People go on about Leeds struggling to to score goals; it was the same last season with only Mirco Antenucci (10) and Alex Mowatt (9) producing anything bearing respectablility. However, the problem wasn’t necessarily the gun but the lack of ammunition being loaded. Stuart Dallas could very well be about to change that ammunition supply problem.
Last season, Leeds United’s main midfield struggled to provide anything like a consistent supply with Leeds’ top three ‘assist’ makers all being relatively bit part players in Leeds’ 2014/15 Championship campaign. These players were Souleymayne Doukara (1445 minutes played/34.9% available time), Stephen Warnock (1758 minutes played/42.5% available time) and Fallon d’Floor winner Adryan (729 minutes played/17.6% available time) with the trio providing eight assists between them. Doukara’s three assists came at the rate of one per 482 minutes, Warnock’s three assists at the rate of one per 586 minutes and Adryan’s brace of assists coming at one per 364.5 minutes. To put this in contrast, the nearest that any Leeds United midfielder got to these three was Luke Murphy (30 appearances) whose two assists came at the rate of an assist per 1,216.5 minutes – or one every 13.5 games.
Leeds’ crux isn’t the fact they can’t score; it seems that it’s a case that they can’t provide. Fair dos, last season was a bit of a train wreck at Elland Road with more managers than ‘Soft Mick’, as my grandfather often said. The Whites were battling a lot of the time to save their Championship status and were desperately trying to drag themselves away from the clinging mire of the relegation mud. Still, that shouldn’t be used as an excuse for a talented midfield that simply didn’t produce enough opportunities for the frontmen to score.
Then this season it all seems slightly changed, Leeds have Stuart Dallas down the left flank. 25 appearances into his Leeds United career and the Northern Ireland already has more assists (4) this season than any Leeds United player managed last season and these have come at the rate of an assist every 514 minutes or one per 5.7 games. For a winger he has a decent volume of passing per 90 minutes (27.5 passes) and more than decent accuracy of passing (73%). The thing is that Dallas runs at opposition players, no defender likes that when they see a skillful winger bearing down on them.
However, despite the brilliance that Stuart Dallas can be, he can’t do it all alone – he is not a one-man band pulling all the strings. Individualism can take you only so far in a team sport, anyone will tell you that. Stuart Dallas needs help, us Leeds fans can’t expect him to do it all himself. That’s why others need to be brought in, other players to fill out the positions elsewhere.
Steve Evans is playing the 4-5-1 as he feels that it is the most profitable formation to employ and one that gets the most out the team. But we seem to be a little lop-sided with only the one natural winger in Dallas and seemingly making do with Sam Byram on the other flank. Byram is a fantastic player, a very talented baller and one of the other shining lights in the Leeds United side; for all his skills and prodigious talent, he’s not an out-and-out winger. We need that, there needs to be a right-sided Stuart Dallas clone simultaneosuly running Dallas-esque rampage down the opposite wing. There’s Jordan Botaka, but he’s not getting the game time needed – possibly seen as more of a longer-term prospect, so someone needs to be brought in. Evans also came in saying he favoured the 4-4-2 approach with a second striker, one who’ll obvously partner first-choice striker Chris Wood up front. It rapidly seems that Mirco Antenucci, scorer of five goals this season so far, is not the long-term answer and foil to Kiwi international Chris Wood. Is Kyle Lafferty, is the rumoured arrival of the Norwich frontman and Dallas international teammate the long-term answer?
Whatever the answers are, Stuart Dallas cannot do it all himself. Leeds United need to realise that Dallas needs help to create a Dynasty.