Leeds United: Rosler’s Achilles heel adds to a toxic cocktail

Leeds United's head coach Uwe Rosler.
Leeds United's head coach Uwe Rosler.
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Frustration and disquiet at Elland Road has left Leeds United fans with little to sing about during home games which, in turn, exacerbates an already-palpable tension. Leon Wobschall reports.

If you think that experiencing a debilitating bout of footballing homesickness is a new sensation for Uwe Rosler, then you would be wholly wrong.

For the second season running, home wins are proving rare commodities for the German – and while his toils this time last season at the DW Stadium did not evoke mass disgruntlement at Wigan Athletic, it’s a different kettle of fish in the 24/7 world that is Leeds United.

The fact that United, who, lest we forget, won 15 successive home league wins in a stunning sequence from January 24, 2009 to September 19, 2009, have not won at Elland Road since early March is a source of intense embarrassment, incredulity and exasperation to everyone of a Whites persuasion.

Matters have reached such a worrying juncture that Leeds’ 2-0 weekend loss to Birmingham City equalled a club record of 10 home league games without a win, with that unwanted statistic set between February 6 – May 12, 1982 by a team that was relegated from the top-flight under Allan Clarke in 1981-82.

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Ironically, that horror sequence was broken with a win against Brighton, United’s opponents at Elland Road on Saturday week – with goals from Kevin Hird and Gary Hamson giving Leeds a 2-1 success over the Seagulls on May 15, 1982.

Rosler is somewhat unfortunate in the respect that a spill-over from the listless home form in the final few months of last season has continued this term to exacerbate matters, with the tension palpable every time Leeds have gone behind, which is quite often.

Confidence is clearly a big issue with players, with evidence to that supplied by the fact that Leeds have taken the lead in just one home game since their last win, a 2-1 success against Ipswich Town way back on March 4.

That perhaps just as much as the failure to record a cherished home win is as illustrative of the lack of conviction and authority that is engulfing Leeds players on their own patch as anything.

The patient punters at Elland Road have been given precious few morsels to feed off since March, somewhat criminal given the fervour of a group of supporters who can turn Elland Road into such a hostile arena when they are given something worth buying into by the performances on the pitch.

At the moment, there is just frustration and disquiet and not too much to sing about.

For Rosler, it is all developing into a rather toxic cocktail.

He will be feeling the pain more than anyone, with the fact that Leeds – given this season’s largely anaemic home performances – cannot really have too many complaints that they have yet to breach the wins column at LS11 in 2015-16 compounding matters. A draw was a fair result against Sheffield Wednesday and arguably flattered the hosts a little against Brentford, while dispiriting reverses to Ipswich Town and Birmingham were the nett result of performances where Leeds got what they deserved. Nothing.

The only case you can make for Leeds deserving victory was in the home opener with Burnley, but even that was not a truly overwhelming one.

Home form is the bedrock of any successful sides as Rosler knows full well and the Achilles heel which afflicted him at Wigan last season has fared up again.

The statistics show that Rosler managed to record just two home victories in eight Championship matches at Wigan last term before his sacking on November 13, 2014.

While the German could point to the fact that a number of draws showed that the Latics were hard to beat, the fact that just two wins were accrued with a home win percentage of 25 was the stark statistic.

Only Sheffield Wednesday and Blackpool, with one win apiece, had won fewer Championship home games in 2014-15 than Rosler managed before his services were dispensed with.

Amid the fall-out of Saturday’s poor result against Birmingham, Rosler acknowledged the need for his players to start developing a nasty streak in order to prevent the home drama lurching into a full-blown crisis. There are times in the season where results are quite simply the be-all and end-all, with Leeds having reached that juncture at Elland Road.

An ugly and dog-eared victory at home is something that Leeds supporters would make no apologies for – and the sooner it arrives, the better for everyone.

If it’s a couple of those sort of wins, Leeds would be no poorer for it either.

You suspect that Rosler is inclined to take a similar mindset at the moment.

He said: “We can be better and we’re trying our hardest, that I can assure you. We have to realise that we have to show quality.

“But it’s not only about playing nice football.

“We need to be ruthless, have a nasty streak at times.

“We need more aggression and we all have to realise that.”

Offering his take, frustrated captain Sol Bamba added: “We are disappointed but we know this league and now it’s all about the next game and how we respond.

“It’s disappointment at the minute but we are now back and we will be ready for the next game.”

Leeds United director of football Victor Orta. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe

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