Leeds United 2 QPR 0
I was apprehensive about this match; I know there was nothing riding on the result for either team and yet with so much negative comment on social media from the fans about Heckingbottom lately I really did feel that to lose this game would be to open up the way for some unseemly stuff at Elland Road after the final whistle. Thankfully we won the game, and we did it with some style albeit against a team that looked like they’d already had their fill of the Championship this season! QPR, it has to be said, were not very good although I understand they had plenty of youngsters in that side today.
But, as the old saying goes, you can only play against what turns up against you and Leeds did enough to have won this game by a few more than the two goals we did score.
The manner of the performance was bright enough to keep us entertained throughout and there was genuine warmth in the applause from the fans that stayed behind in the sunshine to see the team complete the ritual end of season lap of appreciation around the ground.
The hard work really does need to start now though. Finishing 13th in the table – exactly half way – is pretty much where we deserve to be. Over the course of the season we have generally done OK against the sides that have finished below us but we have done particularly badly against the 12 sides that finished above us. Heckingbottom, for all our disappointment at his results has 3 wins and 2 draws from his 7 games against bottom half sides while against the top half sides, of which he’s faced 9, we only achieved 1 win and 2 draws. TC’s record was similar; he failed to get any points at all in just 4 of his 16 games against sides that have finished below us but he got nil point from 8 of his 14 games against top half sides. The challenge this summer is to create a side capable of mixing it with those top half sides as well as continuing to put away the poor ones.
My reading of what Hecky has been saying is that he is as aware as we are of what needs to be added to our squad: Leadership, Power, match craft and intelligence and a couple more players with quality on the ball too. In the main though, for me, it’s bringing in a ballsy attitude and that leadership on the pitch we’ve lacked for years. We need a team that wins more 50-50s than we lose, we need a side that can win an aerial duel more often than not; that’s what the top sides do. We saw today that we are currently not all bad – we have some real talent in the squad with the likes of Ayling (haven’t we missed him!), Forshaw, Jansson, Roofe on his day, Alioski, and we have some real talent in the youngsters like Bailey Peacock-Farrell and Tom Pearce. Even 16 year-old Ryan Edmondson looks a talent for the future. We have the likes of Hernandez, Saiz, Stuart Dallas and O’Connor who didn’t even feature today; they are all good players at this level but they need help, they need leadership and they need some heavies to help to stop teams bullying us. I don’t see the need for vast numbers of new faces to arrive but those that do must add one or more of the attributes we are currently starved off. If we do, I still think Paul Heckingbottom is as capable as anyone of putting it all together. Let’s see if he gets the chance and if, for the first time in six seasons, the coach we have in August is the one going round the pitch today.
Leeds Utd QPR
Possession 54% 46%
Shots 13 7
On Target 6 1
Corners 9 4
Fouls 19 12