Former Leeds ace Andy Ritchie has his say on all things United
IT’S the start of June tomorrow and there’s obviously so much stuff to sort out ahead of the start of next season at Leeds United – in just over two months’ time really.
Massimo Cellino is due to meet the Leeds management staff and players at Elland Road on Monday and we will have to see how that one goes.
So much has happened behind the scenes at Leeds so far this year and now there’s things like planning for next season and pre-season, which isn’t that far away now.
Many fans are wondering about Leeds’ pre-season plans and to be honest, you usually get the pre-season games sorted by the club before the end of the season before just announcing them.
Sometimes, you even get them a season in advance if you can as teams can get booked up.
You always want to get the best teams and people down if you can. Especially for the home games when you want to bring the good crowds down and get a bit of a feel-good factor.
Then there’s the local ones you play at your near neighbours, which in Leeds’ case means the likes of Farsley sometimes and others such as Guiseley, Harrogate Town and maybe FC Halifax, what with them doing so far with an ex-Leeds player in Neil Aspin also managing there.
I am sure the pre-season schedule is something that will have been talked about and certainly I know I would have got into people’s ribs before the end of the season, probably a couple of months before to get them all sorted out.
Obviously first of all, Leeds need to know who is going to be there.
We all know the financial problems that are around the club need to be sorted, but all the close-season stuff and friendlies are important for the club and you would think Mr Cellino will know that and should be able to think ahead that way.
Leeds need to be playing quality opposition and need to know the travel arrangements.
Good opposition is needed, especially the closer you get to a season. While in terms of the home games, you do want to make a few bob definitely as well, which is important.
That’s what pre-season is also about these days. Maybe it wasn’t some time ago, but football is more of a business now and if say Leeds got a Manchester City or a Premiership club at Elland Road, you’d be guaranteed a big crowd as the fans here are just so loyal.
The people would come in, especially at a club like Leeds and the fans would turn up for some decent opposition and make sure they would pop along and then be thinking: ‘Are we where we need to be and want to be?’. Playing good opposition is a good marker ahead of the start of a new season.
We now know the make-up of the Championship for next season and regarding the Championship play-off final, I see my prediction was wrong with Derby losing!
Although I could not see that happening when QPR went down to ten men.
But it was a great finish right at the end of the game from Bobby Zamora and I just felt for Richard Keogh so much as I had him at Barnsley on loan when I was manager and he was a fantastic lad who gave absolutely everything.
I just felt so sorry for him, but it was a quality finish from a consummate professional in Zamora.
QPR have some players with experience and nous, such as Joey Barton, Clint Hill and Robert Green. Premiership players really.
Although an article I read from Tony Fernandes said: ‘if promotion doesn’t happen, we’ve got a plan.’ That sounded a bit refreshing for me – being prepared for something not to happen. That’s not always the case.
Looking at Derby, they have a fantastic squad of players and no-one can have a go at Steve McClaren’s credentials. I know he got slated for the England thing, but doesn’t everybody. If we do rubbish in the World Cup, Roy Hodgson will get it, you watch.
Steve is a great coach and I have spoken to him a few times and I know plenty of people who say he’s a magnificent coach.
If they keep hold of him, they will be there or thereabouts next year for me.
Obviously, there’s the likes of Cardiff who have already been busying bringing the likes of Adam Le Fondre in and the Championship will be really tough next year again. Like it pretty much always is.
Hopefully, if there’s some semblance of normality at Leeds, they can get some decent players in.
Although it will have to happen pretty quickly. Fingers crossed.