I took my first look at the new look Leeds United under first team coach Dave Hockaday on Saturday in the 2-2 draw at Chesterfield.
Hockaday had stated in the lead up to the game that he would field his strongest possible side for the game so it was a bit of a surprise to only see goalkeeper Marco Silvestre in the starting line-up out of the players that have been brought into the club this summer.
I had missed the first fifteen minutes of the game after being stuck in traffic, by which time Silvestre had apparently made two good saves. During the rest of the game, I saw him pick the ball out of the net from the only two attempts on target and I would have thought he would have been disappointed that he didn`t get closer to saving the first goal.
Sam Byram was in at right back and at this time, he is the one player from last season who looks comfortable and composed as well as offering an option further up the field.
Scott Wootton got the nod over Tom Lees in the centre of defence. I thought Wootton was shocking whenever he came into the side in the second half and there was nothing on Saturday to make me feel any different. Jason Pearce constantly had to tell him what to do as he tried to control the back line.
Pearce looked composed in the centre alongside Wootton and I think he looks like being the Leeds captain this season.
Stephen Warnock was in at left back, something of a surprise to me, as I expected either Charlie Taylor of Gaetano Berardi to be preferred. He did ok, but he lacks pace and scarily, Steve Morison helped him out a lot in the first half.
The middle three looked ok. Luke Murphy, Rodolph Austin and Lewis Cook were all busy and often they would break up play, come away with the ball, but there was no one ahead of them to play in. This was the first time I had seen the youngster Cook, who has been earning rave reviews so far in pre-season. He looks like he has the quality to go a fair way and on a couple of occasions he played in Aidy White with superb passes.
White was playing wide on the right and when on the ball, he looked a threat and he certainly looked like he should have won Leeds a penalty in the first half when he went over in the box.
Morison played on the opposite wing. I have never rated him as a centre forward let alone a winger. In the first half he did well, he tracked back, he made some good tackles, and on one occasion, he made a marauding run at the Chesterfield back line.
The second half, he was a disgrace. He looked totally disinterested, he couldn`t control the simplest of balls and on one occasion, he allowed a ball to go out of play, failing to control it on about three occasions. He went off to a chorus of ‘you`re not fit to wear the shirt` from some in the Leeds end. Whilst I don`t like him, people who know me know how much I do not like him, at the moment he is playing for Leeds and he is not going to get any better with the sort of abuse he got on Saturday.
Matt Smith looked lost up front. Unless the ball is played in the air, he is totally ineffective, that is what he was, and he was taken off at half time.
Souleymane Doukara replaced him and whilst he looked livelier, chasing things down, he is a long way from a finished article. He might be a better option as a winger as you can see he has pace and power.
Of the other substitutes, Berardi came off the bench replacing Warnock, he looked comfortable, and I think he will be the first choice in the position come the start of the season.
Michael Tonge, Chris Dawson and David Norris also had run outs but did little of note during their time on the pitch.
I kept a close eye on Dave Hockaday during the game, who seemed to spend most of his time sat on the bench with his assistant Junior Lewis. Even when Chesterfield scored, he just sat there.
I am making the trip to Swindon Town on Tuesday night to take another look at the side. At this moment in time, we are still well short of a side that can finish in the top half of the championship this season.
I have never been so disillusioned ahead of a season supporting Leeds United in over 35-years of following the club. At the moment, I would be happy to finish 21st this season and unless we sort things out quickly, we will be on the wrong end of a thumping on the opening day at Millwall, who are always up for their cup final.
If Massimo Cellino gets a video of the game, he will already be sharpening his axe as a few players and even his first coach of the club, could already been in trouble of the chop.
The only moment that cheered me up on the afternoon was the two lads who came and stood next to me in the ground with the first half almost over. The pair were explaining why they were so late, as they had gone to the old ground of Chesterfield and not the new one. I bet it was a better game and I bet they wished they had stayed there.
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