Leeds fans have been tortured all the way through this dramatic, rollercoaster of a season – one minute we’re optimistic that we are going to get in the play-offs, the next week it’s season over, only for the team to bounce back and spring us right back into contention. However after Saturday’s dismal showing against a resurgent Watford side, it seems that the majority of supporters are now resigned to the fact it’ll be another season in England’s second tier.
Neil Warnock wasted no time in laying into his players during his post-match interview: “I couldn’t see us scoring in a brothel today” he started off with, “We have not got enough guts, quality and desire. You name it and we do not have it. The squad needs major surgery.” Warnock is yet to win a game at Elland Road, and along with his previous comments, he stated that he would meet with Bates during Easter to discuss the investment that he and the fans feel is necessary – the question is will he get it?
It isn’t the first time this question has been asked, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. It seems that previous manager Simon Grayson got the axe after he too questioned Bates’ ambition in the transfer market after being denied a signing; albeit a few bad results helped him on his way too. But Warnock has made it clear that this isn’t and won’t be the side that gets Leeds promoted.
Whilst the squad is in desperate need of a ‘major overhaul’ as the gaffer put it, Warnock will very much want to be in control of the ins and outs, as he tries to make sure that the outs won’t be some of his key players. With all hope of going up this year seemingly out the window, another frequently asked question pops up – will Leeds be able to keep their best players? Snodgrass, McCormack and Clayton, arguably the club’s stand out players of this season, are all out of contract at the end of the next campaign, with Aidan White and Darren O’Dea out of contract at the end of this term. It has been reported that Warnock is already sitting down with these players to try and agree a deal that keeps them at the club beyond their existing contract as he looks to prevent a similar situation of that which saw Howson, Gradel, and Beckford all leave the club.
So how much is Warnock probably asking for? I’d imagine £5 million, at least. He will have to offload before he is allowed to recruit though, of that I am sure, as the squad is full of players that simply aren’t good enough. Rachubka, Forssell, Paynter and Sam could all be part of a very long list of players heading for the exit. It wouldn’t surprise me to see at least ten players come in, and for me, we’re in desperate need of a steely centre back, a solid right back, a disciplined defensive mid, and another striker – that’s at very least.
Take last January for example, Warnock was adamant that Wayne Routledge would help QPR get over the line and win the league, despite how much the board and everyone tried to tell him otherwise. He got him, and did he do the business? You bet he did. Neil Warnock is not known for wasting money, he won’t panic buy or make signings for the sake of it, but if he thinks he has the opportunity to sign the right type of player, Bates has to make sure that the money is there for him, because more often than not, it is the right player. But if we do manage to keep a hold of the likes of Snodgrass and if we do add more quality around them, then we might just be a force. I can’t think of another manager better than Warnock to get us out of this division, and with next season being his last, Bates has to show that he wants promotion just as much as the fans, just as much as the manager, and the only way he can do that is by trusting him with a big transfer budget.
Reporter Alex Mulvey