By Keith Ingham
This is my forty second/third year in following the 'other' love of my life, Leeds United. It's had it moments and tears, some of heart break and many of joy, but I still can never stop the excitement for a new season approaching.
The smell of freshly cut grass and freshly painted areas wafts around Elland Road and there is a feeling of optimism amongst the fans. They have bought in their thousands of a shirt that is widely believed to be the smartest in Europe and everybody is looking forward not back. This my friends is a very important season for the club.
Quite a lot has changed since May, new faces in the upper offices and Uwe Rosler now Head Coach, he comes across as a man that will not suffer fools gladly and in interviews talks with common sense and pride in the job he has taken on. If he is allowed to control the players one hundred per cent without interference I'm confident he will get the best out of the players at his disposal.
That nicely takes me on to the squad for 2015/16. In the goalkeeper position I have every confidence that Marco Silvestri will continue his excellent start to his Leeds career, he has a mistake in him but the skills he's shown far outweigh these. His deputy Ross Turnbull is a Champions League winner (although he did not play) and will challenge the Italian for the number one jersey, youngster Horton from Cardiff City will be used primarily in the under twenty one squad.
The defence, especially at centre back is a worry for me. Although Sol Bamba is a 'rock' in the middle, his partners, neither Bellusci or Cooper fill me with confidence and is one area I'd like recruitment in. In the full back areas I feel more confident with Berardi either a right or left back, he had a fine end of last season after a 'shaky' start to his career at Leeds. Charlie Taylor impressed me when Warnock went to Derby and at either left back or left of the three forwards Rosler intends to play he will continue to develop into a fine left sided footballer. Lewie Coyle is also not far from challenging for a first team shirt after many impressive starts for the under twenty one team in 2014/15, Scott Wootton meanwhile showed he's not as comfortable at right back than he is in the middle of the defence. A player that splits opinions but seems well thought of by the coach and that's what matters.
In midfield we in my opinion have five midfielders that anyone would fit in any midfield in either the lower league in the Premiership or the Championship, Alex Mowatt, Lewis Cook, Luke Murphy and Tom Ademyni have the potential to go right to the top of the game and although there are improvements to made them, Mowatt and Cook are the 'diamonds' that the lately resigning Neil Redfearn and his staff should be very proud of. Alongside these Kalvin Philips has done enough in his fledgling career to suggest that he too could be a massive asset this season. Chris Dawson will hope to follow Phillips into challenging for a start after some impressive displays last season and in pre season with the under twenty ones.
With the departing Billy Sharp leaving for Sheffield United who in my opinion never was played in a position that could have got the best out of the striker, the curse of me getting a players name on my shirt continues !, Leeds will more than likely start the season with Sam Byram taking the right hand sided attacking role, with the two million plus striker Chris Wood in the middle. It is hoped that the 'niggles' he has had since joining Leeds are minor and do not interfere with the target man's start to the season. Two seasons ago he was the Championships top scorer with nineteen goals and a similar return would boost the clubs chances of at least a top ten finish.
The third place in the 'three' upfront at the moment is up for debate, Steve (the shift) Morison looks to be Wood's understudy and either Mirco Antenucci, Sully' Doukara or Lee Erwin, a summer signing from Motherwell may fill in until a left winger is hopefully bought by the club. Lee is only starting his forth season but has shown promise in preseason. Lewis Walters is one I'd love to be given a run in the team but he seems likely to be loaned out this season.
That my fellow supporters is that, unless Uwe pulls a player or two in before the real action starts on the 8th of August. I'm more hopeful than I was but I still think we are at least three more players to even think about trying to challenge for the top six.
Mr Cellino too still has to convince this certain supporter that he can stay in the background because if he doesn't all Uwe and his backroom staff's hard work will mean nothing and that would almost certainly doom the club to another season of mediocrity. That's something nobody wants.
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