N Forest 3 Leeds Utd 1
I was away for the Forest game so didn’t get to watch the game until my return home after an exhilarating trip to the Belgian Grand Prix in Spa. I have now watched a re-run of the game on LUTV.
Leeds have brought in ten new faces over the summer (11 as of Wednesday night following the signing of Eunan O’Kane) and presumably the reasoning was because the squad we already had was not good enough. I think we’d all agree with the last statement. Last season we had a side that made far too many sloppy defensive errors, individual errors that suggested certain of our defenders just were not technically good enough. We created far too few chances for our strikers to attack and have a go at, suggesting that our midfielders were not up to the task either. And last, but by no means least, we had strikers who failed to hit the target or put any meat behind too many of the strikes they had at goal. So, we needed to change a few faces.
From what I saw of the Forest game, all those faults are still very much with us and that is now a major worry. All three goals we conceded on Saturday were poor in one way or another – typically not marking at set pieces, failing to position ourselves correctly to defend properly and failing to be alert enough to beat Forest attackers to the ball. At the other end we carved out 13 opportunities to have a strike at goal but only hit the target three times and two of those were meek efforts that a nine year-old would have easily stopped. Forest, on the other hand had only 10 attempts at goal and 6 of those hit the target; three of them going in and one needing a fine save from Green. Is that down to our bad luck or poor players?
In the middle third of the pitch we actually look OK – we once again bossed the possession and at times our passing and movement looked sweet - but it got us nowhere; we had no punch, plenty of dancing around on the spot, but no knock-out punch. Forest were happy to bide their time, wait for our guard to drop and then smash us in the jaw.
So, I’m now worried. Worried that for all the changes we are no better this season than we were last season and worried that Garry Monk, despite being a half decent defender himself back in the day, has so far not been able to get any better results from this new defence than Rosler and Evans got from the old one. Have we merely replaced like with like or will it take a little more time? Monk clearly knows he has a problem as he told the United website; “We need to cut out the sloppiness and the individual errors. We have the squad to address this” and he cautioned that, “we need to improve quickly. If the players can’t do that, things will need to change”. That is all well and good to say, but with our squad now as good as fixed until Christmas following the end of the transfer window, any changes we can make will only be from players we already have… and I’m not sure that will help us.
Worrying times indeed! In my heart I still believe that we have several players capable of giving us far more than they have shown so far. Kemar Roofe has always been a favourite player of mine since I watched him last season a few times for Oxford. I am sure he is a huge confidence player who just needs a break to get him going… but I may be wrong and maybe his level was League Two. Marcus Antonsson looks a live wire to me too and had scored goals already but equally he has missed far more than he’s put away. At the back Bartley has so far been pretty much unblemished ny the many defensive errors we’ve already succumbed too so maybe with Pontus Jansson at his side we will have found a solid CB partnership – we have not seen much of them together yet. And in midfield I saw a report earlier that we now have 12 midfield players… surely to goodness we can find three or four who gel together out of that lot?
Notts For Leeds Utd
Possession 45% 55%
Shots 10 13
On Target 6 3
Corners 4 6
Fouls 6 16