It has been a torrid time in recent years for all associated with Leeds United, stretching back over a decade.
Financial ruin led to relegation from the Premier League in 2004 and since losing in the play-off final in 2006, they haven’t looked close to getting back to the top-flight. The Whites also spent time in League One from 2007 until 2010, thanks again to money problems and point deductions.
Fast forward to today and Leeds United are in danger of returning to the third tier after falling perilously close to the relegation zone. Five Championship matches without a win leaves them just one point above the drop zone in 20th position.
Most of the recent trouble stems from controversial owner Massimo Cellino who acquired the club around a year ago. He initially failed the fit and proper ownership test but this was overturned on appeal. The recent news regarding the Football League disqualifying him from running the club – which has since been appealed – marks a dark year in the history of Leeds United.
Aside from this, Cellino’s managerial appointments and sackings have been a real hindrance to the club. Neil Redfearn is currently the fourth manger since Cellino officially took over in April of last year. Brian McDermott left the club at the end of last season which brought about the appointment of non-league manager Dave Hockaday. This strange appointment didn’t last, as he was sacked at the end of August. Darko Milanic only lasted a month and Redfearn has been in charge ever since.
The turnover of managers in such a short space of time has meant the players have had little stability and it has to be a contributing factor to Leeds’ recent downward spiral towards the bottom of the Championship. But the the truth is that there has been investment on the pitch and there are quite a few talented players in the squad that should have enough quality to stay up this season.
Giuseppe Bellusci was one of those players brought in over the summer in a reported fee of £1.6million from relegated Serie A side Catania. He is a defender that can play either in the centre or on the right and who brings extensive Serie A experience to the side and has impressed so far.
So too has goalkeeper Marco Silvestri, brought in from Cheivo. He has arguably won points on his own, keeping his team in games at times, and will continue to be vital to the club’s fortunes this season.
Young defender Sam Byram and 19-year-old midfielder Alex Mowatt are two youngsters that have continued to impress after breaking into the first team last season, while another Italian summer singing, Mirco Antenucci, is the club’s top scorer with eight goals so far this season.
But goalscoring has generally been one of Leeds’ biggest problems, which needs to be addressed in January. This is unless the experienced Billy Sharp can finally find his feet at Elland Road, just as he has done at this level on several occasions in the past.
And with the likes of Stephen Warnock, who has had plenty of Premier League experience over the years, this is a team that has the players to survive, but are playing with little confidence, and are facing an uncertain future until the Cellino appeal is resolved.