Friday, 20th May 2016 13:58 by Tim Whelan
At last Leeds seem to be making some progress towards next season, with the release of the retained list of players, but there is still no word about the position of the head coach.
After yesterday’s much-vaunted board meeting we do at least know that eight out-of-contract players are being released. Six of them are youth academy products who aren’t being kept on, but the other two are established first team players Mirco Antenucci and Scott Wootton.
For some time Antenucci has been suggesting that he wanted to return to his native Italy after the birth of his first child, though bizarrely the Birmingham Mail now seem to think he might be on his way to Birmingham City.
Opinion on Antenucci is divided amongst Leeds fans, but I think it’s bit of a shame to see him go. He has looked good in patches, especially away from home, and seemed to be at his best coming off the bench, possibly when he was miffed at not being selected for the starting line-up. But in some games he would stroll around as if he was hardly bothered.
Fewer fans will be sorry to see the back of Wooton, though to be fair he spent a lot of his time filling in at right back, and didn’t get much of a chance in his more favoured position in central defence. But he never really recovered from the own goal that knocked us out of the FA cup at Watford, and signed off with another error at the end of our final game at Preston.
There is better news for five young players in the shape of Bailey Peacock-Farrell, Frank Mulhern, Eoghan Stokes, Tyler Denton and Alex Purver, as all have been included on the retained list submitted to the Football League. And first professional contracts have been offered to second-year scholars Jack Vann, Tom Pearce and Michael Taylor, in addition to Ronaldo Vieira, who has already agreed professional terms.
It’s good to see the youth system is still producing talented players for the future, but Peacock-Farrell has yet to commit himself to a new contract. He wants assurances that a new goalkeeping coach will be appointed, and given the chaotic way Cellino is running the club there is no certainty this will happen any time soon.
Tom Adeyemi, Liam Bridcutt and Mustapha Carayol have all returned to their parent clubs following their loan spells at Elland Road. Adeyemi was peripheral since the early part of last season, and Carayol didn’t achieve much apart from his spectacular goal in the FA Cup against Rotherham. But it’s a surprise that we didn’t make more of an effort to extend Bridcutt’s loan, as he was a first team regular for most of his time at Leeds.
Given that Bridcutt and Carayol were favourites of Steve Evans, their departure might be another sign that the tubby one isn’t going to be kept on. Yet there is still no word as to who will be coach next season, and Evans is goning on holiday at the weekend without knowing what the future has in store for him.
This is despite the fact that yesterday’s board meeting was supposedly called by Cellino to discuss his strategy for the summer and next season. Has he even got a strategy? It’s been claimed that the players haven’t been told when they need to report back for training, and that no pre-season friendlies have been arranged.
Since the end of the season Steve Evans has spent two weeks scouting for players, which might suggest he thinks he’s got a chance of keeping his job, although he would still be able to put that work to good use if he ended up at another club next season.
If Cellino is going to replace the head coach it’s time he got on with it and gave the new man the chance to prepare for next season. But I get the feeling that 2016/7 that will bring us nothing but yet more mediocrity on the field and chaotc mismanagement behind the scenes.
Photo: Action Images
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