Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Leeds United Season Preview: Should The Whites Be Optimistic About Their Chances?

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Snehanjan Banerjee
Snehanjan used to a former columnist at The 4th Official. Fan of KK, Cricket and Liverpool (in no particular order).

A new era beckons for Leeds United as the Whites are set to kick-start their new era under the stewardship of Garry Monk. The Leeds manager was in a whole different situation this time last season when he was in charge of Swansea City. The 37-year-old was then rated among the best upcoming managers in world football but Monk failed to build on the early promise he had shown and was eventually axed by the Welsh club.

Massimo Cellino, the controversial Leeds owner, turned towards the 37-year-old English manager, to turn around Leeds’ fortunes, something the previous six managers during his reign at the club tried and failed at doing. Leeds, once one of the most feared sides in English football, have not even come close to a playoff spot in recent years let alone the prospect of direct promotion. However, there is definitely a sense of optimism growing surrounding Monk’s first season in charge at Elland Road.

Leeds finished 13th last season but the squad of the Whites from then to now has gone through a massive upgrade. Even though the Yorkshire side have brought in eight new players this summer, the signing of the summer from them was in the form of Garry Monk. If Monk can work his magic this season, Leeds fans have every right to be optimistic about their chances this campaign.

Transfers

Leeds United have strengthened in all departments this transfer market. A few more deals could still follow before the window closes but Leeds have managed to improve their first team massively.

Here are all the ins and outs taking place at Elland Road this summer.

Ins

Kyle Bartley (Swansea City, Loan)

Robert Green (Free)

Kemar Roofe (Oxford United, £3m)

Marcus Antonsson (Kalmar FF, £2m)

Hadi Sacko (Sporting Lisbon, Loan)

Matt Grimes (Swansea, Loan)

Pablo Hernandez (Al Arabi, Loan)

Billy Whitehouse (Doncaster Rovers, Undisclosed fee)

Fees courtesy- Sky Sports

OXFORD, ENGLAND - JANUARY 10: Oxford player Kemar Roofe in action during The Emirates FA Cup Third Round match between Oxford United and Swansea City at Kassam Stadium on January 10, 2016 in Oxford, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
OXFORD, ENGLAND – JANUARY 10: Oxford player Kemar Roofe in action during The Emirates FA Cup Third Round match between Oxford United and Swansea City at Kassam Stadium on January 10, 2016 in Oxford, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Outs

Lewis Cook (Bournemouth, £6m)

Caspar Sloth (Aalborg BK, Undisclosed)

Mirco Antenucci (SPAL, Free)

Giuseppe Bellusci (Empoli, Loan)

Fees courtesy- Sky Sports

LEEDS, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 17: Lewis Cook of Leeds United FC controls the ball during the Sky Bet Championship match between Leeds United and Brighton & Hove Albion at Elland Road on October 17, 2015 in Leeds, England. (Photo by Daniel Smith/Getty Images)
LEEDS, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 17: Lewis Cook of Leeds United FC controls the ball during the Sky Bet Championship match between Leeds United and Brighton & Hove Albion at Elland Road on October 17, 2015 in Leeds, England. (Photo by Daniel Smith/Getty Images)

Rating Leeds’ transfer activity

Garry Monk has certainly made the best possible use of the transfer window. Leeds have grabbed the signature of last season’s League Two Player of the Year Kemar Roofe from Oxford United, a player who can win games on his own on his day. Roofe’s attacking prowess is certainly a big addition to the Whites while they have also brought in a proven goalscorer in Marcus Antonsson, who was the leading scorer in Sweden’s Allsvenskan before signing for the Whites.

Defender Kyle Bartley is another solid addition to the squad who brings stability at the back. He’s a young, yet experienced defender, who could prove invaluable to Leeds with his physical presence. Robert Green was an experienced addition who can improve Leeds’ porous defence with his enormous expertise at the top level.

Loan deals for Grimes and Sacko also give a wealth of options to Monk in midfield. The young players, both highly rated, will definitely come handy during the long season. Last but not the least, Pablo Hernandez was another brilliant addition to the club. The Spaniard is proven in La Liga and the Premier League and even though he is in his thirties, he still has it in him to fire Leeds to promotion with his creativity.

Best possible tactics

Monk is likely to opt for a 4-2-3-1 formation this season following the signature of Pablo Hernandez. Robert Green is likely to feature as the first-choice keeper ahead of Silvestri. There will be a strong competition for places at the heart of defence between Sol Bamba, Liam Cooper and Kyle Bartley. Berardi should remain the first choice right back while a new left-back is likely to be signed with Charlie Taylor desperate for a move.

Diagouraga, Grimes, Mowatt, Whitehouse and Murphy will all compete for starts in a two-man midfield. Dallas and Roofe are likely to be the first-choice wingers while Hernandez would be an obvious choice as the number ten. The likes of Botaka and Sacko will push for starts and Leeds will benefit from the competition among the players. Chris Wood is likely to be the first-choice number nine but if he fails to improve from his last season’s form, Antonsson has what it takes to push him to the bench.

Season expectations

Most Leeds fans will hope for a top-six finish and Massimo Cellino has promised them their money back for season tickets if Leeds fail to achieve it. With Monk on board, what Leeds need is a good start to their campaign. Top-six finish is not at all unrealistic considering how the squad depth and quality isn’t up to the mark.

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