AFTER seeing Leeds United crash to a third Elland Road loss in succession, the YEP’s Lee Sobot looks at a few key talking points from Tuesday night’s 2-1 loss at home to Derby County.
How long has Thomas Christiansen got to turn this around?
Gone are the crazy days under former chairman Massimo Cellino when Leeds used to sack managers after six games but Whites head coach Thomas Christiansen admitted himself in his post-match press conference after Tuesday’s loss against Derby that the current run of form “can’t go on.”
United were obviously not helped by two terrible refereeing decisions against the Rams but there is no getting away from six losses from United’s last eight league games and it is down to Christiansen to arrest the slide.
Chairman Andrea Radrizzani, though, was always likely to have more patience than Cellino and United’s owner took to social media on Tuesday night to seemingly offer his support to United’s head coach.
Radrizzani Tweeted: “I hear all your disappointment for the negative results but tonight I feel proud to be @LUFC we played well and deserved much more.
“You can all watch the footage and make your judgement. It’s time to support even more. We are building a solid project. I believe in my team.”
Christiansen, though, clearly knows the importance of arresting the slide quickly and has already labelled Saturday’s clash at Brentford as a “must win game.”
How can Leeds ‘toughen up’ with what they have got?
United were again accused of being too soft on Tuesday but Christiansen and Radrizzani are unable to bring in any new recruits until the January transfer window opens, aside from free agents.
The return of Kalvin Phillips from a one-match ban will add some much needed bite to United’s midfield for Saturday’s trip to Brentford but Leeds need toughening up all over the pitch as there is a sinking feeling that whenever the Whites concede they will implode.
There was an air of inevitability about Derby bagging a winner once Sam Winnall had equalised and Rams boss Gary Rowett knew that himself.
“I said at half-time ‘if you score, I’m telling you now - they won’t react well’” said Rowett.
He was right.
Is it time for a major formation change?
Christiansen has opted to stick with the 4-2-3-1 system that initially took United to the top of the Championship but the Whites are now in danger of plummeting down the table.
Leeds were still sixth after Tuesday’s latest setback but the Whites will drop to at least seventh after Preston host Aston Villa on Wednesday night and seventh will become eighth if 11th-placed Ipswich Town win their game in hand.
Something clearly has to change and Christiansen has flirted with the idea of playing three at the back or two upfront, or both, and a change in system may be worth a punt.
Lone striker Pierre-Michel Lasogga is continuing to look rather isolated and exposed and with Gjanni Alioski and Kemar Roofe failing to really work the oracle out wide, there is far too much dependence on United’s shining light Samu Saiz at present.
At least playing the Spaniard back at no 10 looked the right move.
Personal-wise, perhaps Pablo Hernandez needs to start in place of Alioski or Roofe.
Why are Leeds so poor with corners?
There are plenty of areas that United need to improve in and taking corners is definitely one of them.
Alioski and Roofe often both stood over the ball ahead of a Whites corner on Tuesday but neither were able to serve up decent deliveries allowing Derby to clear all to easily.
Leeds announced after the game that they had brought in new set piece specialist coach Gianni Vio and while Christiansen intimated that Vio’s speciality was defending set pieces, his introduction is nonetheless definitely needed.
Can Stuart Dallas be first choice left back?
Christiansen sprang a surprise by naming Dallas ahead of Vurnon Anita for Tuesday’s clash but Dallas put in a decent shift at left back despite being recognised as a winger.
United’s problems run far deeper than who should play at left back but Dallas definitely gives Christiansen a viable alternative to Anita or Gaetano Berardi who is now back from suspension or Cameron Borthwick-Jackson who has been out with an ankle injury.
But Borthwick-Jackson’s problem is not serious and he, centre-back captain Liam Cooper and even striker Caleb Ekuban might all be back available for Saturday’s clash at Griffin Park though there is a feeling Ekuban will need time after such a long lay-off.