Leeds United landscape changes due to hugely significant developments against Wolves

Leeds United managed just three shots on goal at Southampton.

Sunday, 24th October 2021, 4:18 pm
Updated Sunday, 24th October 2021, 4:20 pm

One week later, Marcelo Bielsa’s Whites managed to multiply that six - 18 of them in Saturday’s clash against Wolves at Elland Road.

Moreover, four of them were on target, as opposed to a big fat zero at St Mary’s.

Even without Raphinha, the weekend’s Wolves display was a huge step back in the right direction, and very likely a pointer to Leeds United’s direction in the long term.

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SPECIAL TALENT: Nineteen-year-old Leeds United forward Joe Gelhardt is knocked down by Nelson Semedo to win the Whites a late penalty in Saturday's clash against Wolves at Elland Road. Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images.

That direction will feature two 19-year-olds who were both excellent as Marcelo Bielsa’s side very nearly turned a 1-0 deficit into a victory.

Wolves arrived at Elland Road following three wins in succession and a fourth looked on the cards after Hwang Hee-Chan had fired them into a tenth-minute lead.

United’s prospects then looked particularly bleak when star man Raphinha was forced off injured in the 54th minute.

Yet Leeds finished the contest in style and the introduction of teenage duo Crysencio Summerville and Joe Gelhardt proved key to making that happen, so much so that the pair must soon start entering conversations over whether they should start.

Gelhardt, in particular, is clearly a very special talent although Summerville looks rather impressive himself.

The fact that Leeds did not lose any momentum following the departure of their star Brazilian winger speaks volumes of Summerville who was brought on as United’s second substitute for just his fourth outing in a Whites shirt.

The Dutch winger was given 33 minutes from the bench in United’s 1-1 draw at Newcastle last month, one minute against West Ham and nine minutes against Southampton, a game which was a complete write-off for the Whites.

But this was much more like it and Summerville made an instant impact on the right wing when replacing Raphinha as Dan James operated on the other flank.

Pacy, skilful and adventurous, Summerville is clearly already a very definite option when it comes to United’s first team, despite the strong competition out wide.

Bielsa opted to try something different against Wolves, something that looked a good call, as three wingers in Raphinha, James and Jack Harrison all started.

That meant one the trio was destined for the central role and James lined up upfront, as he often does for Wales, as Rodrigo filled the no 10 role.

Harrison was then hooked at the interval after a disappointing first half as James switched to the left and first substitute Tyler Roberts moved upfront.

But there can be no doubt that Summerville and Gelhardt had the biggest impact on United’s front line, Gelhardt brought on for Mateusz Klich in the 62nd minute and moving upfront as Roberts slotted in behind.

From only creating the occasional chance, United suddenly began to swarm all over Wolves, roared on by an incredible Elland Road crowd.

Gelhardt quickly looked a class act, causing all sorts of bother with his twists and turns and the teen could have had a brace before winning Leeds a 94th-minute penalty with his surging run into the box.

The question now is how long can such superb young talents stay on the bench for?

The picture with both Gelhardt and Summerville is complicated as the injured Patrick Bamford is clearly United’s first choice striker.

Thereafter, Rodrigo and Roberts appeared to be next in the pecking order but Bielsa set the cat amongst the pigeons by starting James in the position against Wolves.

But Gelhardt can also play as a no 10 and is surely about to jump up the pecking order, if he hasn’t already whilst a rise up the ranks also looks certain for Summerville.

In the end, despite a terrible start, Saturday’s fixture against Wolves proved one that got away. Leeds left with a point - a point gained in the circumstances - but should probably have left with three.

But with talents like Gelhardt and Summerville rapidly emerging, this is no time for looking back. Forget Southampton, the future suddenly looks very bright.

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Thank you Laura Collins