Instantly, this title has grabbed your attention, persuading you to think…who you would consider to be the two or three players, our ex gaffer now full time, pundit Neil Warnock believes this current Leeds United squad is missing?
When we heard Warnock say we were short a couple when appearing on BBC Focus, MOTD2, Late Kick Off, Sky Sports News, Talksport and Dave, we all collectively laughed (well I did anyway). Watching the inept performance at the Valley we all looked at the squad and believed it needed a full overhaul for the third summer on the trot. What Warnock left us was a squad low in confidence and predictable to play against (bar the odd exception in Sam Byram and Ross McCormack).
Fast forward two weeks and the same set of players have produced back to back performances of the highest standard. So is this squad as bad as we all really thought?
Was Neil Warnock actually right!? Are we missing just a couple of marque signings or as the old gaffer used to say ‘The icing on the cake’?
I’m writing this article on the basis of a third season in the English Championship next season. Could this be premature of me to dare to dream?… we’ll wait and see.
So what does the Leeds United squad need to assault the league next season and go up as Champions I ask myself?
I’d like to think the current owners and new shareholders of the club would need to invest and move away from the ‘Ken Bates model’ of funding a playing squad with 20% of cash received from outgoing transfers plus free transfers and loanees. Players with market value that command a fee are needed this summer.
A third centre back is badly needed to cover; Tom Lees and Jason Pearce will be a force to be reckoned with, they have shown us on the rare occasions when they’ve played together at the back a good understanding and work as a solid partnership. But for me Lee Peltier has been a liability at the back of Leeds defence. If you closely analysed each game he featured at the centre half both his partners Lees and Pearce have had to bail him out of trouble on a consistent basis. What we need is a centre half that can provide stiff competition for them both or another right back to push Byram thus freeing up Peltier as the backup.
Speaking of competition at right back… As mentioned earlier I believe the club need to avoid free transfers but former Leeds loanee and current Aston Villa player Eric Lichaji contract is due to expire this summer. Lichaji was one of Simon Grayson’s 33 loan players that stood out and put in some impressive performances. Lichaji has had a stuttering season with the Villians due to injury but with an opportunity he could be available on free transfer the club would be naïve to give this one a miss.
With Reading all but down this season current Royals boss Nigel Adkins will be looking to build his own squad for an instant return back to the Premiership next season. With this you could see some of Brian McDermott’s Championship winning players made available. The likes of Jobi McAnuff, Jem Karacan and Adam Le Fondre all players that have always impressed me and all would command a hefty transfer fee.
Again, players who could out stretch our budget but would be fantastic additions to the Leeds squad for next season are Brighton’s Liam Bridcutt and Derby’s Will Hughes. Two central midfields Bridcutt the holding aggressive ankle biter. Will Hughes the playmaker, the player with a pass, vision. players that will be overpriced and over budget but if GFH make the cash available and want an assault on the Championship for that guaranteed one off payment of £60 million once promoted would it be a gamble well payed off? I think so.
Other players doing the rounds that would be available either on a free or at a cut down price is former Leeds players Matthew Killgallon and Jermaine Pennant both available on a free transfer in the summer.
And finally Jermaine Beckford. Dare I say any more about this man? Always a fans favourite and a player the Leeds United fan base collectively would love see return. With his parent club all but happy for him to leave and his current club on the verge of relegation will a return of Jermaine Beckford help bring that feel good factor and bums on seats back to Elland Road GFH are craving for to happen we shall watch this space…
What do you think of the targets we have identified. Do you agree or do you believe the club should bring in other targets not mentioned? We want to hear your thoughts?
Reporter – Matthew Mckeith