Leeds United need a left-back and leaders, trio have impressed and why Whites have real chance to beat Sheffield United - Dominic Matteo

Leeds United signing another centre-back is good news for me; we need some more experience at the back but not just in that position.

Wednesday, 23rd September 2020, 5:53 am
REUNION - Mateusz Klich and Leeds United have impressed ex Whites defender Dominic Matteo ahead of a Premier League clash with old foes Sheffield United. Pic: Getty
REUNION - Mateusz Klich and Leeds United have impressed ex Whites defender Dominic Matteo ahead of a Premier League clash with old foes Sheffield United. Pic: Getty

It sounds like they’re close to Diego Llorente now, which is great because we do need a few more who can help manage games.

At 4-1 up against Fulham we were still chasing, chasing, chasing – that is the way under Marcelo Bielsa, so game management is huge for Leeds.

Shipping a few goals was inevitable, especially against Liverpool, that’s just what can happen sometimes in your first few games in the Premier League. So new players coming in have not only got to fit into the system but make Leeds a lot tighter at the back.

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I think Luke Ayling is great at right-back, Liam Cooper is the experienced one in central defence, but left-back is a position that needs strengthening.

Bielsa has Barry Douglas and Gjanni Alioksi among his options but, at the minute, we’re seeing Stuart Dallas played there, out of position.

Douglas doesn’t seem to be in the picture for a starting place right now and neither Dallas nor Alioski are particularly defensively minded players - they want to get forward.

Of the two, Dallas is more defensive, Alioski is more of a wing-back. Maybe I’m biased because I played in that position and was a left-sided defender, but I would like to see us bring someone in.

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We need to strengthen, still, and we need players to be more vocal. We need leadership.

Cooper is a leader, Ayling and Dallas are too and I always say it but you can’t have too many vocal players.

Leeds United would have been thriving upon the atmosphere at Elland Road on Saturday if it had been full but they’re missing that at the minute and the players have got to create it for themselves.

People like Kalvin Phillips – he’s been excellent and has to keep leading by example, he’s played for Leeds for a lot of years now and his England call-up will give him a massive lift and, hopefully, help him step up into leadership.

That said, the football Leeds have played has been great to watch so far, outstanding even.

It’s been a bit crazy, which is typical of Leeds, and, amongst it all, three players have really impressed me; Patrick Bamford, Mateusz Klich and Helder Costa.

I really like Klich. I felt he would have a good season; he’s got a lot of quality. You don’t see it all the time but he’s the one who looks like he can really step up and play at the higher level.

He can score goals and pops up in unlikely places.

Costa is still learning his role and improving, as people tend to do under Bielsa. He’s getting to grips more with his defensive role and still has to get better at that but I like what I see so far.

Bamford has his critics but he’s led by example. People get on his case but, for me, he’s really putting a shift in, working the team he’s playing against and his goal against Fulham was a brilliant finish. The one he created showed another side of his game – I didn’t know he had that pace. He looks like he’s enjoying it and the Premier League is where he wants to be. He had a glimpse of it before but it didn’t really happen so now he’s got a real opportunity.

The way he’s started, I think he’ll keep Rodrigo out of the side because he’s well ahead of him in all aspects right now. The number 10 role didn’t suit Rodrigo on Saturday; he needs to be further forward but Bamford has the lone striker role locked down and the Spain international will have to bide his time. When you have a centre-forward as hungry as Bamford looks, it’s brilliant for the team. I’m sure Rodrigo will sharpen up under Bielsa, though, and then Leeds will have real competition for that shirt.

It’ll be Bamford on Sunday, against Sheffield United though, in what is another great opportunity for Leeds to take three points.

Sheffield United fans won’t like me for saying this but I had them to go down this season before we saw any games. I just felt they might struggle to replicate what they did last year and, in the first few games, they’ve found that. They’ve been brilliant since they came up, you can’t criticise the job they’ve done, they play the right way and they put their all in but I think this is a real chance for Leeds to get at them.

Sheffield United have lost their first two league games and might just be lacking a little in confidence, whereas Leeds should be full of confidence and they need to really get about them from the start to get another result and keep the momentum going after a good win against Fulham. You know that Chris Wilder’s Blades will get stuck in and have a right good go but so will Leeds, both of these teams are like that, I just think we have more quality on the ball.

If we keep the ball as well as we did against Liverpool, when we shaded possession against the champions, I think we’ll win the game on Sunday at Bramall Lane – and what a start that would be to life in the Premier League.

Dominic Matteo's column is in association with Data Facilities.