Leeds United head coach Uwe Rosler paid tribute to a “unique club” after an away crowd of more than 4,000 turned out for yesterday’s 0-0 draw at Reading, telling his players: “Don’t ever take this support for granted.”
Rosler credited the large following with helping United through the closing stages of an uneventful but even Championship match which hung in the balance in the dying minutes.
Leeds, whose average away attendance was the largest in the Championship last season, sold a full allocation of around 4,100 for the Madejski Stadium, three days after taking over 3,000 to their League Cup defeat at Doncaster Rovers.
An impressed Rosler, who became United’s head coach in May, said: “There aren’t many clubs on a Sunday afternoon with 4,500 people following them. We gave our supporters something to share and they really helped us in the last five or 10 minutes when we saw our legs get more and more heavy.
“I was so happy to see that whole stand full. That’s not normal. I said to the players ‘don’t take this support for granted because wherever you go or whatever you do in your life, I don’t think you’ll get many better supporters than that.
“This club is unique. I can think only of Manchester City, when they were in the Championship, having a similar amount (of fans). We have to give these people something back.”
Rosler made six changes to his line-up at Reading, refreshing the side which lost to Doncaster in the League Cup’s first round after extra-time and penalties.
Lewis Cook – sent off at the Keepmoat Stadium – started a three-match ban and Rosler took some unexpected decisions by naming Liam Cooper alongside Sol Bamba in defence and giving young midfielder Kalvin Phillips his first start of the season. Cooper was chosen ahead of Italian Giuseppe Bellusci, despite Bellusci’s convincing display against Doncaster, and Rosler said: “Some players recovered quicker than others after 120 minutes. Some players maybe needed another day.
“It was essential to have a good, high line and it was a decision made by what I saw in training and from speaking to the medical staff. No player did not start because of the performance on Thursday. We have to rotate to get fresh legs. It’s about the mental side too.”
Rosler also gave a vote of confidence to Chris Wood after the striker endured an afternoon of few chances.
Wood is waiting to register his first competitive goal following a £3million move from Leicester City a month ago but Rosler said: “Especially first half, I thought his hold up play was excellent.
“We need to get more support around him but that wasn’t possible because Alex Mowatt had played a lot of football. The transition from defensive shape into offensive shape wasn’t quick enough and we lost the ball again. We need to keep the ball better but I was happy.
“One hundred and 20 minutes on Thursday and the emotion of having lost the game was difficult. I wasn’t sure the players would dig in but they did. I’m happy with the mentality and the workrate and desire.”