THE YEP jury make their predictions ahead of Leeds United’s clash with Queen’s Park Rangers at Loftus Road.
Leeds head to Loftus Road tomorrow amid rumours that a win for the Whites could spell the end of media darling Harry Redknapp’s spell in charge at Queens Park Rangers.
The Hoops are a prime example of why having foreign owners with deep pockets is only one part of the formula needed for success. After their takeover it took four attempts and over £10m in transfer fees for them to finally win promotion. They then splashed out more than £30m in transfer fees only to make a rapid return to the Championship.
Now armed with a wage budget that many Premier League managers would kill for, Redknapp has seen his side fall seven points behind second-placed Burnley. With the budget he has had at his disposal he should win this division comfortably.
We, of course, have a new foreign owner of our own awaiting Football League approval. If the loan signings of Jack Butland and Connor Wickham are a sign of things to come, then Massimo Cellino’s takeover may yet prove to be a positive turning point. However, the way he has run Cagliari over the past 20 years still leaves me sceptical as to whether his impending arrival is good news or not. Wickham should go straight into the starting line up in place of Noel Hunt. Hunt may try hard but I struggle to understand how he was ever a part of that successful Reading side of two years ago. Wickham scored eight goals in 10 games for Sheffield Wednesday earlier this season and Leeds certainly need him to continue that form if we are to have any hope of a late run to the play-offs.
Realistically, our play-off hopes were probably killed off during that terrible run of results after Christmas but we still should be aiming to finish this season on a high. Back in early 2005 we were in a similar position after Ken Bates had taken us over. Stranded in mid-table we brought in the likes of Sean Derry and Rob Hulse. Their arrivals sparked some life into a dreadful campaign and they carried their form into the 2005/2006 season which saw us come agonisingly close to a Premier League return. The last two seasons have both finished dreadfully and it would be nice to avoid a similar finish for a third successive campaign.
QPR may have lost three games in a row, but they are incredibly difficult to break down at home. Leeds will need a significant improvement on last week’s showing at Middlesbrough if they are to get anything from this game.
Prediction: QPR 1 Leeds United 0.
With still no end to the prolonged change of ownership, The Football League presumably want to cover all angles before making a decision.
Last week’s display split opinion on the future of Brian McDermott, on the one hand he is generally respected for his honestly but the signings he has brought in have been generally a disappointment, Kebe and Stewart the latest not to impress the faithful.
One signing though who did excellently was Jack Butland who should become a resident between the goalposts.
It’s in the midfield where changes are needed. Kebe has had one half that impressed (Huddersfield) and is the one I’d drop and bring in Sam Byram in front of Lee Peltier. Luke Murphy did enough in the second half versus Boro’ but Austin again failed to match his midfield partners’ efforts. Maybe Chris Dawson deserves a chance or the return of Alex Mowatt is needed. Up front, I really think Connor Wickham will give Ross McCormack some much needed support.
Prediction: QPR 1 Leeds United 2.
QPR have a lot of quality but also have a few weaknesses and the signing of Connor Wickham may prove to be the result changer because he is a proven player in this division and someone who will give Richard Dunne and Clint Hill a tough game.
prediction: QPR 0 Leeds United 1.
Tomorrow we travel to West London to face QPR which will be our fourth away game in a row and, surprise surprise, it’s an early kick live on Sky, again!
Despite our last trip to Loftus Road ending in victory, The R’s celebrated confirmation of their status as Championship winners under Neil Warnock after they escaped a points deduction.
Currently managed by Harry Redknapp they probably have the strongest squad in the league but in recent weeks they have lost three on the bounce and automatic promotion is slipping away. On loan Connor Wickham will join McCormack in attack and if these two can start scoring straight away then who knows, let’s just give it a good go!
Prediction: QPR 1 Leeds United 2.
QPR and their under-fire manager Harry Redknapp will pose a much sterner test than Middlesbrough. United will need a battling, defensive display of the highest order to keep within touching distance of the top six. A point would be a very welcome return.
Prediction: QPR 2 Leeds United 2.
If Leeds can show the same defensive solidity they did against Middlesbrough tomorrow, then most United fans would be happy. Where the Whites have struggled is in the attacking third and have once again plunged into the loan market to try and find a partner for Ross McCormack.
The signing of Connor Wickham is another bold indicator of the way Brian McDermott wishes to go, looking to young and hungry talent rather than grizzled experience. Loftus Road is another ground where Leeds have a decent record, but despite a feeling of renewed optimism, the glass is half empty when it comes to predicting the result.
Prediction: QPR 2 Leeds United 1.