Our YEP Jury have their say on Leeds United’s home clash with Middlesbrough.
Leeds United at home to Middlesbrough is generally one of the more attractive fixtures of the season.
A derby (in the loosest possible sense) against a team who are perennial promotion challengers is a game that we might expect to see as one that would draw a big crowd. However, it is also a game that is attractive to the TV broadcasters and it is no real surprise that, for the second season in succession, it has been picked by Sky.
Leeds being on TV is not a bad thing. It allows fans who can’t afford the ridiculous prices which are charged to attend football matches the opportunity to see their team in action.
What has become a real bugbear is that because Sky has lost the Champions League deal to BT Sport, they have holes in their schedule that they need to fill and are using the Football League, and it seems like Leeds in particular, to do that.
With Europe’s premier competition restarting this week, there was no chance of putting on a big game on a Monday night so Leeds v Middlesbrough was a much more attractive prospect than Southampton v Swansea.
Leeds, so far, have been on Sky every day of the week this season, and fans have seen the traditional Saturday 3pm fixture become a thing of the past.
Our owner Massimo Cellino, meanwhile, should concentrate on getting a team that is good enough to earn promotion to the Premier League and then he would be able to swim in the money that the club would earn from TV rights rather than getting into alleged disputes and spats with the Football League and Sky TV.
That is why Middlesbrough are spending a fortune on building a team and are on the brink of returning to the top flight and we are mired in the lower reaches of the Championship – again.
I have very little to say about the football.
Boro are wobbling, but should have more than enough class to beat a Leeds team which is toothless in attack and prone to calamities at the back. There might be enough entertainment to keep those watching at home happy. I’m pretty sure that those who are in the ground will, however, have a miserable Monday evening.
Prediction: Leeds United 0 Middlesbrough 2.
A very important period starts for head coach Steve Evans today; if an upturn in results is not forthcoming, he could well go the way of the ones before him.
He’s said it’s a results business, and only one win in eight games speaks volumes of his ability to coach this squad into a winning one. He’s not good enough, and the ‘blame culture’ he uses says a lot about his qualities as a coach – a bad workman blames his tools.
Boro, like ourselves, have had an indifferent last few games, their latest being a dramatic 1-1 draw at MK Dons, with new signing Jordan Rhodes getting a injury-time equaliser. The striker is the latest high-profile player chairman Steve Gibson has gambled on for a serious Premiership challenge.
Mustapha Carayol is ineligible, due to the conditions of his loan, but Alex Mowatt is back in contention after a spell on the sidelines. Chris Wood will still be out due to injury, so Evans has no choice but to persist with Souleymane Doukara and Mirco Antenucci up front. It is hoped more effort is forthcoming from the pair; last Saturday they showed how desperately a striker was needed before the transfer window closed.
Middlesborough aren’t playing well, but I still expect them to have too much for Leeds.
Prediction: Leeds United 1 Middlesbrough 2.
Leeds have won the last three home encounters with Boro although they are arguably in better shape this season than for any of those recent games. Well placed to secure automatic promotion, many reckon they are the best side in the Championship. Boro’s last four Championship games do though offer a glimmer of hope that maybe this is a great time to be playing them; they are without a win in that spell.
Boro have been sparing in the use of Jordan Rhodes so far but his goal rescued a point at MK Dons on Tuesday night having come off the bench and he traditionally enjoys scoring against Leeds. I think this game can, like any Leeds game, go either way. At our best we are quite capable of surprising Boro, at our worst they will win it at a canter!
Prediction: Leeds United 1 Middlesbrough 1
Boro only just snatched a last-minute equaliser in midweek courtesy of perpetual United-tormentor-in-chief Jordan Rhodes. The Whites will, hopefully, perform better against him, and the visitors in general.
Prediction: Leeds United 1 Middlesbrough 3.
United are in Monday night action at short notice after some sort of spat between the club and the Football League (familiar territory). Exactly what has gone on is unclear to everybody but this weekend’s seemingly credible newspaper reports have been denied by the club.
Protest and unrest has risen in the last seven days in reaction to our stagnant transfer window and the way our season has just fizzled out of energy.
Steve Evans and Massimo Cellino could both do with a win in front of the Sky cameras but I fear it’s unlikely given the lack of progress we’ve seen in our performances since Evans arrived at the club. Middlesbrough should win this.
Prediction: Leeds United 0 Middlesbrough 2.
I don’t know what to expect for the Middlesbrough game. They have been struggling recently but are due a win while we perform better against the top teams. After a good rest, the lads need to repay the fans for the poor for the Forest display.
Man of the match: Leeds United 1 Middlesbrough 1.