Article by Ben Dixon
Football’s back. This year had one of the longest off-seasons ever and although there were some side-shows in the shape of the London Olympics and Euro 2012, nothing can compensate for 15 football-less weeks. But in a few hours that will all change and normal service will resume. Well actually, from a Leeds perspective I hope normal service doesn’t resume and that we might just have a successful season.
Right from the start of this summer Neil Warnock promised wholesale changes and that he hasdelivered. 11 players brought in with more still to come it seems and a fair few let go. Of the 11 he has brought in none have been as controversial as El Hadj “Sewer Rat” Diouf. Not the most popular player at Elland Road by any stretch of the imagination but a decent player nonetheless. It only takes a few consistent performances for players to turn from villain to hero at many football clubs, so if Diouf performs and more importantly behaves then I can see him being a success at Elland Road. Other main signings include Neil Warnock’s lovechild Paddy Kenny. He can’t speak highly enough of the goalie and rates him as one the best in England. Most of Portsmouth’s team have also signed in the form of Luke Varney, Jason Pearce and David Norris. All 3 seem like consistent enough performers and good signings on Warnock’s behalf. Then of course there’s The Beast. Rodolph Austin, a Jamaican international with a reputation in Norway as a bit of a tank. Dirty Leeds on the return?
However with all the positive’s there have been this summer, there have also been some monumental negatives. The main setback to Neil Warnock’s aims of promotion was of course losing Robert Snodgrass to the Leeds of the Premier League….Norwich Effing City. Nothing to do with the quality or the fans but the fact that they have a strange desire to buy our team. First Bradley Johnson, then our then Captain Johnny Howson which was a major setback to our awful campaign last season. And now they snatch another inspirational captain in the form of Snoddy. In fact, Norwich are only Neil Kilkenny away from Leeds’ League 1 midfield. I just hope against hope that the footballing gods are Leeds fans and decide for Norwich to do a Derby County and get relegated before April whilst getting Leeds promoted. Now that would be a kick in the teeth for Delia. There was also the surprise exit of Adam Clayton to Championship and Yorkshire rivals Huddersfield managed by a certain Simon Grayson. A good player yes, but certainly not irreplaceable.
So, moving away from the transfers and on to the takeover. Or should it be the “Proposed Takeover”. This matter has been on the minds of Leeds fans for well over 2 months and in that time we’ve had 2 statements from the club giving no details and hundreds of updates from Leeds United Supporters Trust that could be relied upon less than Joey Barton. To be honest, I don’t think anyone has any clue whatsoever as to what is going on behind the scenes and until something concrete happens it’s posted at the back of my mind. Thankfully football has come back to save us from the constant rumours that come from the trainees, the club shop employees and various other sources about done deals and press conferences. I’ve lost interest but not hope and will remain that way until it’s official.
But now what to expect from this season. NW himself has said that he doesn’t think Leeds are capable of automatic promotion and that the play-offs are a more realistic proposition. I’ll take that. As long as we defend better than last year and the players enjoy playing at Elland Road with 30,000+ every week then I can see promotion as a real possibility.
So in a few hours Leeds United begin the 2012-2013 Championship campaign in the hope that it will be their last one. A return to the Premier League would be incredible and where a club the size of Leeds belongs. But that’s 9 months away. Until then it’s a case of reserving Saturday afternoons for football and praying. But whatever happens…. Football’s back. And not a moment too soon.