Today was the day that many of the Leeds United squad found out for sure if they were in manager Neil Warnock's plans for next season. Ben Parker, Mika Vayrynen and Darren O'Dea had all left the club before the end of the season as the former QPR boss looked to reshape his squad for a promotion push next campaign. Now the likes of Adam Clayton, Ramon Nunez, Andy O'Brien, Billy Paynter, Paul Connolly and Paul Rachubka are set to follow them out of the exit doors after being put up for sale by United this afternoon. Lloyd Sam, Danny Webber, Mikael Forsell, Maik Taylor and Alex Bruce have already left the club after being told their contracts will not be renewed.
Danny Webber was the first man to announce he would be departing the West Yorkshire club when he tweeted:
"Leaving Leeds United today...thanks to all at the club during my short spell."
Webber failed to make an impact at Elland Road after signing on a free transfer in February following Neil Warnock's arrival at the club. Webber, who started his career at rivals Manchester United has had spells at Watford, Sheffield United and Portsmouth. The winger managed to score during his final appearance for the Whites with a tap in against Leicester at the weekend but Warnock, who previously managed Webber at Sheffield United, has decided he doesn't warrant a place in his promotion chasing squad for next season.
The next piece of news to break during the day shocked a number of Leeds United fans using social networking and it was the rumour that Adam Clayton had been placed on the transfer list.The news was confirmed with Neil Warnock's 'retained list' being released to the public on the club's official website. Clayton, somewhat of a fans favourite at Elland Road was made available for transfer along with Ramon Nunez, Andy O'Brien, Billy Paynter, Paul Connolly and Paul Rachubka.
Personally I have mixed feelings about the imminent departure of Clayton. He is a player with great potential but has rapidly faded as the season has gone on and I feel that he has struggled to replicate his early season form. Clayton is without a doubt worth keeping in the squad though and it seems a strange decision. Until we know what has gone on or what Warnock is thinking, it is hard to make a comment as to who is at fault. United shouldn't have too many problems finding a taker for Clayton who made 46 League and Cup appearances for the Whites this term, scoring six goals in the process. It is the likes of Andy O'Brien who the club may struggle to offload with the former Newcastle defender not playing much football this season due to off field problems. There are no guarantees that Ramon Nunez will be a rush to leave the club either after the Honduran International signed a new four year deal as recently as October 2011.
Billy Paynter has had a turbulent two seasons in West Yorkshire. The striker, who has had his injury problems, has only managed three league goals in twenty eight appearances for the Whites and the Liverpool born front man will now try to revive his career elsewhere. Fellow Scouser Paul Connolly has been a regular starter for Leeds during his two seasons at the club. Despite not being the best footballer in the world, the effort has more often than not been there and he could be a good signing for a lower league club.
Meanwhile Alex Bruce, Lloyd Sam, Mikael Forsell and Maik Taylor failed to earn a new contract at the club. I thought Alex Bruce would have made a good squad player next season and the defender never really got a fair crack at life at Elland Road. Not even the injury to Leigh Bromby could save Alex Bruce's Leeds United career though and there is no place for him in Neil Warnock's squad.
Lloyd Sam made a brilliant start to his Leeds United career as the Whites began life back in the Championship in 2010. However, the emergence of Max Gradel and Robert Snodgrass on the wings for United in a 4-5-1/ 4-4-3 formation meant that opportunites in the first team were limited for the former Charlton man. Sam, who has finished this campaign on loan at League One Notts County will be spending the summer in search of a new club. Mikael Forsell has not even been a shadow of the man who has 26 International goals to his name for Finland. The former Chelsea and Birmingham front man has failed to register a single goal for the Whites and more often that not failed to look interested when he was on the field. The majority of United fans will be glad to see the back of the so called 'goal-getter' with his departure freeing up valuable wages as the squad is reshaped. There is not much to really say about Maik Taylor's time at Leeds, he didn't make a single appearance for the Whites and was a pointless signing made by former manager Simon Grayson.
The list of players that are in Neil Warnock's plans is rather small. Robert Snodgrass, Tom Lees, Aidan White, Ross McCormack, Zac Thompson and Michael Brown have been offered new contracts. Tom Lees signed a new long term contract at the beginning of last season but the rest of players on Warnock's wanted list must agree new deals or United run the risk of losing them for free at the end of their contracts. Aidan White will be out of contract over the next few months, so his deal is of particular importance to United who could lose the Republic of Ireland under 21 International should they fail to agree a new deal. Danny Pugh is also being retained by Warnock and whilst personally I would love to see the back of Pugh, I can see why Warnock would want to keep him at the club. Pugh can (albeit poorly) play in a number of positions and it could be argued that he is a good squad player who can fill in the gaps. For me, Danny Pugh's inept performances are just too much but it looks as if I am going to have to put up with them for a while longer yet.
Warnock has now made it public knowledge as to who is in his plans and who isn't. The only real surprise is Adam Clayton being made available for a move. Leeds fans must now wait to see who comes in to the club as the next chapter of the Leeds United circus begins.