Leeds United Season Preview: a Plan B?

A 2-0 win over Brighton at the end of March put Leeds United eight points clear in the race for the play-offs with as many Championship games to go. Everyone expected them to seal the deal, but instead they conspired to become only the third team in 29 years to miss out with 75+ points. There have been plenty more ups and downs at Elland Road over the succeeding months – supporter Russ talks us through it all together.

Not for me, we should have secured a play-off place before it got down to the last few games of the season. News I’ve heard (unsure how true) Garry Monk decided to leave Leeds in January so that might have affected things.

The was initial excitement when Massimo Cellino left and Andrea Radrizzani took over as chairman. Did some of that optimism subside when Garry Monk left a day later?

For me yes, I thought Monk was going to stay at the club, however, when news broke he left I was wondering who would be our head coach/manager of the side.

Radrizzani has appointed Thomas Christensen, whose APOEL side reached the Europa League for the first time ever last term. What are your thoughts on the appointment?

I’m excited by the appointment of Thomas (Christiansen) as head coach of Leeds United. Speaking to people close to TC I believe we’ve got a good manager in the helm.

Christensen has brought in his own backroom team, including Director of Football Victor Orta. Are you sad to see Pep Clotet and James Beattie leave with Monk?

I’m sad to see the departure of both Pep and James but I thought Pep might have stayed at the club but it wasn’t to be. Both have left with my best wishes.

Mateusz Klich was among the most complete midfielders in Eredivisie last season – he’s not a holding midfielder or a number 10. Does his arrival suggest you’ll move away from 4-2-3-1?

I think we will be playing more 4-4-2/4-3-3 with the signings we’ve made at the club but I could see us playing 4-2-3-1 in a few games with fellow new signing Sàiz playing the “10” role.

You only scored 14 goals in 20 games in which you conceded the first goal last year, winning just once. Could Christensen’s more fluid tactics and the addition of Samuel Saiz give you a Plan B?

Yes it does in my opinion, Sàiz and Klich signings are great and I can see it working to our advantage during the season and I think we’ll have a Plan B and C.

Teenager Ronaldo Viera has signed a new four-year deal while Hadi Sacko has signed permanently. How do you assess your midfield?

We’ve got too many midfielders at the moment I’d get rid of some such as Liam Bridcutt, Toumani Diagouraga (Permanently) and loan out Phillips for a season and that would get some midfielders of our books which need to happen in a lot of Leeds fans minds.

Chris Wood can be on the periphery of a game, then take the first chance that comes his way. Will Caleb Ekuban have to wait his chance?

It depends on what formation Christiansen decides to play if he plays 4-4-2 both Ekuban and Wood may start although now we’ve signed Ezgjan Alioski, Ekuban may have to wait his chance.

Rob Green was excellent last season but he’s 37. Is new signing Felix Wiedwald likely to be back up?

Wiedwald said he’d come here to play so I don’t think he’ll be here to be back-up to Green.

In the 33 games Pontus Jansson and Kyle Bartley completed 90 minutes together, you conceded just 28 goals. You’ve got the former back, but do you need a centre-back to replace the latter?

We need at least two centre-backs in especially with Jansson suspended for Bolton away and Port Vale (in Cup) at home and Giuseppe Bellusci leaving (thankfully). We’ve only got Liam Cooper, Paudie O’Connor, Paul McKay as naturals in that spot. Although, Luke Ayling can play there with  Anita at right-back and the ever impressive Gaetano Berardi at left-back.

Charlie Taylor has left for Burnley after refusing to play in the final game at Wigan last season. Do you see free signing Vurnon Anita filling in at left back?

Nope he’s more of a right-back or midfielder for me is Anita. I think we’ll see Berardi continuing at left-back or even see Tyler Denton playing there also.

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

It will be another exciting season like last season and I can see Aston Villa, Sunderland and Middlesbrough all being up there, the same goes with Hull. Dark horses for me could  be Wolves, Brentford and Cardiff.

Where will you finish?

I personally see us finishing in the top 3 so I’d go 2nd behind Sunderland.

The Football Lab’s Verdict

The task for Christensen will be to maintain the solidity Leeds showed under Monk, whilst introducing tactical flexibility. New midfielder Klich will be key to this evolution while Jansson’s permanent deal makes Bartley and Taylor the only first teamers missing from last year. We could see a better-rounded outfit. 4th

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