David Prutton: What Leeds United fans will learn from final pre-season game

Felix Wiedwald and Rob Green.
Felix Wiedwald and Rob Green.
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I always looked at it that the side that started a club’s final pre-season friendly would start the first game of the season.

Leeds United have their final pre-season friendly against Oxford United today and a club’s final friendly is usually pretty much the team that will take to the field on the opening day. That’s the way I always looked at it.

Ezgjan Alioski and Vurnon Anita.

Ezgjan Alioski and Vurnon Anita.

If Leeds are 3-0 down against Oxford at half-time then maybe there would be some cause for a change! But it’s going to be an intriguing game because obviously Leeds are coming up against their former assistant head coach in Pep Clotet who knows the majority of the squad really well.

Next Sunday’s season opener at Bolton Wanderers is obviously the important one. It’s all about the result against Bolton and to a certain extent the performance, because of how optimistic the first game of the season can make you feel – or how downbeat it can make you feel.

But the friendly at Elland Road against a manager who has seen the Championship and who knows all about the Championship is going to be a really tough test.

It would be good if Leeds can go into the season on a run of good form but it’s the fitness aspect that has got to be paramount going into that first game. Leeds have obviously made lots of summer signings and in terms of the new players, Vurnon Anita knows exactly what the league is about. The rest of the new arrivals don’t.

Pontus Jansson.

Pontus Jansson.

No doubt they will be talented footballers, it’s just about how they take to English football which is always the big question when they come from abroad. Some take to it a lot easier than others.

You can look at someone like Pontus Jansson who took to it pretty well because of the way he played and the way he carried himself. But it’s also about how well they can gel and how quickly they can gel with the new manager.

It can work if they are well prepared, if they are good enough, if they are in the mindset of hitting the ground running.

You are going to be playing two games a week and if their make up and personality is built to the right order then they will be fine.

The good thing with Leeds United fans – something they are known around the world for – is that if you play for them you are one of them. They will give these players the time and the patience and afford them enough rope to be able to show what they can do.

If it’s a case of a player comes in and tries his heart out and works as hard as he can but it just doesn’t go for him then the fans will think at least he gave it a go.

But if the approach is wrong and there’s an attitude of ‘I will look after myself’ then the fans will be able to smell that an absolute mile off.

That’s when the patience wears a little bit thin.

Fundamentally, if these players approach it in the right way then they will get the backing of the fans and the patience of the fans.

And there will certainly be intriguing competition in regards to who starts in goal after the signature of Felix Wiedwald from Werder Bremen. You wouldn’t think he has come to sit on the bench.

But I think it’s healthy to have two goalkeepers that would class themselves as a no 1.

There’s that kind of healthy arrogance around goalkeepers and I think they need that arrogance that can permeate into the team and that can make sure the back four has got some authority.

Last season, Green was part of a collective which ultimately ran out of steam towards the end of the season but had performed impeccably.

And the arrival of Wiedwald might push him on another notch.

Even though Green is 37, Rob Green is in terrific shape.

He looks after himself well, he seems to be a player and a person who has a lot of respect for his job and his position and he’s someone that reflects well on the rest of the team and the way that other players think about themselves.

It might be that the new guy gets thrown in come one of the cup competitions and proves himself – it’s funny the way it works sometimes.

If the games are coming thick and fast then suddenly being rested isn’t really being rested – it’s about how the manager manages the players.

But I think the arrival of Wiedwald is good for healthy competition.

Green will not want to be the one on the bench but you’d like to think they would both ultimately be supportive of each other.

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