Leeds United transfer scepticism amid takeover wait as Whites prioritise key trio for Championship
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The Whites escaped the drop this time last year thanks to their win at Brentford and Burnley’s loss to Newcastle United. But this time round, not only do the Whites need to beat Tottenham Hotspur, they need to pray for the right results in both games involving fellow strugglers Everton and Leicester City. Safety depends on three separate outcomes and the chances of survival have been given a three per cent rating.
So much of the talk around the club at present revolves not only around league status but the boardroom and more specifically, who sits in it. A takeover by the 49ers is expected to go through in the event of Leeds staying up, but it’s also now looking likely if they go down, as the Americans remain serious about a purchase regardless at a time when Andrea Radrizzani is making moves to get involved at Sampdoria.
No matter what happens, a squad rebuild is necessary but relegation brings a number of almost certain departures. The books will need to be balanced through player sales and parachute payments, some might decide to seek their top flight fortune elsewhere and some, younger players predominantly, will view the second tier as their ticket to game time. Leeds have views on the players they would seek to try and keep in order to make them the centre of a new side.
Here are 26 of your questions on where things stand at Elland Road and what this summer, one of incredible change, could look like on the playing front and in the corridors of power.
Leeds United Q and A
- With a three per cent chance of survival, thoughts are turning to the Championship
- Is the Radrizzani era in its final days now?
- Urgency needed with recruitment decisions and timing key
@FinGarnham: In your opinion who is the worst manager we’ve had this season?
Brutal wording Fin, but a difficult one to answer because the sample sizes are all different and in a couple of cases too small. What you can say is that none of the men who have led the team have proven to be the right appointments, yet. Sam Allardyce could yet mastermind a win and the unlikeliest of escapes couldn’t he? Maybe, maybe not. That would certainly vindicate his appointment however.
In terms of the style of football played you have to view it through the filter of the players available. Jesse Marsch had most of what he wanted, but I wasn’t a fan at all of the way they played in possession. Javi Gracia, given a team of technicians, might have had more of a chance of entertaining. Michael Skubala has had the issue of having to play a style that resembles the first team’s, and then when he did take the first team he couldn’t make wholesale changes with so little time to work with the side and prepare for games. Allardyce has been given a beaten-up and downbeat squad with four games to go. You can hardly judge him on what we have seen.
Of the four, Marsch and Allardyce would vie for the best value in press conferences, Gracia was a complete gentleman without ever saying much and I could imagine his team talks were not of the high octane motivational variety. Skubala is a terrific guy, incredibly approachable and personable but the whole Premier League press conference thing was probably a bit new and maybe even uncomfortable for him at first.
Whatever you want to say about any of them, however you rank them, they did not appoint themselves.
@F_Wilson56: Speak to me Graham, what percentage of funds generated in the summer will be able to be re-spent on players?
The million pound, or multi-million pound question. Actually it’s just one of many big questions to which there is no real answer yet. First things first we need to know who will own the club. While I’m not anticipating the 49ers coming in and cutting the ribbon on a new free-spending era at Elland Road, you would anticipate them making available a decent sum for the necessary rebuild. Selling players would help keep the net spend down and there are a few who could be shipped on for a decent return. In all honesty it’s not the generosity of the ownership that I would be most concerned about right now, it’s the timing of it all and the number of decisions that have to be spot on. A director of football, or head of recruitment, a head coach or manager and then the right players to fit the style of play. There’s so much to do. There’s so much to get right. There’s so much that could go wrong.
@deakko7: Does the takeover happen before July?
It has to, really, doesn’t it? The transfer window opens on June 14 so if Leeds don’t know who the owner will be until July then they will presumably have missed two weeks of the market. Perhaps the boardroom parties could get their heads together and agree on an appointment when it comes to transfer decisions, so that person can at least begin working on a rebuild plan, but that would require both Andrea Radrizzani and the 49ers to be on the same page about the recruitment model. They would all have to be happy that their appointment would be the right fit regardless of whether a takeover happens. I’m not sure I can see that, though, so the best bet is just to get on and get the deal done. An announcement as soon as, after the final game of the season, would be ideal. It’s the least supporters deserve.
@connorpratchett: Why do you think Radrizanni is so quiet when it goes badly but so vocal when it goes well? He has to own the bad times as well as the good especially as it’s his fault?
No one likes criticism, no one really relishes difficult questions and sometimes, particularly in times like this, there is little point in putting your head above the parapet because no one wants to hear what you’ve got to say. But supporters deserve answers, if not to questions about how badly things have gone wrong, then about questions on the future and the direction the club is going in.
You have to say, though, that popping up on Twitter after victories, then falling silent after damaging defeats, does not make for a fond relationship with fans. Consistency is a reasonable ask, otherwise it creates the appearance of a club that enjoys praise and craves attention, but only when it suits. Sending direct messages to a YouTuber, mid-game, instead of addressing the entire fanbase, is not a particularly wise or understandable strategy either. Radrizzani’s use of social media at times - the Forshaw, Bamba Dieng and JKA/JFK tweets spring to mind - has only created a rod for his own back.
@danflynn56: Were you scared when Big Sam said he’d shoot you?
Not at all, I knew he had no weapon on his person because I performed an ocular patdown upon his entry to the room. That was some analogy, though. I could see the sense in what he was saying, about fear driving players to run their hardest. Alas, it did not prove to be the case at West Ham.
@Woodall247: So with the Championship looming for us, what worries you the most about a promotion challenge next season? For me, it’s the manager, I just don’t see who can come in that can get us up and would be a realistic appointment. I’d get in Carrick as a realistic target. But Rodgers or Potter if we can get them in.
Don’t underestimate the size of Leeds United and how attractive it is to managers. If the ownership picture clears and the project or vision is articulated properly to managerial targets, Leeds will not struggle for candidates. What would worry me more, right now, is how quickly the club can move when the takeover is not yet complete. A more general worry is that there is no divine right to bounce straight back up - which is exactly what Leeds need to do. They cannot afford to spend so long in the EFL that apathy sets in again. The longer you’re down there, the harder it can be to return. There will be a lot of competitive clubs setting out to win promotion next season. Leeds have to get the right person to rebuild the squad, the right manager to coach them and the right players.
@Lisa_Bourne: Do you advocate getting a team Labrador for Thorp Arch. Clearly we couldn't call it "Win" like Arsenal's dog. Do you have any catchier names than "Should have wrapped that up in the first half with the amount of chances we had"?
I had a lab-staffy cross once and that was enough of an experience that I would not wish it upon the Leeds United squad and staff. No offence to owners of either breed, I’m sure your dog is lovely and the best boy or girl you could wish for in a pet. Simmer down. I’d heartily recommend a Spanish Water Dog because ours is a brilliant source of comedy. The chaos at Thorp Arch would lend itself to terrific content. As for a name, how about Clarity? Or Impossible? Or Meal Deal One - Mealy for short.
@SS6_LUFC: Realistically who do you think we keep for next year out of the obvious candidates you'd want to keep?
Leeds say that in the event of relegation they will try their damndest to keep the likes of Tyler Adams, Willy Gnonto and Max Wober. With Adams I suppose it’s a case of reassuring him that a decent enough team will be built around him to ensure this is a one-year Championship detour. As for Gnonto, if his agent is not sounding out Serie A clubs I would be astounded. He’s Premier League ready, so he’s more than good enough for one of the other European top flights. The conversation there might need to guarantee game time and a high degree of importance at the club, as a player who could tear the second tier apart. Let’s see, on that one. His best mate Crysencio Summerville would be a very good option in the Championship and yet I’d also expect his agent to be casting around to see if there’s a better deal to be had at a higher level. If Summerville was to go, would Gnonto want to also? They are joint at the hip after all.
Wober is one I could see staying on and bringing leadership and quality to the back line. Beyond those three, there would have to be cast-iron arguments for keeping players, both in the financial and footballing sense.
@iarmson: Hi Graham, first time I have slided into your DMs, this. My question is, what are the chances of us keeping hold of Gnonto, Summerville and Adams following our inevitable and deserved relegation. Surely we need to try and build a team round these as they would tear the Championship up.
I’ve answered this elsewhere but the wording illustrates a sad picture of a fanbase, or at least a large section of it, with no faith left to muster. Survival is still possible, it’s just very difficult to imagine the scenario that allows it to happen.
@Ashleyychapman: Hi Graham, thought I’d try lighten the doom and gloom around the club at the minute so, would you rather fight 1 bear sized squirrel or 10 squirrel sized bears?
Are we talking red squirrels or their evil grey cousins? And what kind of bear are we talking about?