Leeds United must plan now in readiness for new term – Gray

The crowd at Leeds United v Nottingham Forest.
The crowd at Leeds United v Nottingham Forest.
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FOR ME, I do think it is time for us as a club to get our thinking caps on and start seriously preparing for next season now.

Because you have to consider the teams who are probably going to come down. QPR have done it before in terms of going down and going back up, Leicester City too. Whoever drops down from the Premier League are going to be a threat with the financial clout, too.

Those who come down from the Premier League are going to be a threat with their financial clout, too.

Those who are relegated will know the Championship as well and it won’t be a shock to say QPR, Leicester and Burnley. Even Sunderland, who are in trouble.

They will all realise what it takes to get back up to the Premier League.

Neil Redfearn has got to start getting organised and be thinking: ‘Right, who are we going to bring in to make us contenders next year?’

It is no good next season being like this one, with us in mid-table. Look at the crowd on Saturday; if that had been a top six game, it would have been a full house.

That’s how we have got to look at it. Saturday was a tremendous crowd to see two teams who are basically mid-table.

The expectation level is there for the fans and we have to give them something in return now to try and encourage them to get behind the team and buy season tickets for next term.

We don’t want to be languishing next year, especially with the money Premier League teams will get now if they are relegated thanks to the TV deals.

But we are making progress and I don’t think there’s any doubt that Neil will start to introduce one or two more of the young boys to see if they can play at this level in the Championship and cope.

Saturday was the type of game where you want to look at your young players – to see if they can cope with a big crowd and the expectation level going up when the crowd is there.

The disappointing thing for us is that we didn’t win the game and there weren’t any goals for the supporters to cheer.

Saturday wasn’t a great game. I thought the midfield players did well in the first half, but for me, we can still can improve our final ball and it’s something the players have got to work on. We need to take more care in the final third of the pitch. We actually got in some great areas.

Nottingham Forest were the same with (Michail) Antonio, but he didn’t know whether he was going to cross or shoot.

The lesson to learn for me is that we have to be more ruthless in the last third.

The game sort of fizzled out a bit. With 20 minutes to go, it looked like finishing 0-0 and we didn’t look like scoring.

It was two sides on a good run, but the performances didn’t do either justice.

It was disappointing in front of a big crowd for us as we want to keep them here and for them to come back week-in, week-out.

Defensively, Neil has got to be pleased as it’s another game without conceding a goal, which has been our Achilles heel in the past.

I thought (Sol) Bamba did well, although he was a bit erratic at times. Luke Murphy played well in the first half, but their midfielders took a better grip of the game in the second half than we did.

Our midfielders drifted out of the game a little bit and couldn’t sustain the momentum they had in the first half for 90 minutes.

I was actually a bit surprised Dougie (Freedman) didn’t change it in the second half for Forest. I thought he’d have thrown a few players on as they needed to win the game to have a realistic chance of getting into the top six, really.

Fair play to Neil, he threw a couple of strikers on there and took one of his midfield players off and at least tried to win the game.

I was surprised Forest didn’t try to win the game that way, although I am not sure how much they had on the bench, although some would have been forward players.

I wouldn’t have thought it would have made any difference to them by putting a few on and saying: ‘Let’s have a bash.’

Neil did that in fairness, I’ve got to say.

Although both sides did not look to have a threat on goal.

I watched the Middlesbrough game beforehand against Ipswich and they did.

You need that threat in front of goal.

Liam Cooper

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