Lifelong Leeds fan James Oddy on a club in perpetual crisis.
It’s summer. Leeds United have a new youngish manager. They have a good reputation, although things didn’t quite work out well last time for him. The club itself is making all the right noises. We will recruit well. We will retain well, especially the crop of academy graduates. We’ll make the play offs at the minimum.
Uwe Rosler was sacked in October 2015. Sam Byram, our always dependable and occasionally brilliant 22 year old right back, was sold to West Ham in January.
It’s summer. Leeds United have a new youngish manager. They have a good reputation, although things didn’t quite work out well last time for him. The club its self is making all the right noises. We will recruit well. We will retain well, especially the crop of academy graduates. We’ll make the play offs at the minimum.
Enter Gary Monk in 2016. He still has talented midfielders Sam Mowatt and Lewis Cook, as well as decent and under rated left back Charlie Taylor. The club has even offered some financial guarantees for season ticket holders should the squad not reach the play offs.
The squad does still have some interesting elements. Toumani Diagourga and Stuart Dallas, both ex Brentford, add brawn and guile. Luke Murphy, when confident, can help support Mowatt and Cook well in midfield. And Chris Wood, the strapping Kiwi, looks a world beater on occasion. Only occasionally, mind. Still, 13 goals in a struggling side isn’t anything to be sniffed at. But the squad needs at least another winger, another centre back, arguably a goal keeper and at least another striker with some pace who can finish. Easy.
The issue for me however is the constant feeling of flux the club has. One minute we seem well run, the next we are sacking managers – or ‘watermelons’ to quote Massimo Cellino – and buying the worst dirge in serie B. The fact is the fan base is completely demoralised and becoming more disinterested by the week. It was largely missed by many, but a sizable amount of Leeds fans marched around the city centre earlier this year to specifically protest against our club’s owner Cellino. It coincided with a protest against cuts to the NHS, which did lead to bizarre scenes of left wing socialists and Kappa clad casuals marching down Leeds high streets almost arm in arm. At least with Bates you knew what you were getting – players bought cheap and flogged after good performances, with the profits being swallowed up and replacements coming in for free.
I do believe that Cellino wanted to run a successful British club, and I still think he does deep down. He is at least more visible than GFH, who seemed to be the only Bahraini investment bank in the world with no money. But ultimately he has only added to the perception of United as a complete joke, whose punch line long ceased to be funny.