YEP fans’ jury: Why Leeds United fans feel the ‘Rodrigo experiment’ at No 10 isn’t working

Our Leeds United jurors are predicting a win for the Whites at Newcastle tonight - but the caveat is ‘caution’.

By Steve Heptinstall
Friday, 17th September 2021, 5:53 am
Leeds United fans are still to be convinced that Rodrigo is a No 10. Picture: Tony Johnson/JPIMedia.
Leeds United fans are still to be convinced that Rodrigo is a No 10. Picture: Tony Johnson/JPIMedia.

The victory, if it comes, will be a close-run thing in their view and they’re also of the opinion that the ‘Rodrigo experiment’ at No 10 isn’t working out and should be halted. At least for the time being.

That, they suggest, paves the way for Mateusz Klich to return and add solidity to the midfield.

Check out what else they have to say:

Some fans are calling for the return of Mateusz Klich to the Leeds United midfield. Picture: Bruce Rollinson/JPIMedia.


Friday night will be a real marker of where this Leeds United squad is at, as we travel to relegation candidates and fellow slow starters Newcastle.

Despite it being only five games into the Premier League season, the contest at St James’ could prove to be a pivotal one this early on, with passions likely to heat up within both sets of fans depending on the result.

Both defences have been leaky to this point, so it could be a case of which is the least leaky and, with Leeds a bit thin at centre-back, the task is made even more difficult.

Leeds United's Mateusz Klich and Jack Harrison in celebratory mood. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe/JPIMedia.

The Whites won the same fixture 2-1 last campaign, although the Magpies may have thought they deserved a draw based on the run of play. I imagine this season will be another close encounter, especially with 50,000 Geordies in the stands. The Rodrigo-at-No-10 experiment still hasn’t really paid off, so I would hope someone like Mateusz Klich comes into the starting 11, with the Spaniard being used more as an impact sub’.

I’m backing us to get our first victory and kick on from there.

Prediction: Newcastle United 1 Leeds United 2.


After a difficult afternoon against Liverpool on Sunday, Leeds will be hoping the trip to Newcastle will be an easier task to manage.

The Magpies are one of only three sides below United in the table and have struggled so far, conceding 12 goals in just four games. Leeds, then, will be eyeing three points and a win here is now crucial. The longer the wait goes on for the first win, the more the pressure will build. Like last season, width and pace are United’s strengths going forward. Jack Harrison, Raphinha and Dan James all had joy out wide last week despite Liverpool’s miserly defence.

However, Leeds will be wary of the threat carried by their hosts. In their two home games so far, they have scored four times and the pace of Allan Saint-Maximin has been their main asset.

United brushed Newcastle aside in both fixtures last season but, with the pressure mounting, could nerves begin to creep in? There’s plenty of time left but no one wants to lbe ‘looking at the table’ even at this early stage.

Prediction: Newcastle United 2 Leeds United 3.


Results have not gone well, of that we can’t argue.

What is up for debate though is whether that’s more to do with the quality of the opposition than any particular shortcomings of our own.

Three of our early opponents are in the top four but I think even the most blinkered Leeds fan would also accept that many of our players have not exactly delivered of their best.

So, Newcastle looks like a game that will give us a much better sense of what we can expect for the rest of the season.

No -ne can say the Toon are in form. The Magpies, like Leeds, got a walloping at Old Trafford, but they also shipped four against West Ham at St James’, two at Villa Park, in a 2-0 defeat, and two more to Southampton in a 2-2 home draw for their only point.

Results can always be subject to particular quirks on the day but a decent performance by Leeds at St James’ is now a prerequisite to prove we haven’t gone drastically downhill from the highs of last season.

I have a feeling we’ll put the record straight.

Prediction: Newcastle United 1 Leeds United 3.


Leeds travel to St James’ Park depleted and still struggling to find the form that made them delightful to watch previously.

A tough start against three teams you’d expect to see in the top six has yielded only one point; the only game you’d have hoped or expected a ‘W’ was at Burnley owing to the fact they’d beaten them twice last season but, for some reason, Leeds haven’t clicked yet.

Marcelo Bielsa has a problem, in my opinion. Playing Rodrigo in midfield simply isn’t working and that department is where Leeds looked so good last term with Kalvin Phillips, Stuart Dallas and Mateusz Klich in it. Rodrigo might be the most expensive player on the books but looks out of sorts and has been regularly substituted in the opening games. His usual replacement, Tyler Roberts, might not be everybody’s ‘cup of tea’ but he’s offered more from the bench than Rodrigo.

The other option would be to put Mateusz Klich alongside Dallas and Phillips in the middle of the park to make it look more solid.

The head coach also has a problem in defence where he is without Diego Llorente, Robin Koch and the suspended Pascal Struijk (if the appeal to his sending off fails).

It leaves Liam Cooper and Luke Ayling as centre-halves unless he brings in a defender from the under-23s.

Jamie Shackleton will probably come in at right-back if Ayling moves to centre-half. Shacks has looked good in the games he’s come into as a substitute.

It’s too early to say Leeds HAVE to beat Newcastle, who themselves aren’t playing well, but it wouldn’t hurt to get a win under their belts with a tough-looking game coming against West Ham the week after.

My starting X1 would be: Meslier, Shackleton, Ayling, Cooper(c), Firpo, Phillips, Raphinha, Dallas, Klich, Harrison and Bamford.

Prediction: Newcastle United 1 Leeds United 2.


After the defeat at the hands of Liverpool, United head north to Newcastle to tackle the low-flying Magpies in a game that would have huge significance were it to be at the other end of the season.

As things stand in the Premier League, it’s still an important match but not nearly so important as some of the manic depressives and naysayers would have us believe.

The familiar situation of finding ourselves short of central defenders through no fault of our own is here again.

Will Marcelo Bielsa risk Charlie Cresswell?

Or is this another great chance for Jamie Shackleton to strut his stuff at right-back as Luke Ayling moves to the middle? What we do know is that the Whites will be bristling with the feeling injustice about the awful treatment of Pascal Struijk following his red card against Liverpool.

If they can harness this and add the resilience and ‘bouncebackability’ that they showed last season then this should be the first three-point haul of this season.

Prediction: Newcastle United 1 Leeds United 3.

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