Leeds United: Refreshed by United’s exuberant approach - Gray

Leeds United's Liam Cooper is mobbed by his team-mates after scoring his side's opening goal against Blackpool.
Leeds United's Liam Cooper is mobbed by his team-mates after scoring his side's opening goal against Blackpool.
Share this article
Have your say

SATURDAY’s display against Blackpool was our best performance of the season I think, and in the first 45 minutes we were tremendous.

We’ve said before that they have started games well before – but not as well as they started on Saturday against Blackpool.

And what we did is maintain that until the game was finished – until we went 3-0 up and that made the difference.

We never went one up and slacked off. We kept at them and eventually got the goals that we deserved and the game was finished. That’s got to be the approach and it was good to see. It was refreshing.

Neil Redfearn knows the players – obviously – and we played a formation with a lot of attacking players in the side and it was good to see.

I thought the two centre-backs played well and it was good to see Liam Cooper get his goal. The boy has played well in the two games he’s played and he’s staking a claim for a place in the side.

I think he’ll start the next game against Blackburn after the international break and I’d be very surprised if he doesn’t.

The boy played well on Saturday and I think the midfield played well with young Lewis Cook back to showing what he can do.

I thought Tommaso Bianchi played well and Adryan played terrifically in the first half. He was in the game and the second goal was a great goal with first of all some great play from Sam Byram and I thought Sam Byram was man of the match.

Sam played really well and I thought he was back to his best.

I know Lewis Cook won the man of the match award but I thought the two full backs played well again and Sam Byram was very, very good.

It was the Byram you know, and he looked as if he was back to his best, getting forward and getting by people and creating things.

The two front boys also did well but really you’ve got to look through the whole side on Saturday and think they all played well. They all did their job.

The two front boys were terrific and Antenucci started the game tremendously well.

Then you had Doukara with his power and strength and the second goal with Byram was probably the goal of the season for us. We worked it from inside our box right through to Doukara in their box through quick passing and that was one thing that was noticeable at the weekend.

We got the ball forward quicker to the front boys – to Antenucci and Doukara – and that gave time and space to play. It was good; really good.

You don’t get carried away as we’ll have tougher tests than that and we’ve got to remember that Blackpool have got seven points from 17 games.

They’re not the best team in the league – they are bottom of the table – and they were very average in the first half. In the second half they picked up a little bit but I still thought we were dominating the game.

It was pleasing to see in a season where we’ve had little spells where we’ve done okay but then we’ve let other teams back into the game.

But the good thing this time was that we started the game well and maintained it until the game was more or less over when you go into half-time 3-0 up. It could have been five or six.

The second half was a little bit flat and obviously Lee Clark has had a word with them at half-time. They played with a bit more discipline and a bit more passion because in the first 15 minutes they looked like a team all at sea and they looked as if they hadn’t even played together.

You could have probably picked a team from anywhere and they’d have done as well as them.

But we’ve got to look at the positives from our point of view, especially with how things have been going.

It was our first win in nine games – we hadn’t won for a while – and you’ve got to look at the positives for us.

The positives for us were that we played well and I think that will give the boys a lot more confidence going into the international break and the Blackburn game a week on Saturday which is not going to be an easy game.

There are two tough away games coming up but there’s nothing better for confidence than winning matches.

Leeds captain Liam Cooper and centre-back partner Pontus Jansson show their frustration after Derby's late, late equaliser. PIC: Tony Johnson

Derby County 2 Leeds United 2: Heckingbottom and his players hurting after Derby’s late smash and grab