What's going on at Leeds United? Ex-White on lightning striking twice and Patrick Bamford blow

What is going on with Leeds United?

By Tony Dorigo
Wednesday, 23rd March 2022, 4:40 am

I had the pleasure of commentating on the Rome derby on Sunday - Lazio were beaten 3-0 by Roma, who were 1-0 up after 30 seconds - but it was nothing quite like the drama of a Leeds game.

Being without Raphinha at Wolves, especially given the mood he would have been in after that fantastic last-gasp assist for Joe Gelhardt’s winner, was a real blow ahead of the trip to Molineux where we were always going to be up against it.

Who would have predicted the ending we got, though? After the incredible ending we had against Norwich City it felt very much like lightning striking twice

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We actually started the game pretty well and had one or two decent chances, getting in behind them. The way they play, defensively they’re very solid and, while they don’t score many, they don’t concede many either. We’ve seen before when we play Wolves that they soak up our attacks very well and we needed more precision in this game. There were signs of that early on - Rodrigo had a good chance at the near post and Patrick Bamford wasn’t too far away from one.

But Wolves are so neat and tidy in possession and got the ball from the back to the midfield and then out to the wide players too easily. Once we settled into the match and Bamford went off, things started to turn ugly.

As he trudged off in agony, the first thing I thought was just for him; I feel for the player himself. There’s absolutely no doubt that the worst thing a player can have is an injury; you feel like a spare part, useless and no good to anyone because you’re not fit to get out and help the boys, help your club.

Bamford has had to sit on the sidelines for such a big part of what has turned out to be a difficult season. He scored all those goals in the first season back in the Premier League so he was hugely important and everyone was delighted to see him back in the starting line-up for Wolves. And he looked sharp against Norwich. But I could tell he wasn’t moving right; he was limping and so the ball over the top was never going to end well. I saw flashes of his face on the bench and it said it all. I really felt sorry for him.

BITTER BLOW - Patrick Bamford's emotional reaction to his first half injury at Wolves showed just how tough this season has been for the Leeds United striker. Pic: Getty

It all got a bit silly after that. We didn’t know where the next problem was coming from and Wolves were getting on top.

With the back spasm for Diego Llorente, Mateusz Klich’s golf ball on his cheek and Wolves a goal ahead, we just needed to get to the break, but then we fell asleep at a free-kick and we’re 2-0 down. At that stage, with Wolves showing what a good side they are, carving us open, it looked like a very long second 45 minutes on the horizon and a case of trying to keep the scoreline sensible.

But then came the red card.

I actually thought Raul Jimenez was unlucky. He’s such a willing runner - if he’s on your team you see him as a player who works incredibly hard for the team. His first booking was fair enough and I get that he didn’t get a touch on the ball when he collided with Illan Meslier, but he didn’t mean it. They were both genuinely going for the ball. Maybe he could have pulled out but it was still unfortunate for him and for Wolves. These things even out over a season - so it’s said - and, this time, it went for us.

At first it was a case of getting a goal and then seeing what could happen. The Wolves back line suddenly began to panic though and, when we got one, we were then able to go and get another. Given who we had out there and the changes we had to make, it really was impressive.

There was great work from Luke Ayling, Jack Harrison got the first goal and then Wolves, surprisingly, buckled under the pressure. An end-to-end game is not really what they want but we got at them quickly and they just kept punting it back upfield to give it back to us.

The second goal was great and Ayling, who was superb and epitomised the refusal to settle for a draw, kept taking it to Wolves and deserved that winner.

What we saw in the aftermath was wonderful although, when I saw the substitutes sprinting to celebrate Ayling’s goal, I was thinking ‘please, no one pull a hamstring’ - the treatment room is already so busy that Rob Price won’t be able to get out of it over the next few weeks. Togetherness and spirit are what pulled the lads through.

The international break now will give Jesse Marsch some time with the team in a calm environment.

Since he came in, he’s had to cram in so many ideas in such a short space of time, with games coming thick and fast to give him two- and three-day turnarounds. Now is a time to take a breather, go over what he wants to get through to the players, relax the boys and get them fit. They’ve had a great couple of results and can take stock before cracking on for the rest of the season.