Changes planned in Leeds United revival bid

Only two games remain for Leeds United fans to endure before they can look forward to a summer of regrouping with the aim of having a more enjoyable season next time.

By Tony Harber
Wednesday, 23rd April 2014, 9:22 pm
Matt Smith gets in a shot under pressure from Danny Collins during Leeds United's latest defeat against Nottingham Forest. Picture: Simon Hulme
Matt Smith gets in a shot under pressure from Danny Collins during Leeds United's latest defeat against Nottingham Forest. Picture: Simon Hulme

The Whites look like limping to the finish with their last away game of the campaign at relegation threatened Birmingham City this Saturday followed by the final home match against promotion challenging Derby County seven days later.

With nothing really to play for it will be something of a surprise if they manage to add to their current points tally of 53 – a total that would have got them relegated last season, but this time should see them avoid finishing in the bottom six.

At least the 1-0 victory at Barnsley on Saturday gave the supporters something to cheer as they ended their Oakwell hoodoo and won at the ground for the first time since 1997.

Ross McCormack scored the winner with the one moment of class in a poor game and edged closer to his target of scoring 30 goals for the season with just one more needed.

But it was unfortunately all too familiar as United slumped to another home defeat on Monday when two goals in the first 16 minutes by Matt Derbyshire condemned them to a 2-0 loss against Nottingham Forest.

A lifeless first half display was behind the latest defeat and although there was some improvement after the break they never really looked like getting back in the game.

Tactically Leeds were poor as manager Brian McDermott continued his search to find a formation that could work without any real progress. He abandoned the 3-5-2 he started with at Barnsley and did not go with the 4-3-3 he finished with at Oakwell in preference for a diamond shape with Rudy Austin recalled at the expense of an extra centre-back.

When this perhaps predictably failed he resorted to a back three in the closing stages, but nothing could rouse United from the slumbers of a performance that suggested the players had their backs packed already for their holidays with their main job done and safety from relegation finally sorted at the weekend.

How many of these players will still be in the team this time next year will be interesting with a big turn round in personnel predicted this summer.

Top scorer McCormack has become the subject of speculation again with West Ham and Leicester believed to be ready to tempt Leeds with big money bids.

The Scottish international, who has been far and away United’s best player this season, has said that he wants to be part of the Cellino revolution, but has also spoken about wanting a new contract, although he signed one during the current campaign.

Manager McDermott, meanwhile, is expecting to meet up with new owner Massimo Cellino this week when he hopes to put transfer plans to him and hopes to be given the nod to take the club forward.

McDermott has identified the players he thinks can revive the club’s fortunes next season if he is to be given the chance to continue in charge.

After watching the Whites suffer their ninth home defeat of the season and 21st league loss in total McDermott spoke about how important it was to strengthen the team to turn them into contenders next term.

He said: “We definitely need to look at bringing players in and making changes to the squad.

“I have a list of targets and we have to try and do the deals. I will have a meeting with Massimo when he returns this week.

“We have seen that kind of performance too many times this season. We gave a couple of goals away and were chasing the game. We had a lot of possession, but didn’t hurt them and it is something we have to address in the summer.

“We have to make sure the squad is up for the challenge of next season.”