Leeds United coach reveals meaning behind curious touchline instruction and main goal for the year

Leeds United Under-21s head coach Michael Skubala is trying to establish a specific style of play with the club’s youngsters this season
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Michael Skubala has made no secret his desire to play attractive, attacking football with Leeds’ Under-21 group this season.

With two players already on five goals apiece after four matches, the former England youth team coach is managing to get a tune out of the talented crop at his disposal.

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Most recently, the young Whites saw off Nottingham Forest 5-1, maintaining an unbeaten record in Premier League 2 Division 2 this season.

Leeds United Under-21s head coach Michael Skubala (Pic: Leeds United)Leeds United Under-21s head coach Michael Skubala (Pic: Leeds United)
Leeds United Under-21s head coach Michael Skubala (Pic: Leeds United)

A 5-2 scoreline kicked off their campaign away to Derby County, while a 2-2 home draw with Norwich City and 2-1 away win at Aston Villa indicates the team are responding well to the new setup.

In Leeds’ victory over Forest, Skubala and his coaching staff could be heard encouraging his side to ‘overplay’ during the second half.

The head coach explained the meaning behind the touchline instruction at full-time, whilst also discussing what he hopes the squad can achieve stylistically this season.

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“The way that we want to play the game in that moment was to try and get around them quickly, overplay the full-back, get my full-back really high and be aggressive. I like to play forward, forward, forward and overplay and play forward all the time.

"When you've got the space, attack the space and getting them into the mentality of ‘we're going’ when we've got the ball, we're going for goal,” Skubala said.

“I say to them ‘make them defend’, whether that's long, whether it's short and vertical, whether it's connected passes, whether it's overplay - I like my teams to attack when they're on the ball,” he added.

This is something Skubala has stressed throughout his first month in charge of the Under-21s, outlining the traits he prefers to see in players following the draw against Norwich.

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“[I like] bravery on the ball, I call it intent. So, intent to play forward. I like that.”

“I just want them to play forward whenever possible. I want to be an exciting, attacking team, so having the ball great, but I want to be a team that is always pressing, is always having intent.

"Not passive, I don’t like being passive, if that makes sense,” Skubala told journalists.

Leeds have been far from passive, scoring 14 from four matches, often arising from turning over possession inside the opposition half.

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Pressing in unison high up the pitch is a core tenet of Jesse Marsch’s style with the first-team.

Skubala’s comments suggest there is alignment between the two groups.

"I want us to be aggressive. I want us to be on the front foot. I want us to put teams under a lot of pressure,” he opined after his first game in charge.

“We worked a lot on pressing from the front in training and you can probably see the work that's been done there, getting them to understand that’s how I want to play, [pressing] triggers and being aggressive.

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"Like I said before, amazing when they got it right, it looked like teams could play against us, couldn’t get out.”

During the second half against Forest on Monday, the visitors found that to be the case, unable to escape Leeds’ suffocating press which in turn led to the goalscoring opportunities the young side gleefully dispatched of.