“Happy We’re Slowly Progressing” - Notes for Leeds
Monday, 14th Sep 2015 11:00 by HarryFromBath
HarryfromBath assesses the mood in the opposition camp ahead of Tuesday evening’s game at Elland Road by delving into their forums.
“Happy so far”, “I have to say I am optimistic. The whole way the club is being run seems to be an improvement on the last few seasons”, “We are doing okay. Given time we will be doing very, very well”, “Things will look good when we get a home victory”, “Work in progress and there is progress.”
“We’re still unbeaten so I suppose we can’t be too bad.” Leeds arrive Tuesday evening’s game undefeated in the Championship. Saturday’s 1-1 home draw against Brentford was their fifth this season with this series punctuated by a 2-1 win at Derby just before the international break.
“The Derby result has turned it into a very satisfactory start. The key is to build momentum”, “Very happy with how we are slowly progressing. Keep it up, Uwe”, “We are a team of relatively young players with a manager trying to implement a new philosophy and non-losing mentality.”
Most fans are content but they see promotion as unlikely this season. “It is important to remember Massimo Cellino and Uwe Rosler’s objectives - to improve the players, to play better football and to finish in the top 10. It all takes time”, “We should judge them against their objectives, not our own.”
“This has been a steep learning curve for Rosler. He is six unbeaten league games into his stewardship and has got the team playing with heart. I remember that Revie’s Leeds weren’t brilliant every week but they got results when they played badly and that is what we did against Brentford.”
“We have not made a stupid managerial appointment this year. Instead we have gone with someone who actually seems to have a plan and seems to know what he is doing.” Whilst it is still early days, Leeds fans have been encouraged by the emergence of a team playing with method and structure.
They have also been impressed with the tactical adjustments Rosler has made during games. “The manager is still getting to know his players and vice versa. Compared to last season I am a lot happier. We appear to have our club on a firmer footing and a manager I like and trust.”
“If Uwe gets us top 10 I would judge the season to be a success.” Expectations are often an issue with Whites. “Sorry, but a club with the status of Leeds should be classed with the top teams in the division”, “Status has nothing to do with it. Most of the leading teams have better squads now.”
“Cellino has definitely put his money where his mouth is and has given us a lot to look forward to this season. I just hope he has accepted the fact that he should take more of a back seat, let things progress naturally and just stick to managing the finances of the club.”
“He’s a loose cannon, but he is our cannon. I find him weirdly likeable at times”, “His determination to hold on to our crown jewels is a step change. When forced to sell players, I am certain he will get top dollar. He has started rebuilding the commercial side and a deal to buy the ground will happen.”
“There will be no more cheap fire sales to balance the books.” A recent poll on one forum had 69% backing the owner against 20% wanting him to leave. Fans appreciate the financial stability he has brought to the club and trust his judgement in strengthening the club both on and off the pitch.
“His decision to delegate tasks to others has been a key factor in a relatively successful summer”, “I was really pleased when Adam Pearson joined us”, “He is a grown-up to hold Cellino’s hand.” The appointment of the former chairman of Derby and Hull City and the owner of Hull FC rugby league club as executive director has been welcomed.
A minority still have misgivings given Cellino’s track record. “I still harbour worries that Cellino will ruin a good thing and do something characteristically stupid again”, “There is still the niggling fear he will get trigger happy if there is a dip in form. Still, the man has done a lot of good for us of late.”
“That was poor from us yet again. We look more 4-5-1 than 4-3-3, looked scared to death at times and too slow in our decision-making.” This half-time comment on Saturday summed up fans anxieties about a starting XI (below) which was solid but which offered little attacking threat.
“Two weeks off and we looked like we have played non-stop for two weeks before the break”, “Why did we keep launching high balls to Chris Wood as the two Brentford centre-halves won everything? Can the players not pass the ball to Wood’s feet instead of lofting high balls up to his head?”
“In theory the starting system gives us width with Stuart Dallas and Sam Byram. The reality is that they are involved patchily and don’t get the ball enough in positions where they can do damage”, “Our style of play has not improved, three or four passes at the back before a long 50:50 ball.”
“There is too big a gap between the two rows of three when we play 4-3-3”. “I really hope we go 4-4-2 on Tuesday”, “At half-time, Rosler cheered me up no end by sending on Mirco Antenucci for Alex Mowatt and now operating in a 4-4-2. Suddenly we had some creativity up front.”
Whites were frustrated with a system which cost them tempo in their build-up play and which also didn’t suit the playing style of new striker Wood. The introduction of Luke Murphy added dynamism to the midfield and Antenucci up front added a creative dimension to their attacking play.
“When we get passes going and with movement we are a good team.” Many supporters would like Rosler to start with the team which finished Saturday’s game (above), but others have been quick to point out that Antenucci did not have the same impact starting against Sheffield Wednesday and at Bristol City.
Leeds 1 - 1 Brentford
“That was a game of three-thirds, shadow boxing, Brentford in control and Leeds in control. We could eventually have won a game we didn’t really deserve to win”, “There was no sign of anything approaching heavy metal until the final third. We started closing down instead of standing off.”
An Antenucci strike 15 minutes before the end of the game cancelled out a Bees goal scored by debutant Marco Djuricin on the half-hour mark. “After the Derby performance we nosedived into what looked like a team of nervous wrecks, especially in the first half. It was hot potato stuff.”
“We are still unbeaten but that was a poor performance”, “When Cellino recently said we need to play without fear, he was bang on. Somehow we manage to turn lions into mice at Elland Road”, “We have to go 4-4-2 at home and go for the win instead of being negative and playing for a draw.”
Derby 1 - 2 Leeds
“Here it is, the fixture I dread every year”, “I feel we might get a draw at best, but would take a sneaky win with a last minute goal”, “What a great performance. Apart from Derby hammering us for the first 15 minutes of the second half, we were awesome”, “Bogey team - what bogey team?”
“I fancy ex-Leicester man Chris Wood to rub salt in the wounds.” Fans were apprehensive ahead of the game but Wood’s 88th minute strike gave United their first win of the campaign. Chris Martin had earlier equalised Tom Adeyemi’s header, with both goals coming in a few minutes either side of the interval.
“All of the players were hard in the tackle, closing down and tracking back and all looked fit”, “We outfought Derby and beat them across the pitch for much of the game”, “The team was compact and physically competitive. We played at a high tempo and fought to recover the ball.”
Leeds 1 - 1 Sheffield Wednesday
“I was at the game and have to say that it was not much of a spectacle”, “The first half was like watching paint dry”, “Two average teams in a fair result, Wednesday are very average in every department and this result has to be taken in that context.”
“Shades of Gascoigne against Scotland”, “Fantastic goal that.” Wednesday opened the scoring with a brilliantly taken goal by Marco Matias on the 37th minute before Wood turned in Stuart Dallas’s cross just after the hour mark. Fans at half-time criticised a team which was “toothless and clueless”.
“Great to see we have gone with Wood and Antenucci up front.” Leeds lacked a cutting edge despite starting with two up front as they had “no chance with poor service from midfield”. The pairing of Tom Adeyemi and 19-year-old Kalvin Phillips struggled to stamp their mark in the middle of the park.
“Marco Silvestri made a couple of smart saves against Derby, but something really needs to be done about his kicking. Surely it can’t be that difficult?” The 24-year-old ex-Chievo keeper “made one good save but his kicking was terrible”, “He didn’t kick much against the Owls, clearly under orders.”
Whites see the current first-choice goalkeeper as competent at this level, but there has been one other repeated concern. “You need a keeper who can keep a defence calm and comes and pick the ball out of the air. Silvestri is just not very commanding”, “He simply needs to grow a pair.”
“Gaetano Berardi for me is the player of the season.” The 27-year-old former Sampdoria right-back “has taken the bull by the horns. I cannot recall a Leeds full-back in the last decade who tackles so efficiently. He reads the game so well making vital interceptions”, “As good as any in this division.”
“One of the fans on our coach home summed him up well by saying ‘I love a player who gets blood on his boots’. I think the majority are in the Berardi camp now”, “What a solid defender he is. He likes a tackle and gets forward well”, “I would more from him than his long throw going forward.”
Fans are just as impressed with 21-year-old youth product Charlie Taylor at left-back. “What a job he did on Tom Ince against Derby. It was another very good performance”, “Defensively he is excellent. He should get forward more as he definitely has the ability to cross the ball into the penalty area.”
“Taylor is quietly brilliant”, “He is becoming that good that you don’t notice him in games. He is getting better week in, week out”, “The moment he blocked three Derby chances back-to-back when they were on top particularly stands out”, “He is pure class and he will be watched by the big boys.”
“Liam Cooper won all his headers but they mostly went to Brentford players, allowing them to push for a second goal.” The 23-year-old ex-Chesterfield centre-back “is comfortable on the ball and composed at the back”, “His distribution is excellent but he overdoes the long balls at times.”
Fans also worry that he can be unbalanced by strikers. “Chris Martin was allowed to turn Cooper inside out too easily for the Derby goal”, “He was turned inside-out the previous week by the Owls”, “For the third game in a row he overcommitted and was turned inside out for Brentford’s goal.”
“Bamba has been absolutely immense. I love the man.” The Ivory Coast international is “an absolute colossus, a class act”, “Bamba is a good vocal leader. The youngsters can only benefit from him. He is nowhere near perfect but just what we need”, “He gets forward like Jack Charlton occasionally did.”
The 30-year-old former Palermo centre-back “is great in the air and the best leader of men we have seen at Elland Road for a long time, but he needs to realise he’s not that clever on the ground”, “He had a Clint Eastwood performance against Brentford, the good, the bad and the ugly.”
“Bamba goes on the rampage but he leaves us open at the back when he loses the ball”, “His right foot passing is wayward. I still don’t like him on the right side of defence”, “He seems to set himself too far right when the ball is coming through the middle. This may will eventually cost us.”
“Why does it take us five moves to create a chance yet the opposition seem to create chances at will?”, “The midfield needs to up a gear and start properly supporting and supplying whoever is up front more”, “We often tend to mess up the penultimate pass.”
“Kalvin Phillips is a good prospect and fit as a butcher’s dog.” The youth product struggled against the Owls. “His first touch was poor and he did little with the ball when he had it”, “His passes were poor. He always seemed to play the ball five yards behind where the player running wanted it.”
“I like Tom Adeyemi’s game. He makes smart decisions and controls the midfield well. Every ball going through him isn’t wasted. He knows his limits and goes for the simple pass like he should”, “He’s a technically solid man to retain the ball and look for the simple pass to the creative player.”
“Adeyemi is good at drifting into the box from deep, but he played like he was carrying a sack of coal around. Brentford got into several good areas.” The 23-year-old Cardiff loan signing’s “positioning can be poor. He doesn’t close down opponents quickly enough when we’re pinned back”.
“Alex Mowatt’s lack of pace and steel are possibly his downfall at the moment.” The 20-year-old youth product “is very talented technically and is an intelligent player with good vision, but his lack of mobility prevents him from showing these strengths and being effective”, “Slightly off the pace.”
“Mowatt picked out some fantastic passes and remained calm when Derby were in command.” His passing is regularly praised. “He was our Player of the Year last season but has struggled which may be fitness related. Rosler may wrap him in cotton wool until they resolve his tiredness symptoms.”
“Lewis Cook is great at picking the ball up and getting us into the final third quickly where others can do the damage”, “He reminds me a bit of Jack Wilshere”, “He popped up everywhere against Derby and added mobility, purpose and energy to midfield, covering every blade of grass.”
“The energy Cook brought to the team against Derby was incredible. We wouldn’t have won without him.” The youth product “can be creative, playing several excellent passes against Brentford in the second half”, “He could easily be better than Fabian Delph, quicker, cleverer and safer at tackling.”
“Cook is so assured on the ball and so mature for his age”, “He looks much more mature than his 18 years and is a fantastic talent. Last season his weakness was giving the ball away but you can see he is progressing in that respect”, “Every time he gets the ball he injects pace and we look dangerous.”
“Now that both are available and on the verge of full fitness, I would like to see the return of the Lewis Cook and Luke Murphy midfield partnership. They are our best duo, with both being good on the ball and happy to take the ball of the defence and carrying it forward.”
“Praise the Lord for a midfield player who tries to move us forward rather than sideways or back, giving us some momentum”, “The sooner we get Murphy back on the pitch, the better.” The 25-year-old former Crewe man “gives us some order in midfield when the going gets tough”,
“Murphy did well when he came on and caused Brentford to change their style of play”, “He calmed the game down against Derby and was also excellent in the holding role”, “He is a wonderful passer of the ball”, “He has got us back into the game every time he has come on from the bench.”
“Sam Byram has been right off his game.” The 21-year-old youth product “clearly isn’t the answer to our right-wing problem”, “He is more of a right-back, comfortable receiving the ball with space in front of him rather than further forward where he has to turn and has less space to operate in.”
“I like the description of Byram as being silky-skilled. He looks our most natural player on the ball”, “In midfield he doesn’t take players on enough, often cutting back or playing the ball backwards. He needs to be more positive. He is reluctant to take players on and I feel he pulls out of tackles.”
“Dallas set up two goals now, against Derby and the Owls, and set them up well”, “I hope everyone will get off his back. Wingers can do little but they set up a chance when an opportunity comes. It’s a percentage game in these positions. He is a good player and perfectly decent at this level.”
“I don’t want to be too hard on Dallas but it is like playing with 10 men.” Some have been critical of the 24-year-old left-winger’s wider contribution during games. “Dallas has shown patches of good play, but at other times not involved enough. He certainly deserves time to settle into the side.”
“Dallas did well for the Derby goal but did little else.” The former Bee, who was a Town target prior to his move to the Whites, “has an excellent first touch. Brentford doubled up on him but he still created. Our biggest threat is down our left with him and Taylor”, “He has looked good on the right”, “A skilful player and not afraid to take on his opponent.”
“Is Souleymane Doukara a footballer?”, “Doukara? Do me a favour.” Fans have been quick to dismiss the 23-year-old former Catania man. “He has offered nothing at all in the games I have watched. He is a waste of space on the bench”, “As for Doukara, sorry, but he is poor and I would get rid.”
“We lack urgency and threat without Antenucci up front with Wood”, “He makes things happen, scored, creates, does the unexpected and plays with passion. We look a better team with him on the pitch”, “He gave us belief that we could win the Derby game with the score at 1-1.”
“The burning question is what to do with our most technically gifted forward. He can be lazy but has more ability than anyone bar Cook”, “It is a bit like our old Ross McCormack dilemma in some ways - do you play your best XI or your best system?” Many fans want the former Torino frontman to start.
The 31-year-old “is a weird one. Mirco is a great player who shows an urgency and desire to make things happen that we don’t have anywhere else on the pitch. He grabs the game by the scruff of the neck and just goes for it, but he seems to influence games less when he plays from the start”.
“I am impressed with Wood. He is getting into all the right places and will do damage with a decent supply.” Many fans believe that the 23-year-old former Leicester striker “will get goals if service is provided”, “While his heading has missed the target, his movement and positioning were spot on.”
“That goal by Wood against Derby was amazing”, “The quality of his strike showed he is not just a big donkey target man”, “It was a great goal and a moment of class, but until that point I was tearing my hair out with his poor touches and lay-offs and an apparent inability to jump for the ball in the air.”
The former Town loan signing “doesn’t get far off the ground for such a big lad hence he seldom wins balls played at height from our midfield. His ability to hold up the ball and his footwork make him half-decent, but long balls to him are not going to yield very much very often.”
Leeds Fans’ Views on ITFC and the Game
“Royals 5, McCarthy’s Retirement Home 1 - let’s hope this is the sort of performance Ipswich bring to Elland Road on Tuesday”, “The Tractor Old Men didn’t look good defensively tonight”, “Tonight is probably bad for us. They have got their shocker performance out of their system.”
Leeds fans are taking no consolation whatsoever from last Friday’s events. “I bet McCarthy will get Ipswich back on it for Tuesday”, “Ipswich had more possession - 53% - going by the BBC statistics. Reading had six shots on target and scored five. Every team gets a game like that once a season.”
“So Ipswich get a doing before playing us on a Tuesday night at Elland Road”, “Ipswich played an attacking line-up against Reading on Friday, but as they got murdered they may come here and set their stall out defensively like Brentford and Sheffield Wednesday both have.”
“Anyway, see everyone on Tuesday when we play a Suffolk Veterans XI.” Whites decided we were Mick’s ‘retirement home’ last season after we recruited Noel Hunt, Paddy Kenny and Luke Varney from their ranks. “Mick loves old players. He reminds me of our previous managers.”
“We really need that home win against Ipswich now to kick on”, “Tuesday’s game will be a real test for us. A win could see us kick on but a defeat could have an adverse effect.” Many Whites want to get the psychological hurdle of picking up their first home win out of the way.
Our defeat at the Madejski aside, Leeds fans have had little else to say over the weekend about Tuesday’s game as is often the case with midweek games. I will update the forum on Tuesday afternoon with their more immediate matchday thoughts and will link it on my Twitter feed.
There are a good number of active Leeds websites. lufctalk has some well-informed discussions although registration is needed to access some parts of the forum. MOTforum is a busy message-board with open access to all discussions.
To Elland Back has a quiet message board, but has some good match reports and articles on its front page.
Photo: Action Images
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