Leeds United: Pressure on to get home win after off-colour performances - Whelan

Leeds United's Mirco Antenucci battles with Brentford's Alan Judge. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe
Leeds United's Mirco Antenucci battles with Brentford's Alan Judge. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe
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LOOKING at Saturday’s draw against Brentford, you have got to say that Mirco Antenucci and Luke Murphy made a big case for starting in the game against Ipswich Town tomorrow night with their contributions after coming on.

Come the second half on Saturday, when we put Antenucci in there, we had someone to run in behind them and come off into pockets and pick balls up and run at them.

He is a bit more of a clever player and was a different proposition altogether for their two centre-halves.

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We created far more chances in the second half when Antenucci was on and he was nice and bright and lively and posed them a different problem and got his goal for it. When he came on, he was fantastic.

Murphy was also positive and brave and wanted the ball and was picking passes and putting himself about.

Elsewhere for me, there were too many others who were off colour.

Alex Mowatt didn’t have a particularly good game, but I know he had a slight injury, so that could be forgiven.

But the lads who came on did themselves plenty of good to put themselves in contention on Tuesday night.

Once again, looking at the Brentford game overall, it was a very similar performance to the previous home game against Sheffield Wednesday.

I thought that the first 45 minutes was poor and for me, we just did not have the intensity there.

The closing down wasn’t good enough and we allowed them time on the ball to turn and pick passes out.

We just looked like we didn’t get into any type of rhythm with our game.

To be fair, it was completely different in the second half. In the first half, we didn’t really cause them enough problems and the game was perfect for Brentford’s two centre-halves, James Tarkowski and Harlee Dean, who wanted to fight and win headers because they are big and strong.

Much is being made of how we are starting games at home and I do feel it is an issue and problem.

It is very difficult to win games in 90 minutes, let alone the 45 when you turn up and that is what we are doing at the moment.

We have had two teams here in Brentford and Sheffield Wednesday recently where I feel we should have been taking maximum points from both.

Yes, Brentford have a decent squad of players. But anybody can look good when you don’t close them down and allow them to turn and don’t win second balls.

And that is what we did; we didn’t win enough of them or have the intensity of closing down and we also didn’t get at them enough.

We didn’t cause them problems in the box either.

In terms of our better players, I thought Lewis Cook had another good game and brought energy and intensity into his game and Stuart Dallas also had a very good game.

Liam Cooper was strong at the back, with Sol Bamba in contrast having a bit of a mixed day. It wasn’t one of his finest games with a few mistakes in there.

But for me, it is Lewis who is the one out there who does make us tick with his passion and intensity in trying to drive through the midfield and get to the heart of the defence and try and make something happen.

We need more players to follow suit. Much is being made at the minute about Sam Byram’s form so far in 2015-16 and it has been a bit of a funny start to the season for Sam.

The thing is because of what we all know he is capable of, we expect that type of performance all the time now.

Sometimes, with all the stuff in the background about contracts and other clubs, it can be difficult. Hopefully, that will be put to bed now with the window closing, although we are still waiting to see the best of Sam this season.

But we can’t have a go at him. You can see he is trying and sometimes you can try too hard.

Looking at the Ipswich game, I would now go with top up front in Antenucci and Chris Wood. After seeing the pair against Brentford and against Bristol City, in terms of what they are capable of, I would play them from the start.

We could even have gone on and got that winner against Brentford. But at least towards the end, we did cause them more problems. For me also, it just seems that Wood likes playing up front with another player up there.

But on Saturday, we didn’t get the support up to him quickly enough. It was the same against Sheffield Wednesday.

This latest draw at home really puts the pressure on us to beat Ipswich.

Sunderland boss Simon Grayson.

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