This is a very special edition of Question Time. Championship blogs are hard to come by, and our own fine network, SBN, only has two: Lion of Vienna Suite and Through it All Together. Thomas Hill, local Leeds United fan and expert was kind enough to provide some answers to our questions about one of England's biggest clubs. But enough of me....
Leeds has had a pretty tumultuous time recently, including going into administration in 2007 and getting relegated to the third division for the first time in the club's history. Things started to turn around in the 2009-2010 season, which included an FA Cup victory against rivals and top club Manchester United, and automatic promotion on the last day of the season. The club seems to be finding its feet again, so what do you see in the Whites' future for the next few seasons?
Thomas Hill: First of all thanks for adding the Man Utd part. Makes me smile every time I think of it and I still watch the game from time to time. We're finding our feet, and it's great to see. It's hard to predict where we will be due to the possible change in ownership. With Bates in charge we will be in the Championship, Warnock and our best players will leave. New owners can give us a new lease of life. The fans will always be there, we took 4,500 to a pre-season friendly some 500 miles away. If the passion from the fans could be met by our owners then we can achieve anything. From the lowest lows in League One we have now restored the pride and added some Premier League teams to our record. We know we have some work to do to return to the top flight and it would be fantastic to return less than a decade after our departure. Everyone knows the Premier League is a better place with Leeds United, although they'd never admit it.
Partially related to that question, Leeds is on the verge of a takeover by a Middle Eastern investment bank, Gulf Finance House. How will this new ownership affect the club? What sort of signings do you expect GFH to facilitate?
TH: We're a realistic bunch and while we can joke about Ronaldo and Messi we just want some quality. For years we've sold our best players and never replaced them with any quality. We have no idea how much money they have, but their arrival will revitalise the city and football club. Our stadium is a morgue at times and that will soon change. The owners, manager, players and fans will all be striving for promotion and that is a dangerous formula with our fan base...and the best man in the game to earn promotion.
As if there wasn't enough change around Elland Road, you also have a relatively new manager. What has Neil Warnock changed in the 7 months since his appointment? Is a clear style emerging? A different mentality?
TH: A mentality is forming that is perfect for Leeds United fans. Give 100% no matter what and that will be the minimum. He's changed the attitude of the players, after conceding they gave up last season. We are solid as a team and think in certain situations...last season we were all over the place. We work hard with the ball and even harder off the ball. From set-pieces we are a threat now where in the past our goals came from open play.
Warnock comes with a bad reputation in terms of football but against Everton (with six players
missing) we played them off the park and won every ball. If anyone in this league is going to give
everyone a game it will be us.
Who has been Leeds' most dangerous player thus far this season? What can Bolton expect in terms of formation, and strengths and weaknesses?
TH: Our signing of the season has to be Rodolph Austin and he's closely followed by El-Hadji Diouf. Austin has been here a matter of weeks and he's already a fan favourite. He's built like a rugby player but is so athletic and his tackles are deadly. For me he's the ideal centre midfielder. Diouf has shown tremendous courage to come to a club whose fans pretty much hated him. He's working hard and showing the rest of the team how to do it.
Formation wise I'd say 4-5-1 without the ball and 4-3-3 when we do. Strengths is our determination and will to win under Warnock. We have some good youngsters coming through and we can play some lovely football. Weaknesses...probably our defensive side of the game at the moment we're conceding the odd goal and we need to stop that. Another one is our lack of players, we've got a thin squad and any injuries cripple us.
And finally can I have a prediction?
TH: I think your form has been a little up and down a lately and if we can continue our run we have a chance. I'll meet in the middle though and say 1-1.
Thanks again to Thomas for answering our questions! Be sure to head to Through it All Together for a Leeds perspective of the match.