With Christmas just around the corner, Leeds fans can be quietly confident heading into the new year in regards to the destiny of the club this season. Team cohesion has been at the centre of all that's been successful for the club, as they find themselves 2nd in the Sky Bet Championship at the start of the festive period.
Much of this has been down to the defensive unit, with the second lowest amount of goals conceded in the league. Also noted, much unlike predecessor Leeds sides, is the lack of cards the club has received with the fewest bookings in the league. Player availability has been key to the success so far.
The most notable performer to date has been centre back Jason Pearce. Bought in last season from Portsmouth for half a million pounds, the 25 year old has established himself as the leader in the heart of the defence, normally complied by younger compatriot Tom Lees. Three goals and three MoM's see him as the standout performer so far this campaign.
One of the Leeds' fans main concerns following the arrival of Thomas' and Cellino was the clubs ability in the transfer market. Five new first-team faces were added in in the summer and this is how they've fared as we close in on the festive period...
Beram Kayal (av: 6.60) - Hasn't quite delivered following his 600k switch from Scottish giants Celtic. His slightly below par performances have seen him struggle to hold a permanent place in the squad, with hefty competition from the likes of Rudolph Austin, Luke Murphy and youngster Alex Mowatt who Thomas' is fond of.
Dedrick Boyata (av: 6.47) - Boyata has seen his chances at Leeds severely disturbed, due to the partnership of Pearce & Lee's at the back. The club has already issued a statement in November that Dedrick handed in a transfer request which the board accepted. They will hope to squeeze some profit out of him come January.
Davy Klaassen (av: 6.67) - The youngster from the Netherlands hasn't exactly set the divison a light with his performances, but Thomas' has publicly supported the player and hopes his impact will come later in the season once he's had time to acclimatise.
Albert Riera (av: 6.68) - A Leeds career that's currently been disrupted by injury. Riera has looked an assured purchase when playing, but again is a player that needs to stay at the top his game, with fierce competition at left back with Aidan White, and the impressive Luke Varney on the left wing. Cristian Gamboa (av: 6.80) - Gamboa has settled in to life at Elland Road quickly. Has spent most games playing right midfield, instead of his more natural right back position and has looked assured, scoring 2 league goals in the process and earning a MoM.
The middle section of the season see's difficult challenges against promotion contenders such as Nottingham Forest, Blackburn & Leicester, but otherwise mid to lower table sides that Leeds much take advantage of if they want promotion come May.
just want to add, once I gain promotion with Leeds the updates will be a lot more detailed and slow-paced making the story more enjoyable
EDIT: to confirm, promotion was achieved (via play-offs, 2-1 vs Leicester). Will now continue the story (at a much slower pace) as preparations begin for Premier League life to hopefully increase interest.
With fans still in hysteria's following Leeds' dramatic promotion back to the premiership, manager Thomas' has wasted no time in criticising his employers who he believes are showing "a lack of desire to stay in the biggest league in the world". This leak comes swiftly after the board sat down with the manager to discuss operating budgets for the forth-coming season. Sky Sports reports the manager has been handed a sum in the region of £13m to keep the side in the Premier League next season.
Supporter groups have been quick to back the manager amid the news. Wesley Burns, managing director of the "LUFANS" supporter group commented that: "The play-off final is supposedly worth 80 million to the winner however we've seen only a small proportion of this amount handed to Thomas' to craft a team for next season. We are back in the big time once again playing with our fiercest rivals, the board need to ensure we can compete and this news shows a lack of ambition". The club themselves are yet to make any comment on the matter.
Better news today from Elland Road however, as the club announced the arrival of two new players. The first to arrive was Polish International Lukas Fabianski, who completed his move from Arsenal on a free transfer. The 29 year old stopper has agreed terms on a three-year-deal with the club & looks set to displace Paddy Kenny who endured a turbulent season last time around.
Speaking in regards to the move to BBC Yorkshire, Fabianski said he was "happy to join a club with the reputation of Leeds United". "First team football was what I desired and despite offers from numerous clubs in England and abroad, I felt Leeds would be the best move for me and my family."
Closely following the announcement of the Fabianski' move, the club also confirmed that they had agreed terms with Udinese for the transfer of Czech' striker, Matej Vydra. The move is again a free transfer however inclusive of agent fees is around £400,000. Matej endured a difficult campaign last season with West Brom, scoring on five occasions for the Baggies' last year. Leeds fans however are excited by the signing and are looking forward to seeing Vydra in a Leeds shirt.
Leeds United have also confirmed that trio Stephen Warnock, Luke Varney & David Norris would not be offered new deals with the club. Dedrick Boyata is also deep into discussions in regards to a £450k switch to relegated West Ham and this transfer is all but done according to various sources.
Leeds United today announced the squad that would jet off for the pre-season tour of the Netherlands'. Leeds are involved in four fixtures in the country over a fort-night. They start off against third division outfit Noordwijk, before encounters with Eredivisie sides NAC Breda and FC Gronigen. The tour finishes with a low key friendly against second division Volendam.
The announcement of the tour squad, co-incided with the unveiling of three new signings for the the Yorkshire club, all of whom will travel with the squad for the pre-season tour of Holland.
Current Ability: Potential Ability: Fee: £1.3 Million
Tom Ince arrives from Blackpool in a 1.3 million pound deal after the clubs agreed a fee to avoid the use of a tribunal. Ince arrives with Premiership know-how, appearing 38 times for Crystal Palace last season. Also qualifying as a home grown player, Ince has much to live up to if he wants to follow in his dads footsteps.
Current Ability: Potential Ability: Fee: £2 Million
Montenegrin defender Basa arrives from French club Lille on a two-year deal. The move was made possible following the French clubs surprise relegation from Ligue 1. Basa provides a wealth of experience with over 30 caps for his country as well as top flight experience in Russia and France. Basa looks to be first choice for the Yorkshire club.
Current Ability: Potential Ability: Fee: £2.2 Million
Mutch completes his move to Elland Road from fellow Premier League side Cardiff. The talented 22 year old found himself somewhat frozen out at Cardiff following a riff with manager Ole Gunnar Solksjaer. many Leeds fans are excited by the signing and especially for such a small fee considering he's an English player.
Goalkeeper Declan Rudd will also join the tour on a trial basis, following his contract expiring at Norwich. He is expected to sign a deal with the club in the next few days to under-study Fabianski, with Paddy Kenny parting ways with the club.
Full Team: Lukas Fabianski, Tom Lees, Jason Pearce, Marko Basa, Scott Wootton, Sam Byram, Aidan White, Cristian Gamboa, Rudolph Austin, Alex Mowatt, Jordon Mutch, Luke Murphy, Jason Holt, Tom Ince, Ross McCormack, Matej Vydra, Noel Hunt, Matt Smith, Declan Rudd, Lee Pletier, Charlie Taylor, Dominic Poleon, Chris Dawson.
Leeds United tonight completed a challenging pre-season tour under the floodlights in Northern Holland as they edged out a battling Volendam side. The tour was largely a successful one for the Whites, remaining undefeated and averaging plenty over three goals a game. New signings Thomas Ince (3) and Matej Vydra (2) have made goal scoring starts in their Leeds careers, coupled with a very impressive Aidan White at left-back, with Thomas' admitting he's played his way into possibly being first choice for the Yorkshire club.
Speaking to LUTV, Thomas responded to a question in regards to the tour that it had been "The necessary challenge required from a pre-season tour. We've remained unbeaten which was important as we have faced some decent opposition and the younger lads have had a chance to put an impression on me. The hospitality has been fantastic and tours like this will only increase the profile of the club."
"It's good to see the new lads settling in quickly to Leeds colours, which is important as much like the other promoted clubs, there needs to be an influx of players to survive in such a difficult division. We will continue to spend wisely and ensure we have a squad capable of competing next season". Leeds' pre-season now continues with games against Sherbourne and AJ Auxerre before they compete in the 'PaddyPower Cup' alongside Celtic, CSKA Moscow and Sporting Lisbon at Elland Road.
As the final match of the tour was completed, Leeds' also announced that the final details were going through in regards to a double signing, from Serie B outfit Sampdoria whom finished bottom of the top division in Italy last year. Spanish midfielder Pedro Obiang has put pen-to-paper on a four year deal for a fee just over £5million pounds. Team-mate Shkodran Mustafi is also in advance talks to finalise a £3million pound move to Elland Road. The double-switch is a signal of intent from the club, with Leeds battling off interest from the likes of Udinese, Parma & Everton for the 22 year olds services.
Transfer Window slams shut, Leeds confirm 14/15 team
415 Million Pounds was spent in a hectic transfer window in the Premier League this season, Leeds only contributing towards 14 million of that total. Transfer deadline day itself was quiet, noteably the arrivals of Ruben Garcia (Levante to Arsenal) and Adriano (Barca to Liverpool), as well as the swap deal involved AC Milan's Abate and Liverpool's Fabio Borini.
With spending finished until at least January, the club today confirmed the registration of their team for the season. The target for the players most definitely being to stay in the league.
Lukas joined on a free transfer from Arsenal and is the number one choice for the forth-coming season despite not playing any football last campaign. His under-study Ronnow arrived from AC Horsens in Denmark for £275,000. He spent last season on loan to Esbjerg last season and is expected to be the long-term replace for Fabianski.
Basa and Mustafi joined for a combined fee of £5million and are the main contenders to occupy the two starting positions at the back. Pearce and Lees provided a stern partnership last campaign and will battle for games, with Zaliukas a squad filler at best.
Byram is one of the brightest young talents at the club and stayed this summer despite interest from a host of clubs. Aidan White retains his positions at left back to with Cristian Gamboa able to cover at Right Back and further upfield. Jason Pearce can stand in at left back if White encounters any issues during the season.
Pedro Obiang was arguably the marquee signing for the club during the off-season and looks to be guaranteed his place in the squad. Thomas' is spoilt for options along-side him. Mutch' arrival from Cardiff in the off-season was an "astute piece of business" according to fans, with Murphy, Austin and youngster Mowatt providing the back-bone of last season in the middle.
With Thomas' looking to play 5-3-2 away from home, wingers were not an accessity but it does look to be a position where Leeds look quite light. Big things are expected of Tom Ince following his summer arrival, and Ross Mccormack looks to take a place in right midfield this year. Jason Holt's 48k move from Hearts last season looks to be a steal for his services and Cameron Stewart is an up-and-coming talent.
Berbatov's arrival on transfer deadline day from Monaco sparked joyous scenes outside Elland Road. The 33 year old provides much needed experience to the squad and still managed 19 goals last season for the French club. Vydra is favourite to start with the Bulgarian, although Matt Smith's continous form cannot be ignored. Noel Hunt looks to be fourth choice although he's proved he can score vital goals at vital times.
So, Dimitar Berbatov completed a six-month loan move to Elland Road on transfer deadline day. The move lasts until Janaury, with it being expected that Leeds can extend the loan to the end of the season if they wish. The fee for the loan is around £250k with Leeds subsidising 40% of his 62k a week contract during his stay. With Lacina Traore's return to the club from Everton, as well as Riviere, Martial and Falcao, Berbatov was frozen out at the start of the campaign and wanted the move to play first-team football.
We will be reporting live from his first press conference with the Whites' shortly...
Leeds Tranfers (summer 14/15)
Matej Vydra (Free), Tom Ince (1.4m), Lukas Fabianki (Free), Jordon Mutch (2.2m), Marko Basa (2.1m), Pedro Obiang (5.5m), Shkodran Mustafi (3m), Frederik Ronnow (275k), Dimitar Berbatov (loan).
Beram Kayal (825k), Dedrick Boyata (450k), Stephen Warnock (150k), Albert Riera (150k), Paddy Kenny (free), Luke Varney (released), David Norris (released), Steve Morrison (free), Michael Tonge (free)
Shortly after completing his deadline day move to Leeds United from French Club Monaco on a six-month-loan deal, lufc.co.uk had the oppourtunity to sit down with the Bulgarian forward just after he'd signed the formalities of his move to the Whites'. Leeds have paid a loan fee of £250k to the French club for Berbatov's services until the end of January.
Reporter: So here we are at Elland Road in whats been a quickly organised transfer. Did it feel as quick and as hectic for you as it did for us reporting on it Dimitar?
DB: Yes it did! Obviously with Monaco making me avaliable for loan this morning, its all had to happen very quickly. Leeds were in contact with my agent at around 5pm and we immediately flew over to finalise terms and i'm happy to be part of the club until at least January.
Reporter: And obviously a return to the Premier League too where you've had success'es with multiple clubs in the past. What was it that made Leeds a move you couldnt refuse?
DB: I'm somebody that wants to be playing football. Monaco made it clear I wasnt going to be figuring there which surprised me, but Leeds have offered me a new challenge back in a league I love playing in and im grateful for that.
Reporter: Obviously chairman Massimo Cellino dealt with the transfer, but did you know much about the club and the manager before you finalised your move?
DB: Leeds are a very big club but not when I was previously playing in the English League. They've done fantasticly well getting promoted and the atmosphere at the stadium is brilliant and is something I look forward to be involved with.
Reporter: And obviously looking towards the future, the deal is six months but would you like to stay for the season?
DB: I think its best to cross that bridge when we come to it. Im extremely pleased to join the club and want to make an immediate impact and help the team as much as possible.
The review so far as Leeds United return to the Premier League for the first time in nine years in the 2014/15 season.
Leeds after a fairly successful tour of Holland travelled to Auxerre to play out a 1-1 draw, Tom Ince finishing from the edge of the box for the Whites. This was followed up by a fairly disappointing Paddypower cup, with a draw and loss respectively against stern opposition in CSKA and Sporting Lisbon.
Matt Smith carried on from being last seasons top goalscorer with a good pre-season, with new signings Tom Ince & Matej Vydra settling in quickly. Pre-Season was less successful for defenders, Byram and Lee's noteably struggling.
Beginning of Premier League Season
A difficult start against 'Spurs in a game they controlled, Matt Smith's early goal cancelled out by efforts from Lamela and Adebayor. The Whites' were confident against West Brom to get their first league points but after Mustafi's header Leeds conceded two goals in the last 12 minutes. A draw with Aston Villa was content enough, Basa getting off the mark after a midweek win in the Capital One Cup.
Berbatov scoring against his former club and a McCormack screamer helped Leeds to their first league win of the season before Chelsea set us crashing back down to earth. Victory again in the Capital One Cup was followed by a late demise against Everton. Noel Hunt equalised after 12 minutes and Leeds were able to hold on until a Mirallas double in the 86th & 88th minute.
A sobering month for Leeds as they faced the biggest sides in the division. A fantastic battling performance at Anfield earned Leeds a draw, before deserved losses against the Manchester sides as the Whites' also left the Capital One Cup at the last 16 stage.
Performance of the season to date as we coasted past a strong Cardiff side featuring the likes of Kjaer, Caulker & Cassano with a brace from Scottish striker Ross McCormack. Points harder to come by as Swansea coasted to victory before a devastating home loss to Norwich. Berbatov' with his 3rd of the season as Leeds scraped over the line against Stoke to end the month.
Two rescued draws against Bolton & Newcastle to begin the month in games we didn't really deserve much from. Three home games out of four across the festive period to come, with the Hull & Southampton games especially crucial, as well as visiting fellow promoted side Reading. They find themselves in 14th, Pogrebnyak carrying on with his form of last season when he scored 34 in 44 for the Royals.
Matt Smith picking up where he left off from last season with 3 goals along-side Berbatov and McCormack. New signings Obiang & Basa are also playing well and gelling in with the squad.
The squad is able to grind out results in games where we don't necessarily have the ascendency which could prove important come the end of the season.
Only Hull City (28) have conceded more goals than Leeds, which is disappointing following the arrivals of Basa, Fabianski & Mustafi.
Matej Vydra is yet to open his account for the club in the Premier League after 9 appearances (3 from the bench). Mustafi has also endured a torrid run of form following his summer move.
Despite his talent, youngster Sam Byram at times does look out of depth at this level. Alex Mowatt, again young, has found it really hard to adapt to the demands of the premier league.
The club are just inside the relegation zone with the second worst goal difference in the league.
Despite fans continually calling for the dropping of Czech striker Matej Vydra, Thomas' has moved quickly to show supporter for the striker who moved to Elland Road this summer from Udinese. Several sources were even reporting that Vydra was set to leave the club in January but the manager has come out quickly to dispell any rumours in the press.
Thomas:: "Matej is a fantastic player who unfortunately at the moment is struggling to hit the heights that myself and the backroom staff know he can. He a professional who's motivated and is still training very hard and it's only a matter of time until he starts to come back on to form. Matej is definitely part of my long-term vision with the club."
Vydra' has struggled since his switch to Leeds in the summer. Despite playing 908 minutes of Premiership football, he's yet to open his account in the league. His only competitve goal came in the 4-2 win over Oldham in the Carling Cup.