Leeds United bosses have talked good game but fans need more - Graham Smyth's Bristol City Verdict
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The war is never won in the media room but battle lines can be drawn, the tone can be set and fans can be fired up or brought back onside. Farke did not walk into his Friday media briefing with a plan to take on all-comers in the striker selection royal rumble. It was a question put to him on behalf of all those having the debate over Joel Piroe playing at 10 instead of 9 and when the invite came to get involved, Farke briefly paused, collected himself and then charged headlong into the fray.
What followed, for 13 minutes, was a forensic explanation that left zero wiggle room for further questions. Piroe's individual profile and strengths, those of Georginio Rutter, the needs of the team and Farke's track record of managing players to Golden Boots formed a barrage of factual lefts and rights as the German came out swinging. Anyone left standing in his way was welcome to their opinion but they had better be able to back it up. It was assured and reassuring. ‘Trust me, I know my onions.’
Of course the challenge for any manager is to back up what they say about the game. Marcelo Bielsa only ever enhanced his popularity with what he said yet had he not produced the football and results then his time at Leeds would not be remembered even half as fondly in the city. Since Bielsa there have been plenty of talking and football that has failed to match the words.
Having had his say, Farke again stuck Piroe at 10 with Rutter at 9 as Leeds hosted Bristol City. That was far from the most interesting aspect of a team sheet that confirmed Sam Byram was fit and able to play his third game in seven days. What the list of players did not tell us was who would play right-back, with Luke Ayling dropped to the bench and midfielder Glen Kamara coming in to start.
It was not until just before kick-off, when Leeds took their shape, that it became clear Farke had made a call far bigger than who to start up top. Step forward makeshift right-back Archie Gray, whose only prior experience of the role came for England Under 17s - and that was as a wing-back.
Farke's reckoning was that Leeds could use pace in the position and a player technically proficient enough to invert and operate almost as an extra midfielder. Who better then, one might suppose, than a pacey and highly technically proficient midfielder. Of course Gray's natural role in Farke's system also puts him in the right-back area on a frequent basis so the territory would not be unfamiliar. As Farke himself verbalised, though, the theory was one thing, Gray providing practical proof was quite another.
Leeds didn't get off to a brilliant start and it was from Gray's area that the first dangerous Bristol cross of the game whizzed through Illan Meslier's six-yard box.
The next chance came at the other end and should have brought the opener, Byram playing in Crysencio Summerville so he could put a goal on a plate for Rutter, only for the Frenchman to do what was harder than score and send it over the bar.
As the stadium collectively struggled to come to terms with a miss of such magnitude, Rutter was faced with a decision. He could let the moment dictate his afternoon or do everything in his power to ensure Leeds won anyway.
Meanwhile Gray was putting his summer growth spurt to good effect, winning a big header around halfway that put Daniel James in space and allowed him to cross for Ethan Ampadu, the midfielder's left-footed blast palmed over.
When the action next found Rutter his mind was evidently made up. After neat link-up play on the left from Byram and Summerville, the silkiest of touches from Rutter put the Dutchman away on the flank. A moment later Rutter was holding off Sam Bell down near the Leeds corner flag, using his hold-up abilities to create space to feed Gray instead of just hoofing the ball out. Rutter was all action and everywhere, doing everything but score. There was a big tackle in the same area of the pitch, a penalty shout as he burst onto a Summerville through ball and then he popped up again in the box to set up the opener.
A lovely turn from Kamara put Leeds on the front foot, Piroe's shot was just about beaten away by Max O'Leary but Rutter was there to fire a great ball back across goal and though Summerville couldn't control, James followed up to sidefoot home.
At this point the floodgates could and should have opened. Piroe got in behind to bring a save from O'Leary and then saw a third effort blocked. Rutter was purring Pascal Struijk, Joe Rodon, Ampadu and Kamara ring-fenced the 1-0 lead with physicality and awareness, giving Leeds full control.
Farke was preparing to go down the tunnel for a straight forward 'keep playing unbelievably good football lads' team talk when, in the very final seconds of first half stoppage time, his side conceded a corner, fell asleep and let Kai Naismith head in an equaliser.
The manager's natural instinct was to do serious harm to some water bottles, his decision was to calm down and then talk football to his men.
Once again, Farke got it right, Leeds came out and provided a clinical response to their first half blip and retook the lead within eight minutes.
Once again, Rutter was involved, starting the move down near his own corner flag. A combination of breakneck speed and patience took leads up the right, through the middle and out to the left before coming back inside where Kamara laid the ball on and Piroe, in the very place Farke wants him, shot home with surgical precision.
There it was, football backing up the manager's words and adding further weight, if it was needed, to his argument.
Leeds were not perfect as the second half developed but they were dangerous. Summerville thumped the woodwork from a tight angle after Rutter beat a man to slide the winger through, and then the Frenchman laid on a glorious back post cross that Summerville could only turn wide.
On the right hand flank Gray was passing his tricky exam with flying colours, emerging from numerous duels with the ball and proving his manager's instinct to be spot on.
The goal Rutter so richly deserved arrived when he tucked in a rebound from a Byram effort, only for the flag to go up.
And as day follows night, missed chances gave Bristol City all the encouragement they needed to believe they were still in the fight so with 10 minutes to go the game really opened up. Leeds lived dangerously and had Byram to thank for a pair of huge interventions in the area. The frenetic nature of it would have played into the Whites' hands had they finished one of two late chances but a third wasn't needed.
Farke punched the air in delight, celebrated with the fans and headed inside to talk a good game about a good game.