Leeds United not Gold Coast's big story but 5am WhatsApps and noises from camp tell tale

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Leeds United didn’t make the front or back page of the Gold Coast Bulletin yesterday morning a beach brawl, Kiss concert and the State of Origin saw to that – but they’re making the right noises.

How big of a deal the Whites are in this part of the world depends largely on who you talk to. The local community close to the Cbus Super Stadium appear well briefed on the arrival of Jesse Marsch’s men and, of course, there are Whites fans everywhere you go so there were hundreds at an open training session and there will be thousands at today’s game against Brisbane Roar.

Roar midfielder Jay O’Shea, a former team-mate of Liam Cooper’s at Chesterfield, anticipates an atmosphere tilted heavily in Leeds’ favour and the distinct feel of an away game for the local side.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

For Australia’s Leeds United community this tour is, like the last one, a godsend, a chance to see their idols and idols-in-the-making close up and personal.

For the general populous, Leeds aren’t the big story this week. Wednesday’s State of Origin rugby league game between New South Wales Blues and the Queensland Maroons was front and back news as Leeds went about their own pre-game business.

Sport in general is an obsession Down Under – the facilities available on the Gold Coast for all levels of sport are remarkable – and this particular game captures the imagination in a huge way.

It piqued some of the Leeds camp too – Liam Cooper and a number of rugby league loving backroom staff made plans to attend the game, at the same Suncorp Stadium that will host their own match against Aston Villa this weekend.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

That particular clash could be the first real chance to draw anything like a conclusion about Marsch’s squad this summer and as long as tonight’s Queensland Champions Cup opener against Brisbane Roar goes to plan, Leeds will head into the Villa fixture in a good mood.

NEW BOY - The Leeds United squad have taken quickly to the new arrivals, including Rasmus Kristensen who by all accounts is no wallflower. Pic: GettyNEW BOY - The Leeds United squad have taken quickly to the new arrivals, including Rasmus Kristensen who by all accounts is no wallflower. Pic: Getty
NEW BOY - The Leeds United squad have taken quickly to the new arrivals, including Rasmus Kristensen who by all accounts is no wallflower. Pic: Getty

Marsch’s positivity, that never really faltered in the face of a relegation battle, has clearly found its mark with the players and the hymn sheets have been passed out.

Players are never going to throw themselves under the bus in pre-season with an ill-judged or negative remark that could impact on their game time but Patrick Bamford is too genuine a character to play make believe about the mood in the camp. His insistence that things feel good has been echoed by enough voices, enough times, to take at face value.

It’s reassuring to hear that Marsch has taken a leading role in the gently-gently nature of Bamford’s return to football, urging patience and caution.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Any time spent around the players, even when the cameras are not trained on them, reveals a group enjoying each other’s company. Diego Llorente, a quiet sort, being such an animated and vocal part of an in-gym inter-squad competition bodes well. The new boys gelling so quickly that Bamford was desperate to highlight it, unprompted, in an interview, speaks volumes.

The squad feel good. The staff feel good, barring one or two who perhaps didn’t stick as rigidly as they could have to the jetlag advice put forward by head of head of medicine and performance Rob Price.

Despite Price’s best efforts, which included red light therapy to stimulate melatonin and condition the players’ bodies for sleep, the time zone did have its way, a little, with some of the players. When a message popped up in their WhatsApp group at 5am on Tuesday morning asking if anyone else was up, the replies were instant and numerous. By 7am a group of around 10 were enjoying a beach stroll together.

Leeds have had a good dressing room for a while now yet with so many newcomers it was important to ensure their arrival only enhanced the culture and the atmosphere around the team.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Luis Sinisterra made a point of praising his fellow players for the welcome he received, Marc Roca has been taken in by the Spanish group and others, while both Tyler Adams and Brenden Aaronson have quickly made themselves at home among their new peers.

Rasmus Kristensen is clearly no wallflower and is likely to be as popular in the stands as he is with team-mates this season. Even Darko Gyabi, expected to have to fight his way into the senior plans, looks like he belongs already, along with fellow teenager Archie Gray.

It helps that the new players are rated by their colleagues. Nothing eases a transition quite like footballing ability.

So the mood is good. The fans in Australia are feeling it and those back home appear reasonably content, which for a club who wriggled out of relegation on the final day of the season and have just sold two of their stars, is some going.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

On the incoming transfer front so many boxes appear to have been ticked that complaints can be few and far between. There are still boxes to tick and concerns to be allayed, little injuries and niggles that shed light on areas still in need of strengthening – there always will be – but the summer Leeds have had so far could have been very different and far less positive.

A good pre-season provides no guarantee of a successful season to come but a bad pre-season can be impossible to recover from. Even if they are not the big noise on the Gold Coast this week, Leeds are at least sounding good. The next task is to look good.

Related topics: