Midfield Must Not Be A Minefield Against Brighton

Last updated : 13 October 2015 By Graeme Douglas joncandy

by  Graeme Douglas 

In a brand new strip, with a brand new manager, Leeds looked set to defy the bookies who had them pegged as relegation fodder, as retained youngsters Sam Byram, Alex Mowatt and Lewis Cook combined with new signings Stuart Dallas and Tom Adeyemi to produce a dominant midfield performance against a side fresh out of the Premier League.

Leeds began the season at 33/1 to win the Championship and 11/2 to drop down to League One, and there was a sense on that first day of the season that Rosler’s men would give fans a rare chance to rub the bookies’ faces in it come the end of the season.

But eight weeks into the 2015/16 season, bragging rights are no longer on the horizon, and a string of abject midfield performances have cast a looming sense of uncertainly over Rosler’s future at the club.

32Red UK has Leeds’ relegation odds slightly improved at 13/2 at the time of writing, but after a string of dismal performances, including disappointing home defeats to Ipswich and Birmingham, the Whites’ title odds have been lengthened to 100/1.

by  joncandy 

With Leeds 16th in the table with just two wins from their first 10 games, few could argue with these assessments, nor 32Red’s view that there are 13 Championship sides more likely to clinch promotion than Leeds this season. Rosler’s men are 20/1 to make it out of the Championship this campaign.

Of course, the season is still young, and back-to-back wins in Leeds’ next two fixtures could drastically alter the prospects and give the atmosphere at Elland Road a much-needed shot in the arm. But to put a run together, Leeds need to somehow banish the hoodoo that has haunted their home form for seven months.

Before the international break, Birmingham enjoyed a straightforward 2-0 win at Elland Road, and Blues striker Clayton Donaldson reflected afterwards on the palpable tension around the stadium – something he had experienced at St Andrews in the past – and how that breeds confidence amongst visiting sides.

Donaldson backed Leeds to turn their home form around, given the quality in Rosler’s squad, and having glimpsed the potential of Cook, Mowatt and Byram last season, Leeds fans will hope that confidence can be restored in the middle of the park in order to get the season back on track.

But SoccerPunter.com doesn’t fancy Leeds to take maximum points from their October 17th clash with Brighton at Elland Road, making the Whites 9/4, Albion 13/10, and the draw 23/10.

Should Leeds fail to beat Chris Hughton’s side, they will set a new club record of 11 consecutive games without a win on home turf.

Given the trials and tribulations the club has been through in the last 12 years, it seems staggering that such a record should be set now, after such a positive summer of inbound transfers, and the retention of the best of the youth - despite numerous Premier League sides said to be tracking their progress.

Rosler, who endured a similar spell of difficult home form during his time as Wigan manager, acknowledged after the Birmingham defeat that Leeds are lacking a nasty streak in midfield, and called for more aggression as well as good football from his players.

But it remains to be seen whether Rosler knows which players will keep him in a job for much longer, given that various midfield combinations of Lewis Cook, Alex Mowatt, Luke Murphy and Tom Adeyemi have yet to form a cohesive unit in the middle of the pitch.

by  joncandy 

While it is widely agreed that Cook and Mowatt are at their best when given license to attack, it is vital that the back four is offered some protection by a holding midfielder. Following the departure of Rudy Austin in the summer, neither Murphy nor Adeyemi have offered the steel and grit required to break up the play in this area, leaving fans pining for the days when David Batty epitomised the role – some would argue Leeds have never adequately replaced Batty since his retirement in 2004.

Rosler will be all too conscious of club president Massimo Cellino’s notorious lack of patience during lean times, and his tendency to exact his frustrations on the manager before anyone else.

In 1982, Allan Clarke’s Leeds side ended a run of 10 home defeats with a 2-1 win over Brighton. Rosler, along with Leeds fans everywhere, will be hoping that history is about to repeat itself.