I must admit I didn’t think that we would see that level of performance and utter dominance by Leeds. I’ve watched the game again, and I have these thoughts below:
1. Performance of Saiz: Firstly I have to commend Bielsa’s man management skills. Whatever he did to pump up Saiz, it certainly worked. The level of performance shown by Saiz against Stoke surpassed anything he produced last season. He was phenomenal all game until he was taken off. He was even contesting headers at one stage. Saiz needs to show that passion and effort on a weekly basis. That’s the test facing not him but Bielsa and his staff.
2. Intensity: It must be 15 years since I seen a Leeds side start a game with such intense pressing of the opposition. Stoke and their expensively assembled team where blown away in the first 15 minutes. It was like as if a hurricane has blown them apart. The levels of fitness shown the Leeds players was like nothing I’d seen before. I’ve never seen Leeds players struggling with cramp due to sheer effort. Imagine Lassoga trying to train for Bielsa??
3.High level of passing: The move for the first goal was a thing of beauty. The movement of the ball was crisp and fast. It gave Siaz the space to show his real talent and Klich finished it brilliantly. Phillips and Cooper showed a level of composure that was a vast improvement from anything they did last year. I felt somewhat for Heckingbottom sitting in the Sky studio watching the majority of the players he had last season, play at a level he could only dream about. At stages in the first half, it was like watching Bremner and Giles destroying Southampton in the 70’s (millennials click here to view it on YouTube). The passing will only improve further as the season goes on.
4. Strenght of the bench: When I saw the tweet from Phil Hay showing the list of substitutes, I was in shock. The level of talent not starting was reminiscent of the Champions League era 18 years ago. The fact that nearly £20 million worth of talent(Pontus, Bamford, and Roberts) didn’t even see game time is a testimony to the signing of better players this summer, We definitely need maybe two more signings, as the squad depth will be tested come February and March.
5. What happens next: The level of euphoria after yesterday is entirely understandable. Expecting performances like that every week is not realistic. Remeber the start made by Thomas Christensen last season. The quality of effort from the likes of Roofe and Klich does bode well for the future. However, we have a tough game away next week at Pride Park. Optimism will be high, and I hope the players and Bielsa can show the same level of intensity away from home.