Leeds United star growing with each game, Victor Orta's protest was right and Manchester United game is huge

Leeds United versus Liverpool is a special game for former Whites and Reds defender Dominic Matteo and this one did not disappoint.

Wednesday, 21st April 2021, 5:48 am
BIG GAME - Leeds United's games against Manchester United are always huge but the ESL news will maybe add something to it, says Dominic Matteo. Pic: Getty

"Leeds were worth their point and could maybe even have nicked it.

They grew into the game.

Liverpool aren’t flying at the minute, they’re missing a lot of chances when usually they’d put them away. It was maybe a good time to catch them but it was a very decent performance and showed yet again what you can do against decent opposition.

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I don’t think we fear these big teams. We’ve had some good results against them. We found a way to win, with 10 men, at Manchester City.

The lads are learning every time they play. Even though some of the lads are 30, like Stuart Dallas who had his birthday on Monday, it feels like everyone is still getting better. It’s great to watch. I’ve been such a fan of the way they’ve conducted themselves and played. It’s inspired me. The way they’re playing is the way you should play football. We do take chances but it’s good to watch.

We’ve maybe found our feet defensively a little more and we’re looking good.

Dallas in particular seems to grow in stature every game. He had a bit of a battle against Liverpool, it was a real test against good opposition but as the game went on he seemed to get better.

The first 15 minutes it looked as if Liverpool might run away with it but the more experienced Leeds players took hold of that and started to keep the ball better.

Both teams were guilty of giving it away in bad areas. That’s one thing with Leeds - I know we have a young goalkeeper who has done brilliantly, but do we need to take that chance all the time? Maybe we do, maybe that’s what Marcelo Bielsa is telling them and eventually it will all come naturally.

You can’t really knock what they’re trying to do when they’re getting the results in the way they are.

We’ve got a brilliant team spirit and, to me, even that seems to be growing. Leeds are a team now who, realistically, can look at next season and think about Europe as a possibility, depending of course on what on earth happens next with the news that has hit the game this week.

I’m glad Liverpool and Leeds went out and played their hearts out. Having to play, with all the news and the noise around the game and the European Super League, must have been tough. I know people say players won’t look at the news too much but everyone will have seen it. I know Liverpool have been slated for being one of those six, so it’s a difficult situation for the players and the staff.

As for the ESL, get rid of it. I can’t even believe we’ve had these conversations. Gary Neville has been absolutely spot on. He and Jamie Carragher nailed it. We’ve got to protect the game, the bigger picture.

For a club like Leeds, with the season they’ve had, to find out this is being plotted in the background is an absolute disgrace.

If we’re all honest we probably thought a Super League would come at some point but with what’s going on in the world, is this really the right time to announce this?

How do they decide the teams who go in? There are maybe obvious ones with obvious reasons but every club has a history. Look at Nottingham Forest - two European Cups. All of the clubs deserve respect. This impacts everyone.

The whole thing leaves a funny smell around the game. The game is more important than six clubs.

I saw Victor Orta holding the t-shirt up and that was great. Let’s be honest about it. It’s important and I was pleased Leeds took a stand. They did the right thing, you have to back them. I was so relieved when the news began to break last night that clubs were pulling out and it was falling apart.

The Manchester United game is huge in any case. The circumstances that have unfolded probably make it even bigger, as if these games weren’t big enough given the history.

Manchester United are a money-making machine, that’s what they’re about, the money. A lot of clubs are that way now. I don’t think Leeds are. They’re a well-run club and Angus Kinnear, Andrea Radrizzani, Victor Orta have been doing things in the right way.

If I was Leeds playing against United, I’d already be so up for this game but maybe this ESL situation just adds a little to it.

You can’t blame the Liverpool players or the Manchester United players, though it’s not their choice or their fault. Maybe the game is an opportunity for all the players to stand up and say something. Ole Gunnar Solskjær looked stunned when he was interviewed about the ESL. I chatted to him at Eirik Bakke’s wedding, he’s a good guy and he will hate stuff like this.

I hope it doesn’t detract from the game at the weekend. It’s one I’m really looking forward to, another chance for Leeds to showcase their ability against top talent, top opposition and they are capable of getting a result.

This is one of the biggest rivalries, it was always a physical game when I first played in them, against a really good side. Back then they had some real players, like Roy Keane, and they were difficult opponents.

They’re still a good team but hopefully Leeds can get the result and keep their progress going. It feels like everyone is on the same page at Leeds and you can only congratulate everyone from the owner down. We became used to not being on the same page, so it’s brilliant to see. They’re a pleasure to watch."