After two decent results Reading welcomed second place Leeds to the Madejski for a midweek fixture that had interest at the top and bottom of the table. Realistically, most Royals fans should have realised that anything from this game would have been a bonus, as Leeds have been one of the standout teams in the Championship this season.
The undeniable star of the show was Pablo Hernandez, someone that is really too good to be playing at this level. Marcelo Bielsa’s side as a whole have to be given credit though, as after defeat to QPR last month, many pundits were suggesting that they would ‘burnout’, pointing to Leeds’ annual implosion. However this season it seems that it could be different, as they do actually look destined to make the top two.
Let’s take a look at what both the Twittersphere and the press had to say on the game...
Pretty much on the mark
Yeah he was good, but there’s been better
Would explain things!
That is pretty impressive
Leeds now have the BEST record (18 wins, 0 points dropped) after scoring first this season in the top two tiers of league football in England, France, Italy, Spain and Germany. #LUFC https://t.co/0fmztluHCH— LUFCDATA (@LUFCDATA) March 12, 2019
Don’t remember Leeds beating Liverpool last year? #PastGlories
Oh that just hurts....
Oh for Leeds to finish third...
Never thought it would happen like this but one of us 3 could end up with 90 points and in playoffs, would destroy me if it were Leeds - really good we push on and knock sufc back on Saturday #lufc— Graham Marchant (@gmarchy14) March 12, 2019
Um...it was and should have been red
These commentators really need to get over Ayling not getting a second yellow #LUFC— Michaela LUFC (@MichaelaStuart4) March 12, 2019
A quick skip amongst the media outlets, primarily as most of them have the same report sees the game picked up by a few nationals as the media love-in with Leeds continues.
We may as well start with Leeds favourite fans Sky. They have three minutes and thirty seconds of highlights and two things jump out - firstly a lesson in how not to take your chances, and secondly just showing how good Hernandez actually is.
Changing channels to the BBC, and they say that the game was over when the third goal went in; however this is probably one of the longest write ups that we have had for a long while – shame it was a defeat!
Phil Hey at the Yorkshire Evening Post was eulogising as you would imagine about this Leeds side, but did acknowledge that Ayling could and should have been sent off with Bielsa subbing him straight after.
The Daily Mail as always have a decent write up, again announcing the Hernandez masterclass, but they also give us a mention unlike some of the other outlets, and still reference the Wembley defeat – hangover anyone?
Now the Daily Star has a totally different take on the game, saying that Leeds fans were drooling over Bamford’s performance. I mean missing a hat trick who wouldn’t (cows backside, barn door etc etc)!
Finally, Football.London have their usual round up of the game, with the talking points being the interesting one: Loader badly needing a goal, debuts for East and Olise, and the lack of a midfield. It’s interesting as midfield was the area at the beginning of the season that we seemed to be overloaded in. Now we don’t actually have anyone to play there!
I hate it, I really do – having to give Leeds praise does stick in the throat a little, but it has to be done. What we do need to bear in mind however is that this Leeds team is probably three years and £40 million in the making.
Whilst we can all point at clubs throwing money at getting decent players in, to actually do that and not waste it is an art form. I mean, we only have to look at Aston Villa as an example of a team who since being relegated have spent cash and not really put much of a challenge up. Wolves however had a project and got to the Premier League and now Leeds will probably do the same.
Reading on the other hand have spent cash and seen all £7.5 million drift over to China (an example of when it goes wrong). It would be an interesting stat to actually look at the last clubs to get promoted and see what they spent on players to get there.
So, what does this mean then? Are academies important or is promotion earned by buying yourself out of the league? Being realistic, Reading’s academy have produced some good players, but we haven’t really seen a player come through and cement a place since Liam Kelly. I know everyone will point to Rinomhota as an example, but he hasn’t had a full season yet and Kelly, when he broke through, had a similar purple patch.
I still believe that we need to bring players through the academy system, as it does bolster the squad and every so often you will produce excellent players (McCarthy, Gylfi etc) but what we don’t have is the ability to find an Hernandez, or even anything close to him. What it does show is the importance of a scouting network and connections - our Director of International Scouting was sacked and as far as I’m aware is yet to be replaced!
Hopefully we can get through this season and ask our lovely owners to put their hands in their pockets and pull us out a gem of a player or the eight that we need, so just for once we can have a decent stab at getting promoted. Because let’s face it, it’s been a little bit horrible being at the wrong end of the table.
Oh by the way – C’mon Sheffield United, stuff Leeds!!!!