Leeds United Jury: Some crumbs of comfort to take from defeat at Villa

Bailey Peacock-Farrell punches clear at Aston Villa.
Bailey Peacock-Farrell punches clear at Aston Villa.
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Our YEP Jury have their say on Leeds United’s 1-0 defeat at Aston Villa.

DAVID WATKINS

Ronaldo Vieira is blocked by Jack Grealish and Glenn Whelan.

Ronaldo Vieira is blocked by Jack Grealish and Glenn Whelan.

Far from being trounced at Villa Park, Leeds actually came close to repeating the 1-1 draw we got down there last season even with an apparently weakened side.

But was this side weak? The performances of Paudie O’Connor and Matty Pennington in the centre of defence and that of Tom Pearce at left-back suggested otherwise to me. These lads look ready, and more to the point they looked as though they wanted to be out there. I’d not be worried if they continued to hold down their positions for the remainder of the season.

Another positive was yet another fine display from the man with the long name; Bailey Peacock-Farrell. He deservedly won the man-of-the-match award to add to a couple he’d already won at Elland Road for another string of fine saves.

There were negatives too; notably our appalling passing which, particularly in the first half, gave away possession time after time and the lack of commitment and ability shown by Jay-Roy Grot and Pierre-Michel Lasogga when they came on. Leeds are crying out for some power and aggression up front but for some reason these two apparent giants are not providing it.

Still plenty for the Leeds squad to play for, I think we are starting to get a glimpse of the future and maybe, just maybe it’s not as bleak as many are saying.

Man of the match: Bailey Peacock-Farrell.

MATTHEW EVANS

It was a tale of two substitutions at Villa Park on Friday when, after a non-descript first half, Paul Heckingbottom introduced Samuel Saiz at the break and Leeds United suddenly looked the better side for 20 minutes.

At that point, Jay Roy Grot replaced Gjanni Alioski and we never looked as good again. Alioski went to kick the bench three times on his way off but, naturally, he missed all of them.

By the time we made our third change and brought on Pierre-Michel Lasogga you knew the game was up but there was still time for Lasogga to show why he shouldn’t be seen in a Leeds shirt ever again.

Fortunately, there were some real positives to come from Friday’s game and that helped to numb the pain of a third midweek away defeat in 10 days and mile after mile on the UK’s broken motorway network.

Bailey Peacock-Farrell, Paudie O’Connor and, particularly, Tom Pearce were all excellent and showed our flaky first teamers how it’s done.

Man of the match: Tom Pearce.

KEITH INGHAM

Seeing Leeds lose is getting annoying and a little tedious, I understand that Paul Heckingbottom has had some bad luck with injuries since taking over the club, but the way he uses what he’s got completely baffles me.

Using two of the worst strikers I’ve ever had the misfortune of watching in a Leeds shirt as his ‘go to men’ smacks of incompetence and I’m afraid he’s losing support after every wretched performance. The 1-0 defeat at Aston Villa wasn’t as bad as I expected but you seriously cannot hope to win a game of football if you start playing for only parts of the game.

Without doubt the club is in a far worse state than it was in before Thomas Christiansen left, Heckingbottom either cannot get the best out of the players or despite saying otherwise they simply aren’t performing for him. Andrea Radrizzani has seen his first season fall apart before his eyes but he has played a big part in why it has, one mistake can be forgiven but when you’re making as many as him people start to notice. It’s up to him now to show that he is the man to take the club forward. banners and a lick of paint might be nice on the eye but it’s on the field that matters most.

Villa won the game thanks to a Lewis Grabban goal just before the half hour mark, a cross from Jack Grealish allowed to float across the Leeds penalty box and the striker rose unchallenged to head the ball past Bailey Peacock-Farrell. The youngster though, won the man-of-the-match award for some smart saves that stopped Leeds being on the end of a far heavier defeat.

The only positives you could take out of the game was the performance of Peacock-Farrell, Tom Pearce at left-back and another steady game in the centre of defence by Paudie O’Connor. The senior players should be shame faced that three relatively inexperienced youngsters put more effort into the game than they did.

With only pride to play for, isn’t it time to blood a few more of the players that are blossoming in the under 23 and 18 squads? I’d rather see a team that want to play for the club than the ‘so called’ professionals that have underperformed for so long. If were to lose every game it wouldn’t matter, but the experience of playing at a higher level could benefit the likes of Sam Dalby, Oriol Rey and a maybe one or two more.

At the moment the club is going in the wrong direction with seemingly no-one at the helm to steer it away from the rocks, the captain is clueless and the crew look disinterested in the ship that once was mighty. So sad.

Man of the match: Bailey Peacock-Farrell.

MIKE GILL

A gutsy but goalless performance from the Whites produced a narrow defeat at Villa Park.

Under different circumstances this result would have been less disappointing but given the run of defeats it has to be seen for what it is; another underachievement.

Since the arrival of Massimo Cellino, United have relied on a combination of mediocre imports and loans.

Last season the stand out players; Chris Wood, Rob Green, Kyle Bartley and Luke Ayling all had Championship experience.

The only exception to the rule was Pontus Jansson. As we look forward to next season, we have four exciting ex-academy prospects in Bailey Peacock-Farrell, Paudie O’Connor Ronaldo Vieira and Tom Pearce. These should be joined by a few key players with Championship experience and a couple of big name loans. Add Jansson, Adam Forshaw, Stuart Dallas, Ayling, Kemar Roofe, Pablo Hernandez and Samuel Saiz and you have the makings of a squad that can achieve. As for the rest – sorry lads but you have had your chance.

Man of the match: Bailey Peacock-Farrell.

SHAUN SMITH

Mystic, author and philosopher, Paulo Cohelo reminds us of the ancient wisdom that after embarking on a quest to find truth, it is often found under our very noses.

Likewise, Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz discovers that there is no place like home. Leeds fans are reminded by their trip to Aston Villa that the academy is a gold mine that keeps on producing.

Paudie O’Connor looks like a seasoned veteran after two games and willowy Tom Pearce made a damn good fist of claiming the left-back slot that Belgian Laurens De Bock and Dutch veteran Vurnon Anita, haven’t. Bailey Peacock-Farrell continues to turn into Joe Hart before our very eyes.

Leeds avoided a mullering and in the second half, yet again, proved that there is a decent side in there somewhere and slowly but surely, Paul Heckingbottom is finding it. It is ironic that when United have the luxury of playing football where results do not matter, so many have decided that results are the only things that do.

That the Sword of Damocles is reportedly being sharpened and Radrizzani skulks with a pair of scissors comes as a shock to this particular fan. That the head coach detailed with deciding who gets the chop faces the chop himself is a new twist in the on-going soap opera that is Leeds United.

Exotic names are lined up in the bookies shops. Names far more romantic than Heckingbottom. Or indeed, Wilkinson. There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home. Go on now, tap those ruby slippers.

Man of the match: Bailey Peacock-Farrell.

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