Leeds United: Glass still half full but MK Dons a test for Rosler and Cellino - Ritchie

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I often find myself wondering why it is that the glass at Leeds United is always half-empty?

Maybe it’s been that way forever, or maybe the past 10 years have drained belief to a low level, but optimism never seems to last for long.

Leeds United manager Uwe Rosler

Leeds United manager Uwe Rosler

There are two ways of looking at the club’s start to the season: it’s either one win in seven or one defeat in seven.

I haven’t sensed a lot of positivity among the fans since Tuesday’s game against Ipswich Town but I’m not prepared to be downbeat.

Because I still think it’s a decent start.


Let’s look at the fixtures closely. Leeds have had some difficult matches, particularly away from home last month, and some of their results were better than people gave them credit for.

They got a great victory at Derby County – a ground where Leeds usually get nothing – and the fact that it was last-gasp is immaterial.

They performed well at Derby and they had enough of the game to deserve what they got in the end. A win is a win.

Brentford are probably more dangerous than many of us reckon and Ipswich look like competing for promotion again so neither of the two homes games in the past week was easy.

That doesn’t obscure the fact that Leeds didn’t play well, but that’s football. Poor performances are part of the game.

What I will say is that on the back of those displays, today’s game at MK Dons is a test for Uwe Rosler and his squad. That’s fair comment.

There are two sides to the situation. On the one hand, Rosler is absolutely right to look for and ask for a sensible amount of time and patience to get his team 100 per cent right.

But equally, players always have a duty to lift themselves after a bad performance.

That’s where nerve and character and professionalism comes in.

Every team has off-days and you can’t avoid them. But off-days should inspire a big improvement and that’s what I’d be hoping to see today.

It’s not a case of expecting Leeds to win at MK Dons. I know the stature and history of the clubs is completely different but the standard in the Championship is extremely level and MK Dons don’t look out of place in the league.

They’re quite a settled club and they’ve had a few decent results already. So anyone thinking it will be a cakewalk down there is going to be surprised.

Does Rosler need to win? I think a win would do him and his players good after a pretty tough week but at this stage of the season you should never be talking about what a manager ‘needs’ to do.

This might not be a popular view but a draw at MK Dons would be a decent result. A victory would be an excellent result.

I’m not trying to be negative, just realistic about where Leeds are at. I’d like to think that things will drop into place under Rosler. But I never thought for a moment that they’d drop into place in the space of a few weeks.

As I said, this is definitely a test for him.

He needs to show today that he can pick the squad up from a first defeat of the season and, more significantly, an underwhelming display.

But this is also a test for Massimo Cellino. Now we’re going to see if Cellino really did take a long-term outlook when he decided to appoint Rosler in May.

Leeds have promoted an image of stability right the way through the summer. The news of Adam Pearson leaving this week is a blow to that, and a blow to Rosler, but Pearson moving on shouldn’t alter the position of the head coach.

Even if Cellino is seeing this as one win from seven, rather than one defeat from seven, he has to do his bit as owner now and let Rosler paint a clearer picture over a much longer period of time.

Whenever I hear grumbling, as I have this week, history makes me worry that we’re about to start going round in circles again – and to be perfectly honest, that’s the last thing Leeds need. These are the times when good clubs draw breath, come again and hold it together.