Leeds United lost 2-1 against Ipswich Town, the first time they had been defeated in the league since November 28. Here are five things we learned from that game.
The play-off dream was always more of a pipe dream
Steve Evans’ stated aim prior to the January window was to push towards the play-off places. The gap in the build-up to Christmas suggested it was always unlikely, but an undefeated run of eight games in the league meant it was not out of the realms of possibility. The defeat against Ipswich relegated it to the realms of fantasy. Leeds are now 12 points away from sixth with nine teams between them and Brighton. It would take something staggering for Leeds to find themselves in the mix come May.
Leeds need striking options rapidly
A side effect of the manner in which Leeds recruited in the summer of 2014 was that the club have ended up with several players unsuited to the Championship. One of the most obvious areas in which this is the case is the striking options, not least because the club built around intending to play two upfront in a diamond formation. Souleymane Doukara may have opened the scoring after only 12 seconds, the second fastest goal in Leeds’ history, but he struggled for the rest of the game. With Chris Wood out, he is the Whites’ best option to lead the line, a position that does not suit his style of play at all.
Lewie Coyle should get an opportunity at right back
Scott Wootton has deservedly earned plaudits for revolutionising his Leeds career. After all, he spent a segment of last season on loan with Rotherham before returning and filling in on the right side of defence. Gaetano Berardi is out injured, but Wootton’s display at Ipswich suggests it might be worth looking elsewhere for the visit to Sheffield Wednesday. Lewie Coyle impressed against Rotherham United - it could be worthwhile giving the Thorp Arch product a little run in the first team while Berardi recuperates.
Mick McCarthy shows Leeds how it should be done
Back in October Mick McCarthy looked like he might be under pressure at Ipswich. He was given the time to turn it around, and by the time Leeds came to Portman Road his side were comfortable in sixth. The victory took them above Brighton into fifth. McCarthy has had an extended period with the Tractor Boys to build a side in his image, and despite not spending much money he looks set for a second play-off campaign in succession. Time is often all a good manager needs, something Leeds should take heed from.
Options in reserve still remain an issue for Leeds
Leeds spent the majority of the 89 minutes following Souleymane Doukara’s opener under heavy pressure. When Steve Evans turned to the bench, he will have seen few options to really alter the course of the match. Stuart Dallas was an understandable introduction, and he nearly set Byram up with an opportunity to score, but he was never likely to resolve the problem. Other substitutes had an even more limited impact. Game changers are still needed very badly at Leeds.