Leeds United: Let’s get this season out of way before planning for next – Lorimer

Neil Redfearn and Steve Thompson.
Neil Redfearn and Steve Thompson.
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I wonder how Leeds United will look back on this season when it finally ends.

Two months ago it was shaping up to be a bit of a disaster but in the blink of an eye the club win a bundle of games and people start talking about nipping into the play-offs.

This club thrives on youth development – it is something which gets us all going.

Peter Lorimer

That’s football and the fortunes of a team can turn around quickly. It’s great to have hit a more positive spell of form but when the season’s over and the summer comes, it’ll be necessary to reflect on everything: all that went right and all that went wrong.

That, for me, is the time for big decisions – including a decision on the future of Neil Redfearn. I’m a big fan of Neil’s and I’ve got a huge amount of respect for the job he’s doing as head coach.

The turnaround since the start of January has been quite incredible.

He’s shown courage in his tactics and his team selections but when it came to the crunch, he proved too that he’s got natural coaching ability. I’m sure having Steve Thompson alongside him has helped and they seem to be a very good team. The players clearly respect them.

All the same, I don’t think it would make much sense to rush into a decision about the two of them now.

That’s not to say they don’t deserve an opportunity next season.

As I said, I’ve been really impressed with the way the squad have recovered.

But as it stands our owner, Massimo Cellino, is serving a ban and he’s away from the club. There’s some doubt now about exactly when he’ll be back and in my opinion his situation has to settle down before we think about anything else.

The sensible thing to do is to see the season out, preferably see it out well, and then take stock.

Decisions will have to be made on the fate of certain players and that involves looking at the periods when they struggled as well as the periods when they were bang in form. It’s about being objective and putting a proper plan in place.

No-one is doing themselves any harm at the moment, from Neil and Steve down. A lot of players are impressing and what I really hope is that this spell of form creates momentum which we can carry into the summer.

As much as some fans were looking at the play-offs, I always thought that target would prove beyond us and Tuesday’s defeat at Brighton has probably killed our chances.

There’ve been times in the past seven or eight months when the club looked like a mess, and it probably was, but I suspect that on and off the field we’ve made a bit more progress than people realise.

It’s no secret that the owner’s been fighting and struggling with all sorts of debt and bills; things left over from previous regimes.

It’s been a hard year for him but you just get the feeling that the club might finally be starting to win that war and get on top of things.

On the pitch things are looking up too. Our young lads have been a revelation and while I still think they’ve got lessons to learn and improvements to make, the potential possessed by Sam Byram, Lewis Cook, Alex Mowatt and Charlie Taylor is undeniable.

I’ve said several times before that the best spells in Leeds United’s history have come in periods when the club brought through groups of young lads. It happened under Don Revie and Howard Wilkinson, and also David O’Leary. This club thrives on youth development – it’s something which gets us all going – and creating the right mix between kids and experienced players is the path to success in my view.

Come the summer and the start of the transfer window, the club need to keep that blend intact. I don’t doubt we’ll see new signings but those signings have to fit around the established quality we’ve already got here.

And if Neil Redfearn is the man for next season, the strategy needs to work for him too. It needs to follow the way of thinking he’s imposing on this team.

But for now, those questions should wait. We need to finish this season off, get the owner back involved and see what the long-term future holds for him and the club.

I still believe that for Leeds to thrive, every single thing needs to be in place.

HAT-TRICK HERO: Leeds United's Kemar Roofe, left, leaves with the match ball alongside Ronaldo Vieira. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.

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