IT WILL have been a good week for Leeds overall if they win at Barnsley today if you look at it as two wins out of three.
If you look at who they have played and beaten then I think it puts it into a different context.
Boro, as we know, have taken a while to have warmed up to the league and they have been hit and miss.
They were miss on Sunday at Elland Road but they were a hit on Wednesday night winning 2-0 at home to Birmingham City.
The celebrations around the end of the game by Leeds [after beating Middlesbrough], – whether that was just with it being Garry Monk’s team or whether it was just relief – were massively out of proportion to winning a Championship game.
Whether it was more because of relief for the manager that they pulled out a result as and when they needed to, I don’t know.
But from a Leeds point of view you don’t want to be crestfallen by thinking it was back to normal service on Wednesday night because Wolves are favourites to go up.
Middlesbrough are also among the favourites to go up but out of the two of them Wolves are the best team at this moment in time and they have proved that so far over the course of the season.
It was full marks all round for everyone on Sunday and Leeds to a man played very well with Pontus Jansson being the one that stood out to me in the way that he was very uncompromising and very solid which allowed the more creative lads to go forward.
On Wednesday at Wolves, there might have been certain aspects of the game that were close but you are looking at a team there in Wolves who have been excellent and continue to be excellent.
It’s not back to square one.
You can bracket it as square one if you to lose to Barnsley and if you get outplayed by Barnsley.
If you win against Barnsley then it’s six points out of nine and that’s a pretty decent week after a pretty torrid couple of months.
So I think you refrain from judgement until you know how the Barnsley game goes.
It’s another Yorkshire derby and there’s another element of another good young manager and a very accomplished young manager in Paul Heckingbottom who I have got a lot of time for.
He is quite rightly being touted for bigger jobs.
It will be intriguing to see how he tactically sets up against Leeds.
With regards to the Leeds formation, I think from a mobility point of view you can still line up 4-2-3-1.
But I think from a point of view of keeping it as solid as possible throughout the opening portions of the game then no, you can’t.
I think a four in defence and four in midfield sits pretty well.
Up front, Pierre-Michel Lasogga has obviously missed the last couple of games and it’s a strange one because in one sense he gives you physical presence up front but in the other sense he doesn’t touch the ball.
Kemar Roofe has played the lone striker role in United’s last two games and I think someone like Roofe can definitely play the lone striker role if you can hold the ball up and bring other people into play but also run beyond the back four. As long as he has got the support then he is all right.
What we saw in the Brentford game was Lasogga up front on his own with nobody around him.
He wasn’t holding the ball up, he wasn’t getting any service and when he did, the ball didn’t stick, so it was like a perfect storm of what you don’t want from a lone striker.
But the responsibility is as much on the rest of the players as it is on him because he can’t play on his own, yet if he is isolated then he has got to play by himself.
So from a Leeds point of view they need to get support up there.
Gjanni Alioski is a willing runner and Samu Saiz is a willing runner, as is Roofe if he is playing out wide.
They have got permutations but this is where it comes down to the tactical side of how Thomas sets up against different teams and what he is judged on.
Against Middlesbrough everything worked perfectly and you could sense from the way he talked pre-match that he knew how well his team was going to do. Yet Wolves are a different problem and question altogether for most Championship teams.
Given United’s goalkeeping problems, what happened with Rob Green looks ridiculous. He had that one time last season against Newcastle where he threw one in but you get a goal scored like that a year and from what I remember that was the only one that sticks out. Leeds made quite a conscious decision over Felix Wiedwald and you either stick with him until he proves you right or you get someone else in as he has done with Andy Lonergan.
Lonners has got more experience at that level but chopping and changing your goalkeeper doesn’t bode well from the defence’s point of view because they look at it and think ‘what’s going on?’
As we know from the unit last season between Kyle Bartley, Jansson and Green, that kind of trio was a real strong-point.
With the two full backs supplementing that, it was as strong a Leeds United defence as we have seen for a long time.
You can’t stick with someone out of blind stubbornness but he has now got one goalkeeper who is experienced in Lonergan and Wiedwald who is different in coming into the league and this is where Thomas will get judged.
It was Leeds’ decision to replace a former England goalkeeper with Wiedwald and the former England goalkeeper said ‘fine, see you later,’ which is completely understandable.