Prior to the game on Tuesday night against Liverpool, we were all unsure of how the evening was going to play out. The optimists felt that Leeds could shock the Reds and take the victory. The realists felt Jürgen Klopp’s style of high pressing, high tempo football would blow Leeds away in an easy fashion, regardless of who he chose to play.
However, what actually occurred during the 90 minutes on Tuesday was something quite different, something in between. Leeds did lose the match 2-0, and Liverpool’s ability and style did make the difference in the end... but the performance and commitment of the players in the game and throughout this season’s EFL Cup journey was impeccable, shocking Liverpool for 70 minutes on Tuesday and making every Leeds fan proud over the last three months.
The determination to come out strong against Liverpool and to continue to fight against Fleetwood and Norwich shows you the mentality of the current Leeds United outfit. Against those latter teams, when it looked like our journey would be over, the lads rallied and came out victorious, giving us some of our best memories in years.
The EFL Cup has showcased the future of the club; Ronaldo Vieira and Tyler Denton both put themselves front and centre with their performances in the Cup. It has also allowed some of our brightest young stars to shine, with Charlie Taylor and Kemar Roofe both making their presence felt on Tuesday.
Souleymane Doukara has re-established himself back into the first team (something I didn’t think would ever happen). His performances against Burton and Rotherham have played a major part in us currently sitting nicely 5th in table.
We were even asking the question whether Marco Silvestri deserved to take back the number 1 shirt from Rob Green. Silvestri’s heroics in the penalty shootout against Norwich gave everyone something to think about.
We realised the strength and depth we already have within the squad, and we will need to call upon this more than once over the next 6 months.
In the build-up to the Liverpool game, I commented on how the players showed their desire and togetherness against Norwich, and once again every Leeds player on Tuesday showed both of these traits.
As Marching on Together boomed throughout Anfield, Leeds played like the home side and were genuinely unfortunate not to progress.
This fixture will be a lot more fun next year in the Premier League. #MOT— Through It All LIVE (@ThruItAllLIVE) November 29, 2016
For 70 minutes, Leeds went toe-to-toe with the Premier League side and reaffirmed the belief that if Garry Monk and his team are given the time and support required then a serious promotion campaign could become a real possibility.
It wasn’t that we kept Liverpool out and soaked up vast amount of pressure, though the game may have started like that, but as we grew into the game we became the more dominant side.
We were the team in the ascendency, but our inability to finish is largely what cost us. We had numerous chances to take the lead but the only criticism is that the whole team (Chris Wood excluded) currently lack in the finishing department. Hopefully, in January this will be addressed and we see new blood up front come January 31, 2017.
I am a proud Leeds fan, but this season I am proud of Leeds United as a whole. The EFL Cup has played an integral part in confidence surging through all of us. What might have started as an unnecessary distraction has become a statement of intent on the future of the club.
We may not have won tonight, we may not even get promotion this season, but this Leeds team under @GarryMonk makes me proud to be a fan MOT— Paul Fisher (@PaulausTirol) November 29, 2016
We are still very early in the season, and it’s impossible to say now the extent to which the EFL Cup will factor into where we finish come May.
Points acquired in the league and a cup run ending in November are two completely separate entities.
The headlines this week will focus on Liverpool and Ben Woodburn. However, let Liverpool hog the national limelight because, as Leeds fans, we know what the Leeds players achieved on that pitch and throughout the tournament.
We might be out of the competition but we saw a Leeds team United again.
That said, a good fight, a decent game, and a look towards Villa and winning in the league on Saturday. #Promotion2017 still the anthem.— Through It All LIVE (@ThruItAllLIVE) November 29, 2016
Every team in the Championship better be ready. MOT.