Leeds United End of Term Report: Disappointing, Must do Better – by Rob Atkinson

Wheels fell off at Millwall away

Millwall away – where United’s wheels fell off

Watching Leeds United struggle vainly to perform as you’d expect a big club to do, challenging for honours, winning promotions and all that sort of thing, may quite aptly be compared to banging your head against a brick wall. There’s no sense to it, there’s plenty of pain involved for no gain, and it’s really quite pleasant when it stops. We’re at that stage of blissful hiatus now, with the final whistle having blown on United’s season last Sunday, the main reaction from another bumper crowd at Elland Road being sighs of relief rather than triumphal acclaim.

Fellow under-achievers Queens Park Rangers had rolled up for this last-day clash of mediocrities; as it turned out though, the Londoners didn’t really fancy the prospect of a battle in the heat. So, it was a routine win for United against desultory opposition and, other than some typically promising performances from Leeds’ younger guns, none of us were left any the wiser. But at least the tiresome league programme was over for a couple of months; now for the interesting part of the football calendar, with the World Cup and a transfer window in the offing. There’s also the daft post-season business in Myanmar, but that may usefully be ignored.

The trouble is that transfer window time of year is fast becoming nearly as disappointing for long-suffering Leeds fans as the actual football spectacle, such as it may be. And the reason is that United are competing in an inflated transfer market, against smaller but arguably more ambitious clubs – and they’re denying themselves the chance of being truly competitive at the top end by what is increasingly being exposed as a short-sighted and self-defeating wages policy.

Just as the season recently expired was getting underway, back in August of last year, I wrote an article here entitled The Reason Leeds United Can’t Have Nice Things? Wage Structure. I argued that this ‘hands tied behind the back’ policy of severely capped wages was stopping us from recruiting as we should do, and also from hanging on to the few diamonds we’d managed to polish up. This was just as Chris Wood, the scorer of thirty-odd goals the year before, was being sold to Premier League Burnley, a smaller club that could at least triple Wood’s earnings. I predicted doom and gloom but, for a time at least, it looked as though I was going to be delightfully wrong.

Despite the departure of Wood, who duly followed Charlie Taylor to Dingle-Land, United started the season like a runaway train, barrelling to the top of the league with a flurry of victories, including notable two goal successes at Sunderland and Nottingham Forest. This left me feeling a strange combination of unusually happy and rather daft, due to my seemingly unwarranted pessimism. But then the wheels fell off, at Millwall of all places, and the Whites were never quite the same again. The rest of the season was, quite frankly, a disaster interspersed with the odd calamity, as Leeds at first flattered to deceive, but ended up deceiving nobody. A managerial change and a better than expected January transfer window failed to bring about the necessary transformation, and United’s campaign drifted to a deeply unsatisfactory conclusion.

So, can we now expect a more enlightened wage structure, as befitting one of the game’s true giants? The jury is out, but it’s not counting its chickens as it ponders that vexed question. Leeds, however, must surely know that they can’t expect the extraordinary loyalty of their fans to be maintained without some encouragement in the shape of ambition in the transfer market. To average over 30,000 paying premium prices in such a let-down of a season is truly extraordinary – but will they all be back next season?

Champions Wolves have shown the way: speculate to accumulate. United – it’s over to you.

13 responses to “Leeds United End of Term Report: Disappointing, Must do Better – by Rob Atkinson

  1. Life is LUFC

    What can one say or even add to your comments Rob. Sincerely yours, Always in hope


  2. We seem to be still suffering from ‘Ridsdale fall-out’ with regards to taking financial risks.
    We have an owner that’s a millionaire and not a billionaire, which seems to be the minimum requirement these days.
    Radrizzani seems to be trying to cultivate a better squad from recruitment of younger prospects and bargains over a longer period.
    Unfortunately most Leeds fans have waited long enough for something to cherish.
    Wolves went for it and it worked. Good luck to them Rob.


  3. Don’t hold your breath Rob. How many end of seasons have we been so bitterly disappointed and utterly downhearted. The team, the squad, the coach have taken a huge battering, derogatory remarks and downright insults. Nobody forced their way into the club, they were brought in with promises and expectations by what is perceived to be one of the biggest clubs in Britain on the verge of long awaited and new found glory. We were sold a glossy, professional well scripted brochure which turned out to be a cheap comic. We are the Football Leagues Titanic, why? because it turned out in the end that it was the owners who were responsible for its demise in the criminal way they botched, ran and built the ship. (Messrs Bates, GFH, Cellino)

    I’m sorry but I have no faith in Mr Radrizzani or the board to pull this great club together. Why should they now commit to investment that should have been made last season? Who do we have now that we never had laat summer to recognise real talent, proven skill and commitment in players, Orta?

    Whoever we have as coach and I assume it will be PH for now has got to have the final say in who goes out and who comes in, taking into account wages etc. That way it will be his team and as fans we can can fairly judge how good he is. One question I cannot find an answer to is why are the multi million pound big investors so afraid of taking Leeds on? Why are we not snatched up? Leeds is an atomic bomb just waiting for somebody with the right fuse. MOT


    • The running of our club over the last 10 years has been at various times criminal, immoral and incompetent; often all three at once.
      Our owners various have discovered the joys of charging top prices to big home attendances for watching poor football, while shelling out low-end championship wages, lining their offshore pockets and loading the club with debt for the next chancer to deal with. Nice work if you can get it!


  4. Scally Lad

    The rebuilding begins with Heckingbottom getting the sack. He’s the worst in a long line of useless, clueless managers who know little more than how to lose. As long as we are stuck with the worst manager in the Championship, our destiny next season is League One.


  5. Can’t argue with that.
    Adding to the surreality has been the sight of Elland Road failures Warnock, Bamba and Morrison ripping it up in the Championship and leaving us far behind. Bizarre.


  6. As a life long Leeds fan I’m just bored of the never ending promise of next season next window. to me its plain to see we have been taken for fools ever since bates tuck over with his open hatred of all things Leeds which in turn opened the door to likes of gfh mc and ar to make a killing regardless of what they say or do.and the willingness of the tens of thousands of fans to buy into the broken promises of four owner singing the same song as the saying goes if your not part of the solution then your part of the problem we need to wake up and demand are owner to walk the walk or move on no more excuses


    • It does sometimes feel that we’re all the subjects of an annual “expectations managing exercise”. You wonder how much genuine ambition is actually there, or are they happy with bumper crowds and relatively low overheads, hoping the academy will see them succeed eventually?


  7. As you rightly said before the start of the season we were hamstrung by the wage cap and a lack of quality signings to replace the likes of Wood &Taylor.
    Andrea now has his chance to put this right over the summer window and now that the EFL have ratified the Wolves structure he has the opportunity to put a similar model in place as he said he would!
    Surely now is the time to take a punt on promotion as if all these owners are merely milking Leeds the potential to do so as massive as a Prem League team. That said how would we feel as fans if we become another mid table feeder club to the top 6 likes of Man U!
    Radz honeymoon period is well and truly over and if fans don’t see a big step up in the summer transfer activity I can’t see the incredible loyalty of the 30,000+ crowds continuing.
    This feels like the biggest transfer window since our relegation from the Prem League and I’m really not sure if Heckingbottom is the right head coach to take us forward. MOT


  8. Life is LUFC

    and now we have a 10% buy out…what-a-to-do!
    Is there any thing else left that Leeds United can be hit with, excepting a great big hammer?


  9. If we had a ‘name’ manager e.g a Bruce, Pulis etc , with experience of dealing with players on big wages obtained with a big transfer budget then, I,d be more confident of money being spent. But as with Hockaday, Christensen and our current manager I just do not think the funds will be provided.
    Let us hope that Hecky’ can somehow forge a competetive squad from the ‘kids’ and bargain buys. Our form since Xmas though really has me concerned. We may need to spend just to stand still. MOT


  10. king sniffer

    I do like to count myself as an optimist, but can’t remember when I felt less optimistic. However, now hoping optimistically that my optimism will be renewed……..


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