Back To Basics For Leeds

Last updated : 14 August 2003 By Kevin Markey

Now it seems the club are poised to adopt tactics that are far less pleasing on the eye, as Peter Reid sets about prolonging the club's tenure in the top tier of English football after last season's fall from grace culminated in a flirtation with relegation.

Reid, who once battled in midfield for England and Everton, is moulding a team in his own image. Leeds will now be a solid, hard-to-beat unit, for working on that premise appears to be the only way Leeds will survive in the Premiership.

The signing of Jody Morris and David Batty's return to the first team scene underline Reid's intent. His side will get stuck in from the word go in the hope of nicking points against the top sides, such as Newcastle on Sunday, and overwhelming weaker rivals with an in-your-face approach.

Dominic Matteo, his captain, illustrated the current ethos at the debt-laden club, where pre-season training is said to have been stiffer than ever.

"Key factors to a successful season will be sticking together and working hard as a team," Matteo said. "People can write us off as much as they want but we know as players we'll give it our best shot for the club. Team spirit is very good, always has been, always will, we stick together no matter what happens."

Striker Alan Smith underlined a change in ethos which will alarm purists. "We've come full circle from when I first played for the team," he said. "We're at a level that George Graham gave us but now we have a squad that isn't going to change during the season and that will help us consolidate. There is a buzz about the place and if Reid can get us off to a good start that will take the pressure off."

Prof John McKenzie, the Leeds chairman, has allayed fears that there will be more departures (although Mark Viduka's future remains in doubt) and is optimistic about this season's prospects.

"I'd like to think that the team would do better than forecast because Peter Reid is an exceptionally good motivator," McKenzie said. "The team is still a substantial one. Peter has made one or two quite shrewd signings and there might be one or two more before the transfer window shuts."