This is it: the last Summer Weekly Wednesday roundtable of 2016. Thank goodness. We've loved writing them, and we hope you've loved reading them, but we could not be more excited to have meaningful games to watch, write about, and read about again. Four more sleeps.
We covered a wide range of topics this summer: Our highlights of 2015/16, our lowlights of 2015/16, our favorite manager in Leeds history, one change we'd make to the squad, our favorite opponents, our favorite moments in international football, our one addition we'd make to Leeds for this season, our favorite Euro performances, our favorite additions, who we think should wear the armband, and who we think is going up in 2017. Seriously, that's a lot of #content.
And now we finish with our final offseason thoughts: what's going to happen in 2016/17? We decided to make our writers narrow it down to one single newspaper headline. Imagine you're opening up an actual paper copy of a newspaper (hahaha) the day after Leeds United's final game of the 2016/17 season. What's the headline on the sports page for LUFC? This.
It's not an easy task to narrow down all of your expectations and predictions to a simple headline, but our staff is up for the challenge. Joining us around the roundtable this week are: Matt Robinson and Anthony Linley from Yorkshire, Jack Dudley from Cambridgeshire, Ben Mallis from Perth, Australia, and Johnny Wakefield from Charlotte, North Carolina in the States.
All of us are "all Leeds," and all of us have tried to answer the question presented every Wednesday to the best of our ability. It's not a quiz show, but we hope it has given you insight into us as fans and writers alike.
At the end, in the comments, don't forget to let us know how you'd answer this final question of the week of the Summer of 2016.
The Weekly Wednesday Roundtable... begins now.
What's your newspaper headline at the end of Leeds United's 2016/17 season?
Jack Dudley: I love our weekly sit-downs, but this one is very much a head vs. heart battle. After some deliberation and discussion in previous articles about our expectations this year, I've almost stepped out of my "realism" shoes... almost. My headline reads:
"Rampant Roofe Rocks Elland Road as Whites Snatch Sixth!"
I have a feeling some final-day drama is on the cards... don't cut those nails too soon!
The playoffs aren't unattainable for Leeds this season - automatic spots, however, clearly are. It's just too tough to call, but you can't help but feel the optimism the new lads are bringing into the dressing room. I'm surprised how quickly everyone has seemingly "got over" the departure of one Mr. Lewis Cook. Kemar Roofe is determined to make a name for himself and I can see him causing all kinds of problems for defences, and the same will go for Pablo Hernàndez if Monk can bring out the best in him.
Alex Mowatt will feel as though he's missed the train that has carried off the other three "must keep" lads, should Charlie Taylor move on also. He will be hungrier than ever to - let's face it - follow suit. He needs a big season to get that buzz and hype back around him. You heard it here first!
Bring on Sunday, MOT!
Matt Robinson: The headline I really want to see in the YEP come the end of the season is...
"Magic Monk's Record-Breaking Season"
...which is then followed with a 10 page pull-out special on how we dominated from start to finish, won the league with 109 points, and will not play Manchester United next season as they have been relegated to the Championship after losing on the final day of the season to David Moye's Sunderland. That would be the dream.
In reality I expect something along the lines of "United March to £200 million Glory" which will be followed by a 5 page pull out on how we scraped into the play-offs by the skin of our teeth, and then somehow fumbled our way to a play-off final where we beat Norwich 3-0 to be crowned play-off champions. And by this point, the crazy figure of how much clubs gain from promotion has risen to £200 million. Either headline will do for me.
I don't ask for much.
Anthony Linley: Here's my attempt at a headline...
14,000 Pokemon Go enthusiasts descend on Massimo Cellino’s Leeds suburban flat
The gamers (all thought to be Leeds United Supporters) were in search of the most elusive Pokemon Go character ever created: its name? "Refund." The Refund character thought to be worth up to 20% of the price of a Leeds United Season ticket was the brainchild of Leeds Supremo Massimo Cellino, who had promised to enter the world of computer-generated imagery should his team finish 7th or below in the league. And that they did.
"It's harder to find than a Leeds United clean sheet," quipped one despondent hunter.
Nintendo were unavailable for comment.
Ben Mallis: Let’s get the obvious out of the way, the only headline come May will be dictated by our finishing position in the league. For as much as we attempt to downplay hope or set more subtle expectations for the upcoming season, Cellino has backed himself into a corner and there is only one way out. My headline?
Come get your refunds: United fall short despite strong finish
Cellino better get that chequebook ready because I just cannot see us finishing inside the top 6.
Yes, Monk is a great manager. Yes, every summer move (non-Lewis Cook category) has been justifiable. And yes, Pablo Hernandez will be doing magical things around Elland Road for the next six months, but this will take time.
As we covered on Monday, improvement should be demanded of this football club, but everything I expect to occur is required to drag us back to mediocrity.
I expect growth, I expect a top ten finish and I hope that we will be favourites for promotion in 2017/18. Our club now has the managerial talent of a Premier League side, and if everything goes right we can dare to dream, but I cannot honestly say I except it right now.
I want to predict success so badly, and there is something inside of me hoping it to be true, but I cannot make that leap of faith. Shadows from the Cellino Death Star are just too large.
Johnny Wakefield: I really don't want to end this last roundtable on a bad note. It's been a fun summer of dreaming with every addition we've made to this squad. Two weeks ago I kind of maybe defended Cellino a bit... and just a week ago I put us winning the playoff and getting promoted.
But if I'm really, really honest with myself, which I really, really hate to be.... my May 8th, 2017 headline reads...
Cellino strikes again; Leeds United's second manager of the season sacked after another mid-table finish
Please, throw your tomatoes. I deserve it.
I love the additions we've made, really. I think Antonsson and Roofe and Bartley and Sacko and even 58-year-old Pablo will make a difference this season. And I love, love, love the addition of Garry Monk and Pep Clotet. But with the news that our best defender (if not our best player) put in his transfer request this week, with the loss of Cook (another in a long line), and with the sheer talent acquired by (and the ridiculous money being thrown by) other teams all around English football, I can't say we're a top six Championship squad just yet. Be honest. You can't either.
There's a problem that seemingly can't be fixed at Elland Road, and it starts at the top. It has for quite some time, even though the faces have changed. Without stability in ownership and professional commitment to win from above, the young talent will be sold, managers will always rotate in and out, and nothing is guaranteed. I want him to change, I want him to have a plan, but we've yet to see it.
If I had to put money down on us, I'd say we finish in 8th-12th with the talent assembled, depending on how long Cellino leaves Monk and Clotet alone.
If I let myself dream a bit... say Cellino holds firm with Taylor and signs him to a better deal, and then brings in a few more defenders, and then goes after Bridcutt, and then Rob Green plays his best football in years, and then the offence gels quickly, and then Mowatt rediscovers his form, and then Chris Wood plays like he belongs in the Premiership and we don't sell him in January if he does... then, then we make the top six.
But that's a lot of dreaming.
If Steve Evans were still at the helm, I'd have us in 12th-16th, honest, so I do think Garry Monk and the summer additions will make a difference here, and it really could be the fun season we're all desperately hoping for (Champions of Europe 2019 is still my motto, because I swear I'm an optimist). Cellino could change his style of ownership entirely and be the hands-off/open-wallet type of owner needed to go up, sticking with his manager and trusting in his decisions. Or he could sell to that Chinese conglomerate we all heard about and then who knows what happens.
But will he do either of those? Or will it be more of the same from him?
With Massimo up top, the entire formation is a bit too unsteady. Let's hope he stays off the pitch altogether in 2016/17.
Four more days until the season starts. Thanks for sticking with us this summer; we're looking forward to being your source for fan-written, opinion-laden, quality-driven hot take coverage of Leeds United in 2016/17. Let us know if you're reading too, we always love banter in the comments and on social media. Let us know what your headline would be, or just sound off on us, we don't mind. Besides, we are champions, champions of Europe (2019). #MOT