Q&A With Leeds United

  • March 29, 2018 | By Chris Mann
  • URL Short URL: http://b-ac.es/47842

Football clubs need to recognise cheaper tickets and reasonable incentives are the way to boost dwindling attendances across the country.

Those are the views of Leeds United supporter Jon Howe (@jonhowe1971), who spoke to us ahead of Good Friday's clash against Bolton.

In the following Q&A interview, Jon shares his views on the two-for-one structure implemented for season ticket holders of both clubs, why Leeds won't have a repeat performance of their opening day victory at Macron Stadium, as well as why Phil Parkinson deserves the opportunity to spend should he keep Wanderers in the Championship at the end of the season.

Q: Leeds caught Bolton cold on the opening day, racing into a 3-1 half-time lead before ultimately winning the game 3-2 at Macron Stadium. United topped the table in the weeks that followed but have since dropped into the bottom half. What seems to have gone wrong?

A: Our unbeaten run at the start of the season seems very distant now and on reflection was mainly on the back of playing teams who have been stuck down the bottom of the table all season.

As soon as we started playing teams who had confidence, organisation and a physical threat, Thomas Christiansen, and most of the players bought in the summer, were found out.

I think we started the season on the crest of a wave of positivity with new ownership, buying Elland Road back and a raft of crowd-pleasing measures. There was a bit of humanity at the club again, and the players all bought into that.

But tactically, we have been found badly wanting and key men from last season - Rob Green, Charlie Taylor, Kyle Bartley and Chris Wood - haven't been replaced.

There has been an imbalance in the squad all season and from a great platform left by Garry Monk in the summer, Leeds have gone backwards, on the pitch at least.

When Samuel Saiz was banned for spitting for six games in January, we lost a huge creative outlet and have yet to truly recover from that. Every player seems to have gone flat from that moment when we were still fairly comfortable in the top six.

Q: Selling Chris Wood to Burnley was always going to have a negative impact, although in Pierre-Michel Lasogga you have a player who has reached double figures in terms of goals. Is he likely to be your biggest threat, or will Phil Parkinson have his eye on other key men?

A: Lasogga has been in and out of the side in recent weeks and I would expect Caleb Ekuban to start upfront.

The striking department has been a problem for us all season, naturally so after you are forced to sell a 30-goal striker.

We have dabbled with Lasogga, Ekuban and Kemar Roofe on rotation but none have fully convinced and in truth we need one striker made up of the best attributes of all three, which is pretty much Chris Wood.

Lasogga is a great goalscorer but is about as mobile as a beached whale and isn't a lone striker who can hassle defenders and hold the ball up, plus we don't get the ball into the box for him enough.

Roofe is a decent goalscorer but is woefully inconsistent and even at his best isn't top-end Championship quality, while Ekuban has great pace, is a willing runner and puts himself about a lot, but never looks like he's going to score a goal.

Our key man has mainly been the Spaniard Samuel Saiz. He plays a floating role behind a main striker and has been our best signing from last summer, but has gone a bit off the boil in 2018 and is currently injured and might miss Friday's game.

The only other creative threat we have is our other Spaniard Pablo Hernandez, who has probably been our player of the season.

Q: On the flip side, Wanderers are also looking to reinvent themselves following the January departure of Gary Madine. Of those remaining at the club, who stands out as our danger man?

A: Madine is exactly the kind of player we have struggled with all season and he caused problems for us in a Cardiff shirt recently, which was one of his first games for them I think. We have struggled against anyone with height and a physical presence, so I won't miss him.

That said, I swear Adam Le Fondre has scored against us for about six different clubs, so I would put a few quid on him cupping his ears in front of the Elland Road Kop at some point on Friday.

Q: With eight games of the Championship campaign to go, Bolton hold a six-point gap over the relegation zone. Now two seasons into the job, and yet to spend a penny on transfers, what have you made of the job Parkinson has done so far and is he capable of keeping us in the division?

A: Clearly Parkinson has done a fantastic job with the resources at his disposal.

Looking at the squad, perhaps it was always going to be a case of fighting for survival this season and maybe you are fortunate that there are a few clubs below who have looked nailed on for relegation all season, but I certainly think you will be safe now.

I don't know how much Bolton can be expected to improve next season, but some stability always helps and the recent win over Aston Villa should show the board what Parkinson is capable of and that might tempt them to dig some cash out in the summer.

It's also funny how sometimes losing a key player like Madine forces a team into playing a different way and results improve. Sometimes you can be too dependent and fixated on a system that doesn't necessarily work that well anyway.

Q: A bumper crowd in excess of 35,000 is expected at Elland Road. Ticket prices remain expensive but a two-for-one incentive, which was extended to Wanderers season ticket holders, has attracted supporters. Do you think the Easter weekend has anything to do with this, or have United stumbled upon a pricing formula which could be ultilised going forward?

A: I genuinely have every sympathy for away fans coming to Elland Road and having to pay the prices they do. I'm sure most Leeds fans feel the same.

I can think of only about six clubs who have sold more than 1,000 tickets this season and it doesn't seem cost effective when away clubs bring so few fans.

I think it's fantastic that Bolton have sold their allocation for this. It always makes for a better atmosphere and shows the management at our club that fans DO want to come to Elland Road. They just don't want to be ripped off in doing so.

Unfortunately, I think the two-for-one offer is a one-off incentive. They are offering the same for Leeds season ticket holders for this game only, purely to maximise the gate for a match that is relatively meaningless for us.

The prices away fans are charged at Elland Road is a big bone of contention for me because I do think some clubs charge Leeds fans excessively in a reciprocal manner. We are often paying £35-£40 at away grounds and I feel there must be a way to agree a deal between all the clubs to offer reciprocal deals that are more acceptable to fans.

As it is, Leeds fans get ripped off for something the club implement and that fans can do nothing about. And matchday tickets for Leeds fans at Elland Road aren't too cheap either it should be said.

I would love our club to see the response from Bolton fans and think again about the pricing structure for away fans next season, but I'm not holding my breath I'm afraid, unless the EFL intervene, which is equally unlikely.

Q: Finally, what is your score prediction for Good Friday's game?

A: Leeds 0-1 Bolton. Adam Le Fondre with the goal.

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Sky Bet League One Standings

Pos Team Pld Pts
19 Rochdale 34 36
20 AFC Wimbledon 35 35
21 Tranmere Rovers 34 32
22 Southend United 35 19
23 Bolton Wanderers 34 14
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