The YEP jury has it say ahead of Leeds United’s clash with Derby County at Elland Road.
Derby’s visit to Elland Road marks Neil Redfearn’s ninth game in charge of Leeds this season and his fifth as permanent coach.
For David Hockaday and Darko Milanic this was the penultimate game of their tenures.
Barring any last-minute decisions from our owner (and we’d be foolish to completely rule it out) Redfearn will take to the Elland Road dugout for the fifth time this year with an unbeaten home record to protect. Clearly, results have been much better under Redfearn than any other coach this season but it’s actually performances where the difference is most evident.
United’s only league win without Redfearn at the helm was the Billy Sharp-assisted, last-gasp home win against Middlesbrough back in August. In that game, the team huffed and puffed to a fortunate victory, perhaps our most undeserved points of the campaign. In contrast, our most recent showing was the exact reverse, a winning performance undone by a single, calamitous moment in defence and a refereeing decision.
Results don’t tell you everything and it would have been easy for players and fans alike to be downbeat and pessimistic on the back of last week’s trip to Ewood Park, but that would be to miss the point. Almost 7,000 Leeds fans saw a team growing in stature, confidence and putting on an away performance we could have only dreamed of at the start of the season.
Far from the lacklustre and aimless play we had grown accustomed to, the team is starting to look dynamic, organised and sometimes even threatening. Alex Mowatt has proven his early-season exclusion to be laughable, Lewis Cook is putting in the types of performances that have been far beyond Leeds midfielders many years his senior and Sam Byram openly credits Redfearn for his rejuvenation at right-back.
Add in some really talented pre-season purchases, in particular Silvestri, Cooper, Adryan and Antenucci playing alongside Jason Pearce, Rodolph Austin and Stephen Warnock who, themselves, are showing some of their best ever league form, and our league position belies our reasons to be positive.
One of the failings of Leeds United over many years has been our inability to realise when we are on to something good. That’s precisely why judging Neil Redfearn on results is a very dangerous game at the moment.
Patience is the watchword.
Prediction: Leeds United 1 Derby County 0.
Leeds’ attempt to halt a poor run of form has netted only seven points for the Championship tally.
The club needs to pick up points before too long or a long, hard winter is on the horizon.
Derby County sit top of the Championship with 35 points and a healthy goals difference of 18. They have a good squad very capable of taking them to the Premiership.
I think a change in personnel is due for this weekend’s game, Billy Sharp and Adyran to be played as the front two, one with pace and the other is a proven goalscorer at this level.
The other change would be Rudy Austin brought in to add much-needed experience in the midfield. The back five I wouldn’t change; they had played really well up to the point when the mistake was made. They deserve a chance to redeem themselves.
It is hard to see anything but a Derby County win. The heart says a narrow win for Leeds, the head disagrees and expects another defeat. I really hope I’m wrong. Prediction: Leeds United 1 Derby County 3.
Well, it’s been a very long time since we last beat Derby, well September 2005 to be exact, and they are flying at the moment, so it will be tough.
But I think we have the style of football and we just need a bit of luck and for it to click.
Prediction: Leeds United 2 Derby County 1.
I am never confident playing Derby and with our recent run of poor form against them, I can’t see us getting anything from the game.
They are arguably the best side in the league and are coming into the game having beaten two promotion contenders in their last two games, Wolves and Watford.
We may see a couple of changes this week; Bellusci may come into the defensive midfield role and I think Redfearn will start Austin to provide us with a bit more power and physicality. I keep calling for Sharp to replace Doukara but yet again, the big Frenchman got on the score sheet so I’m really not sure who Redfearn will pick.
Prediction: Leeds United 0 Derby County 2.
The Rams have won five of their last seven matches and have suffered only three defeats all season and, unbelievably, a Rob Hulse hat-trick in 2005 was the last time the Whites triumphed in this fixture.
I’m predicting a share of the spoils and a few goals.
Prediction: Leeds United 2 Derby County 2.
If Leeds could have picked one opponent to get over the heartache of last weekend’s cruel defeat, it’s pretty certain that Derby County would have been at the bottom of that list.
Flying high at the top of the table and having won 11 of their last 12 against the Whites, Derby have taken great pleasure in being our bogey team in recent years. There were encouraging signs last time out, and but for some bad luck and crazy defending, the three points would have been secured. I expect Redders to keep faith with the XI who played so well at Ewood Park, although I would take Marco Silvestri out of the firing line and give Stuart Taylor a chance between the posts.
Prediction: Leeds United 1 Derby County 1.