Leeds United need January transfers, fresh mindset for West Ham United and all of Marcelo Bielsa's experience - Tony Dorigo
Liam Cooper, Kalvin Phillips, Diego Llorente, Jamie Shackleton, Tyler Roberts and the rest - the list of unavailable players for Leeds United’s trip to West Ham United seems never ending.
When you sit down and look at just how many are out and add the players who could be out for this game, it brings into sharper focus what we all want to see in this transfer window: new bodies coming in. I’m sure the club are doing everything they can on that front.
In transfer windows you buy players who improve the team, that’s where you spend your money but in this window we’re talking about bodies coming in to improve the squad. That’s what we need.
It’s a tough period so the need appears greater, yet there is a lot to consider including the finances of any deal and who we can get at the right price.
Victor Orta will be working extremely hard to get things right, but other clubs will be doing exactly the same thing.
In the meantime, there’s the difficult task of beating West Ham United, at the second time of asking inside seven days.
Going down there last Sunday in the situation we’re in was always going to be difficult, it was always about where our priorities lie and it was obvious a few lads - three as it turned out - would come in and get a taste of first team football.
The main decision, the VAR talking point, was offside. In my day wrong decisions happened rather a lot but you had to feel for the referees. Now they have technology, video and time to go and look at these things but there’s still a human element to it which means mistakes can be made.
Years ago, a manager said to me ‘if you’re not interfering with play then get off the pitch’ and Bowen was sprinting towards the ball. Players have to know where everyone else is on the pitch, you develop this peripheral vision and there’s no doubt he knew Bowen was coming across attempting to get the ball.
It’s got nothing to do with whether Bowen touched it or not, it’s his movements. It’s hugely frustrating and you hope that over the course of a season it evens itself out - but sometimes you feel it’s been going against you a bit much.
The danger is that you can lose your head and make the issue much bigger, so it was important that the lads just got on with the game. You can talk to the referees all you want without changing their mind, so you’ve got to crack on, as easy as that is to say. I thought the players did that well.
In any case, looking at the whole 90 minutes I’d say we didn’t deserve to win that game. West Ham were mainly in control, but there was some good potential, at least.
The difference between Under-23s football and Premier League football, certainly against a team like West Ham, is huge but I think the youngsters did themselves proud. Summerville when he came on looked very sharp, you can see he’s had a bit more experience, had a few more minutes and he’s getting there.
Leo Hjelde did very well because of all the players to make your debut against, Michail Antonio is not someone you’d choose, not just because of how strong he is but everything else he’s got.
The young Leeds man did well, a couple of times he got a bit close but Charlie Cresswell experienced the same sort of thing in a similar sort of debut.
The biggest mismatch was Tomáš Souček against Lewis Bate in the middle - Souček is a giant - but I thought Lewis did well when he got on the ball and slowly grew in confidence.
Sam Greenwood made some very good runs without getting the ball but showed plenty of confidence.
They took a step in the right direction as young individuals, but as a team we were second best and our approach will change slightly for the Premier League game at London Stadium on Sunday, at least in terms of team selection.
I hated playing the same team again in consecutive weekends because the games are always different, even if it’s the same XI you’re facing, they always end up very different.
We’ll give them a much closer game, we’ll have a different mindset because this is a Premier League game that is extremely important for us.
The difficulty will be similar, though. Antonio will still be a handful. Defending against a striker like him, you try and get a screen in front, what you don’t want is the ball rolled into his feet.
The ball into him needs to be made difficult. Then it’s up to you to read the game. If you can’t nip in front, he’s so strong with his body and his arms, he can turn you - he did it to Hjelde and Diego Llorente - and defenders can then be too eager to try and battle him to win one. Sometimes you have to get him on his second touch.
He’s a tricky player and once he feels a body behind him, he’s got the upper hand. It’s a learning curve and it comes with experience.
Marcelo Bielsa has twice trusted young players to deal with him and on both occasions they have done him proud. He’ll need someone to do the same this weekend. This has been a difficult period for the Leeds head coach.
Managers have broad shoulders and try to take away pressure from the players. All the best managers will talk to their players behind the scenes but in front of the press they’ll protect their players. That’s exactly what Bielsa does.
Every now and then there’s a little outpouring of emotion, like the hug with his assistant. He cares desperately that the club does well. There’s pressure, it’s difficult but that’s when top managers earn their corn. He’ll be doing everything in his power to turn things around but at the same time he needs to have the players going out onto the pitch relaxed enough to play the way he wants them to play. It’s a tough balance. He’s got the experience though and I’m sure it will come to the fore.