“Everyone loves a cup run,” said Charlie Taylor yesterday, perhaps speaking from a player’s point of view rather than that of English football in general. Seven Championship clubs went out of the Capital One Cup on Tuesday night, beaten at the first time of asking.
Teams in that division always know where their priorities lie and Uwe Rosler, Leeds United’s head coach, will shuffle his line-up around for a first-round tie at Doncaster Rovers tonight. “Sensible rotation,” Rosler calls it, and managers in the Championship have to be sensible.
Leeds have three away games in seven days ahead of them, including trips to Reading and Bristol City. If the Championship matters more than anything this season then this evening’s fixture is most likely to take the hit. But Rosler and Taylor are adamant that an upset in South Yorkshire will do no-one any favours.
“I saw the results on Tuesday and there were loads of upsets,” Taylor said. “Whatever the priority is, you don’t want to be on the wrong end of those results. You don’t want to lose games like that.
“Every club has their own priorities and their own way of thinking but you’ve got to try and keep an eye on both competitions. Players always love a cup run. I think everyone loves a cup run.”
The Keepmoat Stadium is an away ground which always keeps United honest. The club have a near-perfect record there and the Doncaster has the reputation of a ‘town full of Leeds fans’, despite the presence of a healthy League One side in their own back yard.
Leeds have sold more than 3,000 tickets among their own support, despite Sky choosing to televise tonight’s tie. “With our away crowd it’ll be a bit like a home game,” Taylor said. “There are loads of Leeds fans in Donny too so the result matters.
“It was really important to make a good start to the season and we don’t want our standards to drop from the weekend. It’s not the league (tonight) but it’s definitely a game we want to win – another game we want to win.”
The club’s start to the season was essentially what Rosler was looking for, apart from the late goal which denied Leeds a win over Burnley at Elland Road on Saturday.
From an intensive and supportive atmosphere to a strong and proficient performance from his squad, Rosler had much to enthuse about at the final whistle. He was prepared to forgive his and United’s wild reaction to the opening goal from Mirco Antenucci – a brilliant strike which was followed by a quick equaliser from Sam Vokes, earning Burnley a 1-1 draw three minutes from time.
“It was an emotional outburst,” said Rosler, who was taking charge of his first competitive match as head coach. “We probably spent too much energy on that but because of the day and how it went, it was completely understandable.”
Taylor said: “The result was a shame. As a whole, over 90 minutes, we played really well.
“Before the game we’d have taken a point but by the end of it, with how the game panned out, quite a few of us were disappointed. But you can’t take anything away from the performance.
“Burnley are a very good side. They’ll be up there I think. They’ve dropped down from the Premier League and they’ve got the bulk of that squad left. We came out of it thinking we were the better team.
“I know their goal was a top header but at that stage you’re looking to hold on. At the same time, it’s not a bad thing to be disappointed to have taken a point from a team like Burnley.
“The atmosphere was the best it’s been for quite a while and that helps massively. You saw that in the way we played. We enjoyed the crowd and they seemed to like what we were doing. It would be great if it could stay that way all season.”
Taylor is expected to start at left-back this evening but Rosler will shuffle a small squad as much as he can, in preparation for the league games packed into the week ahead. The German refused to criticise a schedule which has thrown Leeds a rare Thursday night outing but the running order of United’s first month of matches would not please many managers.
“There’s a lot of games coming up and some tough fixtures,” Taylor said. “The manager’s going to use the squad and as players you’ve got to accept that sometimes there’ll be changes.
“It’s not that you don’t want to play in every game but the manager’s got to do what he thinks is right. We have to get as many results and points on the board as possible.”