Sheffield Wednesday 3 Leeds United 0
Following the debacle at Cardiff I spoke in this blog about how we might just have to recalibrate our expectations for this season if we couldn’t come away from Hillsborough with at least a point and a decent performance. We’d appeared to be in such a good place early on in the season as we despatched most sides we faced without conceding and with goals seemingly coming from all over the pitch and yet closer inspection of those sides we were beating revealed that they were all not very good sides and after almost a quarter of the season they were all amongst the bottom half dozen or so. The only two sides we’d faced that were currently in the top dozen places were Preston and Ipswich although admittedly we took four points from the games with them albeit after really tough and close games. We put the defeat at Millwall down to, well, down to them being Millwall and then we had that chaotic Cardiff evening where we self-destructed.
So, Sheffield Wednesday was, for me, a watershed game; get a decent result with a decent performance and I’d conclude we would remain in the thick of the action at the right end of the table for many weeks to come. BUT, fail against them and I’d have to conclude that we had indeed been flattered in those opening half dozen games and that once we had played more of the teams currently sitting in the top half of what is effectively the current form table, we’d be more mid-table than table-topping.
After twenty odd minutes things were looking very good; Leeds dominated that period. And yet we didn’t actually hurt Wednesday despite all our possession; a couple of poor headers and a shot from Roofe being poor reward for our efforts at that time. Furthermore, when I actually thought about what I was seeing, it was really all about Samuel Sáiz! He was quite simply a one-man show for those opening twenty five minutes as he single-handedly took on Wednesday; he looked unplayable and the only way Wednesday could deal with his threat was to foul him. It was unfortunate that the referee didn’t offer him more protection with a few yellow cards. But were the rest of the team keeping up with him? On reflection, probably not!
When we conceded the opening goal we visibly wilted. Perhaps it was the nature of the goal – with Wiedwald once again looking less than confident with a ball bouncing in front of him and having more eyes for the man than the ball - that got our players thinking bad thoughts or maybe they just knew it already felt like “one of those days”. In contrast to the way the goal shook our confidence it positively fired the Wednesday players up and from that moment there was only one team in it. And we need to remember that this Wednesday side has not really pulled up many trees so far this season and they lost to Birmingham in the week. I was already recalibrating. By the time Wednesday went two up and had another chalked off incorrectly for offside, I’d reached my conclusion; we are not as good as we appeared to be early this season. Take Sáiz out of this side and we are probably no more than average as we saw at Cardiff. Put our defence up against decent headers of a football and we are not that strong. Allow the opposition to bully us and we do have a bit of a soft centre.
In the end 3 – 0 was probably a let off for Leeds today and we had no answer to the movement, pace and aerial ability Wednesday showed. I know we were told it would take time for Radrizzani to get us promoted but I believed we were closer than this. The new question is whether TC can reshape the side with the resources he has to find some confidence to at least keep us in the hunt. I’d expect a different looking side after the international break with the likes of Vieira and Dallas certainly given more game time. Interesting times ahead me thinks!
Sheff Weds Leeds Utd
Possession 54% 46%
Shots 16 11
On Target 7 2
Corners 7 4
Fouls 15 13