Leeds United’s win over Bournemouth was a big result against a very good side. I don’t think Neil Redfearn’s far wrong when he says that Bournemouth are the best footballing team in the Championship.
A victory like that is so precious but at the same time it’s only one win. We still urgently need points to get us out of the rat race which is developing at the bottom of the table.
It’s so important to take advantage of spells where confidence is high and the points are coming. In all fairness, our win over Bournemouth didn’t come from nowhere. The team have been much improved in the past two or three weeks and this spell is making me optimistic about our chances of staying up.
That’s got to be the sole target for the club now. I’m all for forward planning and future development but as far as I’m concerned, I’ll consider it ‘job done’ if we’re still a Championship side in May.
Better still would be a run of form which makes us safe well before the last few weeks of the season. The play-offs have been gone for a while now if indeed they were ever in reach and there’s no point even looking at them but the goal for everyone has to be getting to the summer and regrouping in the next transfer window.
But before then we need to go looking for three more points at Huddersfield Town. Derbies are strange games and we’ve seen some odd or unexpected results in this particular match over the years but I’m genuinely expecting us to go to Huddersfield and follow up the win over Bournemouth.
A few weeks ago, ahead of our visit to Bolton Wanderers, I made the point that no-one in the Championship should ever view a game like that with trepidation. The same goes for Huddersfield. They’ve got a good, reliable manager in Chris Powell but if their season has been any better than ours then the difference is pretty marginal.
With the way we’re playing at the moment, I’d be wary of changing the team to any great extent. Assuming that Steve Morison is fit to play I’d be surprised if Neil Redfearn makes any more than one enforced alteration – Sol Bamba for the suspended Giuseppe Bellusci.
To be honest, if Bellusci was available then I’d have been tempted to make that switch anyway. Our performances are improving but there’s no doubt at all that we’re suffering from real weakness at the back. It would have been harsh if Bournemouth had denied us a win last week but you can’t deny that they hit the woodwork twice, had a goal disallowed for offside and created several chances they should have finished.
Huddersfield have some good strikers in James Vaughan and Nahki Wells and this is the ideal time to introduce someone with Bamba’s height and strength. We’re prone to hanging balls into the box, that’s plain to see, and having Bamba’s presence in that area can only be a bonus.
As signings go, Bamba looks to me like a step forward. He’s coming from Serie A and he’s got prior experience of the Championship. We’re talking about someone with pedigree (albeit a defender who’ll probably need a few games to get his match fitness right).
But in general, the players in the current line-up are earning their places. We’ve got four young academy players who’ve been excellent and Steve Morison deserves another chance. Okay, he’s not got a goal but he’s gone very close and I don’t see another striker in the squad who would do what he’s doing alone up front.
That probably explains why Leeds are trying to sign another target man.
With this team, I feel we’ve got the skill and the guts to move away from trouble and stay there.
And we’ve got a team who can go to Huddersfield on Saturday and pick up a victory. For the first time in a while, I fully expect us to do just that.