Leeds United Unearth Some Diamonds On the Emerald Isle – by Rob Atkinson


Leeds United completed a satisfactory Irish section of their pre-season programme yesterday, with a comfortable 3-0 win at Shamrock Rovers to follow Wednesday evening’s 2-1 victory over Shelbourne. The 100% success rate is gratifying enough, but more significant is the fact that United seem to have added appreciably to their options going forward.

Last season, progress for Leeds was hindered by a lack of goals. The summer’s big signing, Chris Wood, struggled through injury and a lack of service, though he still went on to be top scorer. The lack of firepower alongside Wood, as well as poor service from out wide, conspired to limit both chances and goals for a United side that never really threatened to challenge towards the top.

There are early signs, though, that the coming season might be different. In the two victories this week, three new recruits have shown they might just have what it takes to increase the Leeds forward threat. Swedish striker Marcus Antonsson notched a brace in Saturday’s stroll at the Tallaght Stadium, his two goals sandwiching a Wood penalty. This alone seems to promise a productive partnership, but it was Antonsson’s hard work and movement that really caught the eye as he presented many a problem for the Shamrock defence. Add to this the pace and trickery of fellow big-money signing Kemar Roofe, along with loanee Hadi Sacko and the youthful promise of the exotically-named Ronaldo Vieira, and things might just be looking up for the Yorkshire giants as an attacking force.

Compared to the hard times of last season, it’s already looking like an embarrassment of riches up front for Leeds and, with the sure touch of new coach and former Swansea defender Garry Monk at the tiller, a significant improvement in the defensive third would be no real surprise. Further recruitment is expected, perhaps another winger coming in – NEC Nijmegen’s Anthony Limbombe is hotly-tipped to sign – and some strengthening in midfield where United have lost a potential star in young Lewis Cook, to Bournemouth. With another centre-back also on the agenda, it could well be a busy time at Elland Road as the countdown to the big kick-off proceeds.

Exciting times for Leeds perhaps – and yet nobody who knows the club will be getting too excited just yet. The wins in Ireland are encouraging, but the potential of the group Monk is putting together will face sterner tests before the season starts in earnest. A glamour friendly at Elland Road will see Serie A aristocrats Atalanta provide a real challenge on July 30th. By then, there may be new faces in the United team, with the recruits we’ve seen so far further bedded in. Garry Monk, though, will be focusing all his preparations on the Championship opener at Queens Park Rangers on August 7th, when live TV will give millions the chance to pass judgement on this new Leeds United.

For the time being, it’s looking promising for new coach Monk and his new team. Perhaps Leeds United might be about to launch a serious bid for promotion, something their long-suffering fans will confirm would be long overdue.

7 responses to “Leeds United Unearth Some Diamonds On the Emerald Isle – by Rob Atkinson

  1. Exciting times Rob!
    it is hard to be to objective about the games in Ireland as both teams played weakened young players against us.
    This was due to our late pre-season plans, but the Irish teams fit us in even though they are on with their season, and they play on Sundays.
    I hope we are not undercooked with our lightweight pre-season, but the next couple of games for the first team will be more of a test.


  2. David Dean

    Yes Rob some positives at last. I was thrilled with the appointment of the new head coach and I am delighted he refers to himself as a manager and not head coach. Our great owner won’t like that. His first few weeks have been impressive, his track record of coming through the leagues with Swansea for 10 or 12 years and being the captain and central defender and good enough to play in the Premier League and good enough to manage Swansea for more than a whole season, in which they finished 8th, is surely a massive step up from all our previous managers in the last 2 seasons – even a step up from the beloved Redders. He has to be too good to work for Cellino and The Monk accepting this job with a team of competent coaches around him just seems too good to be true – in my life ‘too good to be true’ means exactly that.

    I am excited to see how this new team plays and I hope new players are brought in. The Monk says the squad is very thin on the ground – further additions look certain. A central defender, a replacement for Charlie Taylor – inevitable that he is leaving and echoes of Steve Evans ring in my ear when I hear comments that he is 100% staying – and a midfield general with experience and another winger and I will no longer be able to contain myself and I will be off like a shot from Peter Lorimor’s size 10s to get the best seats in the house again.

    At the moment I remain sober with the very recent memories of Redders, Rosler and Evans all denied the money promised to put us in with a chance of the playoffs and I think of what might have been. I am still in shock by The Monk’s appointment and hope I will be buying new season tickets by the end of August – can you still buy them after the season starts?

    The inevitable happened when Lewis Cook was sold even though The Monk tells us he was building the team around him. Lewis Cook was the only reason to go to Yelly Roared last season. Even though he ran around like a headless chicken most of the time and his great skill was not nurtured as it should have been. At 18 and 19 he was played week in week out – first name on the team sheet – and his great talent was abused by the man at the top (Cellino) by over playing him, playing him out of position and putting too much responsibility on his young shoulders. He is in a far better place now , as are the rest of the team below that would surely have taken us into the Premier League and beyond. They will all be playing in the Premier League this season except for Lees (lost playoff final) and Mccormack who Fulham are demanding £15 million for and who keeps scoring a hatfull of goals every season.

    Byram Lees Bruce Taylor
    Cook Delph
    Snodgrass Howson
    McCormack Gradel

    You could include Milner but that might be a stretch too far back!

    Subs: Matt Smith, Bradley Johnson, Mowett, Peacock-Farrel and Becchio


  3. martin moore

    Well put Rob.
    Was at the Rovers game and I agree with everything you’ve said. For me though Charlie Taylor was simply outstanding. Everything came from his side, he was up and down the wing on overlaps and looked solid and assured on defence. A must keep for us this season, he needs to be given a four year deal and whatever it takes to keep him.


  4. Very early days but I definitely agree there is much promise for an improved attack. I don’t think there was a lack of effort from Wood (when fit), Doukara or Antenucci but the service was negligible outside of flashes from Dallas and Taylor and the lack of pace was criminal. Were we really expecting Wooten to supply overlapping runs from right back? I’m excited about this season and with a few additional signings (Limbombe, Osman, Pearce – or similar), I would be really hopeful about our prospects for this season. As you mentioned Rob, it has been a long time and being in the mix a the right end of the table would be a tonic for the best fans in the world given the past decade plus of ineptitude.



  5. Good so far, most of transfers in are positive, but l am concerned about who will be our main keeper, with the banishment of Silvestri, it would appear to be Green. At his age, he is probably past his peak, and even at his best, l would question if he was as good a shot stopper as Silvestri. At every club he has represented, he has been prone to the same bloomers as Silvestri, he has never commanded his area, and at his age is unlikely to improve,whereas Silvestri is still young, and there were definately signs of improvement in the command of the area last season. He also became much braver. Given a more settled defence in front, further improvement could have been expected.


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