Next up – a trip to Yorkshire for Brentford – hoping to make it three wins on the spin against a Leeds side without a win since Boxing Day. Billy Grant caught up with Ryan Wilson (@RYAN_PIGEONS) from Proper Sport Station (@ProperSport) to talk Heckingbottom, Leeds’ playoff chances and ticket prices at Elland Road.
Leeds have had an up and down season. After last season’s near playoff-miss, are you disappointed?
Initially I was very disappointed Garry Monk did not remain at the club as I felt he took the club forward last season, but we had to get on with it. We brought in a lot of unknown players mainly from overseas which in my opinion can be a gamble. We got off to a flying start and everything looked extremely promising then it changed…
Overall on the pitch I am not happy with this season after the relative success of last season. Some of the new players haven’t worked and I feel we have not successfully replaced the key players we lost in the summer. It feels like we are taking backward steps, however the club has new owners with new plans. Rome was not built in a day so we have to be a little bit more patient.
Christiansen was sacked a few weeks back. Heckinbottom is now in after signing from Barnsley. How many managers now? Everyone though with the new owners, Leeds would be more a stable outfit
Stability is a key to success in this league. Again the new owners took a gamble on Thomas Christianssen which they have since admitted that unfortunately it did not pay off. Leeds fans were fully supportive of TC in his time at Elland Rd. His job was made very difficult with injuries and suspensions which is something out of his control but ultimately the book stops at him.
In the old regime, I think he would have gone earlier but the new owners gave him more time. When it still did not work out, they had to make the change to give the new manager time to still push for the play-offs. When Leeds announced Heckingbottom, like a lot of Leeds fans I was a little underwhelmed. Barnsley are struggling at the wrong end of the table and it didn’t feel like a ‘glamorous’ appointment. However after reading further into him and his time as a player and coach, my opinion quickly changed. He is a good coach with forward thinking ideas and very good at developing players – especially the younger players. Leeds United have some very talented young players in the squad and with his guidance I think he will develop them into quality players.
Do you think Hecky will be the man to take Leeds to another level?
Heckingbottom knows the championship very well and knows what Leeds United is all about. Given time – and if he works with the board on transfers so he can get the players he wants in – he has the potential to succeed at the club and take us forward in the Premier League.
I was quite surprised when Leeds came to Griffin Park (and please this isn’t meant to be taken the wrong way), how easy you were to beat. Normally, every time we play Leeds – no matter if we win, lose or draw – it’s a bit of a battle. You seem to have lost that
I would agree. Sadly for Leeds this was not the first time we have under performed. This season it has been difficult to get consistency throughout the team, Thomas Christianssen was changing up the team almost every week due to poor performances. Pablo Hernandez and Pontus Jansson have been the only two consistent players throughout the season. This has been a big problem for us all season and very frustrating. If a team gets into us early and dictates the game, we seem to struggle putting up a fight to regain dominance.
The transfer window shut a month ago. Who did you get in?
Depending on which Leeds fans you speak to you will get mixed opinions on the January window. There were lots of cries for a proven striker and a left back as the window started. We went into the market and purchased Laurens De Bock a left back from Club Brugge. Since releasing / selling Charlie Taylor to Burnley we have not had an actual replacement for the Left Back position so it is a good signing bringing in a decent Left Back.
We then signed ex Bees midfielder Adam Forshaw from Middlesbrough. At the time of signing him I was surprised a I felt we did not need another defensive midfielder however his quality is better than our current midfielders so I am happy with the signing.
Our final first team signing was Tyler Roberts a striker from West Brom. Roberts has had various successful loan spells in League one and two, people in the know say he has bags of potential however he suffered an ankle injury in training and looks like he might miss the rest of the season.
There were several U23 player signings in January. I am fond of the new owners putting money and effort into the U23 squad to build for the future. Overall it was good enough window for me, yes we could of maybe purchased more or better first team players, it has become apparent the new owners are not prepared to throw money at problems they seem to want to progressively build the team
Ollie Watkins had an absolute blinder against Birmingham on Tuesday night when we beat them 5-0. It should have been 9 or 10. Striker Neal Maupay is also finding form after a star that saw him miss a hatful of chances. Jozefzoon has stepped up a gear – terrorising defenders on the wing. What Leeds players should we be looking out for?
Hecky is definitely finding his feet and discovering what his players can do, it is always going to be difficult a manager coming in mid-season and hitting the ground running. The game on Saturday may be difficult for Brentford, I feel although Derby got a late equaliser on Wednesday the confidence of our players is growing and now we have Samuel Saiz back who is head and shoulders our best player he will make it tricky for Brentfords defence, Lasogga is finding good form too with 5 goals in his last 6 games. With the creativity of Siaz and power of Lasogga these two will be our key players on Saturday.
Brentford only know how to play football one way. On the deck. And playing a passing game. How do you feel Leeds will combat this?
Leeds can sometimes struggle against a passing team especially in the middle of the pitch however with the new signing Adam Foreshaw in midfield this has changed recently, he is an intelligent player and very good at breaking down play, I am sure Hecky knows how Brentford play and will adapt his team to counter it.
I’m not a shirker when it comes to away matches. I went to all Brentford’s 49 matches last season and Ive missed probably a dozen games in all from the promotion season in 2013/14. But I made a moral decision not to come this season because of the £39 price point – despite how well we were doing and wrote about it (click here). In fact, I deliberately booked a short holiday in Majorca for myself and my son this weekend to ensure that I wouldn’t be tempted. The flight and car hire came in cheaper than the cost of trains and match tickets. Loads of Bees fans are doing the same. To be fair, many Leeds fans are empathetic as they realise that a lively away section makes for a better game. When are Leeds football club gonna learn that thirty’s dirty and forty’s naughty?
I whole heartily agree. As a fan I want to see the away end at Elland Rd full every game. It adds to the atmosphere and makes the game so much better. I am a fan of the new owner Andrea Radrizzani and some of the changes he has made, I think the away ticket prices for visiting fans to Elland Rd has to change, there are many Leeds United fans like me who agree and would like to see this change. The Premier League have a cap on away ticket prices of £30 so for a Championship team charging more seems quite frankly ridiculous.
The problem of high prices at Leeds you tend to also see at some other Championship teams who tend to increase their away ticket prices when Leeds United visit so this problem affects Leeds fans as well. I hope this will change. Mr Radrizzani has got a lot right so far in his tenure but this issue is currently wrong and I am sure he has already been made aware of it.
So Saturday ….. it’s a very important game for us both. Brentford play brilliant football but have been massively inconsistent. Leeds have been right up there but have faded away as of late. How do you think this match will pan out?
This is a big game for both of us. For Leeds United it is a must win if we have any chance of getting into the top six. We have dropped in form massively in the New Year. We have not won a game since Boxing Day but I feel with the new manager the tide is turning. If Leeds can regain any of the quality and consistency we showed earlier in the season and turn Elland Rd back in a fortress, we will pick up points and make it hard for any visiting team.
Tight game with goals for both teams. I am going for 2-1 Leeds United win.
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