I now move onto another preview of Leicester City’s 2011/2012 opponents, this time around I give my thoughts on Leeds United. The Whites have been on a rollercoaster for many of season’s going through the highs and lows of English football, but at the moment they seem to be on the fringes of the promise land, can they claim promotion back to the Premier League in the 11/12 campaign or will they have to battle it out for another season in his very competitive league…
After many of season’s away from the second tier of English football, the failures and depressing times at Elland Road have gradually been ironed away, as a fresh new look about Leeds United is currently evolving. Simon Grayson has worked wonders at Elland Road, after securing League One promotion the 41 year olds success was closely followed by a place in the Npower Championship play-offs; however last season Leeds United just missed out on the top six by three points. Hopefully in the 11/12 campaign Leeds United can equal last season’s efforts, by pushing for another play-off challenge. Apart from the losses of Bradley Johnson and Kasper Schmeichel, Grayson has kept the same core together from the 2010/2011 campaign; Leeds had many superstars in their side last season including the impressive winger Max Gradel who managed to notch up a season best of 18 goals. Leeds United is expected to challenge for the play-offs; however with them only investing in three players so far a place in the top six is very questionable. Leeds are on the fringes of a promotion challenge, but they are still lacking firepower in some key positions, another year in the Npower Championship may well beckon.
One of the main objectives for Leeds United this summer is to keep hold of their most influential players, and so far Leeds United has seemed to have fended off interest for the midfield pair of Max Gradel and Robert Snodgrass. With a possible pursuit of Snodgrass on the cards Leeds United quickly slapped an £8 million price tag on him, with Wigan Athletic one of a number of clubs reportedly interested in the services of the Scot, the value of the player has been somewhat off putting for the Premier League chasers. This is only good news for Leeds United fans, as Robert Snodgrass looks highly likely to be starting the 2011/2012 campaign in a Whites shirt. Capable of cutting inside from the right wing, Snodgrass possesses a dangerous range of striking abilities as the 23 year old has scored some incredible strikes in his time as a Leeds United player. Same can be said about young Ivorian born Max Gradel, the former Leicester player had an unforgettable season at Elland Road in 10/11, as he tallied in with a total of 18 goals throughout all competitions, with Gradel improving dramatically, he has currently turned himself into one of the most feared players in the Npower Championship. Finally there has to be a mention of the dangerous and physical strike force of Luciano Becchio and Davide Somma, since Becchio arrived at Elland Road in the summer of 2009 he has gradually progressed as the season’s have ticked by, currently a fans favourite at Leeds United the Argentine is a physical individual who is capable of playing as a target man or as a loan striker, he is highly regarded as one of the most precised finishers in the league. Leeds United look dangerous from all ends of the field, Grayson has produced a very highly prolific side which should end up pushing for this season’s play-off places.
Manager – Simon Grayson
Simon Grayson will manage Leeds United for a fourth consecutive year, as he tries to establish himself amongst the elite crop of Npower Championship managers. Grayson has managed Blackpool to success in the past, and only two seasons ago he was able to revitalise the good times at Elland Road, as his Leeds United side secured League One promotion by finishing as the runners up in the third tier of English football. Grayson certainly has a lot of potential; he is capable of getting Leeds United promoted as proved last season when he managed them to a 7th place finish. He needs to keep hold of his better players, and he needs to show the same passion and flare which he has shown in the past. Overall this could be a satisfying campaign for Simon Grayson.
Ins and Outs
Ins – Paul Rachubka(Blackpool), Michael Brown(Portsmouth), Andy Lonergan(Preston)
Outs – Kasper Schmeichel(Leicester), Richard Naylor(Doncaster), Neil Kilkenny(Bristol City), Bradley Johnson(Norwich), Shane Higgs(Released)
Another play-off challenge is deemed a certain for Leeds United this season, with a convincing side that is capable of the top six Simon Grayson’s players should be challenging amongst the top ten for most of the campaign. Keeping hold of Max Gradel and Robert Snodgrass is crucial, while Luciano Becchio will also need to continue with his goalscoring form, Leeds are a very good side but I believe that they could just fail in a bid for a top six finish. Prediction – 7th