Tim Steere writes his weekly article for Vital Leeds United and this week he looks at the summer ahead and the squad that we all hope Neil Warnock will be putting together
The dust is settling on the season gone and I don`t miss it at all. It was a dismal campaign and I`m actually enjoying the off season.
No more thoughts about how many we`re going to lose at home and thinking about how we have too much baggage at the club on the playing side.
The summer period always brings with optimism for most fans, even if it`s misguided, with the hope of making those key signings to push their team on to bigger and better things.
With the vast amount of players released and transfer listed last week, the rebuilding starts here for Neil Warnock. Top of his list are young hungry players to stay for the long term.
Music to the ears of Leeds fans who are used to the avalanche of loan signings over the last 3 years, which has caused frustration and anger.
While much talent has left (the list of names has been repeated numerous times, I`ll spare the heartbreak), very few permanent new young signings have come in to replace them.
The first of Warnock`s summer signings already spells out his intentions with Jason Pearce. The 24-year-old centre back won all the major player of the year awards at Portsmouth and was their captain, and despite a disappointing season, his stock continued to rise.
Splashing out an estimated £500,000 for the no-nonsense defender who says he puts his head in where others don`t (for some reason I giggled at this statement, I`m so childish), is clearly a long term investment. The four-year contract offered suggests as much.
Warnock describes him as the first part of a jigsaw, which includes more young hungry determined players that he can leave as a legacy for when he retires at the end of next season. As a manager, the last two adjectives describe Warnock to a tee, if not unfortunately for him the younger part.
It`s an ethos that all Leeds fans want and dare say expect from their team, if Pearce lives up to the billing of his characteristics, then he could be a fans favourite soon. Rumours suggests him and Tom Lees are next season`s centre back pairing, an exciting prospect. Lees has been offered a new improved deal already to show the clubs commitment to the young centre back, but already on a deal until 2015, his future is secure.
Following on from this could well be another Portsmouth defender in Joel Ward. The 22 year old predominantly plays at right back, and again was a shining light in a relegated Pompey side. Talks have been held and three other Championship clubs are also reported to be interested.
Portsmouth will be desperate to sell with all their financial woes, and is valued at a similar price to Pearce. That would mean £1m will have been spent on two players, two young players, two young talented players, defenders as well. What the f**k is going on?! It`s amazing to think that we are spending plenty of money and on young players as well. My head is spinning; I may need to lie down
The irony in all of this is that we are seemingly buying young players for the future as Warnock`s legacy when we had those kind of players at the club already, before selling them on. One hopes we don`t lapse into that again.
It also shows how much wastage we had in the playing squad on high wages for players we didn`t play. Letting them go has obviously freed up vital funds, for this to carry on we need more to leave, so roll up roll up I say, let`s get rid of the baggage and lets carry on bringing in these young hungry players to bring back some pride into the club.
Oh and that Snodgrass is encouraged enough by all this to stay on. Chairman Ken Bates has said that negotiations are going well and that there are a couple of outstanding issues to resolve. Seems encouraging, but Bates also said the protests before the Middlesbrough home match this season put off a Saudi Arabian businessman from investing £20million into the club. Who knows what is true.
Complaints may be thrown the clubs way that things are progressing a bit slowly, but with a three and a half month off-season, there is plenty of time, but knowing Warnock and how keen he is to get things done before his holiday at the end of the month. We may not know some of these signings until the beginning of next month.
The general consensus is that in Warnock we trust, he has the right ideas for who he wants to sign and has started well with Pearce`s arrival and possibly Ward as well. It`s clear from his interviews that he`s been talking to players for months already.
Patience is a virtue during a long off season, and if a young hungry squad can be built that can take this club on into the premier league and on towards a strong future, then I`m happy to wait. It`s just a shame song of our young talents we have lost recently couldn`t be a part of it.
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