Good Morning. It's Monday 20th September, and here are the latest headlines from Elland Road...
Leeds make their point at St James Park
Newcastle and Leeds both enjoyed a share of the spoils on Friday night in a packed out St James Park. As expected, Ayling switched to centre back, with Dallas occupying the right back role! The rest of the line-up as always, stayed the same.
Leeds dominated the early chances, and deservedly took the lead on 13 minutes when Raphinha's curling cross deceived Karl Darlow between the sticks. Man of the match (for the Whites) Rodrigo wrong-footed the Barcodes shot-stopper by stepping over the ball, allowing the ball to bounce harmlessly into the corner of the net as the crowd turend on the home team.
But Steve Bruce's men fought bak into the game and looked dangerous on the break, with Allan Saint-Maximin at the heart of every Counter Strike. His darting runs had the Leeds defence on the back foot every time he had the ball. It was the Frenchman himself that grabbed the equaliser just before half-time. He picked the ball up from the centre of the 'D' and somehow wriggled and turned past four or five Leeds players before unleashing a thunderbolt that beat the despairing dive from Meslier!
Leeds could have restored their lead deep into first half injury time, but Raphinha's shot was well blocked by the teen defence, and Firpo's resulting effort ended up in the stands from close range! Both sides had chances to add to their tallies after the break; but a combination of poor finishing and lack of skill kept the scoreline even.
When all said and done, a draw was a fair result. Ritchie's strike just before the equaliser his the inside of the post, then bounced kindly to a Leeds defender to clear, but Leeds had the lions share of the possession and fractionally more attempts on and off target than the home side.
Are worrying times ahead for the Whites
Five games in, and Leeds are hovering just above the drop zone with three points on the board. Whilst there is plenty of time to turn things around, disgruntled fans are asking themselves whether Bielsa's predictability are costing them points. Leeds attacking system relies heavily on their wing backs getting forward and creating space. Unfortunately, Ayling has not been able to replicate the form he showed last term and Firpo's early form is as useful as a chocolate teapot.
Every player goes through a bad patch, but too many players at the same time are not currently living up to their potential, and whilst it's admirable that Bielsa has faith in his starting line up, his failure to mix things up are costing his team points!
Bamford's influence this terms has been restricted as he is being either marked out of the game, or his supply route is being cut off. It doesn't take a tactical genius to put plans in place when you know exactly what the opposition are going to do! Leeds have a small squad, albeit with a 100 m wage bill, but currently there are too many not earning their money, including Bielsa!
Bielsa's post match reaction
We deserved to win, the pen was a pen and at a probable 2-0 we'd have gone on to win imo
I thought Newcastle had the clearer chances. It was a bit more like us for the first 20mins but after that it was fairly even. If Allan Saint-Maximin is their Raphinha we didn't do a very good job at marking him. It should be stop him and you stop Newcastle mentality. If we were back to somewhere near last season then its a concern that we couldn't brush them aside. I thought Newcastle were a poor mans Burnley.
Are worrying times ahead for the Whites:
Its the injury list, covid that's worrying with such a small squad. Who would have thought after 5 games we would be left with our slowest central defender and now our RB come CB picks up a knock aswell. Its difficult to get any rhythm when we are constantly changing personal in differing positions. Creswell as to be close to his debut. I just hope it goes better for him than his former partner Casey.
I don't know what more Gelhardt can do? The lad looks class for the under 23's give him a shot up top why he is full of confidence.
If we had got the second goal we would have gone on to win comfortably.
The one Rodrigo put wide was key.
I don't much fancy Marcelo up front !!
I'm not sure Bielsa playing would have been a good idea. You're over rating Bamford massively
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From the evidence we’ve seen so far I would say yes:
We probably wouldn’t have expected to beat Scum or the Bindippers but I would have expected more even games than we got, in truth they both won at a canter and looked light years ahead of us and that is a worrying sign.
Everton was a very competitive game and I thought we did well to come back from behind twice. The fact that we went behind twice though is a worrying sign.
I think Newcastle and Burnley are 2 of the 3 worst teams in the league and we really should be winning games like these, home or away. Given that my tips for relegation are these two plus Norwich then having picked up just 2 points out of 6 against them so far is a worrying sign.
Bielsa in the team! Why not? We've got to try something different!
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No right to claim that as who knows what would happen if Bielsa did "mix things up"
'I am quite clear in my mind that one has to feel sincere love for those he leads, and if he doesn't feel it naturally, then he must learn how to feel it' Marcelo Bielsa
'Would he kill his granny to win a match?' Bobby Collins
The only potential upside to this is that the u23’s we would all like to see feature are going to play but with added expectation. Getting minutes in a game when we are comfortably leading is a different proposition to featuring or possibly starting when we need points.
Perhaps a baptism of fire will be the making of them. Gelhardt must be fizzing at the bunghole currently - he should definitely feature against Fulham. However, if Bamford is rested I suspect Rodrigo will start in his place with Roberts in the 10 role. This is the type of game which can kick start certain players season, sparking confidence and form.
Roberts clearly needs something to happen for him.
Defensively it will be interesting to see how we line up.
Atleast offensively on occasion we looked a bit moee like our old selves, defensively lets not even bother talking about that.
Should we be worried?
Erm i was worried before the season started for reasons i have mentioned tons of times, i still firnly believe the club have pushed the core of this group 1 season to far and needed to rejuvenate more.
We didnt strengthen in enough in key areas, we made to many assumptions on injuries even though we have suffered with injury problems since MB arrived, we failed to recognise the distinct possibility that its possible we wouldn't be able to maintain a standard that was probably above the nature levels of many of our squad and we took to much for granted.
So yes i am worried but i was worried when it became clear the 4 to 5 first team signings wouldn't happen.
Fountain of all knowledge and wisdom
Re: The #LUFC Breakfast Debate (Monday 20th September) Leeds make their point at St James Parkas with
Ayling is the right back, Shackleton may be considered his understudy and Dallas provides cover. ( not forgetting Drameh) Who would you dispense with ?
In central midfield we have Klich, Dallas, KP, Roberts, Shackleton and Rodrigo as options - Then there is Foreshaw. It is evident that the midfield options are not the strongest. If we had signed two CM’s potentially a 8 and 10 - who would have made way ? More importantly, who would we have purchased? Hernandez needed a replacement - what were the options during the window. I suspect they looked and made enquiries which came to nothing. No doubt we will find out.
Personally, and this will divide opinion I believed and still do that we need a replacement for Klich as a midfield priority. He has his moments but is not consistent enough for me at this level. If we had signed Gallagher on loan he may have been on the bench more often than not.
The Dan James signing was a strange one for me. It is great that we got a replacement for Costa. But financially it appeared extravagant considering the apparent reluctance to spend money on the midfield.
It could be the case that the club invested in the u23’s speculating that the current original stalwarts had enough time left playing at this level for the young pretenders - who are groomed in the MB system to come of age and take over when necessary.
The reality is that there will be a number of factors, which we are not privy to which determined our transfer policy during the last window. I do not think the club went chasing a better league position per se. On the basis of comments by Kinnear and Radz they are focused on consolidation and everything beyond that is a bonus. Of course there is an inherent danger of complacency with that strategy, but more dangerous is a strategy of reaching for the stars too soon as we learned to our detriment under Risdale.
Presumably the key is balance - whether they achieved that we will find out.