You can see already that Uwe Rosler is trying to manage expectations at Leeds United. In his position I’d be doing the same – at least until we get a bit further into the summer.
There are certain clubs in the Championship who know what they’ll be aiming for next season.
In Middlesbrough’s case, to use one example, they lost in the play-off final last weekend and went very close to automatic promotion so it stands to reason that their targets will be identical.
Other sides keep their heads down and end up surprising us. Bournemouth showed signs of real potential last season but who really expected them to win the title? And which of us thought that Brentford were good enough to reach the play-offs?
The unexpected can happen and for that reason it’s not unreasonable to think that Leeds should be in the mix next year.
It couldn’t be said that the Championship’s a closed shop where teams with parachute payments always dominate. Parachute payments help, obviously but I won’t be lumping heavily on QPR, Burnley or Hull City to go straight back up.
The division doesn’t work like that.
A few things are needed for a team to win promotion. First of all it goes without saying that you need a good squad; not necessarily a really expensive squad but one which is deep enough and has the right balance for the style of football a manager wants to play.
Bournemouth spent a fair amount of cash but they also signed some lower-league players who were basically suited to Eddie Howe’s strategy. They scouted players well. Brentford were also good at putting rounds pegs in round holes, although the situation with Mark Warburton can’t have helped them see out the season. That whole scenario is a mystery to me.
Above all else a club has to be galvanised and that’s one of Uwe Rosler’s big jobs at Leeds this summer. It’s something I thought Neil Redfearn did well – building bridges and camaraderie between himself, his team and the supporters – and Rosler is clever enough to realise that his success depends to some extent on maintaining some harmony around the place.
I’ve followed his comments since he took the job at Elland Road and a lot of what he’s saying makes sense. First up, I think a top-10 finish would be progress for the club next season. It’s not the sort of ambition that sets supporters on fire but Leeds have been trapped in a cycle where they muddle around in the bottom half of the table, making no impression on the play-offs at all. They need to get a proper foothold in the league.
But he’s also right when he says that the true potential of his squad can’t be judged until he gets to the start of the season, or possibly even to the end of the transfer window. He hasn’t made a single signing yet and until the club’s recruitment process gathers pace, predictions about the year ahead are very premature.
He’s a knowledgeable guy, Rosler, and it seems that he spent his six months out of work watching players and following the English game so he’ll have a certain understanding of how good the current squad at Leeds. But as I’ve found out in the past, you’re always a little in the dark when you go into a new club as a manager or a head coach.
The true potential of players only becomes apparent when you work with them close up and day to day.
That’s when you find out how they train, what they really need to improve on, which positions they can genuinely fill and how much of a team you actually have.
I’ve said previously that there’s a decent young spine at Leeds. Rosler’s got a certain amount to build on.
But we’re all agreed that the squad needs work and I’m fascinated to see where his recruitment takes him. I hope he gets the players he wants. It helps no end that the FFP transfer embargo’s been lifted because with that in place, he’d be starting out with one hand behind his back. And he’d be on a hiding to nothing.
I made the point last week that Rosler has always been a very strong character so I expect him to fight his corner when it comes to potential signings. He’ll be helped by the fact that he’s got Adam Pearson alongside him and backing him. Adam has a long background in football so he’s someone who Massimo Cellino might be more inclined to listen to. In that position, Cellino really couldn’t ask for someone more experienced.
It looks like Rob Kelly’s coming in as Rosler’s assistant and Kelly’s been around the game a long time.
There’s obviously been some messing about with the head of recruitment job but no doubt that will get filled before long. All in all it’s been a steady start to a very busy summer in which Rosler probably won’t get a minute’s break.
I’d be quite surprised if you spot him on the beach at any stage before August.
There’s masses of work to be done at Elland Road and he seems to realise that. So I’m with him – setting expectations is pointless at this stage.
Let’s see where the club are in August. But with so much to do, let’s not wish the summer away either.