by James Oddy
Player of the season- Ross McCormack
It`s indicative of Leeds recent transfer policy that the ex Cardiff man has risen to prominence almost by accident. After a frustrating first season, he became Leeds first choice forward after pre-season injuries to Luciano Becchio and Davide Somma. He filled that role excellently, and provided a genuine spark and touch of quality to a largely workmanlike, underperforming squad. From beautiful free kicks to tap-ins to overheard kicks (see below), McCormack was a regular source of goals all season. He also proved able to fill in on the flanks, in the hole, and even as an emergency central midfielder to good effect. With a contract entering its final year and a seemingly Premier League secured Wigan sniffing round, he may prove to be yet another player to depart after a breakout season. Honourable mention goes to Michael Brown, who after a dreadful start, looked outstanding for a few games after his old mucker Warnock came in. Unfortunately, he tailed off again along with the rest of the team, and mainly seemed to be focussed on kicking people in the testicles from then on.
Young player of the season- Aidy White
After seemingly floating around the first time squad for years, the youth team left back finally enjoyed an extended run of first team football. With an excellent burst of acceleration, the sight of him picking up the ball in the left back position and bombing on was one of the highlights of the season. A move to the wing under Warnock looked like a promising and inspired move, but a season ending injury against Watford unfortunately curtailed that. While he is still very much a work in progress, it would be great to see him develop and grow into the player he has the potential to become. Alas, with his contract only months away from ending and Premier League interest (notice a pattern?); he could follow the well trodden path of promising youth teamers away from Elland Road.
Flop of the season- Ben Parker
It`s not the player himself I’m disappointed in. It`s more his knees, hamstrings, ankles and various other body parts. He was solid rather than spectacular when making appearances in previous seasons, but for a youth team player who never got much of a run of games due to said chronic injury problems, I`d say that was an achievement. The news that his contract was to be terminated wasn’t met with any real disappointment from the majority of Leeds fans, but I couldn’t help feel real sympathy for a young man who faces an uncertain future. Robert Snodgrass should also be considered, if only for the fact he is a player who clearly has immense ability, but seems unable to provide it on any consistent basis. His appointment as captain could provide the vote of confidence and focus for him to do just that next season. Either that or he will be snapped up by a Premier League club in the summer as his contract winds down (typing that statement doesn’t get any easier).
Game of the season- Leeds United 0 Southampton 1
It may seem odd to select a defeat as the best game I witnessed this season, but this has been a season defined by defeats. While the attendance was nothing special, the fans that did turn up got behind a team fired up by Warnock. A succession of top quality saves from Kelvin Davis and some quite frankly appalling misses prevented Leeds from scoring at least an equaliser. Michael Brown and Adam Clayton were mobile and feisty in midfield, Snodgrass and White dangerous out wide, and even free transfer singing Danny Webber showed real promise in a second half cameo. Best of all, the whole team looked united, well motivated and confident. Despite the loss, I left Elland Road that day thinking that we may be on to something, and perhaps, just perhaps, we could sneak a playoff spot. How wrong I was.
Worst game of the season- Leeds United 0 Watford 2
Again, many will be surprised I’ve gone for this game, when this season has featured such dire games as conceding seven against Nottingham Forest at home, losing to Coventry away and meekly rolling over to a Man U reserve side. But the Coventry and Forrest games can be explained (if not excused) by the fact that both teams were in a relegation battle, whereas Leeds had very little to play for. The Forest game also highlighted how a season meant to feature a promotion push can derail even worse than our own. Instead, the Watford game was depressing in its complete mediocrity. Watford were a limited but committed team who outworked Leeds all afternoon. The fact they also had a mean, well organised defence of Nyron Nosworthy and Martin Taylor, compared to our hesitant and outmuscled combo of Tom Leeds and Alex Bruce, only added to the sense that something at the club had gone desperately wrong. The celebrations in the away end come the final whistle were in stark contrast to the grim faces seen filtering out into the early evening.
Goal of the season- Ross McCormack vs Doncaster
A good all-round team performance against an admittedly poor team was capped by McCormack’s moment of quality. The quick thinking and technique to turn a mis-controlled through ball into such an audacious goal summed up the Scotsman’s confident and committed season.