Leeds Utd 2 Blackburn Rovers 1
Finally, Garry Monk saw what most of the fans had understood for weeks; Chris Wood was not performing well enough and needed to be left out. Monk also realised that with the current talent at his disposal 4 – 2 – 3 – 1 was the only way to go and he also had the first sensible opportunity to try Eunan O’Kane, the latest of his army of midfield generals into the fray.
With Stuart Dallas and Pablo Hernandez in the starting eleven too, it all looked immediately more balanced than it did on Saturday… still not totally convincing, but more balanced. Give or take a Berardi or two, the defence does now seem defined and more solid although there are still those who fear we are not seeing the best of Charlie Taylor due to his much publicised transfer request. Certainly the central defence pairing of Bartley and Jansson, for the time being at least, appears the best we’ve had in years. Bartley is coolness personified while Pontus wears his huge heart on his sleeve and the two seem a perfect combination.
In midfield, O’Kane was not overly visible while Hernandez undeniably has the quality we need but maybe needs to play with this particular eleven a few more times before they all understand that his passing is a tad more demanding of their movement. We need to be more intuitive and ready to move before the pass is made rather than expect it at our feet.
But the main thing last night was to get that home win – to have lost against the worst side in the division would have cemented the view that all hope for this season was already lost. As it is, like the lightening that flickered over Elland Road last night, hope is still there if only appearing in fits and starts.
We can still see the limitations of this young squad at regular intervals; the goal we conceded last night bore all the hallmarks of the Huddersfield winner; once again we momentarily went to sleep, failed to close down and Marvin Emnes smashed the ball home. Emnes is another example of that group of players still toiling away in the Championship who tend to have their best games against us! Hadi Sacko ought to have made the game safe late on when he showed his inexperience in backing himself instead of rolling the ball inside to unmarked colleagues. But, for once neither shortcoming cost us the game. We do need time together, both to further the understanding between the players and to build a wafer thin confidence, the key is to keep picking up points and ironing out the issues we have while making the transition from naïve youngsters to efficient Championship players. Whether we can do this rapidly enough to have a say in this season’s promotion battle only time will tell.
The next game is always the most important and none more so than against Cardiff on Saturday. We must put out of our minds that “it’s a difficult place to go” and focus on the fact that they are not playing well (got hammered at lowly Preston last night) and that it was only a few months ago when we went there and shocked even ourselves by coming away with the points. A good performance and at least a point would be invaluable to our players in starting to make last night look more like a turning point and not a flash in the pan. Same starting eleven please Garry!
Leeds U Blackburn R
Possession 57% 43%
Shots 12 14
On Target 5 3
Corners 7 8
Fouls 9 12