Frantic though the fixture list may be at the moment, at least it’s given Leeds coach Uwe Rosler the chance to run the rule over tonight’s hosts Bristol City - not once, but twice. Phil Hay reports.
The only bonus for Uwe Rosler in the midst of a scrambled fixture list was the opportunity to scout Bristol City at close range twice.
Leeds United’s head coach watched their League Cup defeat at Luton Town last Tuesday and took in their concession of four goals at home to Brentford on Saturday. He came away thinking that Steve Cotterill’s side would threaten the Championship’s top 10 this season, despite a league table which shows the Ashton Gate club lodged at the bottom of the pile.
A week in the division has given Cotterill plenty to think about but his board are not hanging their manager out to dry. Last week City bid £6m for Crystal Palace’s Dwight Gayle. Yesterday they submitted an offer of around £8m for Brentford’s Andre Gray. “You see what we are up against,” Rosler said, talking about Bristol City and the Championship in general.
The German thought City should have “beaten Luton in 15 minutes” before collapsing in the second half. He also reckoned Brentford could as easily have been on the wrong end of Saturday’s 4-2 scoreline at Ashton Gate. Rosler will tell his players to be prepared for a fast start at Ashton Gate tonight as City persist with the tactics and the ambition which brought them the League One title last season.
“I’d be quite excited about their style of play,” Rosler said. “I played a similar way with Wigan in the FA Cup the season before last. You have 3-5-2, you have wing backs and it’s a very exciting style of football. I admire Cotterill for the way he set up his team, the way he plays.
“Watching them against Luton, they could have won the game in 15 or 20 minutes. I watched them against Brentford and they should have been up 3-0 or 4-0. They’ll do well this season.”
They’re starting games very fast and that’s something we have to be aware of. That will be key. They’ll come at us like a house on fire and it’s very important that we’re mentally strong in the beginning. When you set the team up like (3-5-2) there are some advantages. But there are some areas where you are exposed.”
Leeds did not have the luxury of finding Reading wide open on Sunday afternoon but Rosler argued again that a 0-0 draw at the Madejski Stadium was a “good point”, three days after extra-time in the League Cup at Doncaster Rovers.
United’s first two league games have yielded two points and Rosler said: “Of course we want to win. We go into every game to win. As long as I’m here or wherever I am, I want to win games.
“But sometimes I have to accept a point. I accepted a point at Reading because under the circumstances the result was good. People forget (the circumstances) sometimes and they can tell me whatever they want. Our performance at Reading was good. I’m pretty happy with going into the Bristol game being unbeaten.
“When we played Burnley (on the first day of the season) we had a lot of energy. We stood high up the pitch, forced errors and had chances. Reading was a different scenario. Both teams cancelled themselves out but we had the best chance. It was a more tactical game. My young players did what I asked to get a result.
“I promise that when we come through this programme and have time to refresh, we’ll play high and create chances again for our strikers and for Chris Wood.”
Rosler’s line-up will change again tonight, for tactical reasons and also reasons of fitness. Midfielder Alex Mowatt is likely to be rested and striker Mirco Antenucci is pressing for a start, much as Rosler will continue backing Wood, his £3m signing from Leicester City.
City, meanwhile, are without suspended playmaker Luke Freeman.
“I don’t have to make changes but I will do,” Rosler said, denying that his style of football - “heavy metal”, to use his words - might leave his players prone to tiredness.
“I don’t think my style of football burns people out. I think my style of football is required in the Championship. You need to press, you need to be organised and play. I don’t think we have the team to defend in and around our box permanently.”