vital Leeds United looks at just how and why we are clawing back the 15 point deficit and giving League One something really important to think about.
ith the clubs administration proceedings rumbling on for some considerable time, Leeds United boss Dennis Wise, backed by the ever-unpopular Ken Bates, who had, somehow managed to regain control of a club that he led back into administration during the last week of the 2006/07 season was given very little chance to bolster a squad that had been decimated over the summer. A number of last season`s players chose to depart Elland Road, not wishing to take a chance on a club that was teetering on the edge of liquidation as wrangling over "who owned what" continued to rumble on.
Stephen Crainey, Sam Hird, Danny Rose and Armando Sa all left the club on free transfers, with the club choosing to cash in on prized asset David Healy, who has had an encouraging start to life in the Premiership so far. Want-away Kevin Nicholls decided that it wasn`t Luton he wanted to return to (after all they had been, like Leeds, relegated into League One) and went on to perennial Championship 'almost-there` club Preston North End. More of a surprise were the later transfers of Richard Cresswell and Eddie Lewis, moving to Stoke City and Derby County respectively, though relatively speaking can be ignored due to more pressing matters.
With Leeds United transfer tied, Casper Ankergren, the very popular alternative to a distinctly average Graham Stack, had returned to his native homeland despite admitting that he was willing to stay on at the club. Luckily for Leeds United fans everywhere this was still the case once the management were able to start signing players and a vital piece of the puzzle was completed somewhat swiftly as Casper signed on.
After finalising a first choice `keeper, Dennis Wise set his sights on building a club with one task in hand; Survival.
For the club to survive, despite the numerous hurdles placed in it`s way by HM Revenue & Customs, The Football League and all those with an axe to grind with owner Uncle Ken, Wise needed to build up a squad of players that would replicate an old style Leeds. I personally believe that in our summer signings (remembering, the transfer window is still slightly open) we have just that.
You only have to look at the midfield duo of Alan Thompson and David Prutton to see that a starting 11 at Leeds United now has fight about it. Both players are uncompromising and in Thompson, the team has the added bonus of a midfield man with an eye for goal when it comes to set pieces. Prutton is no stranger to red cards, most recently in Nottingham Forest`s playoff defeat at Yeovil Town and at 25 not only has a point to prove, having been farmed out to the City Ground once more by previous club Southampton, but has years to come for a man once touted as a future England International.
Ex-Norwich City "utility man" Andy Hughes is another one that personifies the attitude required in the situation the club is in, a man who came to Elland Road knowing full well the -15 points situation, and a man who would probably play in goal if we should require it (and lets face it, we still only have 1 senior goalkeeper to hand.)
Turning to the striker situation, the obvious coup was in persuading former Scunthorpe loanee Jermaine Beckford to stay on at Elland Road. Every man and his dog, following Scunthorpe`s promotion to the championship would have been expecting Beckford to return to the club for which he excelled at last season. Alongside Beckford appears to be someone who he links up with well, as Tresor Kandol finally finds a level he can excel at, the charismatic, acrobatic forward finally looking like he may just make it in a Leeds United squad.
Providing back-up for Beckford and Kandol comes one Tore-Andre Flo, no stranger to English football and a subs-bench luxury the vast majority of this league can only dream about. It`s clear the ex-Chelsea man isn`t fully fit yet, but is being used as a super-sub for the time being to great effect.
What else do we need at Leeds United before the window shuts? Well in my personal opinion a second goalkeeper is a must. The wheels could very quickly fall off our wagon through injury to our Casper, who unlike his ghost-like counterpart is very unlikely to walk away from any serious collision with object or other player.
After that, with long term injury ruling forward Leon Constantine out another striker, plus a backup wide man may be on the cards if Ken Bates is able to splash the cash. Perhaps the former star of a well-known double glazing firm could get a BOGOF from a fellow football chairman?