Leeds United: Five things we learned

PUT IT THERE: Leeds United's players celebrate their 2-1 victory over Hull City. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.
PUT IT THERE: Leeds United's players celebrate their 2-1 victory over Hull City. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.
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FRESH from Saturday’s 2-1 victory against Championship visitors Hull City, Lee Sobot looks at five points highlighted by Saturday’s events at Elland Road.

4-5-1 looks the way forward

United’s formation has changed regularly in recent seasons, as to be expected under so many different head coaches. Steve Evans initially opted for a 4-4-2 system on his arrival at Elland Road but United’s midfield had been ineffective in defeats against QPR and Rotherham suggesting a change in thinking was necessary. Most considered that Evans should flood the midfield and opt for a 4-5-1 system against Hull and it worked a treat with United seeing plenty of the ball in the first half especially and with Chris Wood seeming to thrive in the lone striker’s role, receiving especially decent support from a very attack-minded Stuart Dallas. Alex Mowatt, Lewis Cook and even Tom Adeyemi all also did their bit to support the striker, crucial in a 4-5-1. Expect Evans to stick with that system for Saturday’s trip to Charlton.

Liam Bridcutt could be just what Leeds need

Bridcutt arrived on loan at Leeds from Sunderland with quite a reputation and the potential to be a class act dropping down a tier. But so did Will Buckley and plenty of fans will have feared Bridcutt could prove a disappointment after an unspectacular debut at QPR. But the 26-year-old probably needed that outing and put in a fine display as the holding midfielder against Hull, looking composed, strong and assured throughout. Furthermore, Bridcutt and Tom Adeyemi, regarded as two similar sorts of players position wise, can evidently play in the same side with Adeyemi clearly relishing the licence to get forward, safe in the knowledge that the strong Sunderland loanee was sat just behind him.

Adeyemi already has two goals for the season now and should be looking to add a few more.

Sam Byram is on his way out

It’s not definite but in reality Byram’s departure from Elland Road is looking imminent in light of the right back turning down United’s offer of a new contract. Evans suggested afterwards that giving Byram time to think could yet result in a change of heart but it seems unlikely that the defender will sign on the dotted line or be offered further improved terms. For all that Evans rates the defender extremely highly, the Glaswegian has said he will not feature players who don’t want to stay at the club and unless something dramatically changes Byram will likely be sold in January, or move on in the summer when his contract expires. It was heart-warming to see the 22-year-old brought on as a substitute to huge applause and chants of “one Sam Byram” but sadly his United days appear to be coming to an end.

Supporters will support the team first

There was plenty of chat about a mass walk out after 17 minutes in protest to the club’s well documented ‘pie-tax’ on Saturday - but a handful of folk at best headed for the exits. Even with an extra £5 admission charge, the South Stand was full and booming with United’s supporters as passionate and loud as ever. The pie tax levy has still clearly gone down like a lead balloon at Elland Road but it’s evident that one thing still matters most to the vast majority of supporters; supporting the team.

Whites can look up, not down

It’s far too early in the season to suggest Leeds are safe from relegation but Saturday’s success booted the Whites six points clear of the dropzone with United now as big as 10-1 to be relegated with BetVictor and Betfair. That’s seventh favourites and Bolton, Rotherham and Charlton are all odds on. United have the capabilities to win at Charlton on Saturday and with home games against Preston and MK Dons on the horizon, Leeds should be aiming to be top half by the turn of the year. The 17th-placed Whites are currently four points behind 12th-placed QPR.