Date: 10th May 2011 at 4:28pm
Written by:

The season is all over and it is time to reflect on just how the Leeds squad did this season.

I have considered all players who have represented the club this season.

Schmeichel 7 – (37 appearances, All starts)

He really looked the business when he started the season and was in great form in the opening day defeat by Derby.
He suffered an injury that ruled him out for a month and dropped a clanger in his first game back at home to Cardiff. He didn`t seem to command his area after this, like he did early on in the season. Had two fantastic games against Arsenal. Still young for a goalkeeper and still learning.

Higgs 5 – (7 appearances, All starts)
A mixed bag for Higgs, in his six Championship games he kept two clean sheets but also conceded five at Barnsley and six at home to Preston. (Been released by the club).

Brown 6 – (4 appearances, 3 starts, 1 sub)
Brown joined on loan from Blackburn Rovers as cover for Shane Higgs whilst Kasper was injured.
We won two of his three starts but he never filled me with confidence. He didn`t look big enough to be a goalkeeper and struggled in a crowded penalty area.


Connolly 7 (34 appearances, All starts)

Connolly was reliable in defence. Not one of those headline-grabbing players, he just got on with his job and was usually consistent.

Bessone 1 (8 appearances, All starts)
I cannot believe it took eight games for Grayson to realise just how poor he was. Must be the worst signing of the season and finished it on loan at Charlton. Let`s hope he`s not back next season.

Bromby 6 (14 appearances, 9 starts, 5 sub)
He didn`t look to have much of a future at Elland Road making just one substitute appearance before the New Year. Played really well when he got in the side but looked out of his depth as the pressure increased in April.

Bruce 5 (24 appearances, All starts)
The jury is still out with Bruce, he looked good when he had O`Brien alongside him but when he wasn`t, his concentration and positioning was questionable. He was often caught the wrong side which led to quite a few goals being conceded.

O`Brien 6 (32 appearances, All starts)
He joined at the start of Leeds long unbeaten run, originally on loan from Bolton.
He seemed to lose his way around Christmas and his calamity with Kasper for the late equaliser at home to Portsmouth saw his form dip.
A player with years with Premier League experience, he should be the player on the pitch leading by example, screaming, and shouting at the rest of the side. Unfortunately, he was like many others who went into his shell when we were crying out for a leader. Looked better when Naylor joined him in defence for the last four games but I don`t want to see that partnership next season.

Naylor 5 (15 appearances, 13 starts, 2 sub)
He started the season like he finished the one in League One. He was all over the place and just not good enough. Came back for the final four games and played really well. I was worried he was going to be offered a new deal, thankfully his kit was still in the washing machine when Grayson announced he was being released.

Collins 6 (21 appearances, 20 starts, 1 sub)
I didn`t think he did to bad in a Leeds shirt and was shocked to see him released in January when I would have had others ahead of him in the queue.

Hughes 6 (10 appearances, 5 starts, 5 sub)
What he lacked in skill he more than made up with in desire to play for the club and give 100%. I wish him all the best at Scunthorpe.

Kisnorbo 5 (1 substitute appearance)
Made his one and only appearance at QPR on Saturday and with no time on the pitch all season through injury I think it was a token gesture from Grayson. I can`t help but wonder what we would have achieved with a fully fit Kisnorbo all season.

Lichaj 8 (16 appearances, All starts)
For me he was the best loan signing of the season. Got a fantastic engine and would be up and down the pitch for 90 minutes. I hope we can sign him during the summer.

McCartney 3 (32 appearances, All starts)
I was never impressed with him and was disappointed that we kept extending his loan. If you look at the vast majority of the goals that we conceded during his early months, they were all down his side. He got worse as the season went on.

Parker 4 (2 appearances, 1 start, 1 sub
I really thought Parker was going to be a huge player for Leeds during his first season under Grayson. Since then he has spent two seasons on the sidelines. Think it must be time to get him off the payroll.

White 5 (2 appearances, 1 start, 1 sub
Didn`t get much of a chance but helped the side to a clean sheet in his only start at Doncaster. I think he has a lot to offer, but will he get much of a chance under Grayson who does not seem to like to give youngsters a chance.


Max Gradel 9 Player of the season (41 appearances, 38 starts, 3 sub)

Had a lot to prove after his sending off at the end of last season. He took his early loan form from the previous season all the way through this campaign. A fantastic return with eighteen goals and he is still learning the game. I can only see him getting better. If he can get his head up every now and then, he would be top class but I suppose you can live with that when he`s produced what he has.

Howson 8 (46 appearances, All starts)
Was the captain for most of the season and was a real driving force in games. Another player who is getting better has he matures. Still disappears at times, which is a little worrying.

Snodgrass 7 (37 appearances, 34 starts and 3 sub)
He had a spell between November and February when he was ultra consistent. Scored some great goals and scared the life out of the opposition down the wing. As he did the previous season, he seemed to run out of steam towards the end of the season.

Johnson 8 (45 appearances 40 starts, 5 sub)
He was placed on the transfer list in November after turning down a new deal. In his next few games, he looked none interested and was booed when substituted against Crystal Palace. Seemed to give him the kick up the backside he needed and he was one of our most consistent performers this season. He looks much happier in the middle of the park.

Kilkenny 6 (37 appearances, 29 starts, 8 sub)
He looks a good player when we are on top in games. Disappears when the going gets tough and his inability to put in a strong tackle is frustrating. We need a strong ball winning midfielder to sit and protect the defence, it isn`t Kilkenny.

Bannan 5 (7 appearances, 3 start, 4 sub)
Was really pleased to see him join on loan but he never got a decent run in the side and was somehow overlooked in favour of Jake Livermore. Looked great from a set piece and put a good ball into the middle. Shame he wasn`t given a proper chance.

Livermore 1 (5 appearances, 4 starts, 1 sub)
I was unfortunate enough to witness his four starts. He was supposed to be a strong ball winning midfielder. Was a poor tackler and a liability and his passing was shocking.

Clayton 5 (4 appearances, all sub)
He signed in the summer from Man City and didn`t get much of a look in. Would have been nice to see what he could do as we was lacking something in midfield in the early parts of the season. Will he get a chance next season?

Nunez 5 (2 appearances, both sub)
He is a proven international footballer, who came away with a most valuable player award, during the Copa Centro Americana tournament in January.
He never really got a chance with just two substitute appearances. Finished the season on loan with Scunthorpe to gain some experience and proved he can mix it in the Championship. Could he have been that little spark we needed during April?
Surprised he didn`t get more of a chance; Grayson seems to do have done the same with Nunez as he did with Somma. Let us hope he can make an impact next season.

Faye 5 (8 appearances, 6 starts, 2 sub)
He really could have been the player we needed in the middle of the pitch but just wasn`t fit enough. A real shame.

Watt 7 (22 appearances, 9 starts, 13 sub)
On loan for the season from Arsenal, he really should have got more games and couldn`t understand how he wasn`t getting more games when we were struggling.

Sam 7 (18 appearances, 7 starts, 11 sub)
He started the season in great form. He then got injured and after that was rarely given a chance. Another player we should have used more this season.


Luciano Becchio 8 (41 appearances, 34 starts, 7 sub)

I was a little concerned at the start of the season that the Championship would a level to far for Becchio. So glad he proved me wrong.
Without Beckford alongside him, he actually had more time to get in the box a bit more, rather than just do the hard work for his old sidekick.
He still worked his socks off every game and this season went through the twenty-goal barrier.
I honestly believe if he`d been fit for the Reading and Crystal Palace games we would be in the end of season play offs.
He also scored some great goals this season and his goals against Middlesbrough home and away were amongst the best this season at Leeds.

Davide Somma 7 (29 appearances, 12 starts and 17 sub)
After he enjoyed a successful loan spell at Lincoln in the previous season, he finally got his chance at Elland Road. In his first appearance of the season as a sub in the home game with Millwall, he showed us what he was capable of with two goals.
Got into double figures in the Championship and scored some crucial goals including goals at Portsmouth and at home to Norwich with almost his first touch of the football. Struggled as a lone striker when asked and looked much better with someone alongside him.

Billy Paynter 3 (22 appearances, 8 starts, 14 sub)
I can`t help but think what could have been had he not been injured in pre season. He came to Leeds full of confidence after scoring almost thirty goals at Swindon the previous season. When he finally returned to fitness, he struggled to get in the side and when he got a chance missed some easy chances, which must have affected his confidence. Got a run in the side in the final few months and looked out of his depth. Be interesting to see what happens over the summer.

Ross McCormack 6 (21 appearances, 6 starts, 15 sub)
Another player who I cannot help but think, what could have been? Looked like he wasn`t fully fit when he joined Leeds and he was quickly on the treatment table.

When he returned to fitness and made his first start since September, he missed a host of chances in the home game with Middlesbrough on New Years Day.
He was scoring for fun in the reserves and he finally got another chance in the last two games of the season.
Scored a goal in each game and looked a different player, can`t wait to see what he can do with a full pre season under his belt. A Becchio and McCormack partnership will frighten Championship defences.
He would have got the same as Paynter before the Burnley game.

Mike Grella 0 (2 substitute appearances)
Who? He has not been seen on the pitch since the second game of the season. Declined loan moves in the autumn and then returned to Leeds in April because he was not happy with being on the bench for a few games at Swindon whilst out on loan. Sounds like he has got a bit to ‘Billy big boots`.
He is not good enough for the Championship. Grayson needs to ship him out.

I will reflect over the summer, on what a great season we have had in our first season back in the Championship.
At the moment, I cannot help but think what a chance we have missed. The league was wide open this season as none of the sides coming down looked likely to bounce straight back up.

We went into Christmas in second place after playing the runaway leaders Queens Park Rangers off the park.

We then managed to throw victories away in a number of games including the games over the Christmas period against Leicester and Portsmouth.

The pattern continued through the next few months and we threw far too many points away in games we really should have won.

April was a month to forget and in many very important games over the last few months of the season, we just did not turn up.
Swansea, Sheffield United, Derby and Crystal Palace brought us a return of zero points and we failed to turn up in most of these games.

Ask any Leeds fan and they could all tell you the problem area, we was conceding far too many goals and the major contributing factor in this, was the lack of a tough tackling ball winning midfielder.
We also needed a leader on the pitch. Someone who would lead by example, shout, and hollow at the rest of the side. If only Kisnorbo had been fit, we would be celebrating promotion this week.

Next season will be much tougher. The three sides coming down will not be in the financial difficulty that both Hull City and Portsmouth found themselves in.
Those two sides now seem to have sorted out their financial troubles, and with the help of another parachute payment from the Premier League, they will be much stronger.
Other teams like Leicester City and Middlesbrough will build for next season and I wonder how much money Eriksson will get to spend at Leicester.
Brighton and Southampton will be strong. All three sides that went up from League One last season finished in the top ten and were challenging all season.
Brighton and Southampton will be the same and I am sure if our near neighbours, Huddersfield go up through the play offs they will be a strong side as well.

My last comment on this season must be about the fans, it`s been a privilege again this season following Leeds around the country. We continued to pack out away ends wherever we went.
We took over 6,000 at both Barnsley and Coventry. Over 5,000 travelling to Crystal Palace on a Bank Holiday, 3,000 going to Swansea for lunchtime kick off, when many could have watched the game live on the TV.
Even after putting in a shocking performance at Swansea, the fans continued to sing all the way through the game. I often look at the opposition fans and bench and you can see the looks on their faces. You can tell they cannot help but admire the travelling Leeds army.

Already cannot wait for next season, it is going to be a long summer and we will be linked with every player in the country over the next few months.

Enjoy the summer and let us look forward to next season.


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