How week 2 has gone for Leeds – Three Takeaways

Home dis-comforts –

The failings from last season’s promotion run came to the fore on Saturday afternoon at Elland Road. A lack of a clinical edge in attack and a lapse of concentration allowed Notting Forest to grab an unworthy share of the spoils. As is the norm for Leeds games a blatant penalty on Stuart Dallas was missed by a below standard  EFL referee. Leeds dominated possession and chances created while Kiko Casilla had no saves to make throughout the game. The magic man Pablo Hernandez produced his traditional moment of quality to give Leeds a deserved lead, but a failure to clear a Forest corner allowed Lewis Grabban to scramble the ball over the line with 15 minutes remaining. It is only the second game of the season, so it is prudent not to jump the gun but the failings from last season are worrying to see rear their ugly heads. The transition from defence to attack was sublime at times, but the final ball was lacking except for Mateusz Klich’s through pass for the Leeds goal. Leeds had 34 crosses, many of which were of a poor standard. The final over hit cross from Barry Douglas which floated harmlessly over the end line was indicative of the lack of finesse from Leeds on both flanks. Away teams will undoubtedly attempt to follow the template set out by Forest, and it will up the Leeds players and management to find a way to break teams down but also keep clean sheets. Clean sheets will get us promoted so even though White and Cooper gave reliable displays, the one defensive slip in concentration cost the team dear.


Eddie or Paddy –

I have been relatively vocal on Twitter throughout the Summer that I wanted Dwight Gayle to sign on loan. Due to the potential cost of the deal and the FFP regulations, this was not possible. Victor Orta’s previous working relationship with Unai Emery helped Leeds capture the season-long loan of the highly sought after Eddie Nkeitah. The young English striker scored on his debut at Salford on Tuesday night. It is clear from that performance that he offers the pace and power, which will give the Leeds attack a new dimension.  The chances of note all fell to Patrick Bamford on Saturday. At 25 years of age, the striker has played for ten clubs and is probably not good enough to play in the Premier League. He failed to score with three guilt-edged chances. His confidence is shot, and unfortunately, in the modern social media age, fans turn on players very quickly. It will be interesting to see if Bielsa sticks with Bamford against Wigan. I have defended Patrick Bamford as much as I can – but the truth is that he is a mediocre Championship striker. He is very streaky and will score goals, but I highly doubt he will get 25 goals. I think considering the number of chances that Leeds create each game – he should get at least 15. If Nkeitah can click with Pablo and Costa, I think he could get the goals we need to secure automatic promotion. The young forward reminds me of Ian Wright, and if he is half the goal poacher that Wright was , we won’t be far away in May.

Revenge is a dish best served cold –

The home loss to Wigan on Good Friday was nothing short of a disaster. A 2-1 home defeat against a team fighting against relegation and down to ten men should never have happened. Looking back, the signs of the playoff semi-final collapse to Derby where evident throughout that display. The majority of the current squad were present for the horrific loss. Revenge should be a burning desire for each of those players. Leeds will be huge favourites to win on Saturday. As is the norm with Leeds, the final result will hinge on the number of chances taken and cutting out the mistakes in defence. I am feeling overly optimistic, so I am going for a 4-1 win on Saturday. Let’s hope the lads have their shooting boots on in Wigan.


Bristol City 1-3 Leeds Utd – Three Takeaways


The pain from the excruciating collapse against Derby in May will never leave me, and I would say it is the same for most Leeds fans. The most important signing of the summer was Marcelo Bielsa. The Argentine messiah’s choice to stay at Elland Road represents a new-found managerial solidity for Leeds which had been lacking since the days of Simon Grayson in 2011. Due to the harsh and unbalanced FFP rules, Leeds needed to slash a bloated wage bill and sold the fan favourites Jannson and Roofe. The loan additions of Ben White and Eddie Nkeitah look like smart moves from Victor Orta, and it allows the club to begin a new project next Summer if things do not go to plan. The opening game of the season saw Leeds totally outclass a much-fancied Bristol City side at Ashton Gate. Leeds controlled the game for the first 75 minutes, and despite a slight wobble in the final 15 minutes, Leeds finished 3-1 winners.


All ‘White’ on the night:

Repetition. Repetition. Repetition. The principles of Bielsaball were in full flow at Ashton Gate as Leeds stroked the ball around the park. The Leeds players have now had one season to assimilate Bielsa’s various tactical nuances and eccentricities.  There is a fluidity to the Leeds play which is striking to watch. The team can seamlessly change from 4-3-3 to 3-1-3-3 without any hesitation. Each player is drilled on where exactly they should be when Leeds are attacking or defending. The new loan signing from Brighton Ben White was my man of the match on Saturday. The jury was out on the youngster, but his assured display has most Leeds fan asking Pontus Who? Patrick Bamford got a much-needed goal, Pable was magic yet again, and Adam Forshaw was stellar in midfield.

In comparison to last season’s opening 3-1 home win over Stoke, I felt this was a more measured and clinical victory. This is the type of away display that Leeds need to duplicate to avoid repeating the shocking defeats from last seasons such as Stoke, QPR, and Ipswich. Those defeats ultimately cost Leeds, so Bielsa and the team must learn from these losses to push onto a top-two finish.


Stability and Continuity – a pathway to success:

Leeds rivals for automatic promotion have been through a summer of upheaval. In contrast, Leeds and Bielsa have lost Roofe and Jannson and replaced them with younger hungrier players. I was a fan of Jannson, but the fact that no Premier League clubs came in for him shows that maybe he was not as highly rated as most Leeds fans thought. Concerning the sale of Kemar Roofe, I was not disappointed. He struggles to stay fit, and I think he reached his plateaux at Leeds. I don’t think he is a 40k a week player so if he is getting that at Anderlecht, fair play to him and I believe all Leeds fans will wish him the best. Leeds have kept Liam Cooper, Pablo and most importantly Kalvin Philips and added the pace and guile of Helder Costa. Bielsa has indicated that he will try to rotate his squad more compared to last season. My one criticism was that Bielsa didn’t show enough faith in the likes of Shackelton and Dallas until it was too late. The signs are good, and I have put 100 euros each way on Leeds winning the league, so hopefully, that will pay for my season ticket next year.


Random Thoughts:

  • I am travelling on Saturday from Dublin for the Nottingham Forest game. I fancy a two-nil win for Leeds – no stupid mistakes, and we will win.
  • Eddie Nkeitah offers the lightning pace and movement, which was so sorely lacking in our last campaign. I firmly believe that he will get at least 15 goals providing he can stay fit.