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Leeds ready to “Give it a go” this season
Friday, 17th Aug 2012 18:53 by Tim Whelan
Neil Warnock knows his team needs to play consistently better than last season, but he’s well up for the challenge as he prepares to take on Wolverhampton Wanderers in the opening game tomorrow. Don’t forget that it’s a 12.45 kick-off and it’s live on Sky.
After Warnock took over last season our away form was pretty good, but we also had to endure some spectacularly poor performances at Elland Road. He told the official site "I'm trying to put teams out that week-in week-out you know how they're going to play. Last season it was a 50 per cent chance. It was a toss of a coin in my eyes. You didn't know what we were going to do”.
And in calling for more effort from his squad he used the first World War analogy that managers so often come out with. "I judge my team on who do you want in the trenches with you and I look around what we have here and I'd have them all behind me." And now that he’s had the chance to clear out some of the wasters he inherited and bring in at least some of the players he wanted, he thinks we have at least a chance of promotion.
"We're not going to rip the league up but we can give everyone a game, and we will do. We have a great following, it'll be fabulous going away with the numbers we take, and we'll give it a real go. We haven't got any excuses and we should all be optimistic. We've got some good players, good staff and we will give everything we've got”.
And he thinks that tomorrow’s game should prove to be an entertaining start to the season. “They have some good players and a good following. It's their manager's first game as well, it's on television, and it's got all the ingredients." The team news is that El-Hadji Diouf is likely to start, while Tom Lees and David Norris should be fit after overcoming minor injuries they picked up during the pre-season programme.
It’s going to be difficult to know what to expect from Wolves, as new manager Stale Solbakken has to pick up the pieces after a disastrous season which saw them finish bottom of the Premier League. He’s had a successful managerial career in his native Norway and also in Denmark, but it didn’t work out so well for him in Germany, when he was sacked by FC Köln of the Bundesliga. This is his first job in English football.
Last season Wolves were 18th in the table when Mick Mc.Carthy was sacked in February, with matters coming to a head after a 5-1 hammering at home to arch-rivals WBA. But if the idea was for a new manager to steer them away from the relegation zone, things were to go badly wrong. After Neil Warnock turned them down in favour of good old us, they installed another Leeds favourite as a caretaker, in the shape of our former striker Terry Connor.
Though Connor was said to have been ‘well respected’ ,at the club, he seemed to be too nice a man to succeed in the tough world of football management, and it was pitiful to see him interviewed on Match of the Day every week as defeat followed defeat. I really wanted him to succeed, but they lost nine of his thirteen games in charge and drew the other four, so they plunged to the bottom of the table and relegation was already confirmed before the final day.
New boss Solbakken thinks itomorrow will be a tough fixture to start his new campaign. He told his club’s official site "I think Leeds will be a handful for everyone, especially at Elland Road. I saw several of their games at the end of last season and although they didn't win too many matches, they were very competitive. They try to win a lot of second balls and they're quite direct with their style of play. We can't just think we're going to go there and play them off the park because that's impossible.”
So we can expect Wolves to come out and try to match us for effort tomorrow, as the Norwiegian has already suggested he will vary his tactics this season, depending on the style he expects from the opposition. “I think it’s a good mix in the Championship. You need to be direct some times. You meet some teams with a different kind of football and you need to stand up to everything.”
Wolves winger Matt Jarvis will play tomorrow despite saying that he wants to leave the club to return to the Premiership, but otherwise the visitors have one or two injury problems to overcome. Steven Fletcher will not be risked due to an ankle problem, while midfielder Jamie O'Hara is out after a double hernia operation and Kevin Doyle and Stephen Ward are doubts.
I think we can expect a very tight game tomorrow, and the most likely outcome is probably a draw.
Photo: Action Images
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