Leeds United: Youngsters have been pitched in on merit - Lorimer

Mirco Antenucci.
Mirco Antenucci.
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LOOKING at the terrible state of Blackpool’s pitch for our game last weekend, it has been bad for two or three years now. It is really a major problem there and time they did something about it.

With the modern technology we have nowadays, pitches should be good. We have watering systems, undersoil heating and lots of other things. It was a really poor surface to play on at Blackpool.

When young players come through together at academy level, as is happening at Leeds, it’s so nice.

It is not improving and hardly added to the game on Saturday, far from it.

Wigan and Reading have also been poor, but they have rugby on them as well, which is a problem with Premier League clubs not allowing rugby on their grounds. But they do in the Championship.

Back when I was playing, you would get bad surfaces which you had to play on in those days. I remember a game in Leipzig and there were six inches of snow overnight. But they didn’t cancel the game; all they did was roll the snow and paint the lines blue and play with an orange ball. Those were the things you had to put up with.

But today, with all the health and safety aspects and football players costing so much now, you should be very careful with the ground conditions now and exposing players to them.

I felt for the Blackpool people as their club are having a torrid time. Looking at them, they could even be in the second division (League Two) in a couple of years and the pitch is bloody awful ...

To be fair to our club over the years, we have always maintained the ground well, even when things weren’t good, money has been spent on the pitch to keep it up to standard.

With the way we like to play with Sam and Cookie running with the ball, it was hardly the sort of pitch for that. It just kept running away from players and getting stuck in the sandy, muddy surface.

To be fair, we showed fight to get back into it after Blackpool took the lead and the longer the game went, we were the only team who were going to win it.

It was one of those days you wanted to put out of the way and get back over the Pennines!

At least, we kept our decent run going and keep putting points on the board.

The encouragement is there for next season and we can really build on something. We have picked up from a bad position and the young boys are coming through. It’s certainly a lot brighter at Elland Road at the minute and there’s a genuine feeling that progress is being made.

Since Christmas, we are near the top of the league in terms of form. Let’s be fair, at the start of the season, we thought it would be a difficult one with new management and a change in ownership. I think, considering all that, it’s been a year of progress and the future looks a lot brighter than it certainly did at the end of last season.

Obviously, Lewis Cook and Alex Mowatt are with England U19s and U20s respectively with international commitments during the break and to be quite honest – maybe I am being selfish – I don’t want the guys to be playing in too many games in this period.

I think our whole midfield have had a very hard shift since Christmas and have done a great job for us in turning our season around.

At a time like this, young boys need a rest more than keeping driving and playing on.

That said, it is nice for them to get honours. But as Leeds United fans, we want to keep these boys fit and fresh as it has been a hard slog for them, especially on pitches like Saturday’s.

We lost Sam Byram to injury 18 months ago and it was quite a bad one, purely because he was young and he was overplayed at the time. This can happen with these young players, unfortunately.

We need to get these kids, who have such potential, fresh because they can really do a smashing job for us next year.

Neil Redfearn has obviously had a word with Gareth Southgate and hopefully England will be sensible.

England looks good on the CV, but with the talent these boys have, they have big futures and will get the international recognition in time.

Looking at our young players, I don’t think there’s any question that the likes of Mowatt, Cook and Byram will be in the mix for the Young Player of the Year awards in the Football League.

I think two or three of our players may be up for it, from what I have seen.

In terms of players coming through, I think our midfield boys have been outstanding. I couldn’t pick one of our players at this moment in time as they have all done well.

There’s a strong possibility at least one will get the young player award.

When young players come through together at academy level, as is happening at Leeds, it’s so nice.

They have all become friends, and it’s not just like with boys coming in from outside.

A lot has been made of Steven Gerrard’s dismissal last weekend and Jamie Carragher summed it up by saying that when he plays Manchester United or Everton, he can see red mist quite a bit.

He deserved to be sent off and apologised straightaway. Gerrard has still had a great career at Liverpool and you don’t to see him go out that way before he goes to the USA. You want to see him go out in a blaze of glory.

It can be difficult in these games when you are a passionate footballer and sometimes, you make these split-decisions you regret. It could be costly for Liverpool at the end of the season.