Millwall v Leeds United: YEP jury predictions

Leeds United's Jason Pearce.

Leeds United's Jason Pearce.

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On the eve of the new Championship season, our YEP Jurors look back at a hectic summer at Elland Road and ahead to tomorrow’s opener at Millwall.

Name: Stephen Clark

Age: 42

United fan for: 
26 years

Lives: Shipley

For the first time in 26 years I have not been counting down the days to the start of the season.

Worn down by the procession of talented players to leave the club, the permanent financial black hole and the steady slide from exciting attacking football to hoofball, it seems a long time since the “heady” days of promotion back to the Championship.

It was clear that Brian McDermott was hamstrung in the latter days of his reign by the continuing turmoil behind the scenes. With the arrival of Massimo Cellino, there is now no doubt who is running Leeds United. Italian court cases withstanding, it is clear that the man who has declared himself the Sheriff is laying down the law in all aspects of the running of the club.

What is unusual to us as Leeds supporters is that he also appears to be in total control where it matters, on the pitch. The last couple of owners appeared to have little interest in the football side of the business. With Cellino we have the opposite end of the spectrum. By appointing a complete unknown in David Hockaday as first-team coach it seems, to me at least, that he has picked a man who will do as he is told and if not he will be out of the door. The heads of the coaches littering the corridors of Cagliari bear testament to that.

Three years experience at Forest Green Rovers have certainly not made Hockaday an expert on Italian football, so it is clear that he has had little say in the transfer market. The influx of players from Serie A reserves and Serie B are solely the choice of Cellino and his director of football Nicola Salerno. How they adapt to the English game will be key to how Leeds United fare this season.

If the Football League could have handpicked the most unpleasant opening game of the season, then this would be it. Massimo’s Romans (or at least Italians) will be literally thrown to the Lions in their Den as Leeds open the campaign at Millwall. At the moment this is a Leeds United team in name only to me.

At the most only five of the team which started last season’s opener against Brighton will start at the New Den and it is feasible that only the new skipper Jason Pearce will survive from that 2-1 win. In Tommaso Bianchi we seem to have found the creativity we needed in midfield, but the question remains how the Ross McCormack-sized hole in attack will be filled.

It is going to take time for the team to gel, for the fans to get to know the players and for all the imports to get what playing for Leeds United is all about. For David Hockaday though time is the one thing he is unlikely to get from his president and he will need to hit the ground running.

Prediction: Millwall 2 Leeds United 1.

Name: Keith Ingham

Age: 54

United fan for: 
41 years

Lives: Keighley

The wait is over and ahead lies nine months of thrills on the Leeds United rollercoaster.

Faces have changed. Brian McDermott has left with David Hockaday now the ‘coach’ of the team, and players leaving well into double figures including Tom Lees to Sheffield Wednesday. In have come, so far, seven new players: Silvestri, Taylor, Berardi, Bianchi, Doukara, Benedicic and Ajose with more rumoured to be heading into Elland Road before too long.

This to me has to be a better season than the last few. Too many players have failed to perform in the Leeds shirt they wore. The fans have been patient but even that could wear thin if the team start the Championship season in second gear. Cellino and Hockaday have promised better performances from the wearers of the brand new and quite smart home shirt.

With Paddy Kenny seemingly out of the manager’s plans, Silvestri looks certain to be no.1 with a back four of Byram, Wootton, Pearce with either Berardi or Warnock at left-back.

In midfield the new signings Bianchi and Benedicic may get starting spots alongside Austin. Nicky Ajose signed from Peterborough on Tuesday and hopefully will get amongst the goals quickly.

A tough test awaits in Bermondsey but I’m confident of a Whites win.

Prediction: Millwall 1 Leeds United 2.

Name: Matthew Evans

Age: 29

United fan for: 
22 years

Lives: Pudsey

Rarely has the start of a season arrived with such trepidation. A host of new players, the loss of our best from last season and, most frightening of all, a complete gamble of a management team means anything could happen.

It has been a sketchy pre-season which served up no real evidence that this team can perform any better than the one that finished 15th last time around. Millwall will relish playing United this weekend. The scrutiny on the new coach and players means it’s a team that is already under pressure. A good performance is essential as poor early-season form will mean thoughts of relegation surface sooner rather than later.

Prediction: Millwall 2 Leeds United 1.

Name: Gary Newbould

Age: 43

United fan for: 
43 years

Lives: York

Apart from a new manager, new owner and selling our player of the year and top scorer for last season, it’s been a quiet close season at LS11! A trip to the Den is always a stern test and given the number of changes and imports a point (as ever) would be a great return.

Prediction: Millwall 3 Leeds United 1.

Name: James Harrison

Age: 18

United fan for: 
10 years

Lives: Drighlington

So here it is, the first competitive game of the David Hockaday era. I think I am in the same boat as all the other Leeds fans in not knowing what to expect this Saturday.

I went to the Dundee United game and was pretty impressed with what I saw, we played out from the back and we seem to have a pretty solid spine to the team.

Tommaso Bianchi showed glimpses of how good he could be and Souleymane Doukara looks a real handful. Millwall have recruited well over the summer so tomorrow will be a real chance for Hockaday’s men to show what they are made of in front of an intimidating crowd.

Prediction: Millwall 0 Leeds United 1.

Name: Jonathan Ford

Age: 24

United fan for: 
20 years

Lives: Beeston

It’s back! Competitive football and a chance to see a quite different Leeds United.

I understand the hesitation in positivity from the fans, but seasoned managers have struggled, so let’s give it a go. And more new players might arrive after writing this.

Prediction: Millwall 1 Leeds United 2.

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