Derby County away today is a tough game. Let’s make no bones about that. Leeds United’s record at Pride Park isn’t great and Derby are fancied again this season.
Basically, any result you get there is a good result. That doesn’t just go for us but for most sides in the Championship. It’s like when teams visit Elland Road; no-one should ever see Leeds away as a walk in the park.
Elland Road is where Leeds ought to be really dominant. It’s our stamping ground. That’s why I was disappointed with the way last weekend’s game against Sheffield Wednesday went. I went to the match expecting the team to start like a house on first. Instead, too much of the performance was flat and negative.
My attitude towards games at home – and I’ve thought this for as long as I’ve been associated with Leeds – is that we should be tearing into the opposition from the off.
That’s what our fans expect and I’ve never held with this idea that the supporters need to raise the players. The opposite is true: the players are under pressure to deliver a performance which animates the crowd; a display which is full of life and hits the other team with everything.
Too often last season we allowed the advantage of being at home to slip away. We allowed teams to settle, get a foothold and gain a bit of confidence. Sheffield Wednesday aren’t a great side but I feared that they were going to nick the derby until Chris Wood claimed his goal in the second half.
A lot’s been said about fixture congestion but personally I don’t agree that the schedule has been a problem I might be old fashioned but squad rotation doesn’t sit comfortably with me, and not at such an early stage. As I did when I was a player, I want the best 11 out there every single week. It’s surely the right way to find consistency and continuity.
Injuries will force changes from time to time and so will suspensions, but we’re only four games into the season and I find it hard to believe that someone like Alex Mowatt is suffering from heavy legs already. He was our player of the year last season, a real driving force. He’s had a summer holiday and a full pre-season so I’d expected him to be firing on all cylinders right now. I think Mowatt has to play at Derby tomorrow and I’d like to see Luke Murphy come back into the side too.
Luke might not be quite 100 per cent but when I’ve watched him he’s looked fit enough and the thing he gives you is control, creativity and positive passing.
At the moment our front two are very much in form. Mirco Antenucci looks good and Wood will be feeling better for a couple of goals.
He’s taken them well and been in the right place at the right time. That’s the sign of a sharp striker.
But they need far more service than they were getting on Saturday. They need the midfield pushing on and bringing them into the game in dangerous positions.
Goals win you games and in the Championship you have to win games. I’ve made that point many times before. Okay, four draws from four games means we’re unbeaten and that’s something to be positive about.
I felt we were defensively sound against Reading in particular, and it surprised me that two changes were made to the backline for the next match at Bristol City.
But draw every game in the Championship and you’ll get relegated. That’s the reality. Two wins and two defeats would have given us more points than we’ve currently got.
In fairness to Uwe Rosler, he’ll still be looking for his strongest and most reliable line-up. He’s got Lewis Cook back from suspension this weekend too and that can only help.
I just feel that if we could find a settled team for a few games on the spin, it would help us to really get the season going.