On this day: Alan Smith celebrates after his first touch in Premiership football ended up in the back of the Liverpool net in the 3-1 win at Anfield
Angus Kinnear had words of comfort for the under pressure Head Coach Thomas Christainsen in a interview on Radio Leeds and in the YEP;
“As a board we meet regularly and we’ve met to discuss the current form, it’s a testament to Thomas that he’s never once discussed squad quality as being a problem. It’s a testament because it would be an easy excuse. He inherited a lot of this squad but he knows and he’s seen what they’re capable of, he’s been much more focused on what we’re getting wrong now that we were getting right previously.
"There’ve been some moments which reinforced how fine the margin between success and failure is, like the two penalty decisions against Derby and our penalty miss against Reading, those could have broken up what’s become a run that none of us want to be on but the run still comes off the back of some really strong performances and off the back of Thomas showing he can get good results here.
"If we hadn’t have had such a great start then there might be questions asked (about recruitment) but I still go back to the fact that if we play like we know this team can play, we’re in good shape. He’s played at the highest level so he knows what it’s like to go through runs like this, he knows how to get out of them.”
The superb Leeds fanzine ‘The Square Ball’ has been nominated for the seventh time in the FSF Fanzine of the year awards, the fanzine has already been winners at this event twice in 2011 and 2014. Daniel Chapman, co-editor of the magazine commented “It’s all down to the talented writers and artists who contribute to every issue and make it such a great magazine, the people that stand outside Elland Road and sell it, and the discerning folk who buy and read it.”
The fanzine was first published in the season that Leeds won promotion from the second division in 1990.
Garry Monk on returning to Leeds: "This game is not about me. I understand why people think otherwise but that's an external view. Internally it's all about this club and this Middlesborough team.”
Thomas Christainsen and Kalvin Phillips look ahead to the game with Middlesborough on Sunday
Phillips: “We all believe in (Christiansen), from the get-go we started very well this season, after what he’d worked on in pre-season. This is a bad run of results now but we have to keep pushing. Since we’ve gone on this bad run that’s what every team’s come and done, they’ve tried to frustrate us because there’s always big pressure playing at Elland Road, but if we get the goals, it doesn’t matter. You always want to get one over an old manager, but we look at it as just another game.”
Christiansen: “It’s a project we’re building up and it’s difficult to take immediate results after making so many changes but of course we are ambitious and we want to be in the upper part of the table, trying to do our best. I’ve said from the beginning and also when we were in a good run, that the bad moments would come. We’re in a project of several years where everyone is new in this: the chairman, the sporting director, the coach and many players who we’re building up for the future, perhaps it was realistic to be where we are now but our target is still to be in the top six. The players know the importance of the game: the three points we all need and I believe we deserve but we need to work hard for it.
"The coach was here last year and we will see how his reception will be but it’s still the players on the pitch who have to deliver. Middlesbrough’s target is automatic promotion and we are only three points away from ours, It can change quickly.”
Christainsen will have a full squad to pick from, including Caleb Ekuban who has recently been out injured with a broken foot.
We’ve met before
Leeds 0 Middlesborough 0 Champ Feb 2016
Leeds 1 Middlesborough 0 Champ Aug 2014
Leeds 2 Middlesborough 1 Champ Nov 2013
Leeds 2 Middlesborough 1 Champ Dec 2012
Leeds 0 Middlesborough 1 Champ Aug 2011
Pontus bangs the drum
Leeds vs Boro Preview
The ‘sub plot’ of a returning Head Coach who left in not the best circumstances and a ‘derby’ makes this game very interesting. Despite Leeds’ recent disappointing run, the faithful will continue to fill Elland Road to it's capacity.
These games over the years haven’t disappointed, I remember back in the seventies, hundreds of Boro fans ‘storming’ the gates to try and get at the Leeds fans in the Kop end, a very interesting game ended 2-2.
Recently Leeds have done pretty well, three wins out of five played but not many are as important as this one, only three points separate the teams, so a good game is expected.
Caleb Ekuban is fit so may be in the eighteen to start against their Teeside neighbours, one player, if fit that must be considered is Stuart Dallas, a very impressive outing in the World Cup playoff game in Switzerland, despite his country ultimately failing to quality for the tournament in Russia.
Despite the words of encouragement from Angus Kinnear, Thomas Christainsen desperately needs a win to stem the poor recent results and the fall down the Championship table. With a full Elland Road I hope he will get it. Leeds 2-1.
Wolves beat Reading 2-0 to stay two points ahead of Sheffield United at the top of the Championship.
Leeds v Middlesborough
Team News: Hernandez and Roofe replace O’Kane and Lasogga.
Team: Lonergan, Ayling, Jansson, Cooper(c), Berardi, Phillips, Vieira, Alioski, Siaz, Hernandez, Roofe
Leeds won their first home game since September, the 2-1 win over Middlesborough was well deserved. Editor Ryan Ingham’s gives his thoughts on a entertaining game.
Pablo and Ezgjan with the goals the took the smile off Monk’s face.
Thomas Christainsen: “The attitude of the players, their willingness to go for the win from the first whistle - that was the difference in this game. When you fail you have to work harder and during these two weeks we have analysed a lot, worked a lot and there has been a good atmosphere in the team. The attitude of the players, their willingness to go for the win from the first whistle - that was the difference in this game.”
On the Middlesborough penalty; "It was a foul for us, the good thing in this sense was the reaction the players had, this responsibility that they took on the pitch, that proved we are working well."
Garry Monk: 'We are disappointed with the result. We knew it was a different place to come with a fine atmosphere. But it was fine margins. It's not about me, what’s happened has happened. I've said my side, the club has said their side and that's done and dusted. I've great memories of this club and enjoyed my season here, but now I'm at Middlesbrough and my only focus is on them."
Andrew Butterwick is very happy after Middlesborough and Garry Monk were put to the sword
Cheers Andrew, great to see smiles back on the faces after a ‘difficult’ couple of months.
Very positive on Social Media, complementary comments on most of the team but less happy with the referee and the linesman that flagged up the incident that led to Middlesborough’s penalty.
Heidi Haigh on the excellent win on Sunday, a day later but well worth the wait.
Thank you Heidi and sorry I couldn’t make the recording of the songs. You’ve been a very busy bee!
Thomas Christainsen and Caleb Ekuban reflect on the Middlesborough game and look forward to tomorrow’s clash with Championship leaders Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Ekuban thinks that either himself, Kemar Roofe or Lasogga are good enough to ‘lead the line’.
On the position, he said; "Now it seems that we are the team to beat... all of us can be the Number 1 striker"
His father is a big Tony Yeboah fan and would like his son to follow the striker into Leeds “I’d say ‘okay dad but it’s not that easy!”
Christainsen indicated that Lasogga, Dallas and Borthwick-Jackson are fit for the upcoming games, Lasogga had a sickness bug, Dallas a slight ankle injury, Jackson also had a ankle injury and has been out for a while.
On the last result: "We took one small step against Middlesbrough, Wolves away is one of the most difficult games we will have.”
Said that he would like Leeds to go on a run and despite Wolves being the best team in the league but they have weaknesses “A few but they have.”
A quietly confident TC.
Wolves v Leeds
Team News: Unchanged eleven, Dallas and Shaughnessy back on the bench, Sacko drops out of the eighteen. Lasogga still out with sickness.
Team: Lonergan, Ayling, Jansson, Cooper(c), Berardi, Phillips, Vieira, Alioski, Siaz, Hernandez, Roofe.
‘Simply the Best’ is a song by the great American singer Tina Turner and without a doubt Wolves are the best team Leeds have faced this season and although the 4-1 defeat was harsh.
Leeds were still in the game at 2-1 but after Ronaldo Vieira was sent off for two yellow cards, Wolves took control and finished off their night’s endeavours.
Thomas Christiansen kept faith with the eleven that impressed in the 2-1 win over Middlesborough, from the start Leeds tried to force their hosts back, Ayling testing Ruddy in the early minutes, but Wolves soon had the upper hand and went ahead through Douglas, his superb free kick flew past Lonergan after fifteen minutes. They made it two just eleven minutes later, Cavaleiro’s superb turn in the area giving him the opportunity to shoot, his effort easily beat Lonergan. Leeds had a chance to reduce the arrears but Roofe’s effort was parried by Ruddy to Siaz, but the midfielder’s effort gave the home keeper no problems. 2-0 at the break.
Leeds got a ‘foot in the door’ within three minutes of the second half, Siaz’s superb ball finding Alioski in the penalty area, the winger nearly took the netting off with a unstoppable shot that flew past Ruddy. This was the part of the game when Leeds looked like getting at least a share of the points, but that changed when Vieira was booked for the second time, for a foul on Eltringham, the referee gave the midfielder a red card, with the player’s exit went Leeds’ chances of getting anything from the game. Jota made it three with less than twenty minutes to play and when Lonergan pulled down Bonatini in the area the referee gave the hosts a penalty, Costa made no mistake from the spot to get number four. Game set and match to the league leaders.
Vieira reflects on his indiscretions.
Believe me when I say that Wolves will be promoted by the end of March, maybe earlier! A very good team that has had millions of pounds invested in it and the gulf in class (apart from a fifteen minute period in the second half) was there for all to see.
Regroup and move on to Barnsley.
Thomas Christiansen: “They are the first team in the league with a lot of quality. I believe they’re going to promoted directly, we faced the best team in the league and you saw how fast they moved the ball but I think there was not a big difference between us and them. We proved that in the second half when we came back with the early goal. We managed things well until the first goal but at 2-0 it was complicated, I believed before the game that we would make a good result, but the red card cost us the possibility to come back, I’m happy with the attitude of my players.
"Everyone has to learn from that, he does and I do because he made some fouls before so perhaps I should have changed him. I can take my responsibility also.”
Nuno Espirito Santo: "I think against Leeds it was a good performance in the first half, but the result does not say how hard it was. It was hard because Leeds are a good team, they came off a good result. But knowing and respecting your opponent makes you better in the game and we did that, we were able to control and then show our quality. The sending-off was the turning point off the game, we took control after that."
David Watkins reviews a cold night in the midlands, as Leeds come back to earth with a thud.
Thank you David, work to do at Barnsley on Saturday and investment definitely needed in January methinks.
Ronaldo Vieira on his sending off:
“Just want to apologise to the fans and my team mates for my red card tonight, I made the wrong decision at a crucial time in the game. We will come back stronger as a team and I will make up for my mistake when I get back on the pitch #Together”
Barnsley manager Paul Heckingbottom: "I left after the sending off (of Vieira) I wasn't going to learn anything after that."
We’ve met before
Barnsley 3 Leeds 2 Champ Jan 2017
Barnsley 0 Leeds 1 Champ Apr 2014
Barnsley 2 Leeds 0 Champ Jan 2013
Barnsley 4 Leeds 1 Champ Dec 2011
Barnsley 5 Leeds 2 Champ Sep 2010
Leeds travel to a venue that apart from the 1-0 win in 2014 has not been a happy hunting ground, I’d go further and say some of the worst defeats in the Championship have occurred at Oakwell.
Eight defeats in eleven, including the latest 4-1 at Wolves have sharpened a few knives (not mine or the owner!) as Christainsen's Leeds struggle for form. Many hoped the the win over Middlesborough would herald a improvement in form, but Wednesday’s result put paid to that, in saying that Wolves are a very good team that includes a lot of investment.
Christainsen will be minus the suspended Ronaldo Vieira, Dallas, Borthwick-Jackson are expected to be in the squad. Lasogga has missed two games through ‘sickness’ and may be absent again. Despite the defeat at Wolves he may opt for the same eleven that played so well against Middlesborough, I cannot understand why Stuart Dallas is over looked week after week, being a Northern Ireland international seems to ‘cuts no mustard’ with the Head Coach, but it should!
The popular player made his 100th appearance for Leeds when coming on as a substitute at Molineux.
If Leeds can reproduce the performance they did against Boro last Sunday, they can at least get a draw at Oakwell. Barnsley 1 Leeds 1
A win and a defeat in the week, the defeat to the league leaders was a timely reminder of how far Leeds (investment wise) may have to go to have a chance to get out of this bloody division! The gulf between the teams in the first half half was very evident.
Another couple of defeats for Christainsen may test even the resolve of Andrea Radrizzani and co of keeping the soft spoken Head Coach. Let’s hope for a positive result at Oakwell and back at church for the game with Villa.
Barnsley vs Leeds United
Team News: Wiedwald replaces Andy Lonergan, Eunan O’Kane in for suspended Ronaldo Vieira, Caleb Ekuban in for Kemar Roofe, who drops to the bench.
Team: Wiedwald, Ayling, Jansson, Cooper(c), Berardi, O’Kane, Phillips, Alioski, Siaz, Hernandez, Ekuban.
Leeds were on the front foot from the kick off, with Ekuban offering muscle upfront and with Alioski, Siaz and Hernandez providing the industry it was only a matter of time before they went in front, Alioski’s superb ball finding the mercurial feet of the diminutive Siaz and the midfielder strode through the Barnsley defence to beat Davies with ease, the keeper beaten by a bounce just before it got to him.
The match had an edge and the referee gave Ayling and Jansson a yellow card as well as one for Barnes of Barnsley, it was to get better in first half injury time for Leeds as Alioski pounced on a bouncing ball and superbly beat the Barnsley goalkeeper, it was the winger’s fourth goal in four games.
2-0 at the break and the away side deserved their two goal lead.
Super Sammy celebrates his goal
The second half Leeds should have been ‘home and hosed’ but opportunities were passed up, the best falling to Ekuban but he dallied and shot into the side netting, Barnsley only threatened Wiedwald late in the game and I can only remember him making one save, he was mind you helped by goalmouth clearances by Berardi and Cooper with time nearly up.
Ekuban, Siaz, Hernandez and Alioski celebrate the win with a ‘selfy’
Six points from nine is impressive, despite the heavy defeat at Wolves. Thomas Christiansen got his team and tactics perfect and his team deservedly beat their South Yorkshire rivals for only the second time in six meetings.
Thomas Christiansen: “For me it is another three points, for the players it is important to build on the confidence. The team is back, we are hoping the results will improve now, I am very pleased for the players to take three points. We had two very difficult games against teams who have been in the Premier League (Middlesbrough and Wolves) and then a derby where we have not done well.
"That was our mission, to come here and try and take the three points, we did the good performance and this is was what we needed to try and be positive going forward. We made a good start because we did the things we had to do. We had to equalise their intensity and then our quality came through. The two goals were very important, to go to half-time with the score like that. It has been a very good week.”
Paul Heckingbottom: “Someone needs to have a bit more class about themselves when they score a goal, someone said something when they scored, that’s all that was. One of their lads needs to learn how to celebrate and have a it of class about them rather than have a go at our bench. He tried to say it wasn’t directed at me, but you don’t do that.”
Andrew Butterwick enjoys a rare victory at Oakwell and hopefully will have had a enjoyable meal with his ‘new friends’ after the game. Hope Mrs MOT enjoyed the away end.
Thank you Andrew and as you have said before ‘football is a long time in football’
A great reaction to the 2-0 win over Barnsley, the fan who gave his hat to Wiedwald during the first half showed off the German keeper’s jersey he was given by the Leeds goalkeeper at the end of the game.
Tj shows off Felix’s shirt.
Man of the Match Samuel Siaz getting praise as expected, Ezgjan Alioski and Pablo Hernandez also received positive remarks.
The efforts of striker Caleb Ekuban also were praised along with the back five.
By Keith Ingham