Leeds United 1 Sheffield Wednesday 2
Arrrrrgh! That one hurts! That one hurts a lot. I actually thought we played some decent football for much of the game, albeit without creating too much against what the season has shown to be a very poor Wednesday side. The problem is we are a very poor side too, particularly without the push provided by Samu Saiz.
Our problem is that we continue to show ourselves to be weak; weak all over the pitch, weak in defence, weak in attack, weak in many of the basic skills of the game. Do we ever practise shooting?
I’m not going to side though with those who are ready to cast out Paul Heckingbottom after just five weeks in the job. I put some stats on Twitter the other day showing that PHs first 7 games had produced just 6 points, 8 goals for and 14 against compared with TC’s record against the same teams in the reverse fixtures: 6 points, 9 goals for and 13 conceded. Really similar records and to me, I can’t use that to castigate Hecky even though I appreciate everyone expected him to provide an improvement, as we often see in the short term with a new coach. If we now add todays result to those stats it doesn’t change much – we got thrashed 3 – 0 at Hillsborough and lost 1 – 2 today so that left the points the same and, would you Adam and Eve it, the goals for and against also now equal! I love these footballing stats!
So, that tells me that the problem is the players, although by implication I guess I’m also suggesting that Hecky has not provided any improvement as we, and no doubt My Radrizzani hoped for. I would also argue that Hecky has still only had the players for 5 weeks whereas TC had them for several months of course. It’s also my guess that had TC still been in charge, our last 7 results would have been little changed.
I’m not going to side with those who want Radrizzani out either although he needs to show he is learning about Leeds United and the Championship pretty damn quick now. He may or may not have hamstrung himself by believing he was not able to do some of the things Wolves have done and that will no doubt become clearer in due course and may alter the way he and his team recruit players.
But no one can escape the obvious conclusion that too few of Victor Orta’s recruits have proved good enough to play in the Championship and the fact that once again today seven of the starting XI were players on the books last season tells us the quality of the business he has conducted. Incidentally, I’m not even suggesting we ditch Mr Orta at this stage as he does, by all accounts have some excellent contacts – a weapons grade contact book I believe is the phrase. What I do think we now need to do is allow Heckingbottom the rope to hang himself by… or not hopefully. One reason he was brought in was to give us the benefit of his Championship nouse. He’s had a good chance to have a look at the players available to him and he must now clearly tell the powers that be who the players are that we have who do fit the bill and who doesn’t. Then he needs to clearly describe the type of players he thinks we need to add in to the squad. Victor can then busy himself sorting them out for us if he is that good at it! A Director of Football role is not automatically a bad thing in my mind as long as what Orta has told us about “never having forced a player on a coach” is true and that he will allow Hecky to state what he wants. If he won’t, then if Hecky is any man at all he should merely walk away and tell us the truth.
In the short term, we still need to see Hecky make some impact on the current group; surely some better organisation of the defence can eliminate some of the calamitous errors we’ve been making. I quite like my measure of his success as being a comparison of his results against those of TC against the same teams, so to “keep up” he needs to find a team that can beat Bolton as of course we did that with TC all those months ago on the first day of the season, albeit only just by a score of 2-3. I’d hazard a guess that the Trotters are a better side than we faced in August, as witness their 1 – 0 win over Villa today and the fact they stand 10th in the latest 6 game form table but against that Hecky will have had the players for another two weeks before that game comes around and I don’t think it unfair to expect to see some gain from his employment with us.
Chopping and changing all over the place now cannot possibly be the right thing to do – for goodness sake how many of us have demanded stability in recent years – but all parties need to heed the input of the one man that is new to the fold, Heckingbottom, give him the summer, give him some of the players he wants, and let him have them early to have his plan in place for day one next season. Then we can judge him.
Until then, we can but hope the players continue to strive for their places and do not merely meander through the last eight games.
Leeds Utd Sheffield W
Possession 56% 44%
Shots 12 11
On Target 3 5
Corners 10 4
Fouls 4 13