We miss Samu Saiz, he had the ability to get the ball and get away from his marker. The knock on effect of that is like dominoes tumbling because a defender has to go to meet the player dribbling with the ball and that then means their man is free. People moaned about Saiz but even on an off day he brought that to the team, sometimes he'd get tackled or lose the ball but the second he got free of his man things begin to open up for Leeds.
But watching on Saturday there was a moment of hope for the future. In the second half, there was a simple, not particularly slick piece of play but it was effective. Jansson carried the ball to half way, passed wide to Jack Clarke who had a few yards on Jemal Lewis. Clarke dribbled at Lewis then cut inside a few steps and played the ball to Roofe. Roofe made room for the cross, Bamford got on the end of the cross and we won a corner. A corner which we scored from.
It doesn’t sound much, but that sequence of play was an epiphany. It showed how simple things like dribbling the ball rather than looking immediately for a quick pass can open a team who have defended well up. Clarke running at Lewis and then coming inside meant Lewis had to go with him. He couldn't just let Clarke go, Clarke was running towards Vrancic but Lewis still had to go with his man. It meant Roofe who was behind Vrancic was free and Tettey couldn't follow Roofe because he was watching Klich. Roofe ran into the space Lewis had left behind by following Clarke.
That meant Ben Godfrey the Norwich centre back had to leave his area of the box to track Roofe down the right edge of the box. A big gap was left in the box, Tettey as defensive midfielder could have filled the gab but because Klich was hanging back Tettey seemed it two minds and thus didn't fill the space as quickly or effectively as he could. Roofe’s low cross was into the space Godfrey had vacated to track him and this was where Bamford ran to meet the cross and get his shot away to win the corner.
It was simple stuff and yet very effective. Great intelligence from Clarke, Roofe, Klich and Bamford. It would have been easy for Clarke to go down the line to get a cross in, or for Roofe to hang back as Clarke came inside or for Klich to charge into the space Godfrey left behind. But they didn't and because of that we carved Norwich open maybe for the only time in the match.
Clarke coming inside pulled Lewis out of position, Roofe had the intelligence to take up the space left, Klich had the intelligence to not just charge into that space thus dragging Tettey with him and Bamford had the intelligence to anticipate the area the cross was going to go in. That gives us great hope, all started by something as simple as Jack Clarke running with the ball, he didn't actually dribble past anyone, it didn't matter, he didn't need to.
He created a dilemma, made defenders come out of there comfort zone, had he not done that and just passed the ball to Klich or Roofe instead then Norwich would have been set, all players happy with their position and picking up their men. It was a small moment in a depressing game but was something to cling on. Pass and move is great, but sometimes a little bit of variation can be the best thing.
Both Kemar Roofe and Patrick Bamford played an important part in the move, and more importantly was how they combined in the move. It is important to recognise what a huge loss it has been missing Patrick Bamford for such a large part of the season. He was our big money signing, the proven goalscorer Bielsa requested. To only have him available for 7 of 30 league games has been a huge blow. Take nothing away from Roofe but it is the equivalent of Pukki, Sharp or Gayle being unavailable for their respective sides.
If the other top sides in the Championship had to rely on only one striker for the majority of the season would they be where they are now? Probably not. We should be very proud in that sense. To be where we are now without our most proven Championship goalscorer is quite an achievement. Credit to Kemar Roofe, Roberts and the side as a whole but with Bamford fit and with the combinations upfront that offers us for the remainder of the season there is a ray of hope.
2.9 Shots Per Goal
70 Mins Per Goal/Assist
Stats from @LeedsMeTV, content by Cjay, join the discussion in the A Ray Of Hope and Bamford taking us up! threads on our discussion forums.
Patrick Bamford, A ray of hope?