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.

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Smudge3920 wrote on 17 Sep 2020 04:11 pm

Citeh... Squad value 1.4 billion (Liddypool, Scum, and Chelski, not far behind) :shock: :$$: ... how do you compare with that?... Citeh turned it around in just about 1 season, they bought a team, for them it worked, had a few close calls but they got away with it, unlike us when we tried it... we have a long way to go, I do not envy Bielsa his task at all...One thing I fully believe is ...we will be ok.

Smudge3920 wrote on 17 Sep 2020 04:04 pm

Aussieleeds wrote: Thu Sep 17, 2020 11:28 am This ManU side once lost a cup match against a League 1 side.
Man Utd: Kuszczak, Neville, Vidic, Jonathan Evans,
Fabio Da Silva, Welbeck, Gibson, Anderson, Obertan, Berbatov, Rooney.
Subs: Amos, Brown, Owen, Giggs, Tosic, Carrick,
:tup: ... it happens.

lufc1304 wrote on 17 Sep 2020 12:52 pm

Excellent post, Andrew

andrewjohnsmith wrote on 17 Sep 2020 12:30 pm

While the performance was disappointing and we would have liked a good run, there's no reason to be setting off alarm bells over one game

It was our second string against their first team (granted our players should be good enough). It was the first time many of them had a full game (no preseason, no U-23 football). The lack of chemistry was clear. Give some these players chance after they've dropped down and played a few U-23 games and they'll come back looking a whole lot different.

Casey and Cresswell probably looked another season off doing a job for the first team, but if you'd taken any one of the players last night and dropped them into Saturday's line up they'd look different. Bogusz for Klich, Shackleton for Ayling, Davis for Dallas, with the other 10 around them and they'd look a different player.

No knocks on Rodrigo. He did a lot of work dropping back into midfield. Did anyone see that pass he sent from right back all the way over to left back? Showed his quality and showed his work rate. Last night juts showed the lack of chemistry and cohesion that will come with time - he's only been at the club for 8 days. It showed that Bamford gets the #9 for a while, but also that Rodrigo might be playing #10 or on the wing at some point.

I expected much better from Alioski, Roberts, Douglas. It's hard to judge given the lack of game time and preseason. If we did sign an attacking mid, Roberts would probably need a loan deal. Douglas is 3rd choice LB. Alioski does a job.

Overall, no reason to panic about lack of depth. Schedule ahead is pretty easy now. We only need 14-15 1st teamers. Over the next 6 months, we should see considerable development from the youngsters that will back up the first team in the longer run (Gelhardt, Casey, Cresswell, Bogusz, Gotts, Davis, Greenwood, Summerville, McCalmont, Stevens, Drameh}. Give it time. We'll be fine. In Bielsa we trust.

lufc1304 wrote on 17 Sep 2020 12:26 pm

What this proves to me, not that I needed proof, was that we are some ways short of having a competitive second 11 like the big teams do. No shame in that, we are light years behind them. People are disappointed in the performance and the result, but we need to be realistic about the sort of squad we can afford to put together at this stage (that also fits with Bielsa's squad size preference) and what our priorities should be. Again, this idea that we have chucked away a realistic chance of silverware is way off the mark, imo.