New faces: Guiseley’s Ex-United ace Ben Parker got a good look at Leeds’ new players on Saturday and spoke to Leon Wobschall about his impressions.
THERE MAY not have been too much incident and excitement on show for Leeds United fans at Nethermoor on Saturday, but one of their number believes things will get interesting in the coming weeks.
Although hopefully not too much..
Ben Parker may have lined up in the strip of Guiseley as opposed to the club he will always support in Leeds at the weekend and tried to deliver a pre-season result which would have constituted as a surprise rather than a seismic shock, but his affiliations were split.
The former Whites left-back, 26, afforded a generous reception from both sets of fans when he came off for Kyle Harrison, has more than a passing interest in Leeds. He has watched them from the stands, played for them and even chronicled their fortunes on radio from time to time.
On the day, it was United who manufactured a 2-0 victory thanks to late goals from Jason Pearce and Matt Smith, but it was a largely routine, sedate afternoon which is generally the way with pre-season fixtures.
For the United hordes who made the short trip to north Leeds, it was a chance to check out a few new faces in the likes of Marco Silvestri, Tommaso Bianchi and Souleymane Doukara.
But much of the animated action arrived in the main stand in the shape of some passionate histrionics from owner Massimo Cellino.
It’s been a prevailing wind of charge at Leeds over the summer, some would say a hurricane. And while Parker is fully envisaging much frenzied activity on the transfer front in the coming weeks, his main concern is on the upheaval behind the scenes being kept to a minimum over the course of next season.
Parker, whose United career ended in April 2012 after seven years at the club, said: “It will be an interesting few weeks, probably right up until the final day of the transfer window in terms of who they are going to get in. Leeds have a core of experienced players, but need a few more bodies in and around the squad.
“In terms of losing your top-scorer as well, you need to replace him and that is not going to be cheap. It will be interesting to see what sort of players they go for and whether they continue to dive into the market abroad or go for a few more players who are well-known to the fans over here.
“But I think the main thing is getting a bit of stability, just for the fans’ sakes so they know which direction the club are going in.
“If Leeds get a good solid season under their belts, hopefully they can kick on from there.”
Saturday afforded fans their first glimpses of Silvestri, Bianchi and Doukara, along with Stuart Taylor and Geatano Berardi, with the latter only taking part in the warm-up, having only signed for Leeds on Friday night.
In the event, it was the youthful brigade who took the limelight, more especially England Under-17 midfielder Lewis Cook, who stole the show in many respects from a United point of view.
Parker was one of many impressed by the teenager’s showing, which belied his tender years and offered encouragement for the future.
He added: “At half-time and full-time, we were speaking about how many young players were playing for Leeds such as Ross Killock and Lewis Cook and I thought they all did well, particularly Lewis.
“Lewis established himself really well in the game. The best thing I thought about him was that he did the simple things well and kept the ball well. He was always eager to get on the ball.
“In the midfield they played for the first hour, they had senior pros in Michael Tonge and Dave Norris in there, but he was demanding the ball off them and dictating play at every opportunity.
“We were happy enough for them to dictate and every time they had the ball, we dropped off and held our shape well and invited them to play the ball through the midfield to the strikers, while we attempted to press at times.
“From what a few of the (Leeds) guys were saying, they are looking to try and keep the ball more, whereas in previous years, they have been a bit more direct. It’s better for the fans than ‘hoof ball’.
“Pre-season is about the clichés of getting fitness and match sharpness out of games and it was a good run-out for both sides. It was Leeds’ first proper game after the 16-0 win and the ‘no-show’ and from their point of view, it was good for everyone to get a run-out, whether it be sixty or thirty minutes.
“From our point of view, it was good to come up against someone of the quality of Leeds as we aren’t going to come against teams of that quality week-in week-out and we took some good things away from the game too.”
Parker is gearing for another crack at Conference North promotion with Mark Bower’s Guiseley, who heartbreakingly and cruelly missed out at the final hurdle in 2013-14 when they were beaten at the death after extra-time in a 2-1 play-off final loss at Altrincham.
He has signed on for 2014-15 with the Lions, but is still hoping to fit in a few visits to Elland Road to his schedule, when the calendar allows.
He said: “It was a strange feeling playing Leeds and it was nice to get a good reception and round of applause from both sets of fans when I came off which I really appreciated.
“I still have fond memories of my time at Leeds and am still a Leeds fan and it’s the first result I look out for after we have played.
“I’ve done the radio work covering Leeds and I’d love to do that again if there’s some spare games, while I’d also love to get down and watch some games myself.
“I’ll have to weigh things up; I may have to get my fifth yellow card early in the season, so I am suspended for a game so I can get myself down!”