Leeds season forgettable for fans

Wednesday 22nd May 2013 21:29

Sam Byram: Leeds' Player of the Season

Sam Byram: Leeds' Player of the Season

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Leeds FanZone blogger Steve Turner sums up what he admits was a fairly forgettable season for fans of the Elland Road outfit.

The early optimism that surrounded Elland Road at the start of the season quickly disappeared once the action got underway as it became clear that little progress, if any, had been made on the pitch.

Neil Warnock's appointment towards the end of the previous season had given fans reason to believe that promotion was a definite possibility, but his work in the transfer market was hampered by GFH Capital's takeover of the club, which trailed on months into the season.

The January transfer window saw the club bring new players in, with the most notable being striker Steve Morison from Norwich in a swap deal for Leeds' top scorer at the time, Luciano Becchio.

Unfortunately, Leeds found Becchio's goals hard to replace, and as their league position plummeted and the season petered out, Warnock left the club.

GFH Capital quickly brought in Brian McDermott as his replacement, tasked with ensuring that Leeds retained their Championship status.

Thankfully the former Reading boss made an instant impact, as the club comfortably saw off the lingering relegation fears.

Player of the Year & Breakthrough Player of the Year:

No matter how hard you try, you simply cannot look past Sam Byram for both of these titles.

The Essex-born defender is a product of the club's academy and barely put a foot wrong all season, showing impressive consistency throughout.

In the summer, Warnock tried to sign Joel Ward from Portsmouth with a view to making him the first choice right back, but the transfer broke down after Leeds were unable to afford the transfer fee.

Warnock then gave Byram his chance in pre-season and the youngster never looked back.

Amid rumoured Premier League interest, Byram signed a new contract at Elland Road in January, which tied him to the club until 2016.

Byram ended the season with an ever increasing reputation and multiple club honours.

After winning the Yorkshire Evening Post 'Player of the Season' award with 99% of the vote, he then scooped the 'Player of the Year', 'Young Player of the Year', 'Players' Player of the Year' and the 'Supporters Club Player of the Year' awards at the club's end of season ceremony.

Signing of the Year:

Given the amount of signings made at the start of the season, along with the players brought in once the transfer window reopened in January, it perhaps sums up Leeds' season that not one of the new faces could claim to have had anything other than an average season, although Paul Green would be the one player that could perhaps take slight issue with that.

Green was a free transfer from Derby and signed for Leeds amid apparent interest from Huddersfield. Despite not setting the Championship alight, Green has performed consistently in the midfield role that neither he nor any of his counterparts have truly been able to claim as their own.

The Republic of Ireland international chipped in with four league goals for Leeds last season, one of which was the winning goal in the 2-1 victory over Crystal Palace in GFH Capital's first game as the club's official owners.

Given Warnock's decision to rotate his midfield players on a regular basis it is likely that Green's season suffered from a lack of regular game time, but his steady and committed performances in the games he was involved in make him one of the more underrated players at the club.

Could do better:

Throughout the majority of the season the Leeds supporters singled out Luke Varney as the player that wasn't playing to the best of his abilities, but as his performances towards the end of the campaign improved, so did the fans' opinion of him.

Unfortunately, Rudolph Austin appeared to run out of steam around the same time that Varney's form improved, leaving many supporters underwhelmed with his contribution in his first season at Elland Road.

Austin arrived at Leeds from SK Brann and was hailed by the fans as an exciting signing, and his early season performances justified their thinking as he drew in the plaudits.

His form soon dipped, though, and the fans grew frustrated as they witnessed Austin appear to become half he player he had previously been.

After ending the season with a red card against Brighton in Leeds' penultimate league game he will begin the new campaign with a two-match ban.

Conclusion:

This was a season that most fans have already forgotten, but an important one in terms of transition.

Leeds can now look forward to next season with new owners comfortably settled in and a new manager with a point to prove.

The club need to bring in quality players in certain areas if they are to seriously compete in what is set up to be another tough season in the Championship, but if they can keep hold of Byram and add one or two of a similar quality, this season could prove to have been the last building block of a successful future.

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