THIS IS NOW A very, very critical time for Leeds United head coach Thomas Christiansen.
Because there’s also the sharper focus with Sunday’s game against Middlesbrough with regards to them taking on Garry Monk.
Any manager is judged by the players that are brought in and in term of filling the gaps with the players that have gone, Leeds started the season well enough to put all that behind them. But the loss of form across the playing staff and then not getting results, shows this is just as tough a job as it always has been.
With Middlesbrough, I think now we are looking at them perhaps where we presumed they would be.
After being relegated they have spent money on the team both in terms of keeping key players and signing new ones like Britt Assombalonga.
Perhaps they just needed to find a way of getting through games and winning slightly uglier and scrapping through games which they have now managed to do.
Pierre-Michel Lasogga needs to assert himself more. For all his physical size and stature, he doesn’t cause the opposition enough problemsDavid Prutton
Coming into Christmas, they have now positioned themselves very well.
If you take into account how vociferous the Leeds supporters will be with regards to Garry, Sunday’s match has got all the ingredients of a very, very intense game with a lot of feeling and emotion.
You can put the house on the fact that Garry will definitely want to go to Elland Road and win.
What can Thomas do differently?
Firstly he needs his side to cut down the defensive errors and mistakes. Andy Lonergan is a very accomplished goalkeeper and very rarely will he make mistakes like he did at Brentford.
But the cross that he missed was just completely nonsensical. It was just rash.
And Thomas has got to make sure that his players approach the game in the right frame of mind because he trusts those players that he picks to go and perform.
From a shape point of view, the fact that you have got a centre-forward who touches the ball so very rarely is quiet staggering. Pierre-Michel Lasogga needs to assert himself more. For all his physical size and stature, he doesn’t cause the opposition enough problems, whether that’s because of him as an individual or because Leeds are not facilitating him. I think it’s probably a bit of both.
I don’t think Leeds have quite worked out how best to utilise him – even if that sounds crazy when he was scored five goals. United need an all-round game from him. They need someone who brings others into play. They got a foothold in the Brentford game in the second half but they were effectively dead and buried by then.
We have discussed the various permutations but you have got to be in a position where you are not just changing it because you are desperate for it to go right.
You have got to be changing it because it’s a conscious decision to come away from what you have been doing, ie not winning. If you play a four-man midfield and have someone up there with Lasogga, that would maybe be a good step to get him on the ball more.
As Thomas will well know, time is the biggest luxury that a manager can probably have and it is very rarely afforded to them. But the way he has come into the club has given him some breathing space and from what you hear, the way he trains the players and talks to them is very productive.
I just think now it’s about the trust the manager puts in the players which needs to be repaid. There’s always mitigating factors such as mistakes in games but it’s about how you react to that. There has always been a bit of a siege mentality with Leeds and there forever will be.
But there was a lot of people liking the way that they approached the start the season.
Maybe that nasty streak of ‘we’re Leeds United, we rub people up the wrong way’, needs to dovetail with how well we know they can play football.