Leeds United Jury: Heckingbottom must ensure the Whites are sharp out of blocks at Blades

Tom Clarke of Preston North End brings down Billy Sharp.
Tom Clarke of Preston North End brings down Billy Sharp.
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Our YEP Jury have their say on Paul Heckingbottom’s appointment and Leeds United’s Yorkshire derby at Sheffield United.

MIKE GILL

Tyler Roberts, centre.

Tyler Roberts, centre.

After the capitulation against Cardiff City last Saturday and the departure of the decent but ultimately ineffective Thomas Christiansen – on Sunday evening – the Whites visit Sheffield United.

Paul Heckingbottom now takes charge of a depleted side ravaged by suspensions and injuries. All true fans will wish him well.

In the short term, it will be tough for him and he will need all the support that he can get.

Thankfully, the Blades’ performances appear to be on the wane, having lost their last two matches albeit to two of the Championship’s leading lights in Wolverhampton Wanderers and Aston Villa.

Paul Heckingbottom.

Paul Heckingbottom.

They may also have to start with a third-choice goalkeeper. Add the fact that United will be hoping for the ‘new manager bounce’ and, for once, they may be able to perform on a level playing field.

I have a feeling that this match is not going to be a pretty one and so let’s hope that Heckingbottom can inject some good old Yorkshire grit into his team straight away.

Prediction: Sheffield United 2 Leeds United 2.

KEITH INGHAM

Well I did call it! Last Saturday’s debacle was the last straw for Andrea Radrizzani; the club in free fall and with a shocking disciplinary record, something had to give and that someone was Thomas Christiansen.

A nice bloke but, in my opinion, not strong enough to carry the weight of this once mighty club. He is not the only one to be blamed. Poor performances since Boxing Day by the players and Victor Orta’s summer recruitment policy are also the reason why Leeds find themselves where they are.

Leeds face a side that has had a couple of disappointing results. When Sheffield United visited Leeds earlier in the season they were riding high in the Championship. Now, after two consecutive defeats, they have dropped out of the top six.

New head coach Paul Heckingbottom will hope that he sees a big improvement from recent displays from his new charges.

It probably won’t be pretty and, with Billy Sharp amongst their squad, a draw may be the best Leeds can hope for from their visit to South Yorkshire.

Prediction: Sheffield United 2 Leeds United 2.

MATTHEW EVANS

It comes as a bit of a surprise that we go to Bramall Lane tomorrow with a new manager (sorry, head coach) and even more of a surprise that the man in charge is Paul Heckingbottom, poached from Sheffield United’s South Yorkshire rivals, Barnsley.

Not many clubs – in the Championship and beyond – will replace a manager in mid-table, aiming for the play-offs with one from the same division who is desperately staving off relegation with one win in 16.

But Leeds United is a club that likes to break new ground, wherever possible.

Since leaving Elland Road, Thomas Christiansen has had his style and character assassinated by our owner, and we’ve well and truly pushed the reset button.

As a result, we go into tomorrow’s game with absolutely no idea what might happen.

The hope I cling to is that we get the often-referenced (but rarely seen at Elland Road) ‘new manager bounce’ and that we have enough players who are neither injured nor suspended to give Sheffield United a game.

Prediction: Sheffield United 1 Leeds United 1.

DAVID WATKINS

Leeds United’s heart received a jolt from the footballing defibrillator on Tuesday with the appointment of new head coach Paul Heckingbottom.

I, for one, had started to write the obituary on the season but having listened to the new gaffer I’ve put the pen down and I’m hoping for a miracle that might yet see a Heckingbottom-inspired recovery of fortunes and form that could yet carry us into the play-offs.

It will be a tall order as we continue to scrape together a side from whoever is left, with Gaetano Berardi joining the ranks of the suspended and injured although Eunan O’Kane and Kalvin Phillips will be available, as will Tyler Roberts, if fit.

Sheffield United have run into a sticky patch and the early-season form that saw them in the top six has deserted them. They sit 19th in the 10-game form table and their home record will give Leeds hope – two wins and four defeats in their last eight.

I’m probably giving the Heck effect more weight than is appropriate but I’m going for a big performance and three points.

Prediction: Sheffield United 0 Leeds United 2.

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