Leeds United: Crunch time arrives to thrash out the future – Gray

Massimo Cellino. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe
Massimo Cellino. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe
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Saturday’s game against Rotherham was a bit of a non-event but it’s all about the club sorting itself out now.

Massimo Cellino’s ban is up so it’s time to get it sorted and sit down and say ‘this is where we’re going and this is is how we’re going to do it.’ There’s only one man who can decide that and that’s the owner. He owns the club and he’ll decide which way he thinks the club should go.

I don’t think there’s any doubt that Neil Redfearn and Massimo Cellino are going to meet some time this week or in the near future to thrash things out to see what direction the club is going to go in.

If we are going to be a major contender next season then it’s got to be sorted out sooner rather than later. It’s no good sorting this out a week before the season starts or we will be in the same boat as we were in last season.

First and foremost, we have got to start sorting players such as what’s going to happen with Sol Bamba? Rodolph Austin’s contract is also up and then you have got the issue with the young players being coveted.

We started with a policy last year of bringing players in from abroad and you cannot say it’s worked. It only works if you’re successful. The players that came in from abroad last season, they might improve next season, now that they know what the Championship is all about.

It could have been a shock to the system for some of them. I know some of them were missing from the lap of honour but, while I don’t know about all of them, I know Marco Silvestri and Mirco Antenucci were at the dinner on Saturday night. By all accounts, Silvestri was fit to play on Saturday – he Tweeted that himself.

I don’t know which players will stay and it’s up to Neil and Massimo to sit down and look at the whole playing squad, look at where we can strengthen, what the budget is.

Overall, it’s been a disappointing season – a poor season. You look at our finishing position, 15th, and it just goes to show you how vital that little unbeaten run was. e.

The disappointing thing for Neil is that his assistant left at a vital time as it’s a difficult job to do on your own.

Steve (Thompson) was his right-hand man and these are things that Neil will be taking into consideration when speaking to Massimo. He wants him back but it will be interesting to see what Steve does. He might say ‘you showed me the door so I’m staying out the door.’

There were 32,000 at the game on Saturday but we have got to get it right if we want to keep those 32,000 week-in, week-out.

The way to do that at this club is to be in the top half right from the start, challenging for the top six or the top two.

Bournemouth are deservedly champions and while people say Bournemouth spent a bit of money, they didn’t spend a fortune. You look at Matt Ritchie – £400,000 – and I think he was Championship player of the year.

We finished 15th last season and we were saying there’s got to be an improvement. This wasn’t an improvement – not to me.

There were positives which were the young boys coming through and breaking through.

But they’ve got to progress and improve - and we’ve got to keep them. But we need other players in as well. The young players cannot do it on their own. Lewis Cook took young player of the year with Alex Mowatt taking player of the year and players’ player of the year which is a great accolade for the boy. He has had a terrific season. I think most significant is Alex winning the players’ player of the year award because he’s only young and for his fellow players to vote for him – we heard it was an overwhelming majority – then they must think extremely highly of him, not as only as a player but for his work ethic, his character around the place so that’s a tremendous achievement.

Then there was only ever going to be one winner of the young player of the year award.

Myself, I feel like the goalkeeper is a bit unlucky not to win something as some of his displays this year have been outstanding at vital times for the football club. You look at him up at Middlesbrough and places like that. They were vital victories for us that kept us on a little bit of a run and it was badly needed.

Liam Cooper

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