LOOKING at Leeds United, for me they really need to somehow get that ‘fortress mentality’ back at Elland Road, which has gone missing a bit for me.
Traditionally, it’s such a tough place to come to and in the eighties, the crowd would always make it tough for opponents and it’s about using that and making it hard on the pitch.
Teams used to come to Elland Road and think: ‘Bloody hell, I don’t want to play there’ because of everything that goes with it.
I am sure that is what teams think when they go to Millwall, who Leeds play first up today in their Championship opener.
As a a player, it can be hard to block out those sorts of atmospheres, although I was one who found it easy. A lot don’t. For a Leeds player, it is about making sure you use the home crowd, who are one of the best in the business. You have to use everything you can to your advantage.
I remember when I was at Oldham when we played against Leeds so many times in cup competitions and one thing and another and it was always such a hard place to come. Although for me, it was great atmosphere to play in front of; I just relished it.
The current Leeds players need to take everything on board and say: ‘If we go out there, and run our butts off, then the fans will forgive.’
Even if it is not always going for us. Leeds fans just want to see more endeavour, I feel.
Obviously, Leeds have been busy in the transfer market and they have brought in Nicky Ajose and I have seen a bit of him with him starting at Manchester United and going on to Peterborough.
I have seen him play a couple of times for Bury a few years ago and from what I have seen, he knows where the goal is, he’s sharp and will probably work quite well off a big man for me and it might suit him playing with big Matt Smith. He’s been a bit of a journeyman at a few clubs, but maybe he can find a spiritual home at Leeds.
It sounds like Mr Cellino might be parting with a bit more money to get a few more players in and it is fair to say, it promises to be a busy time and an interesting season.
It will certainly be intriguing to see how Leeds play during the season.
Maybe David Hockaday may want to play a different way away from home to that at Elland Road. Personally, I never really changed systems that much as I thought familarity is good for footballers. We will have to see what he comes up with. For me, I liked to make the opposition worry about us when I was managing.
If other teams wanted to change their systems to negate us, then fine.
If other teams played with three in the middle at the back, all I would do is have my two forwards not playing side by side, but having one drop off in that hole to make it a bit different. I always thought: ‘You think about us, we will cause you more problems than you cause us.’ Obviously, Smithy was on the bench last weekend in the final friendly against Dundee United at Elland Road, but for me, after him scoring 13 goals last season, he will be an integral and vital part of the squad this season.
You can’t ignore that. Maybe Hockaday might just have wanted to see what others can do in pre-season.
Looking at things this weekend for Leeds, it’s a tough opener, but if you get something from Millwall, it’s a really good start as from what I saw on Sky Sports, they are up for it and aiming for the play-offs and their fans are upbeat under Ian Holloway. It’s always a tasty game as well, isn’t it...?
Ahead of your first game, everyone is on tenterhooks. As a player, you just want to get the first one out of the way and as a manager, you want to come out of it with three points if you can, especially if you are at home.
If you really pushed a manager, he’d say: ‘Give me a point away from home’ first up. Leeds do that at Millwall and I suspect the manager will be very happy, thank you very much.
Then, it is all set up to get a good result against Accrington at home in the Capital One Cup in midweek to take some momentum into the home opener on TV against Middlesbrough.