The YEP jury make their predictions ahead of Leeds United’s clash with Bolton Wanderers at Elland Road.
After suffering a dramatic, late midweek cup exit United can now concentrate on the league, or at least staying in it, when they entertain Bolton Wanderers tomorrow afternoon at Elland Road.
Not only have the Whites exited the League Cup at the second-round stage to lower-league opposition, but have also lost three of their opening four league fixtures, resulting in them now being in 21st place in the embryonic Championship table.
The manner of their last league defeat – a 4-1 reversal at Watford – almost led owner Massimo Cellino to sack coach David Hockaday. However, although reprieved on that occasion, it can only be a matter of time before our owner realises the mistake that he has made and appoints someone with more experience and success in managing players within a club the size and potential of Leeds United.
Hockaday seems a nice guy who is doing his best, but on that basis I am more than tempted to throw my own hat into the ring, as my success and experience at this level is pretty much on a par with his.
Whilst I fully understand and agree that Cellino wants to install a coach who does not get involved in contract negotiations, I think that he has to realise that in England it is vital that the coach must have some say in who is actually bought and sold. If he can be big enough to accept his mistake and ultimately protect his investment, then he should break the bank and go after Tony Pulis.
The Trotters arrive at LS11 as one of only three sides below United, having only gleaned a meagre one point from their opening four fixtures.
However victory against the Whites would ensure that the hosts spend the first international break of the season in the Championship relegation spots.
United will be minus Bellusci, Byram and Murphy due to suspension as a further worrying lack of discipline has led to the Whites having four players sent off in their first six fixtures this season.
Some eight goals conceded in their opening four Championship encounters is also another worrying statistic and they will certainly have to improve against former United front-man Jermaine Beckford, who we should have re-signed, who is no doubt assured another hero’s reception on his return to the site of his former glories.
Matt Smith, who was one of the few bright spots on Wednesday evening, should have done enough to claim a starting place alongside Billy Sharp.
However as to what the defence will look like, due to the suspensions previously mentioned, it is almost anyone’s guess who will line up and such a lack of stability is a further worry for the loyal hordes.
A win would be great, a loss a disaster; I’m expecting a share of the spoils.
Prediction: Leeds United 2 Bolton Wanderers 2.
David Hockaday remains behind the desk at Elland Road but once again the reputation and standing of the club has been ridiculed by on- and off-field events.
It remains to be seen if the axe that Massimo Cellino has wielded frequently at his previous club actually falls on Hockaday if results and performances do not make a significant improvement. What is certain is fans’ patience is running short and several voiced their opinions during the Watford game. The harsh reality is that from the outside the club looks a complete mess, well it does to me anyway. The Capital One Cup defeat to Bradford City will, hopefully, persuade Cellino enough is enough.
With the 30-plus squad Leeds United have, Hockaday still seems unable to put together 11 to play at a consistent level and already 20-plus players have donned the club shirt with probably still a few more to join the ranks.
I’ve always believed in quality not quantity so I’m hoping that the latest signing is a quality one. Also, we cannot continue with the ‘diamond’ – it just doesn’t work for the team and it’s time Hockaday realised it. Bolton are below us but Dougie Freedman’s team thrashed us 5-1 last season when they weren’t playing that well.
The best I can hope for is a draw at the weekend.
Prediction: Leeds United 1 Bolton Wanderers 1.
Another defeat, another call for Hockaday out, but I do have some sympathy for him. At 1-1 and 11 men at Watford, we were looking good. It was scrappy when Murphy was sent off on Wednesday, but we weren’t being steamrolled. The team couldn’t have put more in.
Prediction: Leeds United 1 Bolton Wanderers 0.
Is tomorrow already a relegation six-pointer? At such an early stage in the season, it is a huge game for us.
The lads need to find some confidence desperately and being at home against a struggling Bolton side is a great opportunity to get some.
Jermaine Beckford scored two midweek goals to send the Trotters through to the next round of the Capital One Cup and he will desperately want to score again tomorrow against his former club. Bolton currently sit one place below us having picked up only one point out of a possible 12. I don’t think a draw is good enough; the whole club needs a boost so a win is needed.
Prediction: Leeds United 3 Bolton Wanderers 1.
United’s midweek humiliation, in front of the Sky cameras and against our near neigbours, was as unsurprising as it was difficult to watch.
This is a team that is clearly working hard, but to what end? There is no player with the pace or precision to create really electric moments, to force goalscoring opportunities and feed Billy Sharp and Matt Smith. Tonge, Bianchi, Austin and Murphy are all capable players but not so much when all are in a disjointed diamond. Murphy’s absence forces Hockaday’s hand so maybe David Norris will get a rare league start. Defeat to Bolton and Hockaday will face the wrath of the Leeds crowd once again.
Prediction: Leeds United 0 Bolton Wanderers 1.
Finding words to describe Leeds United at the moment is becoming increasingly difficult.
As I write this, I have absolutely no idea who will be nominally in charge of the team for Saturday’s game, never mind what the side selected will be or what tactics we will play.
All I can say is that it is already a massive match, even at this early stage of the season. Bolton have struggled in the opening weeks and Dougie Freeman’s men will be as desperate for the three points as we are.
All one can hope for is that Leeds can add some purpose to the possession which seems to have been the driving force behind David Hockaday’s tactics. Eight shots on goal in the opening four games is hardly the fire power required to fire Leeds back up the Championship.
I am just going to turn up at Elland Road, sit back and watch what unfolds. Trying to predict events at Leeds United is a mug’s game. Much like the former coach, I have no idea what is going on!
Prediction: Does anybody genuinely have a clue? Leeds to have a shot on goal in first half is as much as I’m willing to guess!