Spotlight on Dan James tried in new Leeds United role against Wolves and Marcelo Bielsa's attacking changes

Dan James was tried in a new Leeds United role during Saturday's 1-1 draw against Wolves at Elland Road but had more influence when returned to the wing.

Sunday, 24th October 2021, 11:38 am
Updated Sunday, 24th October 2021, 11:40 am

Whites head coach Marcelo Bielsa opted to start James, Raphinha and Jack Harrison against Wolves meaning one of the wingers was destined to play in a more central position.

James was given the nod to fill that role and not just as a no 10 but upfront as record signing Rodrigo tucked in behind with Harrison on the left and Raphinha on the right.

James is often deployed as a striker by Wales and also played centrally on occasion for Manchester United so being fielded as a no 9 was not an alien concept for the 23-year-old summer recruit.

Sign up to our Leeds United newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

SURROUNDED: Leeds United's Dan James looks to press on as Ruben Neves leads the Wolves bid to thwart his advances. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.

But despite plenty of good movement, James had just nine touches of the ball during the first half with no other player touching the ball less times.

The forward had to contend with three centre-backs in Romain Saiss, Max Kliman and Conor Coady who took it in turns to pay close attention to James, despite his movement in between the trio of defenders.

Leeds essentially struggled to pick James out and his main contribution of the first half came when threading a lovely pass into the area for Mateusz Klich whose curling shot was easily saved.

James might have had a chance in the 36th minute but he was unable to latch on to Rodrigo's square ball in a tightly packed area.

Six minutes later, Rodrigo was running at the Wolves defence at pace but could not pick out James to his right.

Bielsa then opted to make a change during the interval as Harrison was taken off and replaced by Tyler Roberts who was sent upfront.

That meant James switching to the left wing and he struggled to get involved during the opening minutes of the second half.

Leeds were then dealt a huge blow in the 55th minute when a late Saiss challenge left Raphinha injured, 19-year-old winger Crysencio Summerville then brought on in his place.

Ten minutes later, James and Summerville almost combined to perfect effect as James cut in from the left and sent in a lovely curling cross that would have picked out Summerville at the far post but for a last ditch clearance.

By then, 19-year-old forward Joe Gelhardt had been introduced to the front line and the teen quickly caused problems, looking every inch United's second best striking option after the injured Patrick Bamford.

Leeds got better as the half went on and so did James who started another Whites attack in the 79th minute and was then almost played in behind the Wolves defence two minutes later.

His rapid pace again caused problems and James was basically able to see more of the ball out wide, finishing the game having had 30 touches so 21 more when reverting to the wing.

Thirteen out of his 17 attempted passes were accurate for a passing success rate of 76 per cent.

James was unable to muster a shot at goal or any successful dribbles whilst the summer recruit was dispossessed twice and dribbled past once.

But the Wales international was also able to contribute defensively in completing two out of his three attempted tackles and his pressing was a feature of his game throughout.

It was far from a vintage display but the summer signing undoubtedly had more of an influence on the wing than upfront.

A message from the Editor:

Leeds has a fantastic story to tell - and the Yorkshire Evening Post has been rooted firmly at the heart of telling the stories of our city since 1890.

We believe in ourselves and hope you believe in us too. We need your support to help ensure we can continue to be at the heart of life in Leeds.

Subscribe to our website and enjoy unlimited access to local news and information online and on our app.

With a digital subscription, you can read more than 5 articles, see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content.

Click here to subscribe.

For more details on our newspaper subscription offers click here.

Thank you Laura Collins