With pre-season well under way Leeds United have now played five games both at home and down under in Australia. But what can we learn from these pre-season games, if anything?
York City 0, Leeds United 5
Leeds Team: Casilla, Douglas (Jenkins 62), Cooper (Struijk 62), Berardi (Casey 62), Dallas (Hosannah 62), Forshaw (Gotts 62), McCalmont (Oduor 62), Harrison (McCarron 62), Hernandez (Mujica 62), Roofe (Temenuzhkov 62), Bamford (Edmondson 62)
Goals: Harrison 3, 44 Roofe 22, Hernandez 34, Forshaw 53
The five-nil victory over York City at Bootham Crescent was as comprehensive a victory I have seen in pre-season for a long time. Jack Harrison scored twice with Kemar Roofe, Pablo Hernandez and Adam Forshaw all bagging one each. Yes, York are outside of the Football League but we have floundered there in the past. Leeds looked sharp, passing was quick, accurate, they took their chances well and the team looked fit. Alfie McCalmont and Jack Harrison were particularly impressive as were the myriad of U23 players who stared in the second half. The future is most definitely bright and with the likes of Casey, Struijk and Hosannah coming through it’s easy to see why Halme and Diaz were let go by the club.
Guiseley 1, Leeds United 2
Leeds Team: Peacock-Farrell (Miazek 45), Shackleton, Davis, White (Kenneh 74), Alioski (Huggins 86), Klich, Phillips, Bogusz, Stevens, Costa, Clarke
Goals: Costa 69, Bogusz 80
The game against Guiseley was anything but a stroll in the park. Guiseley were a far more physical outfit than York, many of their players towered well above Bielsa's lads and they took the lead early on but Leeds fought back to win two-one. White, Klich and Shackleton all looked good but it was new signing Helder Costa who impressed the most showing the skill and class he will bring to the team next season. The youngsters impressed again when given the chance with Nohan Kenneh and Miazek putting in good performances. One takeaway should be that Kalvin Phillips is best not used as a central defender.
Manchester United 4, Leeds United 0
Leeds Team: Casilla, Dallas (Hosannah 66), Cooper, Berardi, Douglas, Phillips, Forshaw, Harrison, Hernandez (Stevens 77), Roofe, Bamford (Bogusz 63)
What can you learn playing a friendly on the other side of the world with a weakened side against a team who have one player worth more than your entire club? Probably not a great deal more than we already knew. The Leeds line-up was probably short of four players we would expect to start next season but we lack pace at the back with a Berardi and Cooper central defensive partnership, we don’t convert enough of our chances, Bamford and Roofe are still learning how to play together in this system and we missed Klich. As much as they are our old rivals, the result doesn’t matter a feeling shared by Bielsa as he flew in and out for the minimum time possible.
Tadcaster Albion 1, Leeds United 5
Leeds Team: Trialist, Gotts, White, Davis, Alioski (Struijk 61), Jenkins, Klich, Temenuzhkov, Clarke, Costa (Mujica 61), Edmondson
Goals: Edmondson 10, 64, 75, Clarke 20, Gotts 45
Tadcaster were not a great side but the game was a refreshing change from the days earlier match. Ben White impressed again and looks to be a very good footballer, he is clearly challenging for a starting place against Bristol City. Ryan Edmondson continued last seasons goal scoring form for the U23s with a hat-trick, he will be knocking on the door of the first team next season for sure. The match could also indicate that Bailey Peacock-Farrell may not have a future at the club trialist Max Johnstone featuring in net instead, this comes after being substituted at half time against Guiseley. Jack Clarke also made a return to form which is an encouraging sign for the new season. It's worth noting Kamil Miazek has looked decent when given the oportunity and is the one who was on the plane to Australia as Kiko Casilla's deputy.
Western Sydney Wanderers 1, Leeds United 2
Leeds Team: Casilla, Douglas, Cooper, Berardi, Dallas, Phillips, Bogusz (Oduor 82), Hernandez, Harrison, Roofe (Stevens 53), Bamford
Goals: Bogusz 9, Hernandez 95
There were a lot of positives to take from the game against Sydney. The team looked strong and fit and the attacking play and movement was fantastic, we just lacked in the finishing department again. Leeds had 63% of the posession with 27 shots, only 7 of which were on target, echos of last season again. (Stats from @LUFCDATA) Harrison created a lot of chances from dangerous crosses again, Bogusz put in an impressive display in the middle and took his goal well and Hernandez proved his class again with the winner. On the negative side Roofe, who had looked excellent, picked up a knock and Douglas is still not back to his best. Patrick Bamford continued his lean spell up front, fans will be divided about whether he could lead the line next season but I have the feeling if he could grab a couple of goals his confidence would return.
All in all the team look every bit as fit and sharp you would expect a Marcelo Bielsa side to be, and a year into the project the attacking football and movement is every bit as good as last season. Our key weaknesses identified by fans last season and compounded by Jansson leaving remain though, not taking our chances and a lack of pace and strength in depth at the back. The presence of Costa, Ayling and White in the starting eleven may address these concerns but a couple more players with experience in before the start of the season would certainly ease my concerns. Who will start up front remains a question Marcelo Bielsa will have to answer but Roofe is looking like the obvious choice so far. Left back could also be a position up for grabs if Douglas does not hit some form before the season kicks off.
The major take away from pre-season so far has been the performances of the younger players. The U23s shone last season and the performances from some of the youngsters in pre-season has impressed greatly. They will certainly provide more than adequate cover for the first team and many would be hoping to get their chance with the first team. Casey, Struijk and Hosannah in defence, McCalmont, Stevens and Bogusz in midfield and Ryan Edmondson continuing his goal scoring form up front will all be players to keen an eye on this season.
Remaining Pre-Season Fixtures
Leeds United U18s v Yorkshire Amateurs | Bracken Edge | Sunday, 21st July, 3.00pm BST
Leeds United XI v Girona FC | Manchester City Academy | Saturday, 27th July, 3.00pm BST
Leeds United v Cagliari Calcio | Sardegna Arena | Saturday, 27th July, 7.30pm BST
Leeds United's pre-season, what have we learned so far?