Leeds United: Club has to act swiftly to rebuild in summer – Gray

Derby's Richard Keogh and Lee Grant combine to block Matt Smith.

Derby's Richard Keogh and Lee Grant combine to block Matt Smith.

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I THOUGHT we played quite well on Saturday against Derby.

It was one of our better performances from the season as Derby are a good side and a good footballing side. But I thought we were unfortunate not to win the game as we had a few chances and mainly through the route of finding big Matt Smith with his aerial power. The boy scored the goal and it was a terrific goal. He showed good composure, it was a nice through pass from Ross McCormack and a lovely dink over the goalkeeper from Matt Smith. But it was through his aerial power that we were at our most dominant and that’s 12 league goals for Smith this season.

I think he will become a regular fixture in the side and if that’s the case then we have got to get used to seeing the long balls knocked up to him. It will be an interesting close season for the boy and I think he can still work on his fitness and get a little bit sharper. But he can look back on his first season in the jersey with a lot of pride.

Overall, this season has been disappointing and we’ve lost as many games at home as we’ve won. And we weren’t really good enough against the top sides. We took one point from Derby and we never took any points off Forest who we played the other week at home. Next year, we’ve got to compete with these teams and at least win our home games against them if we are going to have any chance of getting in the top six. That’s the aim for everybody and I think Brian McDermott still seems quite positive looking at the future and hopefully things will work out. It will be an interesting time for the club to see exactly what direction Massimo Cellino is taking the club and which way he wants to go. He’s the owner of the club, he’ll make decisions and now that the season has finished, I think he’ll start making those decisions.

I’d like Brian to stay and Brian has got a record which proves he can get results in the Championship. But you’ve got to get those results yet we’ve not got them and every manager lives and dies by results. It just depends on how the new owner sees it and opinions will be divided. Brian has had a bit of success with some of the players he’s brought in but the jury’s still out on some! And we never really had a settled team this year or a settled system. Brian favours a 4-4-2 but when we tried with the wingers he brought in, it never worked.

And, although we finished the season quite strongly, to me, it’s a lot easier to play football when there’s no real pressure on. The pressure had gone – we could not get relegated, you cannot get near the top six and the very best you are going to finish is mid-table. There’s a lot of decisions to be made now and I think there could be as many players going as are staying; we’ve got to make sure we are ready to go next season.

Ross McCormack has already spoken about the push to go up next season and for a player like Ross McCormack, he’ll want to play in the Premier League. If he doesn’t do it next season then time will be running out for him. He’s not getting any younger, he’s playing at the top of his game and he will want to be there or thereabouts pretty soon. I felt a bit disappointed for Ross that he never got to the 30 goals mark but, when you look at his goals return this season, especially given how we have played, it’s terrific. We have had somebody who has scored 28 goals in the league and another striker who has chipped in with 12. And Smith’s goal ratio won’t be that far away from Ross’ because I think Smith only started about 23 or 24 games. That’s a goal every other game and Ross will be around that mark as well. You’ve got to give credit to the two strikers but it just tells you a lot about other departments of the side.

Everybody will be striving to make sure that when we kick-off next season we are in a position where we are not chasing players, that we have got a squad in and that we have got the players in that the manager wants; that the owner is happy and we try and push on from there.

You look at the crowd on Saturday – 30,000. I know it was the last game of the season but there is still that bit of optimism about. If we start the season well and push on you will get 30,000 every week.

Leeds United's home Elland Road. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

Leeds United become owners of Elland Road once again