Well, that’s table-toppers Brighton out of the way and it was another performance where inconsistency and mistakes did for Leeds United. This gives the Whites little time to pick themselves up as they look forward to their next game against Fulham on Tuesday night.
It’s also a case of Rosler out, Evans in and Cellino banned by the Football League. So, after what was a slow news day at Elland Road, Leeds United head into the next five games with a new hand at the tiller in ex-Rotherham boss and larger-than-life character Steve Evans.
However, whilst individual results matter, it is the string of results that is important, what pundits call a ‘run’. It’s like fighting a war; less all-out campaign and more linked skirmishes blending into overall battles. Anyway, less of the analogies and more of what ‘skirmishes’ Leeds United face as the Whites look toward their next five games.
N.B. all figures and stats stated are correct as of Game Day 11.
October 21: Fulham (A): projected finish 7-12 – actual position 13
Fulham entertain Leeds at Craven Cottage on Tuesday in a fixture that Leeds easily won 3-0 last season. Such was the ease of Leeds’ victory that the travelling Leeds United away support was able to jeer and cat-call ex-White striker Ross McCormack as the Scot was substituted injured in the second half. Fulham enter the game on the back of a credible 0-0 draw against Middlesbrough and will surely fancy their chances against a shell-shocked Leeds team who have suffered four defeats in their last five games. Fulham enter the game as the division’s 10th ranked ‘form’ team (eight points from a possible 18) with Leeds sitting a lowly 22nd in the ‘form’ table (four points from a possible 18).
This game also marks the first away game under Massimo Cellino’s 2,000 and no more ticket diktat, meaning that Leeds United’s away support will be even more needed should the team need that fabled ’12th man on the field’.
October 24: Bolton (A): projected finish 19-24 – actual position 24
Bolton sit rock bottom of the Championship table, rooted there on eight points along with fellow ‘eight pointers’ Rotherham and Preston. Bolton lost 2-0 to local rivals Burnley on Week 11 of the Championship programme and have so far shipped 18 goals whilst scoring only 9 themselves. Leeds will not find themselves in a better position to pick off Bolton than in this game, Bolton currently being the 20th ranked form team (five points from a possible 18) in the Championship.
Could this be the game where Leeds’ fortunes turn around and luck propels them to victory? They’ll not have an easier opportunity to do so.
October 29: Blackburn (H): projected finish 11-18 – actual position 15
The following week, Leeds United again face Lancastrian opposition in the shape of Blackburn Rovers at Elland Road in front of the Sky Sports cameras and a Thursday 7.45 kick off. This is the very type of game situation that instigated Massimo Cellino’s decision to abide by a bare minimum 2,000 ticket away allocation for all Leeds United away games. Last season’s corresponding fixture saw the Whites lose 3-0 at Elland Road and they will entertain a Blackburn side placed as the division’s 11th ranked ‘form’ side (eight points from a possible 18). Blackburn are led by the impressive Jordan Rhodes who has scored 70% of Blackburn’s goals this season, scoring seven of Blackburn’s 10 goals so far.
For Leeds it is simply a case of starve a potentially dangerous Blackburn midfield, including the likes of Ben Marshall, Hope Akpan and Corry Evans, of possession and stop them feeding the explosive scoring of Jordan Rhodes. Do that and all could be hunky dory…maybe.
November 3: Cardiff (H): projected finish 11-18 – actual position 8
Cardiff brought no fans to Elland Road last season but they still went away with all three points after yet another toothless Leeds United display. Despite being projected as mid-table certainties, Cardiff are performing better than this and sit just outside of the play-offs. This is largely thanks to the goal scoring of forward Joe Mason who has notched five of the Bluebirds 14 goals this season. Cardiff might rely on Mason for the efficient and regular scoring he does but they are also capable of scoring throughout the team with eight players on the score sheet so far this term.
November 7: Huddersfield (A): projected finish 19-24 – actual position 17
The biggie – Leeds United travel to noisy neighbours and fellow West Yorkshire side Huddersfield Town; a club known as the Terriers but affectionately known to Leeds fans as the Dogbotherers. Leeds will come up against a team where Welsh defensive midfielder Emyr Huws is the current leading scorer on four goals. This will always be a scrappy, arm wrestle of a match. Win this and Evans might win over the elements of the baying mob who still remain. Huddersfield, as of game 11, are performing slightly above expectations and you can expect that by this game that position and performance will be ramped up somewhat.
Should Huddersfield raise their game against the Whites, as you’d expect, Leeds might be looking to isolate Emyr Huws and also stop the ball getting forward to strikers Nakhi Wells and James Vaughn.
Expect the unexpected – points takeaway
To be honest, Leeds United could take anything between 0 points and the full 15 from these five games – such is the infuriating state of Leeds United. They’ll get something out of these five games, it won’t be the maximum though. Glass half-empty projection five points from the 15 available; glass half-full projection eight points from the 15 available. Any more than that, a bonus for Leeds United and new man Steve Evans.