Leeds United 0 Wolverhampton Wanderers 3
When Paul Heckingbottom joined Leeds following the 1 – 4 home defeat to Cardiff City everyone looked at the fixture list and thought “blimey, that’s a tough start for him!”; Sheffield United, Bristol City, Derby County, Brentford and Wolves, one after the other were the first five games Hecky faced. We always knew it was going to be tough to get any points from that run and after the Cardiff result we’d not have expected TC to get any so it was always a bit of a free hit for Hecky too. A strong comeback to get a point from Bristol and then almost coming away from Derby with all three points looked like progress as did a workmanlike win against Brentford’s Bees. The trip to Boro last Friday though saw a miserable performance and a 3 – 0 defeat in a game marked by some familiar old Leeds defensive traits, albeit an argument could be made that two of the goals were actually offside! Tonight we finally came to the end of this run against top eight sides with a match up with the best in class so far in the Championship: Wolves. Another 0 – 3 defeat doesn’t look good at first glance but with the Molineux men able to bring on substitutes of the class of Afobe and Costa I don’t think we should read too much into another 0 – 3 beating.
So, in the event, that run of “impossible” games has yielded 5 points – three more than we managed in TC’s final five games against arguably much less fearsome sides. On Saturday though we travel to the Madejski Stadium and face a Reading side down in 18th place in the table and fully 14 points behind us. We have to now put down a marker that says that we are most definitely a better side than Reading and, by the same token, we need to follow that up with a good performance and result against our old foe Sheffield Wednesday and then Bolton – all sides struggling at the wrong end of the table. I’d go as far as to say Heckingbottom’s future with Leeds probably depends on three good results in those games daft as that sounds so early into his tenure.
The Championship has settled down now – the teams at the top tend to win most of their games while the teams at the bottom tend to lose most of theirs. It happened in this round of games where every game went with form apart from Derby failing to win at QPR. If we are to end the season in mid-table as now looks likely then we need to be winning these upcoming games to prove our worth, otherwise we’ll be looking at finishing the season in the bottom ten and if we did I’m not sure Hecky would be seeing out his contract with us.
Wolves were simply too good for us tonight and Hecky probably regrets not starting Pablo just as he did at Bramall Lane and as he did with Adam Forshaw at Boro. Those decisions looked far too conservative in hindsight and yet with other decisions his determination can’t be faulted as he’s relegated Kemar Roofe and O’Kane and promoted young Bailey Peacock-Farrell. Those decisions showed strength and he needs to be bold again in his selection for Saturday. I think we now know that if fit BPF, Forshaw, Pablo and Saiz will start but I’d be hard pressed to pen too many other names myself. Come on Leeds don’t let us down against the Royals! Might this be a time for another bold statement with Tom Pearce maybe?
Leeds Utd Wolves
Possession 46% 54%
Shots 6 18
On Target 3 7
Corners 3 9
Fouls 11 9