Leeds United: Italians have shown strong character – Ritchie

Marco Silvestri celebrates his clean sheet in front of the travelling Leeds fans.
 (Picture: Bruce Rollinson)
Marco Silvestri celebrates his clean sheet in front of the travelling Leeds fans. (Picture: Bruce Rollinson)
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MARCO SILVESTRI has come in for some criticism this season so it was good to see him play such a key role in the win over Cardiff City in a man-of-the-match display this week for Leeds United.

He is a great shot-stopper. But when you look at quite a lot of European and continental keepers, handling the physical stuff and the crosses is one of the big things that they have to get used to in the English game when they come over here, even more so down in the Championship and lower.

Mirco Antenucci celebrates his goal in front of the travelling fans. (Picture: Bruce Rollinson)

Mirco Antenucci celebrates his goal in front of the travelling fans. (Picture: Bruce Rollinson)

You even look at people like David De Gea and Petr Cech and people like that, they all struggled with the aerial bombardment early on and certainly further down the leagues, you get more of that and have to adapt to it. Hopefully, Silvestri will.

Silvestri has the height to adapt to that and even if he comes and just punches things to get the ball away, it shows he is decisive and will help. He’s got to be decisive and continue working on the aerial part of things and commanding his box because he is a good keeper.

It’s also been a good week for his Italian compatriot, Mirco Antenucci, who has scored three goals in the wins over Cardiff and Bolton Wanderers and he needed those.

He hasn’t started too many games over the past few months as he hasn’t been suited to playing up front on his own as he hasn’t got the structure or the pace to do it on his own either, whereas Souleymane Doukara has got that pace to get in behind for that out-ball and stretch defences.

Antenucci, for me, is a bit of a No 10 these days and he really needs a big man to play off to get the best out of him.

It will be interesting to see what happens in the summer with Antenucci being out of contract. It looks as though he might be going if Steve Evans sticks with playing one up front.

Sometimes, players react to knowing what is happening and that brings more out of them, especially when your contract is up.

Antenucci will obviously have an agent taking care of him if he has to leave. But he has proved himself over here and may like the style of football and might get another club here or another year at Leeds.

Sometimes, when things are up in the air for a while, it can affect your game.

The wins against Bolton and Cardiff are certainly welcome for everyone connected with Leeds. Hopefully, they can enjoy their football for the rest of the season and Steve will be saying: ‘Listen, let’s get as high as we can and take things on board and not down tools and think we are on easy street.’

He now needs to know about his players and where he needs to strengthen and I am sure he will have that in his mind already.

In terms of the past week or so, it’s been a bit mad, crackers. The owner walks out of the game at Brighton at half-time with the side 4-0 down and then Leeds win their next two games and the garden looks rosier again.

Bolton already look virtually down, but it was important Leeds beat them, while Cardiff was just a massive bonus.

It was a great win down there and even though Fabio was sent off, you still have to go and finish the game off. Leeds weren’t lulled into a false sense of security and eventually got the other goal to win 2-0.

It had been a hell of a long time since Leeds won there – 1984 – and the win showed a bit of character about them. But it’s all about consistency, which is what they need.

Leeds play Blackburn Rovers today and then it’s Huddersfield Town before the international break and then another derby at Rotherham United after Easter.

They are decent games at this stage of the season and Steve can challenge his players to do something to make them play better to get a gauge on them.

That fact that there’s a few derbies such as Huddersfield and Rotherham would delight me as a manager at this time of year. Looking at Huddersfield, they are in a decent run and this a game you can learn from at this stage of the season.

Much has been made in the news of the Premier League’s decision to cap away tickets for supporters at £30 for the next three seasons after clubs unanimously agreed that more should be done for away fans and I think it is great news.

My hope now is that it extends to the Championship. I think it should definitely be extended.

Further down it is more swings and roundabouts, as away tickets probably won’t be thirty-quid in League One and League Two. But in the Championship, if the prices are capped, clubs would get more out of it and more fans would come and watch, which can only be a good thing.

The Premier League developments are fantastic for the fans as they spend their hard-earned cash week in, week out and I think it will be an absolute godsend.

You might now see some bigger away contingents and teams taking up their allocations.

This has never been a problem for Leeds, who always take up their full allocations wherever they go and whatever the league!

For other teams, it will help them sell out and for players of those teams, it will really help.

They will get more support now the price is a little bit cheaper. It will be a lot better and is a really good move.

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