Leeds United Looking to Bounce Back After Millwall Loss – by Rob Atkinson


                    Hadi Sacko and Mateusz Klich 

NB: This article also appears in Saturday’s edition of the Yorkshire Evening Post.

Leeds United’s first loss of the season, viewed in the context of what is shaping up to be a momentous campaign, was less painful than might have been expected. The defeat was narrow and yet decisive; United were blown away by the sheer desire and commitment of a Millwall side whose performances against Leeds rarely seem to lack those qualities. In the event, the home side deserved their success, having had an early strike ruled out for a debatable offside call. Even then, there was a hint of offside about the eventual winner, but justice was probably done on the day.

Fortunately for those United fans who felt themselves to have returned to Earth with a bump, there was a chance for redemption at Burnley in the midweek Carabao Cup tie. Sure enough, Leeds dusted themselves down and revealed their gritty side to match higher league opposition, despite nine changes from last weekend. There was a grim satisfaction in ejecting the Clarets from the competition, especially as United were up against two erstwhile heroes in Chris Wood and Charlie Taylor, both of whom saw a brighter, or at any rate, more lucrative future across the Pennines at Turf Moor. Any lingering resentment over those deals was largely dissipated when Stuart Dallas’s decisive shoot-out penalty hit the back of the Burnley net and, with hindsight, the cup tie turned out to be more about current Leeds heroes than it was about Messrs. Wood and Taylor.

The biggest revelation of Tuesday night, for me, was Mateusz Klich, a Polish midfielder who had not been pulling up many trees this season so far – but he certainly seized his chance at Burnley. Klich seemed to be everywhere, closing down, making interceptions, putting in the hard yards with driving forward runs and generally giving as complete a midfield performance as we’ve seen so far this season. On that form, Klich will have given head coach Thomas Christiansen another welcome selection headache going forward; Leeds are particularly well-served in the middle of the park, but it will be difficult to overlook the case for Klich if he maintains the level of performance he showed against the Clarets. The ice-cool and languid penalty he dispatched during the shoot-out topped off his night’s work perfectly; it looks as if United can expect much more from Mateusz.

The other particularly bright spark on Tuesday was Hadi Sacko, who had up until this match been a mercurial and frustrating, hit-and-miss performer – but again, you could see the work going on at Thorp Arch beginning to pay off in terms of the Christiansen ethos sinking in all the way through this squad. Sacko it was who made the initial breakthrough for Leeds, finishing well after bursting onto a Pablo Hernandez pass that found him in space vacated by a badly-positioned Charlie Taylor. A very sweet moment, that. Sacko showed menace every time Leeds got forward after his introduction as substitute and, again, if he can keep that up, there’s another useful iron in United’s attacking fire.

So we move on to Ipswich Town at a sold-out Elland Road today, where Christiansen’s troops will be up against no-nonsense Barnsley lad (and boyhood Leeds fan) Mick McCarthy as Town boss, assisted by former United striker Terry Connor. These two will put aside their Leeds affiliations for the day and their team will provide stern and well-organised opposition. Still, Elland Road will be rocking again and this Leeds squad provides so many options and permutations that you have to fancy United to find a way of dealing with the Tractor Boys. With some difficult games ahead, three points today would be very welcome, consolidating United’s heady occupation of Championship top spot.

These are interesting and exciting times for United fans, who will now be optimistic about seeing the Whites put that Millwall slip-up firmly behind them.


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3 responses to “Leeds United Looking to Bounce Back After Millwall Loss – by Rob Atkinson

  1. From being a side that depended upon the goals from one player as their main hope to win games, we were very one dimensional. Play Wood out of the game, and the chances of winning were slim. Now, we have so many attacking options to play against us must be a nightmare for opposing defenders. There is so much skill and speed to call upon from the squad, we can field two seperately teams, either of which would do well, as was proven against Burnley when there were 9 changes from the previous team selection. Our defence is rock solid, perming any 4 from 7, with CBJ making 8 if he progresses. We have so many midfielders we are already spoilt for choice, when our Japanese international joins in January who by all accounts is special, l fear that we may find there will not be enough opportunity to give enough playing time to real quality players. Take into account the players on loan both in the UK and Spain, together with our talent bulging acadamy and in such a short time our owner has put together a squad not just for this promotion year, but for years in the future. Apart from Anita and Hernandes, are there any other outfield players over 28.
    What a future we have to look forward to.


  2. I was very pleased by Sacko and Klich’s efforts the other night. I was getting worried there might be no way back for Sacko into the squad. Remember , he was our first signing this year, for a sizeable sum and think it a waste if his potential is not realised. His pace is a fantastic asset to have in the team. If the other areas of his game can be improved at Thorp,Arch etc he will be a game changer.
    It’s always bugged me how players are signed (by whatever club) then discarded after a couple of so so performances. It usually seems to be wingers and usually for having no end product (goals ,decent crosssing etc). Clubs just don’t seem to want to develop a player but rather spend millions to replace them with a ready made ‘genius’. Too much short term thinking,especially in the prem (the best league in the worldTM) . Yeah right. MOT tommoz. P.S Whatever the result expect MM’s post match comments to be fair and accurate.


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