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Leeds United at Cambridge United FA Cup: Three takeaways from an Abbey Stadium turnaround

Another sluggish first half eventually comes good as Leeds United drag themselves into the FA Cup fourth round.

Cambridge United v Leeds United - The Emirates FA Cup Third Round
Grimes did not impress and more depth is clearly needed, but a win is a win, and Leeds advanced on Monday night.
Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

All Leeds... aren't we? Well of course. However, if social media was anything to go by prior to kick off, you couldn't help but notice a sniff of "I'm not actually that bothered" in the air.

Admittedly, I was probably one of them. It was an inevitable moral fight that I would eventually to succumb to, though.

None of us like to see Leeds lose, least of all to a League Two side. Alas, messers Dallas and Mowatt answered the call to arms, and we're into round four. Here's three main takeaways from Monday's Jekyll-and-Hyde performance...

Talking point 1: Leeds United need to play for 90 minutes, not 45

I'm sure we've said this before, probably more than once.

Monday's FA Cup clash was very similar to the (eventual) win over Rotherham last week in the league. An awful first half, followed by a much more rejuvenated second period.

This needs to stop happening, full stop. You don't get a 'free half' against the Brighton's and Newcastle's of the Championship, and you won’t get one in the play off we hope to play in.

Leeds got off lightly going into the break at 0-0 against the Millers last week. Cambridge, however, rightfully punished the Whites in the first half.

The Rotherham game was slightly out of character.

Monday night however, was just bizarre.

Garry Monk's much-changed side was of course going to need a few minutes to settle and gel, but I've not seen a Leeds side this season look so disinterested. Odd, really, considering most of those picked on Monday will surely be desperate to be back playing week in, week out.

The contrast in the performance and actual desire to be on the pitch between the first and second halves was incredible. To have been a fly on the wall in that changing room at half-time...

Either way, Cambridge, Rotherham or Real Madrid; some of those players could do with a gentle reminder that there's 90 minutes in a game, not 45.

Talking point 2: The quality in squad depth is desperately thin

There won't have been too many surprised with the names on the Leeds team sheet when it was released prior to kick-off.

With all due respect to Cambridge, Monk should have - in theory - been able to put out a second-string side to have comfortably got the job done.

The players selected though, especially in the first-half, hardly gave a respectable account for themselves.

It was reminiscent of a Leeds United side of a season or two back - lethargic, devoid of quality and lacking in drive.

Souleymane Doukara looked as though he'd never played football before, while somehow managing to look less interested than a 13-year-old studying Shakespeare.

He wasn't the only one.

Matt Grimes has given Monk zero selection headaches all season and in all honesty, is no improvement on Luke Murphy.

Marco Silvestri, for some reason, seemed incredibly nervous and unstable.

The Leeds of the Championship looked like a different club in the space of a week. Awful, all over the park.

The small silver lining was the enthusiasm and performance of Alex Mowatt. Tireless and innovative, I couldn't help but feel sorry for him.

The bottom line is that outside of the regular starting XI, and perhaps two-thirds of the bench, Leeds have got very little in reserve.

With the club on such a good run, it will be difficult for any of the fringe players to get into the side; but by the standard set this season...? None of them are good enough. Simple: Leeds need more quality.

With Pontus Jansson now out for the next two league games, and Liam Cooper potentially out with injury as well, problem and case-in-point number one arises.

Who is good enough, and who can the fans truly rely on to fill the gaps?

Talking point 3: Leeds continue to prove they can win ugly

In some what of a counter-argument to myself here, Leeds are still managing to win games in which they don't play good football.

Yes, it was against Cambridge United. However, they all count.

Ignore the smattering of FA Cup want-outs (yep, me), a loss on Monday would have cut the squad and team momentum far, far below the surface. I can only imagine Monk must have been fearing exactly that at half-time. It wasn't necessarily about the FA Cup; it's the fallout it would've created.

There is also an undisputed element of pride and resilience when winning a game from behind. Again, I don't think it matters who the opponents are, but turning a completely farcical performance and score line round in your favour isn't always easy.

Leeds knew they were in for a game when they made the journey south; an underdog home crowd, the magic of the FA Cup and all's not always a foregone conclusion. Just ask Liverpool.

A loss or even a draw would have been rather untimely with two huge games on the horizon. It's a good job Garry didn't let the wheels come off when they so easily could have.

If anyone has any plans to do said derailing, it no doubt lies with Leeds United's best mate, David Nugent, now playing for Derby County, our Friday night opponent. Keep the 'Nooj' in that back pocket of yours, Mr. Bartley, and we might be alright.

On to Friday, lads.