Why Billy Sharp might relish Leeds United promotion challenge and could be ideal fit for Whites - David Prutton

SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY boss Garry Monk has managed two wins and a draw against Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa ahead of today’s Yorkshire derby at Elland Road.

By David Prutton
Saturday, 11th January 2020, 6:00 am
HARD-WORKING: Billy Sharp, pictured celebrating Sheffield United's automatic promotion from the Championship at Leeds United's expense in May. Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images.
HARD-WORKING: Billy Sharp, pictured celebrating Sheffield United's automatic promotion from the Championship at Leeds United's expense in May. Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images.

Garry did the double over Leeds with Birmingham and then there was the goalless draw at Sheffield Wednesday earlier this season.

We know tactically how well Garry can set his teams up to be hard to beat and those three meetings with Leeds suggest that.

It’s only a small spectrum of games to judge him on but that record is something that Bielsa will be very wary of.

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The run of form that Wednesday were in leading up to Christmas was good but post-Christmas it has been three defeats and a win in the Cup against Brighton.

Maybe they are working their way back up to what they were doing before Christmas and I think Leeds is an ideal test for them.

But Wednesday will have to do without top scorer Steven Fletcher is now facing between eight and ten weeks out with a knee injury and he has led the line there for ages. We know what damage he can do.

With regard to the players that you would look at to fill in the gaps, we know what Jordan Rhodes can do but I do think they struggle without Fletcher. They don’t have the same mobility without him up top.

It’s a big blow for Wednesday but it’s another tick in the box for Leeds to think that they can get the right result.

Leeds will take great confidence from their first half display against Arsenal in the FA Cup third round but I think it will be a tough game and I don’t think it will be in any way straightforward at all, especially given the added spice of Monk’s record against Bielsa.

There’s also the fact that any former Leeds United manager wants to prove himself.

But I thought Leeds were absolutely superb against Arsenal. They made Arsenal look extremely ordinary.

There was a composure and confidence that each player showed on the ball, a bravery in possession, passing out from the back and not taking unnecessary risks but being confident so nothing really did look like a risk.

It was astounding really and a great way to bring themselves to a mainstream audience and show what Leeds have been doing for the best part of 18 months.

Unfortunately the second half didn’t go according to plan and Arsenal had to step it up.

By all accounts, Mikel Arteta went ballistic at half-time which gave them a much needed kick up the backside.

But again it was the profligacy of Leeds which shot themselves in the foot as they could have been at least two or three nil up at half-time and it might have just changed the complexion of the second half completely.

As games go, it would have been nice for them to have beaten Arsenal and gone through but I think the game serves as a perfect reminder of where Leeds are, for the fans and the players.

Yes, they can dominate portions of games but they need to dominate the whole of a game and also take their chances.

Hopefully this is a very timely reminder that they are in a very healthy position in the league but nothing is won in January.

That will hopefully give them perspective to think ‘we wouldn’t mind a bit more of that on a weekly basis next season but we have got work to do between now and the end of the season to do that.’

United are also continuing their search for a new striker after Eddie Nketiah’s Arsenal recall and Che Adams and Billy Sharp are two players Leeds are keen on with Adams the no 1 target.

Billy obviously has recent history of going up with Sheffield United and knowledge of the club which is ideal.

He is a real leader of men and a superb talisman presence for Sheffield United who has done so well to help them get where they are but he needs regular football at his age so I think he would be an option.

He’s a fit lad. He works hard and you only have to look at the way he led the line for Sheffield United.

You can’t say that he was a passenger in anything that he did.

He pushed them and pushed them and he was leading from the front.

You can look at a players’ age but all you are asking for is four or five months of absolute hell for leather hard work which could get Leeds back to the Premier League.

As much as Billy is a boyhood Blade and the reflective glory that comes with being a feller that has supported a team that has got them into the Premier League, it would be an immense challenge for him to get a team like Leeds over the line.

Having spoken to him in the past and having seen him play it’s one that I think he would absolutely relish.

Che would bring a bit more muscularity to the forward line but there are intricacies of how these deals are set up now and it’s not just a straightforward case of going on loan.

If you err on the side of so far so good then you stick.

If you don’t and you look to cover all the bases then perhaps you twist but that twist in January can cost money.