Real business of pre-season starts now for new-look Leeds United - Ritchie

Dave Hockaday
Dave Hockaday
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Ex-Whites striker Andy Ritchie talks Leeds United.

IT’S been a month since David Hockaday was appointed head coach at Leeds and I saw they beat some team 16-0 in first game in charge!

I was thinking ‘that’s probably not what you would have wanted’ and then the other team didn’t turn up!

He wouldn’t have been too pleased about that but when things like that happen you have got to think on your feet and I know that they played two Leeds sides against each other.

And he probably might have done that anyway behind closed doors at some stage before the season starts.

I think he’ll be looking for a couple of harder challenges now before the season starts and I know they go to Guiseley on Saturday before travelling to Mansfield Town on Tuesday.

They are two local teams really and they’ll get a hard game against Guiseley because everybody wants to beat Leeds United – it was the same when we used to play Farsley in a pre-season friendly when I was at Leeds.

Guiseley will be right up for it so he will get a tough game and he will be able to see a few players as I’m sure he’ll make a few substitutions and have a change around.

And Mansfield will be up for it because it’s a barometer for them, as well as it is for Leeds. It’s never an easy game when you are playing a team like Mansfield.

You’ve got to get your attitude right and you’ve got to go out there and want to impose yourself on them. I’m sure that’s what he will be wanting from the players.

I hear Hockaday was training them three times a day during their pre-season camp in Italy and when you look at the teams that have done well, they are always fit.

That’s the starting point and the next thing he’ll be looking for is the work ethic because you can’t do anything without that.

You can be as fit as you want, but if you haven’t got the work ethic and you don’t want to run back and you don’t want to cover people – you don’t want to work as a team and as a unit – then really your fitness counts for nothing.

You have got to have the desire to go with that and that work ethic is what Hockaday will be looking for in everything because he wants them to be ‘a team’ and that’s what the fans want and what they deserve.

I think that’s all they desire sometimes the Leeds fans and I think you can get away with getting beat if you put the work in.

I think the real first acid test for Hockaday will be the Mansfield game and then I know they are playing Swindon Town and Dundee United before the season starts.

They will be even tougher tests as they will be two good sides to play against.

They are the sort of teams you want to play closer to the start of the season because you want to be playing good teams and Swindon and Dundee will play good sides because you will want to be at virtual maximum capacity then.

But you don’t want to burn yourself out, obviously, and you want to have something left in the tank for the first Championship game which is going be a tough one!

Playing away at Millwall, I could think of better starts as you are not only playing the 11 on the pitch but you are playing the partisan crowd who will be there.

It’s a very, very partisan atmosphere as I well know having played there and managed, too.

That’s going to be a real tough test for them that first game.

Now we’ll just wait and see who else comes in to the side as I read that Massimo Cellino is talking about up to another six recruits.

But from my point of view I hope that there’s maybe one or two players that are maybe from over here and that they are not all foreign imports as I think that can sometimes cause a problem.

I’m sure that Dave will have his input into those and that’s what he needs.

He knows what the deficiencies are and where he needs to strengthen so I’m sure there will be good players that come in.

But it’s about them getting gelled isn’t it?

It’s about getting them together for that first game of the season.

Leeds may find former forward Steve Morison a bit of a handful when Millwall come to town.

Leeds United v Millwall: Excellent December in danger of becoming a January horror show - YEP jury