Leeds always play in their style no matter the score:
The last three days have been amongst the best I have ever had in my 23 years of supporting Leeds United. The injury-time comeback victory at Aston Villa was unique and thoroughly deserved. The last few minutes of the Boxing Day win over Blackburn were manic. BPF produced an unfortunate mistake to gift Rovers an undeserved lead. However, Leeds didn’t panic; there were no long punts into the Blackburn box. They worked the ball into the best position and produced two fantastic crosses which where brilliantly dispatched by Kemar Roofe. I cannot ever remember consecutive games where Leeds have scored injury-time winners in such fashion. Leeds had not won successive league matches 3-2 since 1966, which shows the magnitude of the achievement. It is indeed a fantastic time to be a Leeds fan. After all the crap of the past 15 years – I think all Leeds fans bloody deserve what’s currently unfolding before our eyes.
Never die attitude:
Leeds have now won 7 games in a row for the first time since 2007. If Leeds prevail against Hull on Saturday, they will match the winning run of the team from the 1930s. The mental backbone installed into this side by Marcelo Bielsa is nothing short of a miracle. The change in mindset in these players is staggering in comparison to last season. The manic scenes after Kemar Roofe’s winner against Blackburn where exhilarating to watch. Gaetano Berardi’s celebrations showed the togetherness of this group of players.
We need to get back to keeping clean sheets:
The most interesting comment from any Leeds player over the past week was from Kemar Roofe during his Sky Sports interview after the win at Villa Park. “The manager said if we keep a clean sheet, we will win the game” – I have been beating this drum all season. When Leeds cut out the individual errors, they are streets ahead of the opposition in the Championship. Each week they grind the opposing players into submission by constant pressing and keeping levels of possession which are just mind-blowing unless you are Barcelona or Man City. Leeds had 70% possession and 28 attempts on goal against Blackburn. The game should have been over at half-time. Costly errors nearly gifted the Lancashire side an unjust away win. A scrappy one nil win over Hull on Saturday will suffice. Hopefully, the club ends 2018 on a winning note as we head into the centenary year top of the league and on the cusp of a momentous 2019.
My random ramblings:
- Pontus Jannson has proven that he is the best defender in the Championship and will be an excellent Premier League centre back. Dominance in the air and a willingness to put his side before himself will make the Swede a success in the top flight.
- Kalvin Philips is playing the game at his own pace and is merely toying with the opposition players at the moment. The poise and elegance displayed by the young Leeds star is terrific to watch. Marcelo Bielsa and his staff have carried out numerous miracles so far this season, but the utter improvement in Kalvin Philips could be the most impressive.
- Has anyone else thought about how explosive Jack Clarke will become when he stops growing and hits the weight room? It is a frightening prospect and one I cannot wait to witness.
- Leeds need to re-enforce in the January transfer window to keep the momentum going forward. A new goal-keeper to challenge BPF is a must and appears to be close. Ibai Gomez seems to fit the Bielsa requirements and could replace Samu Saiz.
Another clean sheet in Bolton leads to Fifth Successive Win:
Leeds moved up to the top of the league on Saturday evening thanks to Patrick Bamford’s first league goal for the club away at Bolton. Leeds are now averaging 2.05 points per game which is a remarkable statistic when you consider the number of injuries that the team has endured so far this season. The defence produced another clean sheet which saw Bolton fail to have one shot on target. It is now ten clean sheets for the Leeds defence which is the best defence in the Championship this season. The loss of captain Liam Cooper has no ill effect on the defensive solidity of the team in the past few games. Kalvin Phillips has slotted into the defence with ease. The sheer difference in the quality of Kalvin Phillips standard of play compared to last season is difficult to comprehend. Leeds have conceded only 18 goals so far this which has been the pivotal reason why the team are occupying the top spot in the table. Another ten clean sheets will propel Leeds to automatic promotion. I have preached this fact all season. It will not be easy, but when the team averages 60% in every game, it makes the job a lot easier. Keeping individual errors to a minimum will be crucial. Adam Forshaw’s poor pass to Kalvin Phillips could and probably should have earned Bolton a penalty yesterday. Marcelo Bielsa strikes me as the type of coach who will focus on this one specific moment in the game. The Argentine genius and his staff have stressed that the Leeds players must not be overly confident or arrogant to ensure that do gift their opposition easy goals. Nakhi Wells goal for QPR last Saturday was a prime example of the errors which could derail the Leeds assault on promotion. It will be interesting to see if Bielsa will rotate the squad over the Christmas period. Young Finnish centre-back Aapo Halme may start the home games in my view. The away trip to Aston Villa next Sunday will test this Leeds defence. Aston Villa and their plethora of managers has purchased a large number of attackers in the past year, and they will pose a significant threat to the hopes of another clean sheet this season.
Bamford’s return is like getting a new signing:
I for one was delighted to see Patrick Bamford return to action and more importantly score yesterday. I believe it’s impossible not to adore the former Crystal Palace striker, and I must confess that he came across like a very nice guy in his post-game interview on the Quest highlights show. Bamford reminds me of that one attractive and mannerly cousin you had as a youngster who your mother wished you would always copy. Kemar Roofe was non-existent yesterday as the large number of games he has started as a lone striker looked to catch up with him. The return to fitness of Bamford is a massive relief to all Leeds fans. Kemar Roofe has produced some fantastic performances, but he looks like he needs a rest in the coming weeks. Izzy Brown will also be like another new signing when he makes his return to the first team squad in the coming weeks. The instinctive one-touch finish for the winning goal at the Macron was mesmerising to watch. A top quality Championship centre-forward is another weapon for Marcelo Bielsa to utilise during the festive fixture list. Leeds are still only averaging 1.64 goals a game which is more than a slight concern, but as long as the defence can keep the errors to a minimum, it should not be a significant problem in the coming weeks.
Saiz leaves Leeds a cult hero, and we should all wish him well:
The level of sheer idiocy displayed on a daily basis will never surprise me. As usual, there was petulant abuse of the Samu Saiz for wanting to return home to Spain. The reasoning behind his quest to move to Getafe is entirely understandable and all Leeds fan should wish him and his family all the best in the future. The paly-maker has not reached the high levels of performance he showed in the early parts of last season since the arrival of Marcelo Bielsa. It is now apparent that Saiz was kept out of the starting eleven because he was going to be allowed to the transfer he craved. I have loved watching the diminutive Spaniard in a Leeds shirt, and he will be sorely missed. I know that majority of sane and decent Leeds fans will hope that Saiz and his partner come out on top. The rumoured incomings of Ibai Gomez from Alaves and Kieren Westwood on a free transfer will provide the impetus for Leeds to kick on in January. On a separate note, the rumoured financial difficulties for Andrea Radrazzani’s UK sports streaming business will be interesting to keep an eye at for all Leeds fans.