Leeds United: Wood has excelled in his lone role up front - Ritchie
IT HAS been a great season for Chris Wood in terms of his goals at Leeds United, but the way he has learned to play the lone centre forward's role has also really impressed me too.
Wood has just been fantastic in that goalscoring regard all season and I don’t think there is anything to suggest that he won’t keep going. I think he might quite easily get to 30 goals this season and he has plenty of time to do it.
I must admit, I was a bit sceptical at first as to whether Wood had the pace to play the one up-front role. Don’t get me wrong, he is fleet enough of foot, but without quite being the speed merchant you would expect.
But he really has learned that position and where to run and when to run and when to stay put, which is an art.
I only played that role once when I was playing and I remember it was at Stoke for Oldham.
I found it enlightening, really. It gave me a little bit of an insight as to where I should be running when I have got a strike partner as well.
I actually quite enjoyed it as it went okay. Although I am not saying it would have worked if I had been stuck in that position for the rest of the season!
To be fair to Chris, he has had to learn the position and he has learnt it very well. There is an art getting into the box when there is only one person – probably you – up front and you have been involved in the build-up.
Obviously, it will be a case of wrapping Chris up in cotton wool now. You don’t want him getting another injury and he had one at the start of the season which wasn’t too long, but was long enough.
It has not obviously gone as well as Marcus Antonsson would have liked this season. But for me, I think he is still learning the game over here. From what I have seen of him, I think he is quite a decent player and he looks quite creative with a little bit of pace. Let’s hope he can be a big player next season and can do bits this season still as well.
But it will be tough for him now. For Leeds, it is all about battening down the hatches and just getting the results now.
Leeds need extra goals from other players, but they need to really dig first and foremost and produce battling performances.
Leeds host Sheffield Wednesday today and I have my own memories of this game in the 1980s.
We drew at Elland Road and the goal went in off my hand and there was a bit of controversy and it was analysed on Match of the Day.
But it was accidental. It skimmed my head and hit my hand and went in!
It is certainly a big game today, isn’t it? Leeds also have some other big games shortly against teams who are around them such as Fulham and Brighton.
You look at Fulham, who are creeping up and keeping going. Sometimes it is easier when you are just out of the top six at the moment and playing with a little bit more freedom. When you are up there, it can be harder.
Leeds have that six-point cushion, but they do need to beat the teams around them. I do think it is crucial that you get points off teams who are in there with you.
For me, at this stage of the season, I do not think it really matters how you play.
You could play the worst football in the world, but if you scrape a 1-0, then you won’t mind.
Leeds are in a great position and it is the results that matter now, not attractive football.
Looking at the teams’ positions today, Sheffield Wednesday would probably take a draw now, away from home where you get what you can. If it was the other way around and Leeds were going to Wednesday, they would think the same.
As an away side in this sort of game, if you come away having not got beaten, you would be happy with that.
Leeds have to take the initiative a little bit, being the home team. Derbies are very unpredictable, but let’s hope Leeds can do it.