"This is for you, Mr Revie" I said, looking up at the Don Revie statue that faced the impressive East Stand façade at Elland Road.
Don Revie. A man driven out of the country by senior figures at the FA, but loved and adored by every man, woman and child connected with Leeds United Football Club.
Thirteen years, a Second Division Championship, two First Division Championships, five times First Division runners-up, one FA Cup, three times FA Cup runners-up, one League Cup, two UEFA Cups and one Community Shield.
Those were the figures for Leeds United under Revie, as the club underwent its most successful era of all time. Howard Wilkinson brought a short period of success in the 90s, with his legacy being the Leeds United academy at Thorp Arch, which has produced a backlog of top class players, some who still play for Leeds.
If they can do it, why can't I? Leeds United is my first job in management, but it was also Don Revie's first job. I want to bring the glory days right back to Elland Road and more.
I don't want to build a team of runners-up, I want a team of winners. I want a dynasty that thrives on winning, and a legacy that will continue to conquer English football for decades to come.
I've always had an ambitious personality, but I never imagined I'd start out at my hometown club. The club I grew up supporting, the club that for a brief period, I was privileged enough to play for. It was only brief, but nothing comes close to the privilege of pulling on the white shirt, walking out on to the hallowed turf and hearing the roar of the Kop.
Today's players are roared on from the South Stand these days, with the Kop going into decline. But it doesn't matter which side it comes from, Elland Road makes a unique noise. One that makes you tremble with excitement playing for Leeds, and great fear playing against them.
I came up through the youth system and played for the mighty Whites until 1988, when Howard Wilkinson took charge. I moved to recently promoted Aston Villa who I enjoyed a two-year spell with, where we finished runners-up in 1990. After Villa, I moved on to Liverpool.
My time at Anfield was defined unfortunately by injury. It kept me out of much of the 1991 title-winning season and saw me spend a year on the sidelines in 1994 and 1995. With my contract coming to an end in the summer of 1995, I made the switch back to Elland Road on a free transfer.
I was fortunate enough to be a part of the last Leeds side to participate in the Champions League as we came agonisingly close in 2001, losing in the semi-final to Valencia. I decided the time had come to move once again, and I got a move to Division One side Manchester City.
We earned promotion in my first year, and I carried on playing into my 40s, albeit mostly in the reserves in the latter stage. I retired when the Arabs took over in 2008. I had been playing professional football for twenty-six years, and the time had finally come to call it a day.
I immediately got a start on earning my coaching badges, although I did it a lot slower than most others, taking the time to enjoy my retirement along the way.
Having gained my UEFA A Licence last month, I finally felt ready to jump into the dugout. When I heard Leeds were looking for a new manager to replace Brian McDermott, I seized my opportunity.
I'm Josh by the way. Josh Townend. This is my unabridged version of events, as I aim to become the most successful manager this great club has ever seen.
"I can't believe we're moving again" moaned my wife, Christine.
To be fair, she had a point. She was the specialist that treated me whilst I was at Liverpool, and after seeing each other for two months, we got together. We had only been properly going out for a few months when I moved to Leeds, and she took the difficult decision to come with me. Since then, she's moved with me to Manchester and London, where I did my coaching badges.
We also have a son together, Will who was born in 1997. He was named William after Billy Bremner, the greatest captain ever to grace the turf at Elland Road. In fairness to Will, he's a decent footballer. He plays in goal for his Sixth Form college football team, which won the league last year, with Will contributing a fair few clean sheets to the cause.
I couldn't really be arsed with another move, but such are the demands of modern football that these steps have to be taken. There is no longer any loyalty in football, so if worst comes to the worst and I make a pig's ear of my first job, it's very likely we'll be moving again.
We're moving into a very neat 3-bedroom property in Alwoodley in the North of Leeds. It's in a convenient location, just a 20-minute drive from the training ground at Thorp Arch but also within easy access of Elland Road.
Understandably, Will wasn't happy about moving either. It means he has to move away from his mates in London, who he had known for six years since we first moved down to London. What did work in my favour however, it that he was heavily influenced by me, and had become an avid supporter of Leeds United. With that in mind, he did look forward to being closer to Elland Road and seemed even cooler to him, was that his Dad was about to manage that club.
It seemingly took an eternity to get to Leeds. We stayed in the Marriott Hotel in town for a couple of nights, whilst the removal men took our stuff to the new house, and put them in their correct rooms.
A couple of days later, we headed up to Alwoodley. It's a bungalow, but a very nice one at that. It has a conservatory which was obviously of paramount importance to Christine. Also, the house being a bungalow means that we won't have to try lifting furniture up the stairs.
I remember such frustrations from when I lived with my parents, before I was first signed on by Leeds. My Dad served in the army which meant we had to do a lot of moving, which invariably meant a lot of heavy lifting up and down the stairs every year or two.
We were happy once we were finally unpacked, and I made off for an early night. I had to be up early for my first day of work tomorrow
I'll just repeat what I said on your other effort. You do very well with your backstory and character creation. It's a nice scene setter for what will follow. I hope this save goes better than your other one, and will be following along.
Thank you tenthreeleader. You'll be glad to know that I'm a massive fan of your style of writing, so I figured I'd have a crack at it myself. Hope you don't mind too much, I've tried to avoid toe-treading where possible
Fortunately, Thorp Arch is in a secluded area on the outskirts of Leeds, and the club only allows two journalists to go about their business there- Adam Pope of BBC Radio Leeds and Phil Hay of the Yorkshire Evening Post- three if you include the journalist of club-owned LUTV, Thom Kirwin.
This was how I like working, I can't stand the thought of trying to get into my first day of work, swamped by a sea of cameras and microphones.
I went straight through the building, not even taking the time to take notice of where everything is. I just wanted to get straight onto the pitch.
I was pleased to see my players, all stood out there, watched over by the club's eccentric president, Massimo Cellino. He was sticking true to his word that he'd assemble the players on the training ground for me, ready to address them.
The only staff I have at my disposal at the moment are Director of Football Nicola Salerno, and Physio Harvey Sharman. All the other staff were cleared out when McDermott left. I cleared my throat, and began addressing the team.
"Lads. A lot of things have changed since this training ground closed its doors for the summer. I'm new, a large proportion of you are new and we're getting in a load of new staff.
I won't tell you what I expect of you in the league. Instead I'll lay a few ground rules.
Rule number one: respect. You respect me and my staff, you respect officials at the match but most importantly, you respect the club. Disrespect me, and I'll come down on you like a ton of bricks. Disrespect the club, and you'll never play another game again.
Rule number two: play for the shirt. The chance to play for a club of this magnitude is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, make the most of it. Fight for every ball, and the effort doesn't stop until the final whistle. I don't care what the score is, you put your heart and soul into it for as long as the referee will allow for.
Rule number three: stay focussed. This is an unpredictable league. So many teams have been punished for getting careless. Most teams are pretty ruthless so we must give them no reason to punish us.
Nicola Salerno will be here shortly to take training. Behave, train hard. I'm going to the ground to use the office for a couple of days whilst I set about recruiting my backroom staff."
When Salerno arrived, I turned and headed back through the building, flanked by Cellino. He had offered to help me in my search for new staff, so I took him up on the offer.
He got into his car, and I got into mine, and we set off for the ring road, to get us to Elland Road.
This is another strong post. You've set up how your character will behave and given us expectations when players don't meet the standard. I can see a manager standing in a center circle saying just these things, especially at a proud club like LUFC.
Thank you for your kind words, but please don't worry about toe-treading. What I've found in my time as a writer is that people can learn from each other.
So, give it your best shot. Try new things. Learn from how I write and I'll learn from you. The end result is we'll both be better at the craft and that's the important thing.
When we arrived at Elland Road and parked outside the West Stand, I had one thing on my mind.
In the 60s and 70s, Don Revie had a sign nailed to the wall in the dressing room, just above Billy Bremner's peg that said 'KEEP FIGHTING'. I had ordered a sign to look exactly like the original, seeing as traces of the original have been lost in time.
The delivery was in my office. I picked it up alongside the No More Nails pack that came with it and made for the home dressing room. I had a very clear idea in mind that the captain would sit in the middle of the bench along the wall facing the door. I marched over to the middle of the wall and moments later, 'KEEP FIGHTING' sat proudly in the home dressing room once more.
Once I'd done that, I joined Massimo Cellino in my office and opened up my laptop. Together, we looked through a database of coaches and scouts and started scribbling down targets.
I wanted to layer the coaching staff, some layers would intertwine at various points. I wanted first team staff, under-21 staff and under-18 staff. The senior fitness and goalkeeper coaches could work with all teams whilst the other senior coaches could also work in the under-21s.
After a long afternoon of going through targets, shortlisting staff and approaching them, we were done. We spent seven hours between 10 and 5 non-stop negotiating terms over the phone. I printed out the paper work for all prospective members of staff and sent them first class.
I had a press conference in the press room to attend at five o'clock and I was running late. I ran as fast as I could to the press room, and when I entered I was blinded by the constant flash photography. Luckily, Massimo stepped in to calm the swathes of press and introduce me as the new head coach at Leeds United.
A familiar face to the club, Adam Pope (mentioned before, from BBC Radio Leeds) had the first question.
"Adam Pope, Radio Leeds. Josh, welcome to the club. What made you take on a challenge like Leeds United for your first job in management?"
"Well Adam, I like a challenge. Leeds is the club that I've been a passionate supporter of since I was a little kid and I wanted to get myself in that dugout. Mr Cellino has said he'll be patient with me and that I can rely on the board's backing"
"Phil Hay, Yorkshire Evening Post. Where do you think the club will finish this season under your leadership?"
"The initial aim is mid-table. If we can pleasantly surprise ourselves, we will strive for more but won't go into that unless it happens. I'm contracted for a year, and the board have told me they will renew it if we perform well. I want to be here next season and win promotion by 2016 at the latest"
"Bryn Law, Sky Sports. Obviously, the club has seen a large intake of foreign players this season. Do you see that as a challenge or a blessing?"
"That's a very good question. I'd classify it as both. I'd say it is a challenge because let's face it, its hard enough getting domestic players to gel into a new team let alone no fewer than ten foreign players. But we're all in this together. They're new, I'm new so we should be able to help each other. It's a blessing because you could say we're getting talent that few teams in this league have heard of. We've got names that have slipped under the radar everywhere else which can potentially help us get out of this division with the fresh ideas and different styles of play"
I took a few more questions and the press conference was over. It was the last thing I wanted to be doing after the day of work I've had, but I had to put on a positive front. I was representing the club on what may be a significant day in the history of Leeds United Football Club.
Great writing here! And a wonderful story. You can feel your passion for the club in each word. Love it.
Thanks squirmy420, as a Leeds fan myself, I find my lifelong passion easy to write about
The next few days were a busy few days, and as pleasing as it was to welcome my new staff to the club, I was dying to get on that training pitch and start coaching.
We signed 18 new members of staff in total: six scouts (including the chief scout), four coaches that would work exclusively with the under 18s, a manager each for the under 18s and under 21s, a fitness coach and a goalkeeping coach that would work with all teams, three coaches that would work with the first team and under 21s, an assistant manager and a head of youth development.
Myself (attacking), Fred Barber (goalkeepers) and Damian Roden (fitness) will be coaching all three teams. My assistant Derek Fazackerley (defence), Frank Barlow (tactics), Bobby Downes (ball control) and under 21s manager David Bowman (shooting) will be coaching the first team and under 21s.
Christopher Orton (defence), Brian McGorry (tactics), head of youth development Iddo Roscher (ball control) and Steve Fulton (shooting) will coach the under 18s.
Meanwhile in the scouting department, we now have chief scout Paul Montgomery who will be in charge of David Hamilton, Ian Storey-Moore, Barry Poynton. Barry Whitbread and Mark Harrison.
I won't go into detail on each staff member- most can be researched at the reader's leisure- but I was happy to finally be back on the training pitch, going through pre-season as usual with the squad. The next thing we had to switch our focus to was the trip to Highbury Stadium (not Arsenal's old ground) where we have a fixture lined up against League Two outfit Fleetwood Town.
Fleetwood will be a testing game, regardless of the gulf in class. Most of the squad have never played in England before, so the new style of play will take a while for the likes of Mirco Antenucci, Adryan and Gaetano Berardi to get used to.
However, I feel it is a challenge that we are more than ready to take on, and it will be interesting to see how this new side will fare in Lancashire
Saturday 12th July 2014, 3pm.
Pre-season fixture one: Fleetwood Town vs Leeds United @ Highbury Stadium
Weather forecast: Gusty, 22C
We arrived at the Highbury Stadium at noon, in plenty of time. Given the costs recently involved in completely overhauling the staff, it was always going to be pretty pricey to throw a hotel for 23 players into the mix, so we went straight from Elland Road.
The stadium itself looked nice and modern, but despite the efforts made to make sure the stands don't all look the same and like most modern stadiums, it seemed to be missing that spark and character normally seen in older grounds.
I strode out onto the pitch at half past two to call the players in for pre-match preparation in the dressing room. As I did, I took a look to my left. At the end was the unmistakable sight of a full terrace, packed with Leeds fans. There were also away fans beginning to fill the seats allocated for large away followings as well as the open terrace on the other side of the roofed terrace.
I took a moment to take it all in. Marching On Together rang loud and clear and I instantly remembered why I'm in this job. I'm in it for a club with rich traditions, I'm in it for the thrill of managing my favourite football club, I'm in it for the 1,100 that follow us to Fleetwood for a friendly and for the sold out away sections every time we travel in the league.
I reminded my players of this, and once I had, I set out my first team sheet as Leeds manager.
First half XI (4-2-3-1 narrow): Silvestri, Byram, Bellusci, Bamba, White, Austin, Mowatt, Adryan, Sloth, Cook, Antenucci
Second half XI (4-4-2 diamond): S Taylor, Berardi, Cooper, Del Fabro, C Taylor, N'Goyi, Murphy, Bianchi, Doukara, Montenegro, Sharp
There was little noteworthy action inside the first 25 minutes, however we did manage a long distance effort at goal. After Bellusci's long ball forward, the ball was moved about impeccably amongst Sloth, Adryan, Cook and Mowatt, with the latter drilling a low effort towards the bottom corner which was saved by former Leeds backup keeper David Martin.
Fleetwood were straight up the other end and probably should have been a goal up, after a one-two with Haughton allowed McAlinden to shake the attentions of Bamba and Bellusci. McAlinden was one-on-one, but fluffed his effort wide of the left-hand post.
We had another opportunity shortly before the half hour. After some encouraging inter play between Rudy Austin and Alex Mowatt, space opened up for Austin just outside the area. Although the Leeds fans were screaming "shoot!" at him, I would have preferred it he had passed, as he rifled a right-footed drive well over the bar.
Unfortunately for us, Casper Sloth picked up a knock, so I decided to bring him off and introduce Souleymane Doukara.
We could and perhaps should have gone in front shortly before half time. Adryan picked up a clearance from a corner outside the box. He played it back down the right to the corner taker, Mowatt, who swung in a dangerous cross into the six yard box.
Mirco Antenucci was there unmarked in acres of space and should have buried it, but instead, he fired a header straight at David Lucas, who pulled off a double save to deny Antenucci and then Bellusci on the rebound.
The rebound fell to Austin, who neglected to control the ball in favour of hitting it first time with his weaker foot. The result was the same as before, with the ball flying miles over the crossbar.
Austin then compounded at pretty poor first half by getting himself booked shortly before the interval.
I was glad I had a second half XI, mainly so I could get Austin off the pitch who could only seem to do wrong so far. Unsurprisingly, we went into half time at 0-0.
We switched to a diamond formation for the second half, with Stuart Taylor in goal, Berardi and Charlie Taylor at full back, Cooper and Del Fabro at centre back, N'Goyi in the holding midfield role, Murphy and Bianchi in the middle, Montenegro and Sharp up front and Doukara in the hole.
If Austin ended the half in unimpressive fashion, then N'Goyi started his half in similar form, finding his way into the referee's book just two minutes after the restart. I was less than impressed, and made him fully aware of that, urging him to calm down.
From the following free-kick, things got worse for us as Gaetano Berardi was penalised for a push in the box, resulting in a penalty to the home side. Murdoch made no mistake from the spot, firing home from 12 yards to make it 1-0 to Fleetwood.
Five minutes into the second half, and I was animated as ever, screaming at my players to up their game against League Two opposition.
We almost threatened shortly after. The ball was shifted up the diamond between N'Goyi, Bianchi, Murphy and Doukara. Doukara ran at the defence and slid in a nice through ball for Montenegro, who killed a fine move by hoofing the ball over the bar.
It seemed as though the referee David Coote had a Fleetwood shirt under his kit, as we were getting booked for the same fouls that Fleetwood were getting away with.
There were ironic cheers from the away end shortly before the hour, aimed at David Coote who was forced to show Schumacher the yellow card for persistent fouling- that particular one being his fourth in fifteen minutes.
With fifteen minutes left, we were awarded a throw-in down the right, level with the edge of the box. Berardi opted for the short throw to Montenegro, who whipped in a fine ball. Sharp was waiting and ready to pounce on the edge of the six yard box. The keeper had no chance, and we finally did. 1-1.
We had fifteen minutes to go and the game was now up for grabs. I conveyed this message to the team, giving them one last lift as we looked to ensure we dispatched of League Two opponents.
Six minutes later, we were almost ahead. Nathan Pond could only head Sharp's cross as far as Tommaso Bianchi, who was lurking on the edge of the D. The former Sassuolo man controlled the ball and with an almost Yeboah-esque style effort (I say almost as this one didn't hit the target), volleyed the ball narrowly over the bar.
A minute after however, we took the lead. Murphy laid in N'Goyi with a short pass on the corner of the box. The Ivorian duly played in Bianchi, who from pretty much the same position as a minute ago, unleashed a terrifying half volley, beating the keeper, and this time hitting the back of the net.
The 1,100 travelling fans went delirious, as we went 2-1 up with just seven minutes plus stoppage time remaining.
With many thinking we'd leave it there, Sharp wriggled free of two defenders inside the box shortly before the two minutes stoppage time began. He played in Doukara, seven yards out, unmarked and onside. The Frenchman had no trouble and smashed it home into the far corner. 3-1.
I was pretty happy with how we continued to attack, and almost straight after scoring our third, we could well have been 4-1 up. Charlie Taylor hit a beautifully struck free kick from 35 yards out towards goal. The 21-year-old was denied by a tremendous save on the line by substitute keeper Chris Maxwell.
In the end, the only shock was that it took us so long to get going, but once we did we were unstoppable. We headed to the away end to salute the travelling support, who I was delighted would be making their way home having watched their side (eventually) put a hard-working Fleetwood Town to bed.
Fleetwood Town 1-3 Leeds United
Fleetwood: Murdoch pen 48
Leeds: Sharp 75, Bianchi 82, Doukara 90
Man of the Match: Tommaso Bianchi
Following the Fleetwood game, I was to spend more time in my office. Despite the vast number of new signings at the club, I felt the need for a couple more.
I wanted someone who could comfortably play in attacking midfield as part of an attacking midfield three, so that either Cook or Mowatt could pull the strings from the centre. I also wanted another left back. We have Aidan White, but having seen him over the past few years, I'm not confident he's good enough, and he's injury prone. We also have Charlie Taylor, who I'm happy to keep at the club, I just need depth in that position.
It was a good job I needed a left back, because on my desk I found a profile of a left-back, sent out by an agent. His name is Rodrigo Alborno. He's 20 years old and is currently on loan at Foggia from Inter Milan. I watched his tapes and I was mesmerised. He's probably one of the best full backs his age I've seen in a long time.
I figured I could keep Aidy White at the club until his contract expires to keep the left-back position well stocked, and Alborno could come in for next year. After a couple of emails being sent back and forth, Inter allowed me to speak with his agent, who I would meet in Leeds the following day to discuss a contract.
The attacking midfield position was a slightly more urgent matter, and I asked my director of football Nicola Salerno to help me out. He recommended another young player. He picked out David Ivan, a 19-year-old attacking midfielder playing for Sampdoria. He was available on a loan deal, which we only had enough room for one more of.
I watched footage of him, read up on his stats, took recommendations from contacts of Salerno and my mind was made. I got on the phone to Sinisa Mihajlovic, the Sampdoria manager, and tried to arrange a loan deal. Luckily for us, he was willing to let him go and pay all his wages whilst the young Slovak was with us.
After sorting out the paperwork for both transfers, I got myself back onto the training ground. I was scheduled in for a session with the under 18s. My time with them would be valuable in establishing a philosophy of youth development.
After all, most of the best players ever to play for Leeds started here. For now, I had to outsource talent.
I've used Charlie Taylor a lot on loan with lower league teams. He's always done a decent job as a creative type full back for me.
Some really good match writing here. I could see it happening in front of me. Nice work!
Charlie Taylor seems to be firing on all cylinders in real life, let's hope for more of the same in the game.
Thanks tenthreeleader, I like to call it as I see it and then throw imaginary extras (away following, chanting etc) just to spice it up a bit
Saturday 19th July 2014
Dagenham & Redbridge vs Leeds United @ Victoria Road
Weather: Calm 17C
We headed down to Dagenham on Friday after training. Christine was busy last week so she couldn't come to Fleetwood, but as she didn't have anything on this week, she figured 'what the hell' and met me at Thorp Arch. She sat with me on the coach at the front.
Will decided to come along too, but there was only room for one family member at the front, so he had to make do with sitting with the players. I'm sure that didn't bother him though, as it meant he got to know the players of his boyhood team.
The day before, we were blessed with the arrival of attacking midfielder David Ivan from Sampdoria, on a loan deal which would literally cost us nothing.
We set off at 3pm, and halfway through we got stuck in traffic. An absolute shit ton of it. It took four hours just to get down to the M25 from Leicester and a total of eight hours to get to Dagenham from Thorp Arch. Yes, the Friday evening traffic was that bad.
Luckily, I rang reception of the hotel in advance, so there was someone waiting to check us in when we got there.
As we made our way towards the stadium, we got caught up in the hustle and bustle that could only mean one thing. The travelling white army had arrived in Essex in force.
The away fans were again to my left, again in large numbers and again in good voice. We Are Champions, Champions Of Europe rang out from the Traditional Builders Stand, which was filling up to its 1,200 capacity.
I told my players the same as I had told them against Fleetwood, there are over 1,000 away fans that have turned up for a friendly, make it worth their while.
I wasn't too happy with how Austin played in the last game, so I dropped him in favour of N'Goyi. Bellusci and Bamba both looked a little suspect so I opted for a Cooper/Del Fabro pairing at centre-back. I liked what the goalscorers from last week brought to the side, not just goals but their overall game, so they started at the expense of Mowatt, Adryan and Antenucci.
First half XI (4-2-3-1 narrow): Silvestri, Byram, Cooper, Del Fabro, C Taylor, N'Goyi, Bianchi, Doukara, Sloth, Cook, Sharp
Second half XI (4-2-3-1 narrow): S Taylor, Berardi, Bamba, Bellusci, White, Austin, Mowatt, Ivan, Adryan, Montenegro, Antenucci
We entered the pitch to muffled applause from the very small number of Dagenham fans, but a chorus of We Are Leeds from the away end. I gave them a wave and took my seat in the dugout.
We were attacking our own fans in the first half. Our first shot on goal came from a free kick on nine minutes, which Taylor fired just wide of the left hand post.
The first time Dagenham threatened was from a similar position, as Joss Labadie managed to lift a free kick over the wall which dipped, but Silvestri was equal to it on the floor.
Inside just 20 minutes, we were behind to lesser opposition once again. Jack Connors played a one-two with Ashley Hemmings from a throw-in, before whipping in a first time cross that found a criminally unmarked Daniel Carr, who headed home to send the outnumbered home fans wild.
The players were subjected to yet another touchline bollocking. We were heavy favourites for this and it wouldn't do.
We dominated the following ten minutes, but did little meaningful with the ball. Charlie Taylor summed this up when a promising move was ended by an offside flag.
As the half wore on, we were creating very little, and it was showing in the away end. That was until halfway through one-minute stoppage time. Byram whipped a ball in from the touchline, Obileye headed it clear. Lewis Cook positioned himself brilliantly, and fired a volley home to put us level just before the break. The relief was evident, the fans celebrated like it was a league game and Cook was mobbed by his colleagues in white.
We continued to dominate second half possession as we had done in the first half, and were nearly in front two minutes after the restart.
A long throw from White found Austin in acres of space outside the box. The Jamaican midfielder tried his luck from 30 yards, with a stinging effort that smashed against the underside of the cross
bar. That deserved a goal.
We bagged a corner on the hour when after some good link up play with Adryan, Mowatt and Austin outside the box, Montenegro found space on the edge of the area. He played in Mirco Antenucci, whose effort rattled off Brian Saah's leg and into the path of White, who saw his low drilled effort parried behind for a Leeds corner.
A minute later, Dagenham threatened. After a one-two with Yussuf, Chambers found himself in acres of space, but blazed it high, wide and as the commentators say, not at all handsome.
We were almost rewarded for our patient buildup play on 64 minutes, when after some patient passing in the middle of the park, David Ivan broke through with a one-two with Antenucci. The Slovakian was through on goal, but saw his effort graze the top of the bar.
Ten minutes later, we finally got the goal we deserved. David Ivan saw his corner headed clear but only as far as Adryan. The Brazilian wonderkid played it back down the line for Ivan whose through ball found Antenucci. The striker buried it on his first touch, no questions asked. 2-1.
It wasn't long until we doubled our lead. Alex Mowatt's corner found the head of Adryan. His header was hit perhaps a little too hard into the ground, but Bamba was there waiting to stick it in the onion bag. 3-1 to Townend's Whites.
With ten minutes remaining, we made it four. Antenucci played the ball back to Mowatt, Mowatt played it up to Montenegro and the Paraguayan put Adryan in one-on-one with an excellent through ball. Suffice to say a flamboyant Brazilian trickster is never going to miss in those situations. 4-1.
We were dealt a blow a few minutes later however, when Alex Mowatt was forced off by injury and had to be replaced by Luke Murphy.
We threatened once more, when Antenucci had an attempt from the edge of the box, but once we got going, the result was never in doubt.
Dagenham & Redbridge 1-4 Leeds United
Dag & Red: Carr 23
Leeds: Cook 45+1, Antenucci 74, Bamba 77, Adryan 81
Man of the Match: Lewis Cook
The week following the Dagenham game was my first full week on the training pitches. We've used our maximum number of permitted loan signings for the season, and barring any decent free agents coming in, I can't see much more transfer business at the club.
During my time when I wasn't coaching, I took an opportunity to take a look at my youngsters. In the under 18s, we have a promising talent in Jack Vann. I've been advised by my coaching staff that this lad will make it to the Premier League one day and it's easy to see why. He's a tough tackling, no nonsense centre-back, quite like a certain Jonathan Woodgate.
In the under 21s, we have a pair of bright lights in central midfielder Alex Purver and striker Frank Mulhern. Purver is a creative type of player, able to make things happen with one simple pass, and not afraid to run at the opposing defenders. Mulhern is an out-and-out striker, and someone I hope to be able to rely on as a first choice striker in the not-too-distant future.
We also have young academy talent in the first team. We have Lewis Cook, who's been showing his paces in pre-season so far with his forward running and creative ability. Similarly, Alex Mowatt has proved himself as a creative central midfielder, and someone who could be a real driving force in a Premier League side- whether us or someone else- in years to come. At right-back, we have a real talent in Sam Byram. He's about to begin his third season of regular first-team football, after impressing in the previous two. He was once linked with a £10m move to Man City which then manager Roberto Mancini eventually decided not to pursue. On the other side of defence, at left back, we have Charlie Taylor. Taylor is back from a loan spell at Fleetwood last season, where he helped them achieve promotion to League One, and he looks like he could do a very useful job for us this season.
I've not really had the chance to speak to Massimo Cellino about my proposed youth development policy, but I had rather leave it until next season. The club is predicted to make a profit of £5m by the end of this season, which will be a welcome sum of money in helping the academy produce the brightest talent it can.
For now though, my mind was set on the next pre-season fixture. We're away at Gainsborough Trinity. We need to make sure we're not complacent and that we keep up the work ethic that we've shown so far.
I love reading these updates! Keep up the good work. Such detail in each match report, and some lovely comeback wins.
You are reading "Making History in LS11".