SOL BAMBA has become Leeds United’s third close-season signing and I think that the jigsaw is starting to sort itself out now.
A lot of things needed doing and it is also good to see the behind-the-scenes structure also setting itself up nicely and in place before the players come back in pre-season training on Monday.
With somebody like Bamba, with his experience and what he did at Leeds last season, I am sure he could have gone elsewhere and for him to want to come back can only be encouraging for everybody.
At his age of 30, a two-year deal with the option of a third year is a fair commitment. Although at his age, he would have wanted a contract like that and not a little one. But I think it is a good thing for everyone concerned.
When he came in last year, he certainly added a bit more steel in the defence and we looked a lot more comfortable.
But I still think we need a bit of pace. Even with Bamba in the team last year, we still looked a bit vulnerable to genuine pace.
We might still need another defender for me. Probably a multi-purpose one in someone who can play at full-back and also central.
That will be something that Uwe Rosler will look at and make his decision on.
I also still think we need an experienced head in midfield. We have lost Rudy (Austin) and we definitely need that bit of experience in there to bring on Mowatt and Cook in the midfield, so that’s an area to strengthen for me.
I know there’s been some bits of talk about Joey Barton and there’s no question that he’s not a quality player. One problem is we are not liked by the press and if he did come, he would just be another story for them against Leeds, I suppose.
But his quality is quite high. We certainly need a quality, experienced player to bring the kids on for me.
Forward-wise, I think we would maybe need somebody else up front too, there’s no question.
I know there’s some stuff about Billy Sharp interesting one or two clubs in the papers and while we have brought young Erwin in, he will need some assistance as we don’t have too much else. We will just have to wait and see.
We have obviously brought in Erwin and also young American goalkeeper Charlie Horton and it’s a challenge for him.
There’s been a lot of good American goalkeepers who have come to this country over the years such as Brad Friedel and Tim Howard and having played in the US, I know that these guys are really keen.
They have a great attitude and I know that Charlie has been over here with Peterborough and Cardiff already and sometimes, it’s the old story with young goalkeepers, they often don’t get a lot of football because the regular one in front of him does not get injured a lot. Sometimes, when you are back-up, you can sit through the whole league season without getting a game, maybe sometimes getting the odd League Cup game.
But you would that young Horton will be seriously competing with Marco Silvestri.
Although I thought that Silvestri had a great season here last year. If it wasn’t for the problems that we had at the end of the year with the situation with the Italian players when it went a bit wrong, for me he was our player of the year.
A challenge is always good and if you have someone who is pushing you, it can bring the best out of you as well and hopefully that will be the case with these two.
Pre-season starts at Thorp Arch on Monday and Uwe will obviously get to work with the players for the first time.
He was a success at Brentford and at the beginning, he was successful at Wigan. But if you have seen what has happened to Wigan, they have brought in a manager after him and they have gone down two divisions.
So there were obviously internal problems there that no manager could have really sorted out.
I think strictness and discipline will be part of his package. But I am sure Uwe can be really good, especially for the young players at the club.
It will take him a bit of time over pre-season to find out what he wants and he now has got to see the players over the course of pre-season and see how they train and make his opinions on them and work from there.
But taking to many of our supporters, they seem to be more optimistic than they have been for quite a while.
We play Everton in a pre-season friendly at Elland Road on August 1 and that will be a good judge in terms of what is required for us to try and get to that level.
It is nice to play these sort of teams to see what level we are at on our way back and what stage we are at. It should be an entertaining game and a good learner for everyone.
Looking at our Championship fixtures, it’s a tough start.
But let’s face it, it’s a tough league and it doesn’t matter whether you play teams at the beginning or end.
But I’d like us to get off to a good start, that’s important. Also a decent run in the cup too as that builds confidence as well.
We lost early last season to Bradford and never really got the season going.
A positive start is so important and our fans deserve it.