Ahead of tomorrow’s final Carrow Road hurrah for Wes and several others, I’ve been speaking with Pete Schlenker – managing editor of Leeds site, Through It All Together.
Cheers for joining us, Pete.
So, here we are, locked, along with Ipswich, in the titanic battle for twelfth. Doesn’t get much better than this does it? Who needs a playoff battle when twelfth is up for grabs eh. Not quite how you’d imagined it I guess after your thumping start to the season? Where/when did it go wrong?
Pete: There were signs in the autumn, after the flying start that Leeds got, against Millwall and Cardiff. Teams that were well-organized and played with a physical edge pushed Leeds around. It seemed like the club had adjusted and found a way to win back in December, but then the loss in the FA Cup against Newport County is when the wheels absolutely came flying off. It was a really bad loss, and that’s saying something given Leeds’ history with the FA Cup. Combined with the loss at home against Millwall, where Leeds had come back in the second half with 10 men to take a 3-2 lead into the final 10 minutes of the match, only to lose 4-3, the team wasn’t able to recover and everything fell apart.
A lot of that rings true in these parts to be honest… our lot often struggle with teams who put it up ‘em, in particular against the two teams you mention.
When we played you in December, although you’d faltered from your flying start the Leeds fan we Q&A’d with was confident a good transfer window could reignite your season. Does the fact you’re scrapping for twelfth mean it didn’t happen?
The transfer window was an odd one. Leeds brought in former Middlesbrough central midfielder Adam Forshaw after sending another central midfielder, Mateusz Klich out on loan to Holland and sending the Japan “star” Yosuke Ideguchi, another central midfielder, out to Cultural Leonesa in the Spanish Second Division immediately after signing him. Leeds also needed a striker, and got West Brom’s Tyler Roberts, but he has yet to appear after getting injured. Lots of fingers have been pointed about the wage structure at Leeds and the inability to grab a decent, proven striker in the window, even on loan, but honestly, this team is more than a good striker away from the playoffs at this point.
That’s interesting, and honest. We think we are a decent, proven striker away from being a decent side, but that’s before the pending summer upheaval that will see some big earners depart and some very good loanees returning to their parent clubs.
I’m guessing Paul Heckingbottom’s appointment didn’t quite have the impact that the board (and fans) had hoped? But longer term?
He’s been greeted with suspicion, given his history and lack of success at local rivals Barnsley. The team has performed worse, if anything, since his arrival, but with the number of injuries and suspensions, not to mention average players that haven’t lived up to the hype, it’s not all his fault. I wish he’d play more of the kids, as the U23s that have come up have been brilliant for the most part.
Hhmmm… certainly not panned out as Radrizzani had planned it.
Although the Thomas Christiansen appointment didn’t work out, he had tried to reinstil a passing game it seems. Heckingbottom continued this? Or does his style of football significantly differ from the Dane’s?
It’s been a mixed bag, and to be honest, it’s hard to tell exactly what kind of game Heckingbottom wants to play. We haven’t resorted to hoofing the ball up the pitch, but no one’s gonna mistake Leeds for Barcelona either.
What formation does he prefer?
It depends on the personnel at his disposal. It seems he would like to play a 4-4-2, but this team isn’t exactly built to play that way. The team is built to play in a 4-2-3-1, but since Luke Ayling went down on New Year’s Day, there hasn’t been much pushing up from the fullbacks, which has led to a whole host of problems.
Looking back, you forgiven us yet for taking Howson, Snodgrass, Johnson and Becchio in short succession? Weird to think.
There are more pressing matters for Leeds fans to be upset about right now, to be honest. The departure that really stings right now is Lewis Cook. To be a Leeds fan now is to watch your best players play in the Premier League wearing different colours. It’ll be that way until this team gets back and we have an owner more interested in a long-term project rather than making a quick profit. And while the new owner, Andrea Radrizzani, has preached that when he took over, he’s not covered himself in glory so far. This summer is going to be very important for him to get right.
Sounds like you have a big summer ahead… same as us.
Heard about our Germanic revolution? Or are we no longer even a faint blip on your radar? If you have… thoughts?
Well, is it working out like you’d hoped? It seems like everyone is trying to copy someone else’s model to go up by hiring someone from outside of England and hoping their magic can make it happen without shelling out the cash. We got a Spaniard and a bunch of overseas signings, and it hasn’t worked out. Wolves got an agent and a bunch of Portuguese players and that seemed to work out just fine.
Yep, hard to disagree with any of that. Our ‘project’ has shown promise at times and then looks like bombing at others. I genuinely can’t decide if we’re on the verge of something great or catastrophic, but I do know we need to be patient and give it more than one season. And, with our owners, we now certainly fall in the ‘without shelling the cash’ category.
Ok to tomorrow… (as if it really matters). Who’s likely to hurt us? And who’s shone throughout the season?
The last time we played each other, the obvious ones would have been Samu Saiz and Gjanni Alioski, but they’ve been pretty quiet as of late. Pablo Hernandez will likely be the one that will provide attacking flair for Leeds, with Kemar Roofe a possibility to score. Ever since coming in for Felix Wiedwald, our young goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell has been outstanding. If any of the young U23s play, such as Tom Pearce or Paudie O’Connor, look for them to play well, as they are trying to earn a place in the first team for next season. Almost everyone else looks like they can’t be arsed to care.
My prediction is the two who’ve been ‘pretty quiet of late’ will find Carrow Road to their liking. That happens frequently!
You may not have heard, but it’s Wes Hoolahan’s final game for us tomorrow. Been a brilliant servant of our club. Fancy gifting us a pen so he can sign off Hollywood-style?
Gaetano Berardi is suspended after getting his third red card this season, so a penalty might not be on the cards for you guys tomorrow.
As if it matters (again)… score prediction? And whose winning twelfth?
We’re gonna lose 2-1 as we can’t win anything away from home right now.
And finally… last away-day of the season for you guys. How many are you bringing? 50,000?
It’s the one thing we can hold on to, we show up no matter what.
Thanks again to Pete for his time and well done on rising above the needless prodding. If Kim Jong-un can find some common ground with the South Koreans, there’s always hope that City and Leeds fans can live in harmony.