Thanks to Pete Schlenker for giving us the lowdown on a tough couple of months for the Lilywhites. He writes for our Leeds-supporting SB Nation sister site Through It All Together - you can find them on Twitter at @ThruItAllLUFC
Was sacking Christiansen the right decision, and has Paul Heckingbottom delivered so far?
I wasn’t one who thought that Christiansen should have been sacked, but I understood the decision and was okay with it. However, as the team has won only once since his sacking, it’s hard to say that getting rid of Christiansen was the correct decision. The players haven’t been good enough for a few months now, and sacking Christiansen didn’t change those players or bring Luke Ayling back from injury.
The new manager, former Barnsley FC manager Paul Heckingbottom, hasn’t been able to fix the issues, as the problems with roster construction run deeper than just the person picking the team.
What’s the mood amongst the Leeds faithful like at the moment?
Pretty much close to open revolution. A lot of the good feelings that new owner Andrea Radrizzani and the board had garnered over the past few months was destroyed after the new badge fiasco, and the current whipping boy is the Leeds Director of Football, Victor Orta. A lot of fans were pretty suspicious of Orta to begin with, and so the people that were calling for Christiansen’s head have shifted to wanting Orta out.
After the Wolverhampton match on Wednesday night, Radrizzani took to Twitter to complain about how Wolves were cheating because of the Jorge Mendes arrangement, which only seemed to set off Leeds fans. Many fans saw it as sour grapes and excuse making, given that Leeds fans pay some of the highest prices in England to watch football and for the owner to cry poverty just makes them angry.
Ed: here’s Radrizzani’s Twitter
outburst statement below:
“We have our own problems but we should play in a fair competition. [It is] not legal and fair [to] let one team owned by a fund whom has shares in the biggest players agency with evident benefits (top European club giving players with options to buy...
“Why the other 23 teams can’t have [the] same treatment? We should play all 24 with the same rules and opportunities (it’s enough to Google it) @EFL.
“Congratulations to the best team but hope the league can be fair and equal to all 24 teams.”
What’s going right for Leeds now?
Um, that we’re not lower in the table? Leeds have won once since Boxing Day, and nothing has been going right. Samu Saiz is back after his daft suspension for spitting during the Newport County match, and we beat Brentford in his first start, but the last two losses to Wolves and Middlesbrough, both 3-0 defeats, have been ugly.
Bailey Peacock-Farrell, a 21 year-old goalkeeper that started the season in the youth team and played for York City on loan, came in and played pretty decently against Wolves, despite the scoreline, so I guess that’s something positive to take out of the past couple games.
Adam Forshaw, who came over from ‘Boro in the January transfer window, has been great in central midfield. Pablo Hernandez has been brilliant as well, but beyond that, there have been a lot of passengers on the team.
Anything that could be going better?
The defence has been awful in the past two months or so. Liam Cooper, who looked great for the first couple months of the season, has reverted to form and has looked shaky at best since. Behind him is Everton loanee Matthew Pennington, but he’s been inconsistent and unable to dislodge Cooper from the starting position.
The club also brought in Laurens De Bock, a left back with Champions League experience from Club Brugge, in January to fill the gaping hole at left back. He was dreadful against Derby County and hasn’t even made the bench two of the last three matches.
Former Newcastle United midfielder Vurnon Anita, who I called “Toast’ back in October when he was playing left back and got yelled at for being negative, has been playing as a left back again. He’s looked the same as he did last autumn and I’m not being yelled at for being negative anymore.
How do you see the game going, and what will the score be?
This has painful, dreadful 0-0 draw written all over it, but I think that maybe, just maybe, Heckingbottom will get the troops to get a result away from home. Leeds can’t score at the moment, but Wolves and Boro both have defenders that could probably start in the Premier League, so maybe the club will get lucky and nick a goal or two.
1-0 Leeds win in a scoreline that flatters Leeds greatly.