The third league game and third consecutive road game in all competitions. If Fulham can manage any kind of result in this game, it should be gravy after the start we’ve had.
Cottagers Confidential: Leeds are a historically big club. But it seems that the club has been mismanaged for at least a decade. Every time there's a promising player they seem to be sold. Cellino seemed like he might be the one to turn things around, but now who knows how much longer he'll even have the team. Is there any hope of turning the club around in the near future, or is it just a matter of surviving in the Championship until the right ownership emerges?
Through It All Together: Before the first game of the season against QPR, I think a lot of fans thought this summer was the turning point. Cellino hired Garry Monk, and he brought in more quality than he shipped out. In fact, at one point, we had only improved, and then he sold off the Young Footballer of the Year, Lewis Cook, to Bournemouth. So there was a decent amount of hope… and that all disappeared in four minutes, as we let in an own goal early and went on to lose 3-0.
Now there’s talk of Monk already being on the hot seat, and that’s where the biggest problem has been under Cellino: he doesn’t trust his moves, doesn’t let them get set, and our entire roster is a revolving door. I want to say that he’ll change, that we’ll be fine once he sticks with his players and management and allows them to gel, but the chances of that seem slim. There have been plenty of protests and rumors that he’s looking to sell, with the proverbial "Chinese businessmen" being in the news constantly, but until then, we’re just kind of praying he realizes what he has in Monk and doesn’t give him the hook too soon.
CC: What's your prediction for Leed's finish this year? Fulham's? Who did you think goes up and who get's relegated?
TIAT: I really think Monk and the new talent should result in a top ten finish. A lot of our fans (and some of our writers) are pushing panic buttons after a week, but new additions Marcus Antonsson, Kemar Roofe, and Hadi Sacko have all looked good early on, and if we can get our defense shored up, we should be challenging for a playoff spot. (I realize that’s a huge if.) The owner has also promised a play-off spot or refunds to our season ticket holders, so I think he spends a bit more than usual to get us there. We’ll see on that. Top ten is my prediction if they hold on to Monk, 16-20 if they sack him.
I didn’t expect Fulham to start off as well as they have, but again, it’s early. I think you probably end up in the top half, but out of playoff position. That’s not an incredibly educated opinion, as I don’t know a ton about the moves you’ve made this offseason, but a top half finish after last season seems like a worthy improvement.
Going up, I predicted Newcastle, Brighton, and Leeds before the season started, but two of those teams haven’t started off so well. I still think Newcastle has the talent to go back to the PL, and Brighton could too, but my Leeds pick was a bit too optimistic. Maybe Sheffield Wednesday takes our spot? Forestieri makes me sad every time I watch him play, so I’ll go with them.
Going down, I’ve got Blackburn, Burton Albion, and Rotherham.
CC: Is there a particular Fulham player you are worried about facing? Is there a Leed's player you think could have a big game?
TIAT: Matt Smith. Breaks my heart to say it too, but he could have a field day against our back line. For Leeds, I think Antonsson needs to have a big game (so he better get the start). He’s been our best on the ball so far this young season, he just needs a partner to give him some space up top. Chris Wood has been a non-factor for us for awhile, and Monk subbed him off against Birmingham for it, so hopefully he slots Antonsson up top with another scoring threat (Roofe or Sacko come to mind) behind him to open up your defense.
CC: Could you predict a lineup and result?
TIAT: Yeah, that said, my lineup would be: Rob Green; Lewie Coyle, Luke Ayling, Kyle Bartley, Charlie Taylor; Toumani Diagouraga, Alex Mowatt, Pablo Hernandez, Kemar Roofe, Hadi Sacko, Marcus Antonsson, in some sort of 4-1-4-1. There’s a lot of attack in that lineup though, so we’d probably get punished for it.
2-2’s my prediction, and we’d be happy with the point at home. That’s how great the start of our season has been.
Good luck after Tuesday for the rest of the campaign; I’d love to see Leeds and Fulham both promoted in 2017... just don’t leave us behind.