Does Hull City defeat reveal an alarming lack of depth in Leeds United’s squad?
16 Sep 2020 10:06 pm, by YorkshireSquare
It was clear before kick-off that Marcelo Bielsa wasn’t too concerned with progressing to the next round of the Carabao Cup, making eleven changes to the team that started against Liverpool at Anfield on Saturday. Six of the line-up that faced Hull were under 21 whilst debuts were handed to promising academy graduates Olly Casey and Charlie Cresswell. With the inexperienced team in mind, the result was not necessarily the important thing last night, it was the performance that would matter, particularly for those players on the fringes of the first team such as Barry Douglas, Gjanni Alioski and Tyler Roberts.
The evening didn’t start well, after a loose Kiko Casilla clearance, Leeds United academy graduate Mallik Wilks’s shot deflected into the Spaniards net to give Hull the lead. Whilst Casilla couldn’t do much with the shot, and pulled off some good saves during the game, for some it will go down as another black mark following a poor pre-season. An inexperienced defensive pairing of Charlie Cresswell and Leif Davis with Olly Casey sitting in front can’t be afforded much blame for the performance. They are young and last night will have been a good learning experience for them, but it does highlight the lack of depth in defence.
With Liam Cooper injured last weekend, Pascal Struijk made an assured centre back debut but beyond the young Dutchman there are few options. Moving Phillips or Ayling into the centre always unbalances the team and after last night it’s clear Creswell, Casey and Davis have a way to go despite growing into the game.
The midfield was perhaps the most disappointing aspect of the performance. Whilst Poveda showed glimpses of what he can do on the right wing, Alioski offered little on the left-hand side. After the game Alioski described the performance as “lazy” and “lacking aggression” and it is hard to argue with him. Tyler Roberts, who promises so much, was ineffective in midfield. Perhaps playing two similar players in Roberts and Bogusz was always going to be an issue but they created little for Rodrigo who had to drop deep to pick up the ball. Every second ball dropped to a Hull player. It wasn’t until the 89th minute when substitute Robbie Gotts had Leeds’ first shot on target.
The late goal from Alioski was no real conciliation, it could not hide an abject performance lacking craft, aggression and cohesiveness. There were some positives, Rodrigo got 90 minutes under his belt and worked hard, Struijk looked the real deal again and Poveda did provide the odd glimpse of hope. There will be big questions hanging over the likes of Douglas, Alioski and Roberts though, who should have bossed the game. Do they provide the strength in depth we need for a tough Premier League season? Was last night one to write off as a bad evening for a starting eleven who have never played together or should we be concerned?
I suspect Leeds fans will be clamouring for new signings more than ever now and De Paul and Gvardiol appear to fill the gaps made only too clear by the performance against Hull City.