By James Dielhenn
Saturday 11th August 2012
Capital One Cup
Elland Road, Att: 18,194
Leeds 4 - 0 Shrewsbury
McCormack 69' (pen)
Playing against League One opposition, nobody should get too carried away by a 4-0 victory but the manner of this game suggests that Neil Warnock has significantly improved last season’s disappointing squad.
Apart from a 15 minute spell after the break, Leeds were the better team and this test against weaker opposition should set them up nicely for a much tougher prospect in Wolves next weekend.
Ten players made debuts and the style of the team already seems to be in keeping with Warnock’s philosophy of hard work, aggression and solidity.
Paddy Kenny already seems popular with the fans. Apart from one dodgy moment where he dropped a cross he played well, making at least two impressive saves. He didn’t command his box too brilliantly but Kenny showed glimpses of the experience he brings to Leeds’ young defence. 7/10
Sam Byram, the 18-year-old who starred during pre-season, will have given Warnock a selection headache after a fantastic debut. He was drafted in due to Tom Lees’ injury and had a superb game at right-back. Comfortable on the ball and never out of position, he has probably done enough to suggest he can be relied upon when a senior player is unavailable. 8/10
Lee Peltier, signed to play at right-back, made his debut as an emergency central defender. Shrewsbury didn’t test our defence too much and Peltier had a decent game. 6/10
Jason Pearce played alongside Peltier. He made one error at 4-0, allowing Shrewsbury’s striker to run through on goal, but was otherwise solid. Pearce should grow into the leader of this defence and had an okay game to start his Leeds career. 6/10
Aidy White was perhaps a surprise choice at left-back. It seemed his future was further up the pitch but Warnock selected him as a defender ahead of Adam Drury. White was tested defensively and was comfortable. He wasn’t required as an attacking force down the left wing. 6/10
Rodolph Austin was the deepest lying midfielder and looks like a real physical presence. The debutant won’t show his best until there is a real battle in midfield but his long shot set up the opening goal. Importantly, he looks capable with the ball at his feet as well as breaking up opposing attacks. 6/10
David Norris was alongside Austin in central midfield, and captained the side on his debut. It hasn’t been announced that he is the full-time skipper but he did his chances no harm with a very impressive, all-action display. Norris is a real box-to-box midfielder, putting his foot in constantly and getting forward when he could. He deserved his goal, even if it was slightly mis-hit. 7/10
Paul Green, naturally a central player, played on the right wing on his first appearance. He looked uncomfortable at times and doesn’t have the pace to be an out-and-out winger but his work-rate and positional sense meant he was a threat. Green won the penalty for the fourth goal. 6/10
Luke Varney, another debutant, played as a right-footer on the left wing. He is an experienced Championship player and his performance was particularly impressive. He isn’t the quickest but possesses calmness and intelligence on the pitch, fully deserving his first goal for the club. 8/10
Ross McCormack had a free role, drifting between his usual striker position and a deeper role. The Scot netted a penalty to open his season’s account, leading to “sign him up” songs. McCormack’s outing showed why it is so vital that Leeds do tie him to a new deal because his movement and ability to score is unmatched in this current squad. Hopefully McCormack will thrive with new responsibility following Robert Snodgrass’ departure. 7/10
Luciano Becchio needs a good season after a disappointing campaign last time out. After 20 minutes he had already opened his goalscoring account with a trademark poacher’ effort. He hasn’t played a great deal in pre-season so naturally he tired in the second half after a bustling first period. Warnock promised Becchio would be a better player this season – let’s hope he was right. 7/10
Dominic Poleon, another academy product, was handed his debut appearance for the first-team. The striker put in a hard-working 20 minute showing. 6/10
El-Hadji Diouf, the headline maker of the day after completing his transfer, got 20 minutes off the bench and played down the right. He got a mixed reception from the fans but showed a few good touches, although the game was over as a contest by then. Time will tell whether Warnock’s risk on Diouf pays off. 6/10
Michael Brown came on as a substitute to further bolster the central midfield, proving Warnock is happy to rely on his old war-horse when necessary. 6/10
A 4-0 win, regardless of the opposition, is a good day. Next week against Wolves we will be pushed much harder but Warnock’s lads look as ready as they can be.