With the Football League kick-off this weekend, this series of articles takes a closer look at the 24 teams vying for the £100 million Premier League bonanza.
With the loss of captain and last season’s top goalscorer Ross McCormack, there are genuine reasons to be concerned at Elland Road - and that’s before one considers the potential for owner Massimo Cellino to create some turbulence off the field.
Statistically speaking, McCormack was worth 26 points to Leeds last season and without his goals it could have been another relegation to the third tier. Even with £11 million in the bank, Leeds will find it difficult to replace to the Scottish forward.
After the turmoil last season following Cellino’s takeover at Elland Road it has been a fairly settled summer, although Brian McDermott did finally depart to be replaced by Dave Hockaday.
Cellino has used his connections to bring in a number of imports from Italy, but there may be more than a few unconvinced the new arrivals can replace McCormack, experienced defender Lee Peltier and the promising Tom Lees.
Manager Hockaday made his name in non-league with Forest Green, but he is completely untested at Championship level. If Leeds get off to a poor start, it may not be too long before the Elland Road faithful are calling for heads to roll.
Last Season: 15th
Manager: Dave Hockaday
Transfers In*: Tommaso Bianchi (Sassuolo, undisclosed), Gaetano Berardi (Sampdoria, undisclosed), Nicky Ajose (Peterborough, undisclosed), Stuart Taylor (Reading, free), Marco Silvestri (Chievo, free), Souleymane Doukara (Catania, loan)
Transfers Out*: Ross McCormack (Fulham, £11 million), Tom Lees (Sheffield Wednesday, undisclosed), Lee Peltier (Huddersfield, free), Paul Green (Rotherham, free), Luke Varney (Blackburn, free), Danny Pugh (Coventry, free), Michael Brown, El-Hadj Diouf, Adam Drury, Jamie Ashdown (released)
One To Watch: Luke Murphy (midfielder)
Following his £1 million move last summer (Leeds’ most expensive player since 2005) ex-Crewe captain Murphy struggled to make an impact at Elland Road following his 94th minute debut winner against Brighton. However a move to an attacking midfield role brought some profit towards the end of the season.
Murphy has been handed the number seven shirt for the new season and this may hint at an expectation that he will play a significant and pivotal role for Leeds. With the departure of McCormack, Leeds fans will be desperate to find a new hero and the team a new source of threat and inspiration.
At 24, Murphy has his best years ahead of him, but there is also a sense that now is a good time to seize the moment and become the fulcrum at Elland Road. If he can provide the goods that keeps Leeds safe from danger, he could well find himself with the freedom of the city.
Selected Odds: Champions 33-1; Promotion 10-1; Relegation 9-2
Opening Fixtures: Millwall (A), Middlesbrough (H), Brighton (H)
*correct at the time of writing
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