Leeds United: Saiz's bottle, the next Charlie Taylor and a first win for Forshaw - Talking Points

MOMENT TO SAVOUR: Leeds United's Tom Pearce is hugged by Kalvin Phillips after scoring his first goal for Leeds United. Picture by Simon Hulme.MOMENT TO SAVOUR: Leeds United's Tom Pearce is hugged by Kalvin Phillips after scoring his first goal for Leeds United. Picture by Simon Hulme.
MOMENT TO SAVOUR: Leeds United's Tom Pearce is hugged by Kalvin Phillips after scoring his first goal for Leeds United. Picture by Simon Hulme.
AFTER seeing Paul Heckingbottom finally record his third win as head coach of Leeds United, the YEP's Lee Sobot looks at few talking points from Saturday's 2-1 defeat of Championship visitors Barnsley at Elland Road.

Relief for Heckingbottom

Defeat for Heckingbottom against his former side would have been a disaster on Saturday with the head coach approaching the fixture after just two wins from his first 13 games in charge which had accumulated just ten points.

Even taking into account United’s horrendous list of injuries and bans, that run of form was naturally raising big question marks over the security of Heckingbottom’s job.

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The 40-year-old will have been mightily relieved to get a third win in the can though it has to be said United’s performance wasn’t exactly great with their first-half display particularly disappointing after the Whites had gone 1-0 up.

After an improved second half display, it ended up being merely a case of job done but nothing has changed in regards to the fact that huge work is needed on United’s squad over the summer.

Is Tom Pearce the next Charlie Taylor?

One recent Whites Academy graduate has already made himself a first team regular in young shotstopper Bailey Peacock-Farrell who again made some superb saves that were crucial in bagging Leeds all three points.

Peacock-Farrell has now started United’s last nine games and the no 1 jersey is rightly his at present with United now facing a very tricky dilemma on that score over the summer as to whether to head into next season with BPF as clear no 1 or no 2 behind a new shotstopper.

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On recent evidence, there is no reason why Peacock-Farrell should not keep his place as first choice and Pearce is now strongly advocating his claims to be first choice left back too.

United have had all sorts of woes in the position since Charlie Taylor left for Burnley and while those are big boots to fill, long term Pearce might be able to fill them.

The left back was clearly one of United’s best performers on Saturday if not the best, with the defender impressive both in defence and going forward as when netting his brilliant 17th-minute goal.

It has to be remembered that Saturday’s outing was only Pearce’s third start in professional football and his future is massively bright as Pearce has only just turned 20 and you sense there is still plenty of physical development to come.

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All in all, there is every reason to think that the former Everton youngster can become a very good first choice left back, perhaps similar to Taylor in time.

Fellow under-23s graduate Paudie O’Connor also earned his fourth start at centre-back and the 21-year-old was unlucky with his own goal.

The Irishman is continuing to progress nicely having been thrown in at the deep end and the defender should be a decent squad player for the Whites next term though United clearly need a new centre back in the summer and basically another Kyle Bartley.

And a Chris Wood too.

A petulant Samu Saiz

Spanish playmaker Saiz was clearly United’s shining light in the first half of the season but things have not been the same since the 27-year-old returned from his six-match ban served for spitting at Robbie Willmott in the FA Cup loss at Newport County.

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There has been the odd flash of magic since from Saiz and there is no doubting his quality but the Spaniard really struggled to make an impact against Barnsley and booted a water bottle in frustration after being taken off with six minutes left.

Saiz was clearly unhappy and frustrated but that reaction was not nice to see and the quicker the former Huesca man gets back to his best the better.

This season has long been dead in the water but assuming Leeds hold on to Saiz in the summer and there is no reason to suggest otherwise then United need the playmaker hitting the ground running in August.

A first win for Adam Forshaw

There were plenty of other points to ponder on Saturday, not least an outing for Matthew Pennington at right back who did reasonably okay all things considered plus the latest creation made by Kalvin Phillips with his hair.

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It has to be said that Barnsley’s Oli McBurnie was also rather disappointing with the 21-year-old heavily linked with a move to the Whites this summer.

The efforts and running of Gjanni Alioski were also to be applauded while Kemar Roofe clearly deserves great credit for his superb work in setting up Alioski’s goal.

But it was also heartening to see the return of midfielder Forshaw following his recent calf injury when the centre midfielder was brought on for Saiz with six minutes left.

Forshaw has made a big impact in a short space of time since signing from Middlesbrough in January and there remain strong calls for him to be named captain next season yet Saturday’s win was actually Forshaw’s first experience of a Leeds win at the tenth attempt.

It is hoped many more will follow though that will depend on how United act in the transfer window this summer.