Leeds United’s start to the season has not been exactly what their new owner Massimo Cellino would have expected.
Whilst the club’s president has set his sights on promotion by the end of next season, his team’s first three Championship games have yielded a single win and two losses, leaving Leeds in 19th position.
Their 2-0 loss to Brighton and Hove Albion at Elland Road on Tuesday means that they have not won a midweek game in the league since a 2-0 win over Wigan Athletic last December.
The 2014/15 season marks a fresh start for Leeds United. Cellino has hired former Watford Under-18s coach David Hockaday as his manager, following the departure of Brian McDermott.
Hockaday, whose only previous management experience came at Conference side Forest Green Rovers, will likely be wary of a president who oversaw 36 different managers in his 22 years at previous club Cagliari, in Italy.
Hockaday and Cellino have overseen a frantic transfer window which has seen them sign 11 new players, seven of whom have moved from Italy, whilst 17 have left the club; the biggest of which was Ross McCormack, who joined Fulham for a reported £11m.
The loss of McCormack will undoubtedly be a blow to Leeds; the striker was the league’s top scorer last season, with a total of 28 goals.
Replacing McCormack will be former Southampton striker Billy Sharp, who signed from the Saints for a fee believed to be £600,000. Sharp is the side’s sole league goalscorer, grabbing an 88th minute winner in his debut against Middlesbrough last Saturday.
Outside of the Championship, Leeds progressed in the Capital One Cup, beating Accrington Stanley 2-1, with both goals coming from Souleymane Doukara, setting up a second round tie against 2013 finalists Bradford City.
Whilst the league may have not started ideally for Leeds, the club did enjoy a successful pre-season campaign, winning six of their eight matches and scoring 31 goals.
However, 16 of those goals did come against Italian minnows FC Gherdëina. Considering Cellino’s pathological fear of the number 17, which has resulted in the squad number being retired by Leeds United, falling one short of the total may have been a wise choice.
Watford have not lost to Leeds since the last game of the 2012/13 season – with the Hornets winning 3-0 at home and drawing 3-3 away in the 2013/14 campaign.
The last four games between the two sides average over four goals a game, a statistic boosted considerably by Watford’s 6-1 win at Elland Road in November 2012.
Against Brighton and Hove Albion, Leeds set up in a 4-4-2 formation. They will be without Doukara, who ruptured his ankle ligaments against Middlesbrough. However, Hockaday may give a debut to recent signing Mirco Antenucci, who joined from Italian side Ternana on a two-year deal.
Leeds United XI vs Brighton: (4-4-2) Silvestri; Byram, Pearce, Cooper, Warnock; Austin, Tonge, Bianchi, Murphy; Smith, Sharp.