Our YEP Jury have their say on Leeds United’s Championship clash at Bolton Wanderers
Within 90 minutes at the Stadium of Light we saw a set of players capable of good football, accurate passing, pressing and tackling but we also saw the same group appear completely devoid of the same skills they had minutes previously. That, to a large extent, has been the story of the season.
Despite the clamour for January additions and this week’s departure of Noel Hunt, United have a huge squad bloated by a massive influx of new players last summer, and we now find ourselves with a team that consistently flatters to deceive – and that’s their only consistency.
Marco Silvestri has been the centre of a number of crucial mix-ups this season but, in many other games, has been a contender for man of the match. Souleymane Doukara and Mirco Antenucci have looked lethal one minute and toothless the next, while Tomasso Bianchi and our rotating centre-halves have all been plagued by up and down performances.
Stephen Warnock has perhaps been the main exception to this rule with a string of solid showings at left-back, but that should come as no surprise with his wealth of experience at the top level. Our younger players – Byram, Cook, Mowatt and Adryan – have all caught the eye at times, but relying on inexperience and youthful legs seems risky in a team where senior heads aren’t performing.
All of this points Neil Redfearn towards age and experience if new recruits are eventually sanctioned, but we have to be careful not to tread the same path as Neil Warnock and Brian McDermott in filling the squad with average Championship players, past their peak and on long and lucrative contracts.
Aside from our inconsistency, our recent bad run of results is also slightly mitigated by what has been a tough set of opponents to face back-to-back, although we should have taken points from Wigan at home.
The cliché is that there are no easy games in the Championship but some are easier than others (including the visit of Leeds United for most other clubs) and we have beaten Bolton once this season.
It will take a massive turn-around in our away form to get a win here but some level of desperation must have set in by now and, with the Sunderland game providing Neil Redfearn with new ideas, we have to remain optimistic that we can spring a surprise and start to turn things around, new signings or not.
Prediction: Bolton Wanderers 1 Leeds United 2.
Leeds make the trip across the Pennines to play a resurgent Bolton team that seems to have clicked under Neil Lennon.
We had a right go in the second half against Sunderland and deserved more, and should take confidence from that tomorrow.
As for line-ups, I don’t think there should be many changes from Sunday.
I would like to see Billy Sharp in the team, and Charlie Taylor is more than adequate to replace Stephen Warnock if he is injured.
It would be hard to drop many of the midfield given their second half on Sunday.
But I think it would be unfair to keep Lewis Cook out.
It was nice to see the new players and I thought they gave a good account of themselves.
I would take a point from tomorrow’s game but as always, if Leeds were to go by my predictions, our record would be P46 W46, with a domestic cup double as well. I can’t back against my team.
Prediction: Bolton Wanderers 1 Leeds United 2.
It’s back to the battle for survival for Leeds United this weekend as they head to Bolton for an important match at the bottom of the table.
The Whites sit just one point above the drop zone, but as Bolton have shown, a run of form can ease the tension that we as supporters are beginning to feel. The two clubs’ recent records are almost polar opposites. United have just two wins in 10 games whilst Neil Lennon has inspired his new charges to just two defeats in those same 10 matches.
Neil Redfearn has spoken of the need for Championship hardy recruits to help out in the fight for survival, and a return for Luciano Becchio would be greeted favourably by most of the Whites support. It remains to be seen though if Massimo Cellino will divert from his plan of filling the squad with Serie B imports.
Team selection is anyone’s guess (and who will be selecting it may prove of more interest) and I feel that with Leeds unlikely to get anything from the game, the results elsewhere may be more crucial for our survival hopes.
Prediction: Bolton Wanderers 2 Leeds United 0
We have never been as desperate for a win all season. With the possibility of finishing the day in the relegation zone, it must be some motivation for the players to make sure they put a performance in.
Bolton are nothing special but their season has turned around since the arrival of Neil Lennon. He has signed some experienced players such as Emile Heskey and Eidur Gudjohnsen so they have some real threats up front. Murphy and Sloth are likely to be involved in some sort but I expect Cook and Mowatt to start the game. I don’t think Bianchi deserves to start but Redfearn seems to like him. Three points is a must!
Score prediction: Bolton Wanderers 1 Leeds United 2
After a week off from their Championship campaign Leeds United return to action with a ‘roses’ clash with Bolton Wanderers.
While efforts to recruit have increased, at the time of writing none have come in but many mentioned, including the return of a certain Argentinian from his unsuccessful transfer to Norwich. Opinions are split about his return but myself, I would welcome him back. We will have to wait until Cellino returns from his holidays to see who he brings in.
Neil Lennon has taken the Lancashire team from bottom of the Championship to 15th and a run that picked up twenty four points. His ‘fiery’ style of management has obviously galvanised a squad low on confidence under previous manager Dougie Freedman. The contrast between the genial Redfearn and his counterpart will be a interesting sub plot.
There were good signs in the second-half performance at Sunderland and at least a couple of players deserve to keep their places, Rudy Austin and Brian Montenegro fitting well into the 4-2-3-1 formation. Forgotten Luke Murphy did enough to warrant at least a place on the substitute’s bench after a promising second half at the Stadium of Light. Stephen Warnock remains a doubt so Charlie Taylor may continue at left-back.
A large travelling following will follow their team over the Pennines and I’m hopeful for at least a point to start the 2015 Championship year.
Prediction: Bolton Wanderers 1 Leeds United 1
After a brief FA Cup distraction, United head across The Pennines to take on Bolton Wanderers. Whilst the Whites only boast two victories in their last ten league matches, The Trotters have had something of a resurgence since the arrival of Neil Lennon as manager, having lost only two games over a similar period.
Last week’s much improved second half display saw several squad members provide manager Neil Redfearn with a rare, positive selection headache. This is a vital game where points must be gleaned to avoid United being cut adrift from mid-table.
Prediction: Bolton Wanderers 1 Leeds United 1.