Thursday, 7 June 2012

Leeds United 2011/12 End of Season Review

Leeds United's 2011/12 season was one to forget. I'd even go so far as to say that the season was a total wash out.

At the end of 2010/11 it was fairly obvious that the squad needed a few additions and to keep or replace what we had. Sadly, quite the opposite happened - rather than improving the squad over the last 12 months, it ended up being thinned out. Away went 3 of our best players - Johnson, Gradel and Howson, and in came short term free agents and a swathe of loanees (7 free agents and 9 loanees in total). Sadly, a lot of those free agents and loan players were either not up to scratch or were not playing in the shirt long enough to make a difference. There was no stability and that reflected in the teams' results.

Ultimately it cost Simon Grayson his job and Neil Warnock was brought in by Bates to try and resurrect the season. The problem being, Simon Grayson is a very good manager and seemingly, to me anyway, it appears he was actually acting as the glue keeping the side together - doing a very good job in a very difficult situation. Though he may have made a few mistakes and some poor signings, I really think this was mainly due to the scenario he found himself in.

Nay matter, however it came to be, the season was a mess and though I hoped Neil Warnock could somehow instil a siege mentality into the players, it never materialised and results got even worse... the worst of the worse, a 3-7 defeat at home to Nottingham Forest in March. The season was over well before it actually finished. Our haphazard squad of players finished the season in a mediocre 14th place. Though poor, it would be somewhat unfair to blame either manager, that's the sort of season we'd had, many of the players just didn't show up a lot of the time.

There were very few positives to take from the season but the main one would be the continued development of some of the players who came through the clubs' youth academy - players like Tom Lees and Aidan White. Another was the form of Ross McCormack and Robert Snodgrass who were the stand out performers over the season and Andy Lonergan did pretty well too. Last but not least, a statue of Don Revie was unveiled outside the East Stand. I'd say that those 3 things were pretty much about as good as it got.

But anyway, I best not to dwell too much. Once the season was over, Neil Warnock summed it all up well by placing 6 players on the transfer list and releasing 5 more. Compared to this time last season when we needed a few players in key positions, now the entire squad has to be rebuilt brick by brick since the wall was allowed to fall down. One thing that isn't falling down mind you are the corporate facilities in the East Stand. The stand has had 7 million spent redeveloping it.

For most clubs this could have been a wise move but it is a little disturbing when you hear the club are spending this on infrastructure it doesn't own rather than a playing squad it does - the question has to be - why? To put it another way; if you were a tenant renting a house, would you take out a loan secured against your car to pay to have a conservatory built that you might use to host an Ann Summers party once a fortnight? (Btw, this is why I chose Ann Summers as part of the metaphor - offering a "long, drawn-out affair with plenty of foreplay and slow arousal"  – sounds kinky to me)

And that's the thing I dislike most of all about Ken Bates' and Shaun Harvey's reign at Leeds:
The secrecy, the seemingly strange decisions, the unaccountability and a total lack of transparency.
These issues that have helped to alienate supporters have been prevalent from the start; from the saga regarding the ownership of the club, the use of corporate anonymity through offshore companies to the unprofessional comments published through the clubs own media. For a more in-depth read here is a great article on the Leeds United situation from The Swiss Ramble including a fair bit of background and plenty of figures - well worth a read for any football supporter!

Who knows what the next chapter will be in the Leeds story or even what happens at the end of this one? Your guess is as good as mine!

Recently it was revealed that there is investment being sought. Whether potentially a partnership investment or take over, it hasn't been revealed yet. As Blackburn and Portsmouth have found to their detriment in recent years, sometimes it's a case of better the devil you know and although we long for a knight in shining armour, since that's sadly the way English football has fallen, I know it's best not to get carried away with the chance of being bought out unless it is by someone who will care for the whole of the club.

From a fans perspective, the Leeds United Supporters Trust (LUST) has laid out it's vision - and it sounds sensible to me. So much so, I joined – why I hadn't before now I'm really not sure!

Neil Warnock and the players have also been quite vocal recently about their ambitions.

The only people we haven't heard much from are the board but right now, it's action rather than words that will tell us as supporters all we need to know and if they are working hard to do the best by Leeds United Football Club then I'm happy for them to be as silent as they like.

Even inaction will lead to something giving way. It's building up to be an intriguing summer ahead.

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