United and Rosler out to prove bookies wrong
Another new era dawns for Leeds United when they step out onto the Elland Road pitch on Saturday for the start of the 2015-16 season under new management.
Uwe Rosler becomes the fifth man to take charge of the team in a competitive game since the Massimo Cellino reign began when the Whites take on a Burnley side fresh from relegation from the Premiership and the bets are already on as to how long he will last.
There is more of a feeling of optimism among fans than 12 months ago, but after what happened last season when United went through three head coaches and found themselves only clear of relegation danger about a month from the end of the campaign any hopes are cautious.
For the first time in a while it will not be so much of a new team taking the field with much less upheaval this summer after so many changes this time last year. But that in itself could be a worry as on the face it the Whites do not appear to have significantly strengthened their team.
They have a strong squad in some areas, but are still lacking in natural attacking wide players to start the season off even with the signing of Brentford winger Stuart Dallas this week.
It is hoped he will solve the problem left-wing position, but it looks like converted right-back Sam Byram will have to take on the right-wing slot, which is not ideal.
Unless the club come up with a big signing before the end of the transfer window at the end of this month, much could depend on the success of newcomers Chris Wood and Tom Adeyemi.
Wood is the big money signing charged with the task of leading the line up front and will be expected to contribute more goals than players who occupied the position last term.
Adeyemi, meanwhile, has arrived on loan for the season and is the direct replacement for the departed Rudy Austin, whose power play could be really missed in midfield.
Both produced encouraging displays in the home friendly with Everton when fans warmed to them.
At the back Leeds have strengthened by signing the player they had on loan from January, Sol Bamba, on a permanent deal and they will want him to play as well as he did for most of his loan spell.
The other summer recruits,striker Lee Erwin and goalkeepers Ross Turnbull and Charlie Horton, look more like players for the future or back ups.
On the departure front, Billy Sharp could be the biggest loss after his move to Sheffield United, although the Whites do have some cover with Mirco Antenucci and Souleymane Doukara left over from last term if they can show their commitment to the club. There are also some promising youngsters who could be given a chance.
It is the youngsters who did break through last year who give rise to the biggest amount of optimism and it is to Cellino’s credit that he has not yet cashed in on Byram, Lewis Cook, Alex Mowatt or Charlie Taylor with all of them appearing to be very much part of Rosler’s plans.
More improvement from this quartet, which can be expected due to their young age, will give United the base for a good side. But whether that they can translate it into a promotion team in 2015-16 remains to be seen. The bookies clearly do not fancy Leeds to challenge as there are odds around of 33/1 available about them winning the Championship and they are as skinny as 4/1 to be relegated with league sponsors Sky Bet.
It will be interesting to see if they confound the odds – and whether Rosler himself can beat the betting that has him as one of the favourites to be first to lose his job.