AFTER seeing Leeds United fall to their 19th Championship defeat of the season, the YEP’s Lee Sobot looks at a few key talking points from Friday night’s 1-0 loss at Aston Villa.
Paul Heckingbottom’s future
There were suggestions in the run-up to Friday night’s clash at Villa that Whites chairman and owner Andrea Radrizzani had already run out of patience with head coach Paul Heckingbottom and that a change in the summer was likely after a horrendous recent run of results.
And while an injury-plagued Whites did not experience the battering that many predicted at Villa Park, United’s display was again uninspiring and signs of progress are very hard to see at present.
It should be remembered that Heckingbottom is having to deal with a ridiculous amount of injuries and the former Barnsley boss has had to work with the hand that he has been dealt with in terms of the Whites squad which is blatantly not strong enough to compete for a place in the top six with major investment clearly essential in the summer.
But there is nonetheless a strong feeling that United should still be doing better than they are and United’s new head coach has now taken just ten points from his 13 games in charge which have resulted in seven defeats.
Even Heckingbottom admitted that his two-months in charge at Leeds had been “horrific” last week and time will tell whether Radrizzani keeps the faith or opts to make another change.
Pierre-Michel Lasogga’s zero impact
Heckingbottom opted to bring on both Jay-Roy Grot and Pierre-Michel Lasogga after the interval but both made zero impact with Lasogga’s display particularly poor.
The big German completely failed to use his big frame to hold up the ball and trudged off dejectedly at the full-time whistle.
Heckingbottom seemed particularly unimpressed with the Hamburg loanee’s display when talking to the media afterwards and it is not difficult to envisage that Lasogga’s outing at Villa Park was his last for Leeds.
More to the point, with Caleb Ekuban and Kemar Roofe also failing to shine, surely it is now time to give some of United’s under-23 forwards an outing in the last few games.
Roofe has actually performed fairly without setting the world alight in his last two outings but why not give the likes of Jack Clarke, Ryan Edmondson and Sam Dalby outings in the last three games?
The under-23s players yet to get an outing in United’s first team will definitely take inspiration from the recent displays of Bailey Peacock-Farrell, Tom Pearce and Paudie O’Connor, all of whom had excellent games against Villa with the three youngsters United’s three best players.
Peacock-Farrell has already shown that he is clearly a very talented ‘keeper and Pearce and O’Connor have now shown in two outings that they could be very big players in terms of United’s future.
Neither look out of place in the first team and both have a composure that belies their years.
The duo perhaps now just need to develop and grow physically but all the signs are that United have two young gems on their hand, three including Peacock-Farrell.
Should Bailey-Peacock Farrell be first choice ‘keeper next term?
Peacock-Farrell has completely excelled since being handed his opportunity in nets after the continued fumblings of Felix Wiedwald.
The 21-year-old was named man of the match on Friday and United once again would have conceded several more without his services.
The question now is whether or not Leeds should continue with ‘BPF’ as first-choice next term or bring in a clear new no 1 over the summer - or bring in someone to simply compete with Peacock-Farrell to be first choice.
Peacock-Farrell remains very inexperienced - he has remarkably still only played nine games for Leeds - and therefore keeping him as first choice next season could be seen as a gamble.
On the flip side, that means there is plenty of improvement left in the locker and a good candidate to be first choice ‘keeper for next season is probably staring at Leeds in the face.