AFTER the long trip to the Welsh capital at the weekend, the YEP’s Lee Sobot looks at a few key talking points from the 2-0 Championship victory at Cardiff City.
Garry Monk looks to have nailed his strongest XI
Captain Liam Bridcutt will clearly come straight back into United’s side when he is over his foot injury but that change aside, the XI that started at Cardiff - and in the specific 4-2-3-1 formation - looks like United’s best.
Chris Wood was always likely to come back into the starting line up after scoring when coming on as a second-half substitute in the win against Blackburn and there can be no doubts that Wood is a better lone striking option than Marcus Antonsson who is best in a 4-4-2. If Saturday’s second half showing against Cardiff is a sign of things to come then the improving Pablo Hernandez also has to be starting as a no 10. It’s ironic that Antonsson - the club’s player of the month for August - would then be left on the bench but it’s about finding a formation that fits and Saturday’s looked spot on. Hadi Sacko and also now Stuart Dallas must be considered first choice for the spots on the right wing and left wing respectively, with Kemar Roofe and Alex Mowatt remaining decent options from the bench. And while Eunan O’Kane has yet to pull up any trees since his arrival from Bournemouth, his promise and energy is there for all to see and he will continue to get better with more game time. For all that Whites head coach Garry Monk keeps maintaining that he has three very good centre-backs, the pairing of Pontus Jansson and Kyle Bartley clearly looks Leeds’ best partnership at the heart of the defence at present and Charlie Taylor will clearly remain first choice left back. Rob Green had another decent game in goal and remains ahead of Marco Silvestri in the pecking order and perhaps the only imponderable will be the right back position when Gateano Berardi returns from injury. The Swiss international defender will return to training at Thorp Arch this week and could be in contention to face Ipswich Town on Saturday though the likelihood is that game will come soon. Whenever he is fully fit, it will be fascinating to see if Monk prefers Berardi or Luke Ayling who actually looks better going forward at times then defending. Either way, it looks a good problem to have.
Ronaldo Vieira is an able deputy for O’Kane or Bridcutt
Saturday’s clash against Cardiff presented probably the most important game of 18-year-old midfielder Vieira’s early career - taking the place of United’s captain having failed to even make the match-day 18 against Blackburn.
But Vieira rose to the challenge with aplomb and remains an outstanding prospect given his tender years. He will probably find himself back on the bench against Ipswich but United definitely have another future gem, able to step in whenever Bridcutt or O’Kane are not available or even out of form. It’s not impossible that Monk might even prefer Vieira to O’Kane eventually but that looks unlikely just yet.
Pontus Jansson must be signed on a permanent deal
Jansson has a rather odd clause in his contract where United have to sign the Swedish international centre-back if he plays 20 games or more. Those 20 games cannot come soon enough. In any event, if United can sign Jansson permanently before those 20 games are up as in come January, then they should. The six-foot-five Torino loanee was outstanding on Saturday, literally head and shoulders above the opposition, and he will likely continue to get better still given that he is just 25 years of age and that Saturday’s match was only his third full league game for Leeds. Considerably stiffer tests will await than Cardiff and Blackburn but Jansson could and already is becoming a firm favourite at Elland Road. Has to start every week and one of the first names on the team sheet.
Have you downloaded the free YEP app available on Android and iphone?