Tag Archives: Dublin

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

shamrock-rovers-xi-v-leeds-united

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.

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Celtic’s Stokes NOT the Answer for Leeds United

Anthony Stokes - Thanks But No Thanks, Celtic

Anthony Stokes – Thanks But No Thanks, Celtic

The rumours are circulating once more regarding likely additions for the Leeds United front line, already supplemented by the signing of Oldham’s Matt Smith.  The names of Noel Hunt (Reading) and Kevin Doyle (Wolves) have been freely bandied about, the former being spoken of as virtually a done deal, whilst apparently Wolves are still hoping to hang on to Doyle despite their demotion to League One.

It is the link with Doyle that has sprouted this frankly unwelcome story concerning Celtic’s Anthony Stokes. The former Arsenal trainee has had a thin time of it south of the border, and truth be told he hasn’t been that much more successful in the less demanding environment of the Scottish Premier League.  Seven goals in 23 appearances last term is not exactly prolific in a league where much is expected of a striker lucky enough to play for the only team of any real quality.  A spell with Sunderland yielded a paltry 3 goals in 36 outings, and loan outings with Crystal Palace and Sheffield United added just one solitary strike to that meagre total.

Stokes has seemed more likely to be keeping the press busy on the front page rather than the back.  He has been disciplined by Celtic for his attendance at the funeral of a Real IRA Chief and more recently there has been an allegation that he head-butted an Elvis impersonator in his native Dublin.  Stokes has a year left on his contract with the Bhoys, and has so far failed to agree a new deal.

For a player whose signature once cost the buying club £2m, Stokes would appear to have done little on the field to justify that price tag, or anything like it.  Off the field, he has attracted rather more publicity, but not in a good way.  Whoever is eyeing up the targets for Leeds United would be well-advised to give this lad no more than a cursory glance before moving on with all possible speed.  It’s one story among many; Leeds will be linked with many players this summer, and only a small proportion will make it to Thorp Arch for the guided tour prior to signing.  I sincerely hope that Anthony Stokes Esquire is not one of those few.