Leeds United: It’s ‘stand up and be counted’ time for the players – Richie

Leeds United's Luke Murphy and Mansfield's Adam Murray.
Leeds United's Luke Murphy and Mansfield's Adam Murray.
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FOR Leeds United, yes pre-season is about building up fitness and building up to that first game at Millwall. But it’s also about the performance of every area of the team from front to back as well.

In pre-season, you want to see your forwards on the mark and scoring goals, your providers making those chances for the strikers and the back four being covered by the midfield and the defence also doing their job, working together.

It’s about perception and fans as well. Giving them a bit of hope. You want them thinking: ‘We’re looking okay here.’

For Dave Hockaday personally as well, he will want to take plenty from pre-season and he will be disappointed with the Mansfield result in midweek against a side a couple of leagues below Leeds.

The Mansfield game was Leeds’ first pre-season game in anger against a Football League side and while the game was always going to be tough going there, Leeds now have to start again.

Yes, Leeds still have a way to go, at Chesterfield this weekend and then Swindon in midweek and Dundee United.

But it is ‘stand up and be counted’ time as well, isn’t it? Two weeks until the start of the Championship season.

Now Dave will be aiming to play his strongest sides building up to Millwall. That’s what you have to do.

As a manager, I have good and bad starts to pre-seasons and good and bad starts to league seasons, the full gamut.

Sometimes, in pre-season, you can think: ‘are some players running at 100 per cent.’ As much as you say it, I am sure some hold themselves back and don’t want to be injured as they want to be play in the first game in the league.

I certainly never did that as a player, but I have spoken plenty of times about players being a different breed these days.

Leeds have been playing a diamond system in pre-season games and it’s a system that the majority of players will have seen from last season. Brian McDermott used that system and the ones here should be able to pick that up pretty quickly again.

It’s not as if Brian was a long-ball merchant or anything like that.

I think the fact that some experienced players have left the club might affect Leeds more than anything. Losing strong characters in the dressing room. It can take a while to get things back and maybe Leeds need a few leaders now.

With losing Ross McDermott, the forward department has got to be Leeds’ priority in terms of recruitment. With the greatest respect to Matty Smith, getting six goals against that local Italian side won’t affect him and he will probably think he should score six against that type of opposition anyway.

There will be a big onus on him in his second full season. But he is still only relatively young and he’s not been in the professional game too long and had the pressures. People should remember that.

The manager will have to monitor that. Although he might not want to leave him out sometimes, occasionally he might need that little bit of extra rest.

Dave has issues and problems to tackle, but as a manager/coach, you want things to work on, that’s your job. Plain sailing is nice and it’s nice to be able to trust the players when they go out on the pitch. But there is always something you want to be working on. David will relish that.

The head coach has said that if the young players are good enough they will get their chance.

Sometimes with the young ones, you either sink or swim with them, don’t you.

I recently saw an article about the young lad at Liverpool, Adam Morgan, who went to Yeovil.

Their manager Gary Johnson said that sometimes young players have to be able to step up and be able to handle situations and reading between the lines, he said this lad hasn’t been able to do that. It happens.

It’s one of those. Sometimes you just have to put young lads in and see what happens.

Some can handle it, and it sounds like Lewis Cook did well at Guiseley.

But the acid test is when you get into the league.

In the league, you need that experience of being able to put your foot in at times and it’s game management. You can’t quantify that until young players are blooded in league games.

Sam Dalby scored twice during Leeds United U23's victory at Ipswich on Monday night.

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