Ralph Ineson: Survival this season for Leeds United is critical part of a longer-term strategy

Ralph Ineson.
Ralph Ineson.
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In your opinion, what chance do Leeds United have of winning promotion?

Little or none. Make that none. Saying that would depress me normally but we’re looking at survival and we’ve all got to accept that we’re in the process of trying to get some stability back – novel though that concept sounds at Elland Road. In order for us to go up this season, everything the club have done or are trying to do in a short period of time needs to work, and realistically that isn’t going to happen. Having seen what I saw last season, I’m not sure where these 10-game winning runs are going to magically appear from. We’ve sold Ross McCormack and haven’t done enough to the squad.

How do you think David Hockaday will fare as head coach at Elland Road?

I can’t understand the reasons for appointing him. To me, if you’re going to go for a complete unknown then common sense says you’d go for someone young and up-and-coming; someone with some raw potential. Hockaday is 56 and he has proved through his career that he doesn’t have exceptional talent. I don’t think I’m being unfair to him – I’m just judging him on his record. I don’t have faith in his ability, I’m afraid, and knowing Cellino’s habit of indulging in the quick sack, I’ll be amazed if he survives the season.

Who will be the club’s key player?

If we’d actually managed to sign him, Federico Viviani. It’s quite a long time since Leeds had a player like him – you know, someone who likes having the ball at his feet and doesn’t think his job is to send it into orbit. By all accounts he’s a pretty talented kid and it’s no secret that we need some of those. But anyway...among the existing players, I want Rudy Austin to step up and Matt Smith came on fantastically last season. I don’t know – maybe with Ross McCormack gone, Smith will benefit from the fact that he’ll be the centre of attention up front from time to time.

Who will be the surprise package in the squad at Leeds?

I said Chris Dawson last season and that went well. Although he was injured for a lot of it so the answer is null and void. Sam Byram’s not a surprise package any more but I can see him getting back to his old self and I honestly reckon there’s something about Noel Hunt.

Which clubs do you expect to pose the biggest threat in the Championship?

I’ve been away filming in Canada for most of the summer which, as an added bonus, has spared me from some of the madness at Elland Road. I haven’t looked at the division too closely but I’ll say Fulham, Cardiff City and probably Derby County.

How would you rate Massimo Cellino’s performance as owner of Leeds and do you believe his reign will be a success in the long-term?

I’d like to return to the days when we didn’t ever speak about owners. This might not be fashionable but I honestly don’t care about the people with the money. I don’t want to read their life stories and I don’t want to hear what they have to say. I’d like us to act as if football at least plays some part in the existence of the club. I find owners boring, but if you want an opinion about Cellino, his success depends on two things – the scale of his ambition and his ability to run the club without impatience or ego getting in the way.

Where do you think Leeds will finish in the Championship table?

Sixteenth.

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