Leeds United Season Preview: the circus upstairs

leedsLeeds United is a grand football club that has been chronically mismanaged over the years. From Peter Ridsdale to Ken Bates and now Massimo Cellino, they have never had the stability at boardroom level to fulfil potential. The appointment of Garry Monk, a reasonably successful manager in the Premier League with Swansea City, shows they do retain a certain allure. The question is whether he can quieten the circus upstairs – supporter Russ Vernon shares his views.

Leeds finished 13th last season, having been 18th when Steve Evans took over. Is he the club’s first manager in a while that won’t necessarily be remembered as a failure?

I don’t think that will be necessarily remembered as a failure I think it will be remembered as a positive.

Garry Monk had a successful 2014/15 season in charge of Swansea, before a disappointing couple of months last season. Are you pleased that he was happy to take the Leeds job?

Yes after a number of managers/coaches rejected us I was beginning to wonder that no one would take the job, but Monk knows this division and played in it and played/managed in the EPL, it’s a great appointment.

Leeds seemed to play a lot of long balls under Steve Evans while Mirco Antenucci claimed there was a lack of tactical work. Are those assertions fair and do you expect change under Monk?

I think it will change under Monk, he likes to play 4-4-2 passing football so it will probably change.

Pep Clotet has 15 years of coaching experience at just 39 and has coached with Monk at Swansea for two years. Are you pleased he has joined as an assistant manager?

I’m pleased with Pep coming in. He and Monk know each other so it can only be a positive.

Charlie Taylor has attracted interest this summer. Does this concern you, given the shortage of cover at left-back?

Having seen Tyler Denton (a regular for the U21s) last season I think he could be a good replacement, but I do feel Taylor will stay at Elland Road.

An impressive eight academy graduates featured last season. Which of those stood out for you? Right-back Lewie Coyle looks a talent…

For me a couple impressed me from our academy last year, Coyle who you mentioned is a really talented RB, BPF (Bailey Peacock-Farrell) is a good keeper and although he played one game Ronaldo Vieira looks a good prospect.

The performances of Sol Bamba and Giuseppe Belluschi have been questioned. Was it important to bring in another centre-back in Kyle Bartley?

Yes we needed another CB in and was pleased with Bartley coming in and now Bellusci has left for Empoli, we need another and it looks like ex Watford Joel Ekstrand will be coming in next.

Kalvin Phillips has signed a three-year contract this summer. Does this suggest he is part of Monk’s plans?

I believe we could see a bit more of Phillips this season he has really impressed me with the performances for the U21s.

Leeds have a lot of central midfielders but few wide men. Is this a problem? Could Evans’ tendency to field players out of position be explained by the imbalanced nature of the squad?

Yes I think it could, we all know we should use the players in their correct positions to get the best out of them that’s why I feel Lewis Cook (who has now joined Bournemouth) and Alex Mowatt didn’t play as well as they could have last season.

You scored just 50 goals last season, perhaps lacking pace in forward areas. To what extent will the signings of Kemar Roofe, Marcus Antonsson and loanee Hadi Sacko solve that problem?

I think they could solve the problem and I believe if Wood keeps fit he could add more goals and help the team but Roofe, Antonsson and Sacko could also help us add more goals as they are all really talented players.

What are your thoughts ahead of the Championship season as a whole? Any potential dark horses for you?

I think Newcastle and Villa will be up there and I believe with the transfer business Rotherham are doing they could be up there too. My top 6 prediction:- 1 Newcastle, 2 Villa, 3 Sheff.Wed, 4 Norwich, 5 Cardiff, 6 Brighton. Rotherham to miss out on the top 6 on GD.

Where will you finish? I have to remind you that you predicted 3rd last summer…

I believe if we keep Monk for the whole season we could have a real go and I personally will have to say we along with Rotherham will miss out of the top 6 on GD. I’ll go 7th for Leeds.

The Football Lab’s Verdict

Any Leeds United boss would struggle under Cellino, so the appointment of a good manager in Monk is rendered insignificant. A lack of experience on the field and stability off it makes for another fruitless campaign. 17th