Tuesday night, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink returns to Leeds United's Elland Road, the place where he made his name in English football, but this time at the helm of Queens Park Rangers. After his success at Burton Albion, there were those that wanted Hasselbaink in as Manager at Leeds after Rosler was given the elbow earlier in the season. Others would not welcome him back after he was labelled "Judas" following his acrimonious split with Leeds over wages; his time with Leeds' rivals Chelsea (after Atletico Madrid) surely won him no fans at Elland Road. No matter, we have Steve Evans and Hasselbaink has QPR, so everyone's happy, right?
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink's Leeds Career
Hasselbaink made 87 League and Cup appearances from 1997-99, scoring 42 goals. This was a golden period for him as he featured in the 1998 World Cup for Holland and was the Premier League's joint Golden Boot winner in a Leeds kit (98/99).
His step up to managing at the Championship level has not got off to the same start as his Premier League career, however, winning just 5, losing 6, and drawing 10, thus making only a 24% win ratio. This is despite him inheriting a Premiership squad financed by the flamboyant owner of QPR, Tony Fernandes.
Trimming the Premier League Fat
After relegation, it's fair to say that Rangers are lighter, shedding players on heavier wages. Yet a trimmed QPR squad still includes former England Internationals Rob Green and Paul Konchesky and a list of other internationals past and present, including Armand Traore and Junior Hoilett. The cosmopolitan squad is made up of players from 13 different countries and may need an equally cosmopolitan character in Hasselbaink, to make them gel.
Despite only recent relegation from the Premier League, Rangers have faired indifferently this season in the Sky Bet Championship. Struggling for consistency, they're languishing mid-table and hovering just 3 places above Leeds. As it stands, they are still only 13 points off a playoff spot, and with 8 games still to go, they may harbour faint hopes. A victory against another inconsistent side (Leeds) would help keep their season alive.
Trouble at Home
Meanwhile, Leeds will be aching to get back to winning ways after suffering two defeats on the bounce to local rivals Huddersfield and Rotherham respectively. Head Coach Steve Evans had just about got the defence part of his game right only for it to be undone in recent weeks with some comedy or criminal defending (which ever way you look at it). Bellusci, having performed better since his recall to the squad, had one of those moments against Rotherham that we have all too frequently become accustomed to seeing from him.
He must surely be dropped for this tie, and I would like to see Cooper return to centre of defence alongside Bamba. Dallas and Cook were both treated with caution by Manager Evans against Rotherham after their international endeavours, but I would like to see them both start together with Antenucci and Wood up top, taking the game to Rangers and finishing off their season.
Leeds's last five league games read 3 wins and 2 consecutive losses. Leeds have conceded 8 and scored 8 in those games.
QPR has 2 losses, 2 wins and 1 draw. Conceding 6, Rangers have scored 8 goals.
From 24 meetings at Elland Road, Leeds have been winners 11 times, QPR 7 with the remaining 6 games drawn.
Leeds United players to watch
Bailey Peacock-Farrell has long been touted as the next off the academy production line to take the step up to the first team. With Silvestri banned for his red card against Rotherham, this game will see him make his debut. The 19 year old stopper has recently been scouted by Premier League clubs Everton and Aston Villa. I hope he grabs this opportunity with two safe hands, and then sticks around.
QPR players to watch
Matt Phillips was a name that Leeds fans desired appearing on their own team sheet, and there were rumours during the Grayson era that it might happen. Since then, the 25 year old has made full international appearances for Scotland, Premier League appearances with Blackpool, and a total of 80 appearances for Rangers (including the Premiership). He has scored 13 goals for them from midfield.
Leeds United v Queens Park Rangers
Football League Championship
Elland Road, Leeds
BBC Radio Leeds, LUTV
Tuesday, April 5, 2016
11:45a PT / 2:45p ET / 7:45p BT
Leeds United (updated)
Peacock-Farrell, Berardi, Bellusci, Cooper, Taylor, Bridcutt, Murphy, Cook, Dallas, Carayol, Wood
Subs: Grimes, Coyle, Bamba, Diagouraga, Adeyemi, Mowatt, Antenucci
Queens Park Rangers (updated)
Smithies, Onuoha, Hall, Angella, Perch, Faurlin, Phillips, Mackie, Luongo, Hoilett, Washington
Subs: Ingram, Robinson, Henry, Chery, El Khayati, Gladwin, Polter
I'd like to see Peacock-Farrell keep a clean sheet, but our defence won't let that happen. 2-1 Leeds at home.
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