The Championship 2011/2012 Season Preview – Leeds United

Club Name: Leeds United

Last season in brief: A season where I would have been happy to just avoid relegation and stay in the Championship so we can start rebuilding again, however after being so close to the top and throwing it away in some games (think relegated Preston at home!)  Finishing just outside the players felt deflating. Had some good results though to prove we can compete including the double over comfortable winners QPR.

2010/2011 Final Finish: 7th on the face of it a good return to the Championship with Norwich exceeding expectations to achieve back to back promotions. It could have been so much better if we had managed to stop conceding silly goals as we scored plenty at the other end.

Who’s New: Paul Rachubka, Michael Brown, Andy Lonergan and Monty Gimpel.

Who’s Out: who isn’t!?! Schmeichel, Kilkenny, Johnson, Naylor, Higgs with Eric Lihaj, George McCartney, David Gonzalez and Sanchez Watt all had loan spells end. Also Bessone and Grella have been told they can leave.

Who to Watch: the attacking four of Snodgrass, Becchio, Gradel and Howson (providing we keep them all!) would be the obvious ones if they can re-create their form of last season. I am keen to see Ramon Nunez get a bit more of chance, he did well for Scunthorpe at the end of last season and has looked live in pre-season by all accounts. Monty Gimpel is another one- he apparently turned down Liverpool and Chelsea to sign for us so he must have some talent, although I am not sure how many games he will feature in.

Who’s going up: I can’t look any further then West Ham and Leicester to get the automatic promotion places, they both have good squads already and have strengthened with some very good signings. The battle for the play-offs should be interesting though and I can see that being between Leeds, Southampton, Burnley, Reading, Ipswich and Birmingham. Also Hull had a good run at the end of last season so if they can build on that they could be up there.

Who’s going down: 3 from Doncaster, Peterborough, Coventry or Barnsley. I can see a suprise for relegation this season with the league being stronger.

Where will you finish: I would be happy with a play-off finish I think this season so that there is some improvement on last season, although I do think the league is a lot stronger this year than last so it will certainly be a massive achievement for anyone who manages to progress into the promised land of the Premiership. I am happy with the changes so far, although doing the maths 11 players out and only 4 in must leave us a bit short on strength in depth in order to be able to compete in games, especially in the busy Christmas period. I would also like a decent performance against a Premier League club in the FA Cup like the last couple of season, not necessarily beating one of the big teams but giving a show of ourselves to prove we can do it- in fairness although a cup run is great I don’t think our current squad would be able to cope. I think a lot of our season rests on our attacking prowess being up to the same standard as last year whilst strengthening at the back as well, if we manage that then I could see us breaking into the top 2.