By Mike Courtney
Saturday was a great day at Elland Road; First league win under Hockaday, first clean sheet of the season and first (of many I hope) goal for new striker Billy Sharp on his debut in front of the Kop End. As always in this League you don't have much time to rest on your Laurels and it's back to business with the visit of the Seagulls, who have yet to register a point this term. On their last visit here on the opening day of last season, Luke Murphy scored a dramatic stoppage time winner to send the faithful home happy. The same result will do nicely tonight but with a little less late drama for the good of our fan's health.
Hockaday says he wants to hear more of the Elland Road Roar that greeted Sharp's late winner on Saturday and to make visitors uncomfortable when they come to our patch. If the players play with the same passion, endeavour and heart and also try to keep the ball a bit better then we should hear planty of roof raising roars throughout the season.
This team is still a work in progress and it will take some time for the players to get to know each other and for Hockaday to find his best eleven, but if he can get a couple of more quality signings in key areas in the door in the next two weeks and can hang to Sam Byram then we could have a better season than was being predicted by most so called experts.
Speaking of signings, there are a few names coming to the fore and it looks like a couple of deals could be completed this week. Although with Cellino doing the negotiating, these could fall through just like a few others have done. Nothing is assured anymore until ink has been put to paper. The two names featuring most in the gossip columns are the Brazilian playmaker Adryan and striker Antenucci from Italian Club Ternana. Cellino knows Adryan well from his stint at Cagliari and says the player wants to come to play at Leeds. The stumbling block there could be his Brazilian owners Flamengo and work permit/International clearence issues. He is currently on loan at Cagliari and if he does come it will be another loan with an option to buy deal. In the case of Antenucci, Leeds have been trying to broker a deal but his club want £1.5 million for the striker who scored 19 times in Seria B last term and this could be a deal breaker.
With Matt Smith signing a new contract and with Sharp, Ajose, Doukara, Poleon, Hunt and Morison already on our books, paying big bucks for another striker may not be a priority. A wide player would be more of a necessity and Palermo's Davide Di Gennaro is a name that is being bandied about on some media sites. Hockaday has stated that we need to strengthen so expect a busy few days as we approach the close of the window.
Back to tonight's game. Bellusci's International clearence has come through and he should be included in the squad for Brighton's visit. He is unlikely to feature in the starting 11 as the back four performed well against Boro and should be given the nod to continue. I don't expect the manager to make many changes and the midfield four will probably be the same although Tonge and Cook are pushing hard for a starting berth. The one change could come up front. Sully Doukara came off with a niggle against Boro and with Matt Smith having signed a new deal and Poleon chomping at the bit Hockaday could freshen it up in this area. I wouldn't be surprised though if he went with the same eleven that started against Boro.
Brighton have not started the season well and Sami Hyypia will be hoping that their fortunes improve as the season goes on. Hopefully that improvement won't start tonight. They have been strenghtened by the signing of Dutch midfielder Danny Holla and will be hoping to get their first points and league goals of the season having suffered 1-0 setbacks against both Wednesday and Birmingham in their first two outings, with a 2-0 win against Cheltenham in the Capital One Cup sandwiched in between.
Hockaday and Leeds will be hoping to add to the Seagulls woes though and if the lads can battle as hard as they did on Saturday and try to create more opportunities for Sharp and his strike partner then we could be in for another good night for the Mighty Whites. It would be a good way to banish those midweek blues that we have sufferered over the past few seasons and set us up nicely for the difficult away trip to Watford at the weekend.
The squad, the manager and the fans have been boosted by the win last Saturday and I fully expect us to build on that and inflict another defeat on Hyypia's men. Another 1-0 would do nicely but I expect us to maybe be a bit more comfortable in winning this one and 2-0 with Sharp to be amongst the scorers should send the faithful home happy for the third time in a week.
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