Leeds United: The things we have (maybe) learned from the 2015-16 season

Leeds United's head coach Steve Evans and his players thank the fans.
 PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe
Leeds United's head coach Steve Evans and his players thank the fans. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe
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lEEDS UNITED’S 1-1 draw at Preston North End at the weekend brought down the curtain on another frustrating campaign. For some fans, the end of the season will always come too early - for others there was no doubt a sense of relief.

As is often the case at Elland Road, it proved to be another season littered with controversy, a number of lows both on and off the pitch with the occasional glimmer of blue sky breaking through the grey clouds which often seemed to swirl around the club.

Sky Bet Championship.
Reading v Leeds United.
United's president Massimo Cellino.
16th August 2015.
Picture : Jonathan Gawthorpe

Sky Bet Championship. Reading v Leeds United. United's president Massimo Cellino. 16th August 2015. Picture : Jonathan Gawthorpe

But, as is to be expected with an owner/president like Massimo Cellino, there was rarely a dull moment.

The future can still be bright ...

As has often been the case in recent seasons, the players coming through the Academy have been the real highlights of a generally frustrating campaign with the likes of Lewis Cook, Charlie Taylor, Alex Mowatt and, more recently, Ronaldo Vieira coming through the ranks and making an impact on the team. Keeping hold of these will be imperative next season following the departure of Sam Byram to West Ham in January.

Just not on a par with promotion pack ...

Leeds United head coach Steve Evans. 
Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

Leeds United head coach Steve Evans. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

‘A club the size of Leeds should be in the Premier League,’ is a phrase often linked with the club. However, football doesn’t work as simple as that and as Leicester City’s Premier League title win has proved anythinis, well, possible. The Championship is one of the toughest leagues in Europe to get out of and this season Leeds simply haven’t been on a par with the likes of Burnley, Middlesbrough and those teams settling for the play-offs.

Investment in the playing squad urgently needed ...

If Leeds are to reach the level of the teams in the upper reaches of the Championship and have any realistic chance of challenging for a play-off place or more, new, quality players are needed. Despite bringing in Toumani Diagouraga permanently and Liam Bridcutt on loan in January, little other business took place. With a number of players anticipated to be leaving this summer, it is imperative the head coach - whoever it may prove to be - brings in upgrades as their replacements.

A lack of stability remains ...

A 4-0 defeat at Brighton and Hove Albion was one of the more forgettable nights of the season.

A 4-0 defeat at Brighton and Hove Albion was one of the more forgettable nights of the season.

When the season started Uwe Rosler was seen as the man to take the club up the Championship table. He was gone by October. To be replaced by former Rotherham United coach Steve Evans was initially a major shock but, ever since, the Glaswegian has proved many doubters wrong and done a solid, competent job. It seems unlikely, though, that he will get chance to build on that come the start of 2016-17.

The Cellino circus rumbles on ...

Ever since Massimo Cellino took over the club in 2014 it has been a roller-coaster ride. As well as being in the headlines for numerous court cases and convictions, this season saw the 49-year-old former Cagliari owner attempting to ban Sky Sports from broadcasting their match against Derby.

He later - albeit reluctantly - allowed the cameras in, although he had made his point in no uncertain terms. His numerous, outspoken comments made in several interviews throughout the season - sometimes about his manager Evans - did nothing to help instil any sense of calm back Elland Road.

An emotional Steve Evans leaves the pitch at the end of the 1-1 draw at Preston. 
Picture : Jonathan Gawthorpe.

An emotional Steve Evans leaves the pitch at the end of the 1-1 draw at Preston. Picture : Jonathan Gawthorpe.

Defensive woes need to be addressed ...

Uncertainty hasn’t just been restrictedm to the boardroom it has spread on to the pitch at times, particularly when it comes to Leeds’ defence. Most recently, Scott Wootton’s error gifted Preston a late equalizer on the last day of the season, while more ‘memorable’ defensive disasters came in defeats at the Riverside where Leeds gifted Middlebrough a 3-0 win, while the less said about the 4-0 horror show at Brightonthe better.

The need for a 20-goal striker ...

Obviously luxury in the modern day game and, let’s face it, they don’t grow on trees. Leeds’ top scorer this season was Chris Wood with 13, followed by Mirko Antenucci with nine goals. However, when you look at teams who gain promotion from this league in recent years they have had clinical partnerships up front, Watford had Ighalo and Deeney, while Burnley relied on the goals of Gray and Vokes. Scoring just 50 goals such as Leeds mustered this season is simply not enough.

Lack of consistency ...

Another feature of the top sides who Leeds aspire to be like, was their ability to string together unbeaten runs. Brighton started the season with a 21-game unbeaten run with Burnley eclipsed this in the second half of the campaign. It’s no surprise that those two finished 1st and 3rd after 46 games.

The fans deserve better for their support ...

Leeds still have the fifth highest average attendance in the Championship. If that impressive statistic could somehow be replicated on the pitch in some way, there would be little to stop the club from returning to the top flight. With a healthy contingent regularly heading to away games, Leeds are still one of the best supported sides in the country and, as a result, deserve better from the team and the people behind it.

A CUT ABOVE: Leeds United's Gaetano Berardi shows his anger as blood pours from below his eye during Tuesday night's Carabao Cup clash at Burnley.

Selfless Berardi putting Leeds United welfare first