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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
From what I've seen the team is probably picked but I would say the Left Back position is up for grabs.
Bielsa's system means we will be often short at the back, we can't give away possession middle of the park, cut that out and we concede less
....but I am...
....so that's how it comes out
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Many flashes of brilliance counterbalanced by us lacking a cutting edge while at times making errors that give away goals. ( even in the Tadcaster match we saw this)
In the main I think we are looking almost ready, the fitness is getting there, the sharpness, the never say die spirit is in evidence.
On balance I think both today and next week will be the most informative of the pre-season games.
Next week I would expect to see what MB has in mind for the Bristol game. Will Roofe and Bamford be allowed to form a partnership?
Who will be the CBs? Some other questions as well regarding the role of Douglas, Dallas, Clarke , Ali and Shacks.
Overall though most of our squad have had good performances and some will grow into the season.
Jut need Bamford to get going before his confidence begins to get affected.
'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
Defensively we still look vulnerable especially when the opposition break.
Definitely require a leader at the back.
Main strikers not firing on all cylinders.
Still places up for grabs come our first league game of the season.
Encouraging to see our young players performing well.
Hernandez is still our best player.
We are a entertaining watch even in friendlies.
Bielsa has one game to decide what his starting line up will be for BC.
Half the squad will not have played with Costa or White yet and know how they play.
I think it's looking less likely by the day that we will sign anyone else so we've got what we've got.
Overall I'm pretty happy with things, all the players look fit and sharp and several of the youngsters have really pressed their claim for a starting place, particularly Bogusz.
Chilli D wrote: ↑Sat Jul 20, 2019 4:32 pmThere's no doubt that not having the whole squad playing until a week before the start of the season is more than a little strange.
Bielsa has one game to decide what his starting line up will be for BC. - He knows his starting 11 baring injury.
Half the squad will not have played with Costa or White yet and know how they play. Doesn't matter in this system as much.
I think it's looking less likely by the day that we will sign anyone else so we've got what we've got. If we do we do and great, if we don't we have the players IMO
Overall I'm pretty happy with things, all the players look fit and sharp and several of the youngsters have really pressed their claim for a starting place, particularly Bogusz. You only had to see Bogusz play to know he's a bit tasty, sometimes the opposition is irrelevant
Quietly optimistic. Optimistic is the place to be.
....but I am...
....so that's how it comes out
2) The team still lacks a cutting edge as we are still missing too many chances. Just like in the second leg v Derby in our friendly today we should have scored 3 or 4 goals before our opponents equalised. From what I have seen so far though the chances created have been better quality so hopefully we can rectify that soon, we looked fairly sharp v York and Tadcaster so hopefully we can get things to click.
3) We are still vulnerable defensively. This though for me is a direct consequence of 2 things. Firstly our attacking play will always leave us vulnerable to a swift counter attack and secondly our failure to kill teams off means that we haven't demoralised the opposition in a way that we should have given our level of performance. Get 3 or 4 up and will the opposition really break as quickly or will they be so demoralised they will simply lose the ball.
4) Costa looks an excellent addition. He definitely gives us another key to unlock a packed defence.
5) Our youth prospects are knocking at the door. Whilst some fans are concerned that we haven't bought in more new faces only Bielsa knows what we have already at the club. These kids have the added advantage of already playing the Bielsa way so they can slot straight in. Shackleton and Clarke may just be the start of a very bright future.
Roofe - scored in the one game he played CF. He needs to start there for me because how many points will it cost us waiting for Bamford to break his duck? I feel for Bamford, I really do but Roofe is the man for the job. I just hope his knock wasn't serious.
Costa - A 15mil player, oozes confidence and skill. Our secret weapon this season along with...
White - I loved every second of watching this lad with the ball. Astoundingly defensively astute for his age, I think he's more than ready to prove himself in the Championship.
Bogusz - Brilliant attacking sense for a midfielder, the Championship won't see this kid coming, mark my words.
Harrison - I will be the first one to admit that I wasn't his biggest fan last season to put it mildly. Still, if he maintains the level of improvement he's shown so far then I'll happily eat my own words with a side of humble pie.
Dallas - With all the drama of the end of last season it's easy to forget that we saw Dallas up his game sharply and he seems to have carried it with him into pre season. Looks like he trusts himself on the ball a lot more, and is doing the basics really well.
Pablo - What needs be said? The man is pure unadulterated class and we're lucky to have him for one more season at least.