Uwe Rosler remembers clearly his first year of transfer business at Brentford: 16 players in and 16 players out. The transition was a full-blown revolution and it pleased him to know that Leeds United would not need the same surgical treatment.
Where pre-season friendlies were concerned, the club’s head coach also thought that less was more.
Rosler set a limit of five games this summer and any additional matches in the fortnight before the season starts will be used to give fringe players a little more game time.
It’s a far cry from Brian McDermott’s Tuesday night game at Stevenage and David Hockaday’s midweek visit to Swindon.
In his initial assessment of United’s squad, Rosler realised two things.
Firstly, that he was generally pleased with the players available to him but secondly, that for all their ability, those players would need concerted schooling in his style of play. The training pitch was where Rosler believed the telling work would be done.
In previous summers Leeds have played as many as seven times before their first league game. “In the past I also played one or two more than this,” Rosler said.
“We have the alternative for one or two more in the week leading up to the Everton game or the Burnley game if some players need match minutes but there’s not (another) first-team game planned.
“For me the games were not the main thing.
“Watching the team last season and with the way I’d like to play, I knew I needed to put in a lot of hours on the training field to get the players understanding the roles, the responsibilities, the way we have to play.
“This is why I didn’t want to overload the summer in terms of games.
“We can get the players match fit between the training and the games.
“That’s okay. The hard bit is almost finished, the first two weeks with all the conditioning stuff, but now we need to really get into the football side.”
Leeds contested their first friendly – a 1-1 draw at Harrogate Town on Friday night –and will play York City on Wednesday, another game in which Rosler is likely to play different teams in each half.
For all that the summer is relatively light on fixtures, the standard of the opposition in their final three matches is as high as Leeds have faced for years. The cancellation of a friendly against Athletic Bilbao during their forthcoming tour of Austria was amply compensated by a meeting with Eintracht Frankfurt and United will play another Bundesliga club, Hoffenheim, in Norway next week. Everton at home on August 1 is much the same calibre of match.
“I’m happy that we’re having three English teams to play against and also two foreign sides,” Rosler said. “I want to expose us to top opposition where we’re made to run a lot. Then we’ll know where we are physically.
“The players here are very talented on the ball but collectively we have to show improvement against the ball, with our pressing and our organisation.
“The players need to show how they cope against top opposition so the games we’ve arranged are good for us.”
What became apparent after the signing of Chris Wood from Leicester City was that a goalscoring centre forward was Rosler’s absolute priority in the transfer market.
Leeds have lacked that sort of player since selling Luciano Becchio to Norwich City in 2013 and Rosler knew that his plans would be undermined without a reliable striker up front.
Wood is one of four signings made by Leeds this summer and after a flurry of activity, the past fortnight has been more subdued.
Rosler anticipates more movement and more arrivals but having landed Wood he felt inclined to take his time in properly assessing the squad he inherited.
“I said when I came here that there wouldn’t be a revolution of players,” he said.
“I remember in my first year at Brentford there were 16 players in and 16 players out.
“That was not only the summer but throughout the whole year but that definitely won’t be the case here. I said that from day one.
“We’re trying to bring in the right players for the right place in the right position.
“But I’m still assessing the squad.
“We don’t want to bring someone in for the sake of it when it turns out that we have good players here.
“Everybody has a chance to impress.
“I’m looking forward to getting more into the games.
“By the end of pre-season I’ll know a little bit more about everything.
“The transfer window is open to the end of August so there’s room for us to do something when we want to do it or need to do it.
“I’m not stressed, not rushing.
“I’m not in a rush to get anybody out and I’m not in a rush to get massively a lot of players in.
“Of course I have ideas about how I would like to play and my ideas need a certain style of player, that is clear.
“But I’m very happy with the input I have.”