It seems clear in the wake of the Birmingham victory that, while Leeds don’t possess an out-and-out winger (especially since Ryan Hall seems to have tweeted himself right into the ordure), what we don’t lack is the potential for width – given the right team selection and formation.
All of a sudden on Sunday, the team looked to have clicked – doubtless the result of some hard work and hard talking during a fortnight away from the domestic routine while England took care of business at Wembley. Birmingham were dire in the first half, but even in the second when the opposition improved, Leeds coped well, created chances and scored a lovely fourth goal.
The width came from more advanced positions for the likes of Byram and Warnock, either side of three central defenders. Suddenly, we could start to think of the players NOT in the team, who might also have contributions to make to such a system, some of them from the bench, perhaps. Diouf, Hunt, Varney. Possibly Dexter Blackstock if strong rumours of his imminent arrival on loan are true.
While the Forest player’s name sounds like that of a kids’ cartoon private eye, Blackstock has some pedigree and, if Brian McDermott feels he could add value to the squad, that’s a call worth backing. It’s interesting to remember that Brian has said in the past he’d be looking for loans with a view to permanent signings in January – watch this space indeed.
Another likely arrival is that of former Hearts captain and central defender Marius Zaliukas, available on a free since his release by the Edinburgh strugglers. Again, a central defender didn’t seem high on the shopping list a few days back, but if 3-5-2 is the way to go, we will need more numbers in central defence to cover injury and suspensions. It seems nobody has heard much about Zaliukas that isn’t good, save perhaps a slight tendency towards overdoing it on the “getting stuck in” front. But those kind of players have always been well-loved at Elland Road.
It may well be that discussions during the international break resulted in a decision to give width from wing-backs an extended try – and that this is behind the sudden cooling of interest in wingers. I still feel that Chris Burke from Birmingham would have been a sound acquisition, but if Plan A has changed to Plan B then our limited resources may be better used elsewhere.
It will be very interesting to see the personnel and shape on display at Huddersfield next weekend, and also whatever may have transpired in terms of recruitment in the meantime. Another display and result to compare with the Birmingham game, and the atmosphere around LS11 could really start to perk up again.