By Adam Walker
At the end of the day everyone will have their opinions and although many people disagree with what I believe to be true about our beloved club I also know that some people are agreeing with me.
There are many doubts I have about the forthcoming season for Leeds United. I just can't see us challenging the bigger teams in this division. I can't see Elland Road becoming the fortress it once was. I can't see us getting promoted. And before you call be pessimistic I'd like you all to consider a few things.
Firstly, the Championship is one of the toughest, most demanding leagues in the world. The prize from escaping this vicious league is a spot in footballs most prestigious fixture list and the chance to play some of the biggest teams in the world on a weekly basis. So every team will be doing their best to get to the promised land. There are big clubs in this division, not just ourselves. The likes of Bolton, Wolves and Blackburn who have come down, are still very strong and pose a serious threat. These clubs haven't lost many players after coming down and they will be among the favourites for an immediate return to the top-flight. Then there are your strong teams such as Blackpool, Birmingham, Brighton, Burnley, Cardiff, Leicester, Middlesbrough and of course Leeds United. Every team I've listed is capable of getting into the play-offs, no question. I also have to look towards the new boys of the division from League One. I believe Sheffield Wednesday are one of the favourites to push on and gain promotion. Simon Grayson looks to have everything under control at Huddersfield and looks to have a strong side. Charlton also could damage any promotion contenders challenge as they have a solid back-line and a well organised team courtesy of Chris Powell. The Championship season also consists of forty-six games which is not easy for the players physically and can take its toll as clubs often dip in and out of form throughout the season. I guess it just depends how quickly teams find their feet after a poor run of results. The adaptability of a club and squad is what will win a team promotion from the Championship .I don't believe the squad we have will have the right bond and willpower to do that, although Neil Warnock could have the leadership skills to change our fortunes in a bad run.
I look around at the squads of our Championship rivals and I am in awe of some players. There are some real stars in this division. Snodgrass was one of them before his ill-timed departure and there are many more throughout the division. I look at our squad and I don't see the individuals to take us forward like the other teams have. I know Warnock is looking for that player, but I don't think he's looking in the right places. The squad needs a good balance of quality and quantity as we have a very small squad at the moment not including fringe players/youngsters. I reckon Neil has gone for a strength in depth approach, although the numbers aren't coming in, which is what the club desperately needs at the moment. We've now signed ten players since May and out of those ten I'm very happy with three signings and the others I'm reserving my opinions for. The three I'm happiest with are Paddy Kenny, Jason Pearce and Lee Peltier. These three players have played well in the last few seasons and signing them was brilliant. I would like to say Austin too but he seems to versatile for my judgement yet. I've watched him play for SK Brann on YouTube and I also streamed a game over the internet to watch him in closer detail and he was playing a central-midfield role well. Although he is said to also have a knack at playing at the back so I'm unsure where Neil will be playing him since he has signed Norris and Green to cover the central-midfield area. Ashdown is a safe backup goalkeeper so I guess I'm content with that signing. The other players we've signed I'm not so sure about but I hope Neil can get the best out of them.
If Neil decides to play a 4-4-2 formation this season I reckon we will need to sign wingers for both flanks. White and Varney does not excite me in the slightest. White can't cross a ball to save his life and Varney is getting old and looked pretty poor against Preston. This brings me onto the performance at Preston. The game ended 3-1 with Lees, Byram and White grabbing the goals. Lees' goal was great, a good turn and a smashing volley. Nice one Tom. Byram's was a poorly marked corner and a volley on the end of that too. Well put away though, it must be said. Aidy's goal was a rebound so there isn't much to say about it to be honest. The game was a drab one though. If these are Warnock's tactics for the Championship they will not work. The back four, hoofing the ball up the field to McCormack and Becchio, who lose the ball quickly to an interception or easy tackle? Are we being serious? Becchio as we all know doesn't go for the ball when this tactic is introduced, he falls over and begs for the referees sympathy. Ross tends to trap the ball well but nothing ever comes of it after that. Like I said in my previous blogs, we need a creative midfielder. Someone with a bit of flair and the eye for that killer pass. The through ball to Ross so he can tuck the ball away in the bottom left-hand corner. I'm awaiting this player and until we get him, I will not be satisfied.
You may not like what I'm about to say but I can't see us getting promoted at the moment. We'll do well to come in the top half I reckon. All our Yorkshire rivals apart from Barnsley and Hull City will do better than us this season. I can guarantee it. At the end of the day, I'm gonna be honest to myself and I honestly don't think we'll get promoted. I guess I'm just a realist, and that doesn't mean I won't be backing the team this season.