Our latest season preview looks at Leeds United
NEIL WARNOCK has had an incredibly busy first pre-season as Leeds United manager, taking a sledgehammer to large parts of the Whites’ squad and gradually re-building the side.
It was a disappointing start to life at Elland Road to Warnock, who could not halt the slump in form and eventually oversaw a 14th-placed finish, seven positions worse than Simon Grayson achieved on the club’s return to the Championship.
No fewer than 11 players have left the Yorkshire outfit this summer, with 10 new faces arriving to bolster Warnock’s depleted squad.
Strengths: It’s Warnock’s squad now.
The pantomime villain-cum-manager has done his tinkering and this is now chiefly Warnock’s squad. A lot of average players and stop-gaps have been moved on and after some disappointing displays last term, Warnock now has the players he wants in place – a few of whom have played under Warnock before.
With a further six players on the transfer list, Warnock only actually has a senior squad of 19 first-team players, included in that number are two goalkeepers and the highly inexperienced Zac Thompson, who has just 11 career games under his belt.
Best business so far: Paddy Kenny for an undsiclosed fee.
The experienced goalkeeper has been signed by Warnock no less than four times – Bury, Sheffield United, QPR & now Leeds. An Irish international, Kenny was the Hoops’ number one last season before being replaced by Rob Green this summer. Having gained promotion from the Championship twice under Warnock, Kenny’s experienced will be vital in the dressing roon.
Star man: Luciano Becchio.
At 28, the Argentinian forward should be arriving at his peak, which is dangerous for the rest of the division as the forward has already bagged 61 goals in 166 games for the Whites.
The 6’1′ forward had a spell with Barcelona ‘B’ having come through the youth ranks at Argentinian giants Boca Juniors. Prolific during his time at Elland Road, last season was cruelly interrupted by knee ligament damage.
In: Jason Pearce (Portsmouth) £500k, Adam Drury (Norwich City) free, Paul Green (Derby County) free, Paddy Kenny (QPR) £450k, Andy Gray (Barnsley) free, Jamie Ashdown (Portsmouth) free, David Norris (Portsmouth) free, Luke Varney (Portsmouth) £300k, Rodolph Austin (Brann) £300k & Lee Peltier (Leicester City) £600k.
Out: Alex Bruce (Hull City) free transfer, Lloyd Sam, Mikael Forsell, Danny Webber, Mika Varaynen, Ben Parker (all released), Maik Taylor (Millwall) free, Adam Clayton (Huddersfield Town) £500k, Andy Lonergan (Bolton Wanderers) £250k, Robert Snodgrass (Norwich City) £3m & Andy O’Brien (Vancouver Whitecaps) free.
wfc123: The loss of Snodgrass will be huge, however a fully-fit Becchio will be equally important. Amongst those scrapping for the Play-Off’s.
chrisgwfc: Andy Gray is exactly the type of signing you’d expect from a Warnock team just because he gives you an option as a striker. However Leeds lost three key players from last season and have struggled to replace them. Warnock will have them in the top half but I’m not sure how much higher they will go.