After "The Campaign"
Following our early success this season, we had a bit of a rough patch that I was worried would become the defining factor of our season. Our games against Everton and Watford were rather lax affairs in which the boys didn't seem to want to be there. We didn't edge possession as we usually do, and we barely had any meaningful shots. We took the early lead in the Everton game, and then threw it away. For the Watford game, we barely deserved a point here, and Pohjanpalo was our saving grace. Now, the game against Manchester City was a different affair altogether. We were ahead 2-0 until the 70th minute, and then the full attacking force of Manchester City went rampant. We were seemingly playing a different game entirely for the last 20 minutes.
After the City game, Joel Pohjanpalo approached me with a rather unexpected, and insulting request. He stated that he was aware of interest from Tottenham Hotspur in his playing for their team. He requested that if they made a bid, that I accept it and allow him to begin contract discussion with them. My obvious statement to him was that under no circumstance would we be accepting any bid beneath my valuation of him. Tottenham unavoidably came in with a bid for him well below my valuation, which was rejected. This obviously caused some unrest, but I assured him that he would continue to hold an important role at Leeds United, and would be a definite part of our future going forward.
For the game against Crystal Palace in the third round of the EFL Cup, we honestly deserved more than we got. We dominated both regular and extra time, and they snuck a goal in at the very end of both, sending us to penalties. Now, our showing in that penalty shootout was one of the worst that I have ever seen, with us only making 2 of 5 penalties. We wanted to bounce back after the EFL Cup loss, and Liverpool was on the receiving end of our comeback. We absolutely ran them over them at both ends of the pitch. Their consolation goal was right at the end of the game, from a corner. They didn't have any meaningful chance during the game, and our players maintained utter dominance.
Over the next 6 games we scored a total of 18 goals. With the exception of the Southampton, we maintained a dominant show of force in every game. We also maintained a majority possession, which is a a key philosophy that I have tried to instill at Leeds. Over these games our offensive third has really begun to click, working together in a successful fashion.
League Game 12 -
Crystal Palace are a team that we have already struggled against. Since last season, we are 0-0-3 against Palace in both league and cup competitions. We will be cautious in this game, but will push forward with the same strategy we have been using, and the same starting 11 as has been doing so well in the league.
This game was exciting, and while we did maintain the majority possession, we didn't dominate in this game as we had in previous games. Palace took a lead at the very beginning which was demoralizing, but the boys bounced back in spectacular fashion and netted 3 for us in the first half. We shut up shop in the second half, limiting Palace to nothing but long shots.
League Game 13 -
Our next game was against Huddersfield Town was a game that actually seemed more difficult than other games, as we have had issues with them in both the Premier League, and the Championship before our promotion. There will be no change to our starting 11 for this encounter.
This game was somewhat of a disappointment, in that the boys didn't finish any of their chances, and their build-up was rather sloppy. Huddersfield clearly wanted this result more than our boys did, and they walked away with the 3 points.
League Game 14 -
Now, Derby County are a team that I am fully confident that we grab the 3 points from. We have never really had trouble with them, and they are struggling in the league. Some of the boys are beginning to amass yellow cards, which will become a problem late on, though I believe that we have the depth to deal with temporary issues like that.
While certainly a spectacle for football fans around the world, this game made a lot of the flaws in our tactical system very obvious. Our center-backs are beaten on several through-balls every single game, and seem incapable of handling them. We will need to think about bringing in a pacey center-back during the winter transfer window if I feel it becomes a problem too big to counteract. Marco Silvestri also showed why he needs to be replaced. Benoit Costil is not the answer, as I don't consider him any better than Silvestri. As we don't have the funds to bring in a quality keeper in this window, we shall look to next summer as our opportunity to bring in a new keeper.
Continuing the Campaign
FM fanatic and football pundit