Leeds United fantastic but cannot forget the basics as Chelsea loom - David Prutton
THERE have already been some tough challenges for Leeds United upon their Premier League return.
And today’s clash against Chelsea at Elland Road is tough right now because of how well boss Thomas Tuchel has done since he has come in.
Chelsea have been formidable at the back and expansive going forward and what Tuchel has done without really taking any nonsense is get that team whipped into shape.
That is something which maybe Frank Lampard wasn’t able to do and with any manager that gets the bullet there is something amiss or something is deemed amiss with regards to what the players have been given and how they are performing. It’s the manager that always pays the price.
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But what Tuchel has been able to get out of the lads that weren’t performing is testament to his man management and also to the fact that maybe as a squad they have stood to attention and started performing in the way that we all thought they might given how good the squad is.
From Leeds United’s perspective, Chelsea are not completely unbeatable even though they have solidified somewhat.
We know that Leeds on their day are capable of beating two thirds of the Premier League.
But the same old fingers are pointed in the games we have seen where they are not making it hard for the opposition to score goals.
They are getting into games off the back foot but then going on to dominate possession and chances but then not being clinical.
That’s something that I am sure frustrates every Leeds United fan, even though this season has been fantastic so far.
Chelsea’s Tammy Abraham and Thiago Silva will both miss today’s clash through injury so that is two less to worry about.
But they are still packed to the rafters with international standard players.
For Leeds, first and foremost it’s going to be about defending from set pieces as they are making it may too easy for teams to score goals. Way too easy.
If you are scythed open or at the mercy of some wonderful, intricate kind of forward play then fair enough.
But over the course of the season so far, Leeds have been far too generous with that and with allowing teams into the game.
We know that on their day they can put teams to the sword but between now and the end of the season they have got to be more clinical and tighter at the back.
It sounds like a very straightforward way of saying it but we have seen what Raphinha can do and we have seen that Patrick Bamford can score goals at this level.
Leeds are not without their own weapons on their armoury, it’s just about consistency and cutting edge.
Looking back on Monday’s defeat against West Ham, Leeds just gave themselves too much to do - again.
You can look at stats and attempts in the second half and possession and blah, blah, blah but who cares?
You can have one hundred shots in the second half but if you don’t score it doesn’t matter at all.
Yes, Leeds play in a way where they want to dominate the ball and create lots of opportunities but in games such as that, the corner that West Ham scored from, there is nothing remotely sophisticated about that. That’s the brilliance of what football can be.
We can dress it up as tactics and we can marvel in the awe and mystique of coaches around the world.
But if there is a ball towards the back post and you don’t follow a man who is going to run and head the ball who is maybe six foot three or six foot two and they score and then you are all looking around at each other, it’s a dereliction of duty.
It’s not taking responsibility and it’s not saying ‘that man that I am marking is not going to score.’ It’s all of those things.
As much as we are looking at them in the Premier League as this entity of being a bit naive and getting used to surroundings that they have not been in for such a long period of time, that’s not a naive bunch of players. It’s a youngish squad but it’s not a young squad at all.
Yes, we marvel at what Marcelo Bielsa does with team shape, team formation, patterns of play, ways of dominating possession and ways of playing through the third. But do the simple things and pick people up.
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Thank you Laura Collins