AFTER watching Leeds United’s final home game of the current campaign, Lee Sobot looks at five things we learned from Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to Charlton Athletic.
United still need major surgery this summer
Leeds approached Saturday’s encounter unbeaten in four games and as one of the division’s form sides with ten points out of a last possible 12. Play-offs and promotion form. But United’s deficiencies were again exposed by a Charlton side who caused bundles of problems despite having already been relegated. Yes, Leeds squandered plenty of goal-scoring opportunities and head coach Steve Evans stressed afterwards that United were arguably unlucky not to win. But Evans also admitted that Leeds probably need five or six new players over the summer to turn themselves into promotion contenders and Saturday’s display backed up that assessment entirely.
Evans will likely learn his fate before Preston
It might have been that when Evans waved to those fans who had stayed behind after the full time whistle that it was a wave goodbye for good. But you suspect, one way or the other, that the Glaswegian will learn of his fate this week. Evans said he and chairman Massimo Cellino had a lengthy chat on Friday and that Cellino was nearing informing him of his decision when the duo ran out of time. The Scot says those discussions will continue early this week and it’s not inconceivable that Evans may learn of his fate by as early as Monday, certainly well before Saturday’s season finale at Preston one suspects.
The gut feeling is that he will not be offered a new deal.
Mirco Antenucci is probably leaving
Antenucci’s Leeds contract is up in the summer and the Italian has yet to be offered a new deal. Furthermore, it was perhaps telling that Antenucci and his wife and two young children took to the Elland Road pitch long after full time to pose for photographs in front of empty stands in the evening sunshine. One for the family album no doubt and quite likely Mirco’s last photo at Elland Road.
Sol Bamba can be a goal-getter - but Leeds need so much more
Some of Bamba’s defending left a little bit to be desired on Saturday but fair play to the club captain for attempting to lead a Whites revival when United were 2-0 down. The 31-year-old was almost playing like a midfield playmaker in the last ten minutes and made no mistake with his 71st-minute header which looked to have got United back into the game. In netting on Saturday Bamba took his seasonal tally to four goals in the league. He is now the club’s fourth highest scorer in league games this season. Therein lies the problem.
Even now, United can still draw a big crowd
For all that Saturday’s fixture was United’s last home game of the season - and that the weather was decent - a low gate could have been expected after this season’s events, especially for a complete dead rubber against already relegated Charlton. But Elland Road looked visibly busy just before kick-off, with 25,458 the official attendance, and only a few hundred of those from Charlton. Through it all, the club’s fan base remains as loyal and hungry for success as ever and United should sell plenty of season tickets given the ‘money back if we don’t make the play-offs’ offer, if the club make the right moves over the late spring and summer. Cellino’s next couple of moves, regarding who will be United’s head coach next term, Evans or otherwise, and also how much money the Italian invests over the summer, will be absolutely key.