Leeds United: Hard work starts here - Snodgrass

Leeds United's decision to go back to the future is reaping stellar dividends.

After experimenting with a 4-2-3-1 formation – beloved by the Spanish national team and proud Madridenos and former Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez – in the close season, United ditched the system and went back to a 4-4-2 after a fluctuating start to the campaign.

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The formation, as traditionally British as meat and two veg, didn't stand the test of time though and Simon Grayson returned to his summer policy come mid-autumn.

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The results since have been spectacular and if it's good enough for Messrs Benitez and World Cup-winning coach Vicente del Bosque, it certainly is for Simon Grayson.

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The system seems to fit the Whites like a glove, and it was never better manifested than in the polished weekend success over QPR.

With Bradley Johnson and Neil Kilkenny's combination of industry and innovation screening the back four and relieving the pressure upon it, the increasingly well-oiled formation is providing the attacking trio of Robert Snodgrass, Max Gradel and skipper Jonathan Howson with a license to create havoc in the final third.

And in the talented and unflinching foot soldier Luciano Becchio Leeds have a player who looks taylor-made for the lone frontman role – his workaholic style simply does not give defenders a moments peace.

Saturday's triumph owed plenty to the tactical nous of the United

managerial team and while Ivorian winger Gradel stole the limelight with two well-taken goals it's probably fair to say if there's one player who has well and truly blossomed under 4-2-3-1, it's silky Scot

Snodgrass, arguably in the form of his United career.

Self-effacing he may be about his form, but Snodgrass is effusive about the system which has enabled United to move through the gears effortlessly on the attacking front of late.

The wide man, who played a big part in Gradel's opener on Saturday with his classy footwork totally bamboozling Clint Hill – who was promptly substituted at the interval – said: "To be honest, we had it (4-2-3-1) in pre-season. We knew we had to change and have different formations, coming into the Championship.

"And I find this to be the only one we're consistent with – and I think the main aim in this league is to be consistent.

"That's the only way you'll get out of it.

"Systems need hard-working and adaptable players and we've got a really a great bunch of lads here who are so honest and we'd all run through a brick wall for each other. That's really starting to show."

Possessing a manager who steadfastly refuses to crack open the bubbly when the wins arrive thick and fast, just as he is loath to pop the anti-depressants when things taken a downturn, is also serving United well, with Grayson's charges every bit as grounded as their gaffer.

Collective pride was taken from last weekend's consummate display with United, as a team, looking greater than the sum of their parts.

Every manjack of the side is contributing and fans can expect the squad to again be called upon over a congested holiday season which takes in four quickfire Championship matches, weather permitting, and tests resources infinitely.

Snodgrass said: "I actually don't think Saturday was our best performance of the season. I think we have played better.

"I just think everyone did their jobs and was first class.

"As a team performance it's up there, but we've had some good performances this year.

"It's about everybody contributing. Leigh Bromby, for instance, was terrific after being out for so long. He came in and did a job, as has Neill Collins, and that's what a squad is all about. I think everyone will tell people that.

"That's the way it works.

"This Christmas and new year period is going to be very tough and everyone will be called upon at different times.

"We saw that last year when we rested a few people against Oldham around about this time last season."

He added: "Personally, I'm enjoying things at the minute. But, to be honest, I just work as hard as I possibly can for the team and that's what everyone should do and is doing. That's how we got the win on Saturday. It's about the team."

While United's rise to second spot was the talk of the division on Saturday evening the hard work will be to stay there, according to


A busy festive season represents an ideal opportunity to consolidate and possibly improve upon their gains following a sterling nine-match unbeaten streak, tthough the Tartan winger is the first to acknowledge the pitfalls of complacency – the last thing in the world that Grayson would tolerate.

Snodgrass said: "We know it's early days, but we've got ourselves in a good position and that's only credit to ourselves.

"We're nine unbeaten after playing some tough opposition. We won at Burnley and that was only the second time they have been beaten at home.

"We'll enjoy the feeling of being second. It might be a bad thing, with teams coming here and playing a 4-5-1 system or something, with us being up there in the top two, but I think we've a good enough squad to deal with it.

"But, for us, we can't think our job is done. You need to stay there, that's the hard part and what QPR are finding out now.

"They weren't tipped for the league this year and those that were are down at the bottom of the table. It's a funny old league.

"We're looking forward to the Christmas games. There are some unbelievable games, but most of them are in this league.

"We're newcomers who are sitting second in the league and it shows we're doing something right, but there's a long way to go.

"We need to give ourselves a pat on the backs and then go again."

Pierre- Michel Lasogga celebrates his second goal against Millwall. PIC: Tony Johnson

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