Gary Edwards: Good start for Leeds United is essential for even a sniff at promotion

Gary Edwards.
Gary Edwards.
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In your opinion, what chance do Leeds United have of winning promotion?

Obviously a good start is essential and although Cellino has hinted that we’re not going for promotion this season, I’ve no doubt that if there’s the slightest chance come the final few furlongs, he’ll go for it in a big way. Cellino is his own man and much of the time his heart will rule his head, but as usual you can put money on it not being a dull year.

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

The choice of Hockaday was a surprise to everyone – including, I suspect, the players. His record, to be frank, doesn’t contain much in the way of achievements or credentials but he talks a good game and is very much a fitness fanatic. That can only benefit a team that faded away in the latter stages of many games last season. He’s also known for giving youngsters a chance to show their worth which again can only be good for the club. The flip side of the coin for him is that if results don’t go United’s way, he certainly won’t be at the club’s Christmas party.

Who will be the club’s key player?

It’s quite hard to say but Jason Pearce seems to have found his old form and should figure strongly at the heart of the defence. There have been mixed reports on the influx of foreign players this summer but the acquisition of Swiss defender Gaetano Berardi seems an astute one. Not only will he add some weight to the back four but signing him could also open up a new position for Sam Byram. Matt Smith is also doing well but I feel it’s imperative that we bring in a strong, successful striker to complement him in front of goal.

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

Again, that remains to be seen but I’m hoping for good things from Aidy White. I still think that given the right guidance he could make a very good player. Also, considering Hockaday’s track record, there could be opportunities for youngsters Lewis Cook, Alex Mowatt and of course Sam Byram. I’m also hoping that Smith can gel with a new partner up front and, in midfield, dare I say David Norris? Perhaps the biggest and hopefully pleasurable surprise will be Massimo Cellino himself.

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

I’m hoping that Fulham’s Ross McCormack plays like he did when he first came to Elland Road – indifferently. But if he plays as we all know he can then unfortunately I would expect Fulham to do well. I also think Reading will be strong, and so too Middlesbrough and Nottingham Forest – but please, please God, don’t let it be Norwich!

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?

With Cellino here there are going to be some interesting times ahead and they are definitely going to be memorable. He pulls no punches and he’ll be pulling all the strings at Elland Road. He’s already demonstrated that he likes to mix with everyone and that includes the fans. He’s been seen in many pubs and bars in the city and that will continue. At work he’s a man built on success and if things aren’t going according to plan – his plan – then you know he’ll change it.

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

Top, of course.

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