So the staff at TIAT took a little break at the end of Euro 2016, and I can't blame any of them one bit. We don't get paid for this, and with the amount of emotional stress it takes to follow and support Leeds United, sometimes everyone needs a break. And things were going pretty darn well. Signing after signing started pouring in while we were gone, and that was a great thing (maybe not for our blog that didn't cover all the news, but for us as fans: 100% goodness).
Let's sign everyone while the TIAT staff is on holiday. EVERYONE. https://t.co/ZRFHNXvjIg— Through It All LEEDS (@ThruItAllLUFC) July 7, 2016
Strategy, structure, good sense. Signs of a plan. It’s all we’ve ever needed. Just keep doing it! #LUFC— The Square Ball (@TheSquareBall) July 7, 2016
But in the midst of our time off, Massimo Cellino threw another javelin into the heart of the LUFC fanbase: he sold Lewis Cook to Bournemouth.
No no no no no no no no no no https://t.co/fdRglZFHCg— Through It All LEEDS (@ThruItAllLUFC) July 7, 2016
Sorry to see Cook go. With the exception of Delph, the most gifted player Leeds have produced since Milner.— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) July 8, 2016
What. On. Earth.
We should've expected this, right? After getting our hopes up with the signing of Garry Monk and Pep Clotet, bringing in players like Marcus Antonsson, Rob Green, and Kemar Roofe, offering season ticket holders a refund should we not make the playoff... surely the Leeds fanbase couldn't have a summer of 100% goodness.
Surely the other foot had to drop, surely the madman that has inspired his own "Time To Go" movement was just playing with our hearts.
Surely he's laughing behind each new string of advertisements, right? Who's that in the middle, Massimo? Who is "Leeds, Proud, United" even about? Will any of them be around at the start of the season??
The last season ticket pitch I saw said something about "Loyalty" too. Unbelievable stuff to let Cook join the list of Leeds Academy players sold off for money to pay court fees, and now we just wait for Taylor and Mowatt to join the list, right? Just awful.
You want to get out of this league & see major profits? You invest in the squad, you keep your best players & fans will turn up, Simple as!— We Are Leeds (@weareleeds_) July 7, 2016
So yeah, maybe he's just absolutely insane. Maybe Cellino has no real plan but to leave us in mid-table obscurity while he uses our ticket money to pay off his bills. Maybe he's laughing hysterically behind the scenes, as all villains do when their plans come to fruition.
"I'll sign a few players and make some promises to get their hopes up, for the hundredth time, then I'll figure out who they love the most and sell them to Bournemouth!" (maniacal laugh, maniacal laugh)
- Massimo Cellino, apparently
There's really no segue to this... so I'll just say it: or maybe he does know what he's doing? Maybe he has a plan? Maybe this is the year we go up after all?
I know I've just spent 500+ words lambasting the idiot in charge of our club, and that probably won't stop throughout the year here at Through It All Together. We've published some scathing critiques of the Italian in the past (here and here especially), so don't think we've lost the plot just yet. Just consider this.
Lewis Cook, Mirco Antenucci, Scott Wootton, Giuseppe Bellusci, Casper Sloth, Lee Erwin, Tommaso Bianchi, Steve Evans.
Kemar Roofe, Marcus Antonsson, Robert Green, Matt Grimes, Kyle Bartley, Hadi Sacko, Garry Monk, Pep Clotet.
Which do you take?
Alright, alright. Most of you take the first list based solely on the talent of Lewis Cook. That's understandable. He's the reigning Young Footballer of the Year for goodness sake.
But what about the rest of that list? There's no denying that if you ignore the loss of Cookie, we've gotten miles better in this offseason.
Marcus Antonsson has already showed this preseason the scoring touch that made our Ben Mallis fall in love with him. Kemar Roofe scored 18 goals and was a revelation in League Two last season, and his pace and potential have fans and our staff alike voting him the most exciting addition of the season. Robert Green played for England in the World Cup for goodness sake (as an American, thanks for that, and sorry), and is a much more reliable keeper than we've had in a long time at Elland Road. Grimes and Bartley are Monk and Clotet men, and Sacko has scored this preseason as well.
But the addition of Monk and Clotet is without a doubt a huge leap forward for Leeds United. As we've talked about here, and here, and here, Monk is a class above what we've had recently at Elland Road, and each training photo and interview has made me more and more excited for this season. Watch this quick snippet from after the first preseason match and tell me you're not impressed.
This is a professional. Garry Monk was a Premier League level hire, no doubt there.
So did the Cook exit hurt? Yes. Did it tear open the scarred wounds of Sam Byram and a million others? Yes.
But are things still looking up? Absolutely. And maybe that's the entire point, right?
Is it possible Monk and Clotet wanted to build a Leeds team that was their own and not the one of Academy players and local legend? Maybe. Did they think we might be better served by a team built for winning this season instead of when Cookie/Taylor/Mowatt hit their prime in a few years? That Cellino might invest that money? Potentially, though that might be a bit foolish given the track record.
Is it possible Cellino is just trying to sell our youngsters when he thinks their value is the highest, while bringing in other players that better fit the new manager's schemes?
Whatever the rationale, Lewis Cook (and Byram, and all the rest... getting angry again...) didn't fit into the plans at Leeds United, and now he's gone. I'm as skeptical/frustrated about it as anyone, but maybe Cellino deserves a little credit for the rest of the offseason he has put together.
Call it willful ignorance if you must, but I'm again excited for another season to start with Leeds United, and probably more hopeful than I've been in years. Give me another signing or two before the season starts (can we get another CB?) and I'll be downright excited. Oh, and then hold on to Monk, you potentially psychotic owner you.
If he's laughing at us, selling our best young players off every few months is the best way to make us angry.
And if he's legitimately trying to make a run at promotion, signing Monk, Clotet, Antonsson, Roofe, Green, Bartley, Grimes, and Sacko after refund-guaranteeing a playoff push... that earns a bit of my respect.
Whatever the case, I hope it's a make-or-break year for the controversial owner. Let's go up, or let's get him out. I'm hoping it's the former, and we're celebrating promotion instead of dealing with drama on the Through It All Together Summer Holiday of 2017. #MOT