ROSS BELL has barely seen daylight since we set him the daunting proposition of making Leeds United great again in FM17. Here is his first bulletin from the virtual Elland Road.

The Leeds squad you begin the game with on FM17 is a weird mish-mash. It’s quite clearly the evidence of two or three different managers having had their hands behind the wheel over the past few transfer windows.

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The remains of Massimo Celino’s first summer in charge still linger with Giuseppe Bellusci, Marco Silvestri, Souleymane Doukara and Gaetano Berardi still in the squad. Add those players into the mix with this summer’s recruits – the likes of which include Kemar Roofe, Liam Bridcutt and Luke Ayling – and the club has been left with a somewhat unbalanced squad.

Bearing in mind editor Mark’s instruction that I must turn a profit in each season I’m in charge, I’ll be looking to shift Bellusci on promptly as he’s got a reasonable transfer value for such an absolute shithouse of a player.

Also high on my list of priorities is to loan out some of the good young players of the fringe of the first team. Players such as Lewie Coyle, Jack Vann and Frank Mulhern have all been sent on loan to League 2 clubs under strict instructions to be first team regulars. I can only benefit from the experience they will gain getting competitive football elsewhere.

Staffing wise, Leeds start with a solid backroom but are lacking in scouts; so trusty Derek Langley and Patrik Andersson are bought in to boost the ranks. I’m going to need them if I’m to unearth gems at a reasonable price.

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Tactically, I’ll be setting the team up in a 4-2-3-1 formation to begin the season. It’s the system used to great effect by Garry Monk in real life this season and it also suits the squad really well. I’ll be looking for a high defensive line with slow build up play as they seem to work well in the FM17 match engine.

I won’t be looking to make many additions to the squad – if any at all – in the opening transfer window as I can’t afford to overload the wage budget with unnecessary players. Transfer funds are frankly paltry. We have just £100,000 to play with.

Pre-season has gone well with some convincing wins over less than stellar opposition and the first two league games have brought two solid victories over teams expected to be in the final promotion shake-up come the end of the campaign. The bookies have predicted a mid-table finish for us this season, so if I am going to get Leeds United into the play-offs, I’m going to need some luck and a favourable set of circumstances throwing themselves up during the game.

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As an added bonus, the League cup started well with a 2-0 over Bury but drawing Chelsea away in the next round has put paid to any faint hopes of a cup run.

Roll on the hard slog of the late Autumn and early Winter…

ROSS BELL – @RossBell1984

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