Two weeks can sometimes feel like 2 months, especially when there’s an international break. Thankfully that’s all behind us now, and its business as usual for Leeds United as the Whites travelled to the iPro Stadium to take on a Derby side who are in a state of turmoil at present with a new manager. With momentum before the international break for Leeds, there was a fair bit of optimism going into this game and I for one was certain Leeds would at the very least take a point back to Elland Road. That wasn't to be.
Sitting down in the bottom four and having just sacked Nigel Pearson, Derby brought back Steve "the bore" McLaren, who I can only assume had finished listening to slow Coldplay tracks in his beige Volvo while deciding what shade of grey to paint his living room (I think he’s really dull, if you didn’t get it). Derby were looking to put their season back on track and with players like Ikechi Anya, Will Hughes and Tom Ince they really shouldn’t be in the position they are. One can only assume that given a bit of time, McLaren will have them moving back up the table.
In similar fashion to the last few away games, the first half was tight and relatively dull. Leeds looked like a well-oiled defensive machine with Bartley and Jansson dealing with everything thrown their way. Derby certainly had the better of the half, dominating the possession and chances with Leeds only really having one chance of note, right at the end of the half when Kyle Bartley hit the bar with a header.
If you can call if a game plan, then it was: soak up the pressure and tire Derby out only to up the intensity in the second half and rely on our attacking quality to knick a goal. It’s what we did against Cardiff after all. The only problem is that it doesn’t work against better sides because they don’t tire, and our attacking quality isn’t quite enough.
In similar fashion to the Bristol away game, Derby’s possession and chances finally led to a goal and something to hang on to.
Our midfield never really got a foothold in the game until it was too late, and without that Chris Wood never saw much of the ball at all.
Paid the price for not playing until Derby scored. Twice denied by the woodwork. Frustrating day all round. #lufclive— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) October 15, 2016
Leeds didn’t play badly, but we certainly didn’t do enough to win it, and hardly even enough to take a point. In the last 20 minutes, we were in the ascendancy and looked to pressure much higher up the field but it all felt like to little too late though from where I was sitting, even though Derby fans must have been feeling pretty nervous.
You can put it down to rust after not playing competitively for two weeks, the luck of a new manager from a Derby perspective, or maybe just too many Leeds players having off games. In particular I didn’t think Mowatt, Philllips or Sacko played very well.
If you're interested, we started a new quick-reaction podcast series here at Through It All Together called Elland Road Reports, and I recorded a quick 6 minutes yesterday after the final whistle.
Either way, something just didn’t work on Saturday, and Leeds will have to look to put things right in game against Wigan at Elland Road on Tuesday.