In a new feature, Jonny Lilley will be taking points from the season so far and asking some valuable questions along the way.
Today his first article for the site talks about Leeds’ midfield and how Jonny Howson could have been a major improvement.
Leeds United’s central midfield has been one of the main debates for Leeds fans for the past couple of seasons.
Ever since we’ve adopted the 4-2-3-1 system the two holding midfield places have mainly been occupied by an experienced midfielder in O’Kane or Bridcutt along with a youthful player in Phillips or Vieira.
Discussion was rife among fans as to which was the best pairing for the team. It was sometimes difficult to make your own opinion at times as the form of players naturally comes and goes at this level.
If you asked me at the start of this preseason I’d have happily said O’Kane wouldn’t have been a big miss if he left and Kalvin Phillips could do with being loaned out to get consistent game time to further his development.
Keith Ingham spoke with family friend and dirty Villa fan Chris Herbert, who’s an avid cricketer but a better drinker!
Chris, how long have you followed the Villa?
All my life. 1st game I went to was when they beat Bradford at valley parade 4-2.
Game against Leeds that sticks out in the memory and your favourite era?
Villa winning the 1996 league cup final at Wembley 3-0.
My favourite era was the noughties under both Martin O’Neill and David O’Leary. We played good football and had a strong team.
Who are your favourite players for the Villains?
Kodjia, Grealish, Adomah
How do you think Villa are doing this season and your thoughts on Steve Bruce and John Terry?
They brought in some good experienced players whom have helped them consolidate themselves in the league and hopefully mount a promotion push.
A couple of players you think could worry the Leeds defence?
Adomah and Davis
A youngster that could be special in the
Do you think that teams that drop out of the Premiership have an unfair advantage due to parachute payments?
They deserve to go down because they’re not good enough, not a fan of parachute payments to be honest.
Name two to go up automatically and one from the playoffs?
Three to be relegated from the Championship this season?
Prediction and Scorers for tonight’s match?
1-1 - Saiz and Davis
We’d like to thank Chris for taking the time to complete our interview and wish him the best of luck for the season in which the Villains are back in business.
By Keith Ingham
With Leeds United finding their feet once again picking up 6 points from 9 in a tough fixture list, the whites seem back firing in the Championship.
One reason for this is the tenacious work of the attacking trio behind the coveted striker position with Hernandez, Saiz and Alioski all terrorising defences for fun.
However, one player seems to be completely out of the loop and we're unsure why this is.
In the past few seasons Stuart Dallas has been an integral part of the squad and although under Garry Monk he saw a continuous rotating role, this season it was expected that Dallas would be a key player in the squad.
For some reason this has not happened and Dallas has become a fringe player in a side that could really benefit from his play.
The Northern Irish winger has been used in more of a defensive role more times than he's been given the opportunity to show his stuff on the wings for Leeds and the club are missing out.
Whether Head Coach Thomas Christiansen does not see the benefit of a fully fit Dallas or the games just haven't called for a winger with more skill technically than brute pace, one thing is clear, Dallas isn't in the forefront of anyone's mind.
Against Aston Villa, Leeds will have to be as focused defensively as they are tenacious in attack and the game is screaming out for someone to bring that to a very flamboyant Leeds side.
Dallas is that man and it's about time he was given the opportunity to once again star in a white shirt.
What's your opinion? Is Dallas an invisible man? Or are the players in his position just better than him? Have your say in the comments below.
By Ryan Ingham
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
Leeds United have missed out on the race to sign Lech Poznan winger Kamil Jozwiak.
The young Polish star has decided to make a u-turn on his decision to allow his deal to expire and has now signed a new contract that will take him to the summer of 2019.
Leeds were said to be heavily interested in bringing in the winger and had an offer of around £180,000 knocked back as Poznan tried to work out a better deal for the prospect.
The 19-year olds contract was set to expire in the summer and Leeds were the club leading the chase for Jozwiak's signature, but have not been rebuffed for a longer stay in Poland.
The fresh terms are said to include a clause that his deal can be extended for a further 24 months if mutually agreed. However, with the player looking for the exit door on one occasion, it's highly likely that Jozwiak's time at Poznan is still numbered.
Have Leeds missed out on a real talent? Or should they be more focused on the current first XI? Have your say in the comments below.
By Ryan Ingham
Ahead of tonight's clash with league leaders Wolves, I spoke with Ian Morgans, who's an avid Wolves fan who's impressed with the start they've had this season.
First of all, how long have you been a Wolves fan?
I have been a Wolves fan since 1986 but, fortunately, I was too young to remember the really bad times that we were going through back then.
You're having a fantastic season at the moment and leading the league in style, was this an expectation in August?
I don’t think anyone expected us to be doing as well as we currently are back in August. I think we were all hopeful but also unsure. We knew that we had brought in highly rated players, Neves, for example, but we didn’t know how long they would take to gel (or even if they would).
Who are your favourite players for the club?
It would have been difficult to pick out a favourite player last season that wasn’t Costa but this season it is hard to narrow down your choices. Neves can be a wonderful footballer to watch. Jota is possibly the most talented forward player Wolves have had in many years. Bonatini is has 10 goals and looks perfect for our system. Boly is a beast at the back. Doherty has been incredible at right wing back. Take your pick!
Your favourite era as a Wolves fan?
My favourite era? I’d have to say the McCarthy years but it may soon be the Nuno years.
Both clubs are in a current transition with new ownership. Although yours are into their second year, how are you finding your new owners?
You can’t speak too highly of Fosun at the moment. Last season, however, was a mess. They made rash decisions on managers and compounded that with a scattergun approach to player recruitment. This season has been wonderful so far though so we hope they learned the lessons of last season. If the rumours about the financial commitment of Fosun if we do get promoted is true then they will be feted for decades in Wolverhampton.
Again, you've improved your side impressively this summer and are reaping the benefits, who has been your major signing?
It is hard to pick out one major signing. Neves makes us tick. Jota can take apart any defence. Bonatini is scoring the goals. Boly is stopping them going in the other end. In the last few games, Ryan Bennett is pushing a claim to be another really important signing.
Ruben Neves was a bit of a coup, how did that one come about?
Neves was a coup. I think we can thank Jorge Mendes and Porto’s financial woes for him gracing the Molineux turf.
Against Boro: DWWLD
At Home vs Boro: LWWWD
Leeds: Lonergan, Ayling, Jansson, Cooper, Berardi, Vieira, Phillips, Alioski, Saiz, Hernandez, Roofe Subs: Wiedwald, Pennington, Anita, O'Kane, Sacko, Ekuban, Grot
Boro: Randolph, Roberts, Ayala, Gibson, Friend, Downing, Leadbitter, Howson, Tavernier, Braithwaite, Assombalonga Subs: Dimi, Fabio, Fry, Forshaw, Johnson, Traore, Fletcher
In a game that spoke more about the politics of football rather than the game prior to kick off, Leeds came back to winning ways in style against an on form Middlesbrough team.
The Whites were avenging managers of the past as they took on former boss Garry Monk's Boro side who had won three league games on the bounce and sat comfortably in sixth place.
Whereas Leeds, who were coming from five straight league losses were looking to get back to form and so they did.
Goals from Pablo Hernandez and Egzjan Alioski gave Leeds a comfortable 2-0 lead before Boro pulled one back from a strange penalty decision but could not find a second to level the match.
The game started well for Leeds, who had decided to start Kemar Roofe up front in a decision that Leeds fans had been clambering for weeks to happen.
The nimble forward gave Leeds extra breathing room up front and they were able to capitalise with space when Alioski turned George Friend and crossed the ball into the box with Kalvin Phillips unmarked able to tee up an onrushing Pablo Hernandez at the back post who powered his effort high into the goal.
Leeds were in again after George Friend had impeded Alioski once again as the Macedonian was continuing to best him during the game.
The freekick was powered in and Pontus Jameson's header feel straight to Samuel Saiz, but his lofted effort was just over the crossbar.
After the break Leeds were back to it and within the first few minutes the Whites were prowling just outside the box before Luke Ayling was sent through on goal, his effort was just over the bar.
It wasn't long before Leeds had their second. Kemar Roofe once again showing his skill by getting the ball with his back to goal before taking it 20 yards and finally laying it off to Hernandez. The Spaniards inch perfect cross to Alioski was perfection and the Macedonian was there to slide the ball into the roof of the net.
Leeds nearly had a third after some intricate play by Saiz and a 1-2 to Vieira gave the magician enough room to work a shot, the ball crashed against the post and was unlucky not to find a Leeds player in the box.
With some strategic substitutions Boro came into the match heavily and it took a last second clearance on the goal line from Luke Ayling to stop Martin Braithwaite from picking up a Boro goal.
Boro were then awarded a penalty for a stupid decision by Ayling for reacting to a disgusting foul by Daniel Ayala who grabbed the player by the neck and threw him to the floor. Although it was a disgusting foul, Ayling grabbing the players legs cost Leeds a penalty. It's just a wonder how the linesman that flagged for the second infringement was unable to see the wrestling move prior to it.
Assombalonga was there to send Lonergan the wrong way and Leeds had it all to do with 10 minutes remaining.
Boro's main final chance came from a terrific volley by Braithwaite but Pontus Jansson was there to clear the danger.
Overall a brilliant performance in which Leeds began to look like the team that had started so well this season.
If they can take this win into the next two tough away fixtures against Wolves and Barnsley, this season could continue to surprise us.
A small note for the brilliance of the club for the cards that were handed out in the East Stand and the flags in the South Stand.
A beautiful spectacle for all fans to engage in and a nice bit of memorabilia for the young fans.
By Ryan Ingham
Ahead of Sunday's clash against Boro, Keith Ingham spoke to Mike McMahon about all things Boro and this season.
For our readers could you tell how long you have followed Middlesborough FC?
Favourite players for the club?
Willie Maddren, Graeme Souness, Emerson, Viduka
Most unforgettable era and games that stick out in the memory?
1974 Big Jack, 2004-2006 Europe especially Basel and Steaua
Your opinion of Leeds United’s recent history of hiring and firing Head Coaches?
Must be unsettling effect. Surely should be doing better than they are.
Have to ask your thoughts on Middlesborough hiring Garry Monk and how do you think he’s done so far. Do you expect him to get a ‘friendly reception’ on Sunday?
Think he was many fans favourite but his slow start seems to be turning a few against him. I think he will come good. He left Leeds for a reason...a bigger club ;-) *yawn*
Key players for your team this season?
Assombalongoa, Braithewaite, Gibson and Randolph
Name us a player you think could be a future star?
Who are the two to go up automatically and team from the playoffs?
Wolves, Boro, Derby
Can you name three for the drop to League One?
Burton, Sunderland, Millwall
Prediction and Scorers for Sunday's clash?
We'd like to thank Mary for taking the time to answer our questions and wish her the best of luck for the season, just not that snake of a manager.
By Keith Ingham
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