Leeds United: Just like watching Barcelona – well, for 45 minutes at least

Souleymane Doukara rides a tackle from Bolton's Jay Spearing. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe
Souleymane Doukara rides a tackle from Bolton's Jay Spearing. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe
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I THOUGHT that Saturday’s display at Bolton was absolutely excellent.

First and foremost I have got to give credit to Steve Evans for getting the formation and tactics right and the personnel.

Obviously he had to make a couple of changes because Liam Cooper took a knock on the Tuesday at Brentford, Chris Wood has obviously picked up another possible hamstring problem, and Alex Mowatt is still struggling.

But with the personnel that he put in there, I thought that Toumani Diagouraga was absolutely excellent.

I’ve got to be honest, I had not seen much of him at Brentford but for his first start for Leeds on Saturday, you can see why Steve has obviously gone in and bought him.

He’s one of these players that has got loads of energy and loads of enthusiasm, he’s tenacious and he doesn’t very often give the ball away.

And having him in there is also getting the best out of Lewis Cook as Saturday was one of the best games I have seen him play.

You had everything that you expect from the young man, his energy, his enthusiasm, his quality, his passing, his drive, creativity – he was absolutely everywhere on Saturday.

We have got two sitting players in midfield now and that also frees up Liam Bridcutt to elaborate what he has got in his passing skills, his range of passing and maybe getting forward a bit more.

If he sits then Diagouraga can get forward which he did for his goal and the goal was just down to desire.

He had no real reason why he should have been in that position but it was because he wanted to be in there and he showed a desire to get in the box. We have been talking all season about needing more midfield players to chip in with goals and this is a man whose last goal was in 2013.

That just shows the desire that he had to get in the box, to catch up with play and be in a position from where he can score a goal. He tucked it away beautifully. The whole team – some of the passing, the movement, the link up play, the pace of the game, the tempo that they were closing down, the tempo of the passing and the supporting – was just bang on.

The little intricate passing was just a joy to watch for the first 45 minutes.

I know the second half was different but they came out and did the right things and it was just a quality and honest performance from the boys.

It was a joy to watch.

Somebody apparently said that BBC Radio Leeds made it sound like Leeds were Barcelona but, do you know what, at times you wouldn’t be far off it – the way they played the ball, the passing and the movement and the quickness of it, the quality of it.

It seemed like we were just a different class to Bolton in that first 45.

I know they may say they had an off-day but I’ve got to put it down to our attitude as well, the way we went about our business and the way we took the game by the scruff of the neck. I don’t think there are many teams that could cope with the way we played for the first 45 minutes. It was fantastic and probably one of the best performances I have seen under Steve Evans.

Souleymane Doukara has received a lot of stick at Leeds and I’ve been guilty of that as well.

But I’ve got to swallow my pride here and eat my own words. He’s a different animal at the moment, he really is.

He looks fitter, he looks stronger, he’s got belief in his own ability now, which I don’t think he had earlier on in the season and last season at the end. He is going past people, he has got a change of pace, which I have never seen before, and he’s doing the basics very well.

He’s holding the ball and bringing the midfield players into play, he’s turning at the right times, he’s not turning into trouble, he’s turning and using the defender when he is too close to him and just rolling him. He is just becoming a very, very intelligent player and a useful one for Leeds United.

I think everyone had a great game on Saturday, but we don’t do things easy do we?

That last 10 minutes – just when you think things are going a little bit too easy, no.

It was edge-of-your-seat stuff as always with Leeds United but thankfully we got through with a great performance as well.