In recent seasons, us Leeds fans have grown used to not holding up too much hope when the summer transfer window rolls around. The odd Italian import, one or two players from the lower leagues, maybe a loanee from a fellow Championship club. Never anything that really seems to grab the headlines. Average, unexcitable - at best. However, could the unexpected arrival of Garry Monk at the helm be a sign of change in Leeds' boardroom behaviour in the off-season market? If so, what must the new gaffer do to bring yet another wave of hope to the Elland Road faithful?
It's a debate that not only consumes our fans, but fans of clubs up and down the country. How can we come back stronger next year? Who can we bring in? When the final whistle blows on the last game of the season, we instantly turn our attentions to August. We spend our summer pub visits talking - instead of watching - football.
It has become apparent that with the ever-growing quality in this league, money must be spent in order to mount a serious challenge to return to the top-flight. It was proven last season by the very shrewd deals made by the likes of Boro, Burnley and Brighton. Goals get you out of this league, and goals cost money. A winter transfer deadline-day move for Jordan Rhodes added firepower to a Middlesbrough front-line that wasn't exactly struggling. Added to the fees paid for David Nugent and Stewart Downing, a total just shy of £20m is a small price to pay for promotion to the Premier League. The club no doubt forked out again to secure the services of playmaker Gaston Ramirez on loan for the rest of the season.
Burnley's acquisition of Andre Gray was a great bit of business, as the ex-Non-League player went on to become the Championship's top scorer last term, with a reported fee in the region of £6m proving to be a very worthy investment. Gray and strike partner Sam Vokes combined for a total of 40 league goals for Burnley - almost double the effort of Wood and Antenucci. Brighton relied heavily on £1m Israeli Tomer Hemed to deliver for them, and he did just so with 17 league goals. Abel Hernandez took the responsibility for Hull, and came up with 20 strikes last season, albeit his transfer came a couple of seasons previous at the price of £10m. A case could even be made for our good friends Sheffield Wednesday, whose £6m spend brought Fernando Forestieri and Gary Hooper to Hillsborough.
The fact of the matter is quality costs money, but quality gets you results in this league.
It's no coincidence that all of the mentioned clubs finished in the top six. That's not to say that the other 18 clubs in the division didn't spend, but quite simply - especially in Leeds' case - you get what you pay for. Those players are proven at this level and their records speak for themselves. It doesn't always work out of course, as Fulham found out when their £11m swoop for our own Ross McCormack didn't quite go to plan.
It is safe to say that our faith in recent transactions in terms of new playing staff coming through the door has been lacking. Too many "bargain buys" and gambles from Serie B and the lower leagues that haven't paid off have left us with a sour taste in our mouths - after all not every non-league forward can be the next Jamie Vardy, and it seems to be that's what Cellino is looking for. Hoping he can get the acclaim for finding the next diamond in the rough? Who knows...
What we do know, though, is that the transfer thought process at Elland Road needs to change - too many seasons are passing us by with mid-table mediocrity. It is becoming more and more obvious that Cellino needs to stick his hand in his pocket. His capture of Monk as the new head coach is obviously a change of his normal approach to "buying cheap" and hoping for the results and hopefully his change of heart on the managerial front will transfer over to the other side of the white line, and some proven quality will be brought into the side in time for this seasons opener.
In addition to a proven goalscorer, the team needs that midfield stalwart that it's been crying out for, for some time. At least one new centre back needs to be drafted in to create a solid, consistent pairing with Bamba or Bellusci, or to create a brand new partnership entirely. Leeds conceded 58 goals last season, nearly twice as many as Middlesbrough and Burnley. Shoring up the defence and a solid central midfield has to be held as high a priority as finding the one who's going to come up with the goals.
While the arrival of Liam Bridcutt and Toumani Diagouraga brought something different to the engine room, you still couldn't help but think how volatile and unsecure we looked at the back. With a stronger backbone, it is hoped that Marco Silvestri would get more protection and manage to stay out of the limelight that brought him a fair amount of criticism last term. Another season and a bit more faith in what is in front of him may bring out the best in what is undoubtedly a talented shot stopper.
Leeds will have to work harder than ever this season to keep up with their Championship rivals, especially with the influx of managerial talent in Rafa Benitez and Roberto Di Matteo, who will more than likely inherit the bulk of their respective squads from last seasons Premier League relegation. It remains to be seen how much scope and power Cellino would have given to Monk in terms of the transfer market, but bringing him in early and giving him the entire pre-season to implement his own regime on the players may point towards him being given a bit more of a say in matters than his predecessors.
It's not like Cellino to be this proactive and organised, so maybe things will run slightly differently this time around. We live in hope.