Schmeichel has provided a solid base from which Leeds can build. (©PAphotos)
by Sam Meegan
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With the transfer window firmly shut for a few months it is a good time for all managers to sit back and look at what they have to work with.
In the past few seasons Leeds have been a selling club with some of their prized assets moving on (Fabian Delph being a good example, followed by Jermaine Beckford) and speculation lingering over any player that was performing particularly well.
However with the Championship season in full flow and Leeds being a confident and happy club again it appears the mighty Whites are in a far better position to pick up some quality additions to what is already a strong squad with a good depth.
The new signings from the summer have settled in well with Kasper Schmeichel being hugely impressive in the sticks so far this season, saving Leeds from shipping far more goals than has actually been the case. I believe that this is where the confidence in the team has come from.
During the opening day defeat to Derby there was a nervous tension in the team that led to broken play and some shoddy decision making which really didn't do a Leeds side that had played some very attractive football over the past 12 months any sort of justice.
However, one player that did stand up and stand out that afternoon was Schmeichel. who has managed to sustain this form in the following few games, a feat that has clearly put the confidence back into the side.
With an in-form, quality keeper holding things tight at the back it has allowed Leeds to play some very attractive football at the other end of the pitch. Lloyd Sam has looked a threat in every game he has played, making some great runs and putting in some nice crosses from the wings, linking up well with Luciano Becchio and looking dangerous in and around the goal.
However, Sam is not where the options end for Leeds as, with Max Gradel and Davide Somma back from suspension, there is a renewed competition for places and some real energy and enthusiasm in Leeds' play.
Somma, a man who has been away on loan for most of his time at Leeds, has returned with a bang, bagging a couple of goals against a high-flying Millwall team to send the Elland Road faithful completely loopy in a 3-1 win, and then picking up the opening goal against Leicester later in the week.
Somma offers manager Simon Grayson another option. He doesn't put himself about as much as Becchio but reminds me of Mark Viduka in that everything he does in the game is meaningful, clever and in most cases effective.
The midfield of Leeds is looking exciting and dynamic. No longer do they rely on an ageing holding midfielder who slows the game up, there is an enthusiasm and youthful look to the Leeds midfield with Neil Kilkenny, Gradel, Sam, Bradley Johnson, Jonathan Howson and Sanchez Watt all vying for places it looks like a pacey and exciting mix no matter which way Grayson leans.
Finally the strike force for Leeds looks nothing short of formidable at this level. Somma has already proved his worth and with Becchio quietly notching up around 20 goals a season for Leeds whilst playing in Beckford's shadow, they alone are enough to make most defences think long and hard about how they can stop the Leeds attack.
When you then add the fact that Gradel proved to be more than adequate upfront with Becchio towards the back end of last season, as well as new editions Billy Paynter and Ross McCormack with proven goal-scoring records and the recent recruitment of Honduran international forward Ramon Nunez, it looks like Grayson is going to have some serious and nice problems when trying to fit them all in.
Let us also not forget the player that was perhaps the most impressive for Leeds last season, Robert Snodgrass, who completely dominated the entire Manchester United team in the FA Cup game and who is also yet to feature this season.
Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.