Before our Coca-Cola, sorry Carling, sorry, Capital One Cup tie at Elland Road against Leeds on Tuesday, I caught up with Tom Hill, writer for Leeds' www.throughitalltogether.com and asked him for an insight into a team we seemed to have lost touch with over recent years despite our similarities, and for a look ahead to the tie on Tuesday from a Leeds point of view.
In February you appointed the outspoken Neil Warnock as manager. Is that an appointment which pleased the fans?
In all honesty it was a welcomed appointment and that’s something I never thought I’d say. Warnock has always had a fiery relationship with us as fans (we usually abuse him) and for him to come to us was a shock but at the same time we sort of fit hand-in-hand. Nobody really likes him and nobody likes us. We currently have one of the most hated chairman (Bates), players (Diouf) plus the fans and Warnock. He’s the master at getting promoted and is passionate. He wants 100% from everyone and that suits Leeds fans to the ground.
You had a massive fall from grace a few years ago, is Warnock the right man to put Leeds back into the Premier League?
If anyone can get us there then Warnock can. He’s done it before and he’s achieved seven promotions so despite his critics he knows exactly what he’s doing. The problem is we have no money but more on that later.
What are your realistic expectations for United this season?
I’m a massive football fan but I’m a realistic one at that. I predicted 12th before the start of the season and I’m sticking with it. We’ve got a good first team for the Championship but our bench would suit most League One clubs apart from our sub keeper. Most people reading this will know our financial situation and we sold our prize assets and didn’t really replace them for the umpteenth year running. We added ten new players and most went straight into the first team and they’re better than what we had…the squad is the issue. When you play 46+ games you need a squad to be successful. If we get some investment and can bring in some players on loan and in January then maybe we have a chance.
Leeds had a decent start to the season winning all but one game in August; however you haven’t started September too well. Has this been down to the calibre of opponent or have the results not justified the performance?
Calibre of opponent mixed with our injury problems. Our two new midfielders are both out for a month or two and now our best player McCormack is out until Christmas. Like I said previously you need a squad, especially if you get several injuries.
What system has Warnock been playing and does he like the ball to be moved about or is he more direct in his preferred style of play?
He comes with a direct style of play attached to him but in fairness to him we do try and play. It’s a generic thing for Leeds to play route one if we are playing crap so if you start to out-play us which you should then we might panic a little. At times we can ping it about, the one factor we have is we have nothing to lose against you as we’re supposed to lose.
We’ve both had our share of questionable Chairmen over the years. The much publicised cost of keeping the fish in Mr Ridsdale’s office did make me laugh. What are the fans’ thoughts and opinions of the current Chairman?
I really can’t stress enough the thoughts of our fans. I couldn’t do it justice in a month of writing never this post. We need investment; he’s the only one preventing it. He’s sold our best players year on year and never replaced them and what makes it worse he’s told us they wouldn’t be sold. We’ve improved a stadium we don’t own and we don’t own our training ground. I hope that sums it up for your readers.
Neil Warnock has said he has been frustrated at the lack of incoming bodies during the current loan market, saying he thinks he might have "more luck on a fishing lake!" Which positions do you need strengthening and what are your strongest positions?
Well we have the best keeper in the division for me, a solid defence but we could do with another centre-back. We need a new winger probably on both sides and experienced cover in the middle. Probably two more strikers as Becchio is carrying a knock and we’ve lost Ross.
Onto the game then, and obviously drawing Everton means you keep an eye on the opposition’s progress. Plus, we have been on Sky more than most in recent weeks so we have been hard to miss – what are your thoughts on Everton this season?
I’ve been really impressed and I think it’s great what you’re doing at the moment. The question is…is this year the year you finally reach the potential. I’m sure you’ll all agree that you either start crap or finish poorly. I admire Everton for chipping away despite not having the funds and think Moyes deserves a medal. Some of the players you have now could make that difference and you should have scored 6 on Monday against Newcastle. I’d like you to get Europe this season.
Obviously David Moyes will shuffle his pack, especially with Nikica Jelavic and Darron Gibson being injured, but who do you see as the main threat to Leeds, and who are you looking forward to seeing?
I aren’t going to lie I don’t look forward to any of your lot playing. If they play and play well we lose and I’m not a happy man haha! Threats obviously Fellaini, Anichebe will probably get a run out and cause chaos with his size and I like Leighton Baines but can’t see all the first-team playing. Mirallas looks good, Naismith can score and you’ve got some solid replacements.
On the other hand, who do we need to be weary of?
This is hard, really hard. We’ve got so many worries at the moment but we have a few should the gods shine on us and we give it a go. Rodolph Austin is a new tank in the midfield. He’s 6ft+ and just smashes everyone and I’m serious. Watch out for his long range shots too. Kenny could keep us in the game and Jason Pearce at the back is solid and loves a tackle. If Becchio is fit and on song then he could cause you a problem or two.
Finally, give us a prediction for the game on Tuesday.
I’d love an upset but we have that many injuries our form is suffering so 3-0 to you lot.
Oh, where can away fans park their cars?!
Plenty of car parks around the ground, or city centre is only 15 minute walk away.
That's me sorted for the car parking then, and Tom's prediction is currently best priced at 18/1, and an Everton win is best priced Evens.
Cheers to Tom for his input, and if you are going to the game don't forget to buy the Official matchday programme to read Tom's article with one of our very own writers!