Leeds has yet to win a game in the Premier League, but Dir Kheizmein Kamaruddin is not worried.
The secretary of the Leeds United Supporters Club Malaysia believes the team is capable of finishing in the top half of the table come May.
He admitted the opening fixtures were tough but told Twentytwo13 what Leeds need to do to go on a winning run, starting against West Ham tomorrow (10pm).
What has gone wrong at Leeds this season?
Dir Kheizmein: Unless you’re Leicester, the second year in the Premier League will always be more challenging.
One of the problems with Leeds under Marcelo Bielsa is goal conversion. We drew 1-1 with Newcastle (last weekend) but should have won.
However, I’m not too worried. We are only five games into the season, and three were against Manchester United, Everton and Liverpool.
Leeds’ problem is mainly in the midfield. We need a creative player to shine in the middle. We also need someone to deputise Kalvin Phillips. Robin Koch has struggled when he plays in the position.
(Leftback) Junior Firpo needs time, but once he gels with the rest of the team, we will concede fewer goals.
When and why did you start supporting Leeds?
Dir Kheizmein: It started in 1996 when my eldest brother (Dir Kheidhrein) went to study in Leeds.
None of my friends supported Leeds. Most of them were Manchester United or Arsenal fans. Leeds wasn’t a popular club, but we had great players such as Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Ian Harte and Lucas Radebe, who put Leeds consistently among the top five. It was a period of transformation under (then chairman) Peter Ridsdale.
In the early 2000s, we had exceptional graduates and brought in great players like Paul Robinson, Jonathan Woodgate, Gary Kelly, Mark Viduka, Rio Ferdinand, Harry Kewell, Alan Smith, Dominic Matteo, and even Robbie Fowler, at one point.
Who was your favourite player growing up, and who is your current favourite player?
Dir Kheizmein: Growing up, it would be Paul Robinson (main picture). Currently, my favourite player is Phillips.
I am fascinated by academy graduates growing into first-team players. I spend most of my free time playing Football Manager looking for ‘wonder kids’.
Have you ever been to Elland Road?
Dir Kheizmein: Sadly, no. But I know the layout like the back of my hand. I hope to go there one day.
Do you fancy them in any of the Cup competitions?
Dir Kheizmein: Bielsa seems to have put more effort in Cup games this year. We play Arsenal in the fourth round of the League Cup. I hope the players will be at their best, and we can advance to the quarterfinals.
Where do you see Leeds at the end of this season?
Dir Kheizmein: The next five games are important. If we can win them all, I will say we can be among the top 10.
Ideally, I would want to see the club in Europe next season, but let’s be realistic and get the foundations right.
Be a Premier League mainstay first, get on with the Elland Road upgrade plan (thus more revenue), and then we can challenge for Europe.
In Andrea Radrizzani (team owner) and Bielsa, we believe.
FIXTURES (Malaysian time)
Chelsea vs Manchester City (7.30pm)
Manchester United vs Aston Villa (7.30pm)
Leicester vs Burnley (10pm)
Everton vs Norwich (10pm)
Leeds vs West Ham (10pm)
Watford vs Newcastle (10pm)
Brentford vs Liverpool (12.30am)
Southampton vs Wolves (9pm)
Arsenal vs Tottenham (11.30pm)
Crystal Palace vs Brighton (3am)