Leeds United legend Peter Lorimer gives his latest thoughts on matters at Elland Road
I DO think there are signs of promise on the pitch for Leeds United now.
We have a lot of young players in the team and while it will take time for Darko Milanic to adjust, I think where we are, with all the changes, is quite commendable.
Looking at our start, with all the changes we have had at the club, we knew things would take time. Obviously, Dave Hockaday’s reign never got going and was a non-starter and then Neil Redfearn came in and had a good period and now Darko has come in as the first foreign coach we have had.
Some of the players such as Marco Silvestri have been exceptional. When you bring in the amount of players like we have, there’s always a bit of trial and error and everyone is not going to work. That’s football; out of so many, there will be ‘x’ amount of successes and one or two who don’t make it.
But I have been encouraged. We were average against Brentford and Reading and I was a bit concerned, but then we showed a lot of courage for a local derby against Sheffield Wednesday and the way he signed off before the international break bodes well. I thought it was a decent performance and an improved one from the Brentford and Reading games, in my opinion. We showed a lot of spirit and were maybe a little bit unlucky not to get three points. I actually enjoyed it and it was a good derby.
Guiseppe Bellusci impressed me on Saturday. He’s very strong and got his goal and is a typical Italian defender; no-nonsense. He has come up with a couple of goals, although he maybe was a bit disappointed with their goal in giving the guy too much room to get the cross. But he certainly made up with it with the equaliser. Mirco Antenucci was also a bit unlucky and on another day, might have got two or three goals. He is not a traditional British style centre forward who is big and strong. He is a footballer who has clever touches with a bit of pace and is a bit different to what we usually get in this country. He’s impressed me.
I also thought Saturday was Tommaso Bianchi’s best game for us. I think he is getting more adjusted to the English game now. At first, with the pace of the Championship, it looked a shock to his system. But he is certainly stepping up his game and looked very good on Saturday.
I also thought that it was Alex Mowatt’s best day of the season against Wednesday. Obviously, Lewis Cook had a bit of a rest last weekend, but he is definitely one for the future without any question with a lot to offer. In general, it’s a youngish squad and we still haven’t seen the likes of Adryan, Brian Montenegro and Zan Benedicic. But when you bring in 12, 13 or more players, they cannot all not play, that goes without saying.
But it is healthy players are playing for their positions and some are waiting for their chance. That can only be good for the manager.
When you look at the league, we are six points behind first place and no-one is taking the league by storm. I think I counted that out of 12 Championship games at the weekend, there were seven draws and that tells you that it is a very close and competitive league and I think everyone is capable of taking points off everybody else. The thing I like about Elland Road at this time is that there is a good feeling with the fans at this moment. Fans want things to go well and want the players to be successful and are getting behind them. If the players keep responding, I am sure we can continue to pick up.
We are now on another international break and aren’t in action this weekend and you look at a lot of those nations in the qualification group stages such as Gibraltar, San Marino, who England play at Wembley this evening and Luxembourg, who for me should play their own qualifying games before getting to this stage.
To have all these group games in the middle of a hectic season is very disruptive. We are only a couple of months into the season and this is the second break that we have already had.
There are already some club versus country issues already. I can well be sympathetic with some of these Premier League managers who believe that some of these group games are a waste of time.
If you have a team and a leading player with an injury and you are not doing so well at this particular time, you really value time to work with your squad.
Looking at Liverpool, you would imagine in a first-team squad of say 20 that a dozen won’t be there this week.
They will not be able to do any meaningful work on their team.
At the end of the day, the club will be paying the players and their fans will be desperate for their club to do well every season.