Opposing view: Problems persist for leaky Leeds

Robert Snodgrass applauds the travelling fans.'Crystal Palace v Leeds Utd.  npower Championship, Selhurst Park.  14 January 2012.  Picture Bruce Rollinson
Robert Snodgrass applauds the travelling fans.'Crystal Palace v Leeds Utd. npower Championship, Selhurst Park. 14 January 2012. Picture Bruce Rollinson

WHAT Leeds United have lost this season has grabbed the headlines but what they have retained could yet bring them a play off place, writes Liam Hoden.

The departures of Max Gradel, Bradley Johnson and Johnny Howson seemed to have hit Leeds hard.

Yet they have remained within touching distance of the top six all season.

What the success of this side boils down to is pure industry, something which has ensured the loss of flair and explosion has not impacted too greatly.

United are not particularly pretty but they continue to get the job done to a reasonable standard.

So it came as somewhat of a surprise when Simon Grayson was given the bullet after managing to achieve to a reasonable standard despite losing star players.

Caretaker boss Neil Redfearn threw his hat into the ring for consideration for the vacant post with a 3-0 win at Bristol City on his first outing at the helm.

Redfearn and Leeds did nothing particularly spectacular on that day, though City going down to nine men did help somewhat.

United sought to soak up pressure from City and hit them on the counter which proved effective and Redfearn will be in charge until at least after the visit of Rovers as a result.

Whether Leeds will be as keen to sit back on home soil is questionable, particularly against a side like Rovers who, on paper, show little attacking menace.

Leeds’ main problem continues to be the amount of goals they concede – highlighted by the fact they have shipped at least seven more goals than every other side in the top half of the Championship.

Tellingly, Redfearn blamed ‘a lack of professionalism, something that’s run through the club for a while’ following Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to Brighton at Elland Road, with the winner coming in injury time.

That defeat severely damaged Redfearn’s bid to take the job on a permanent basis and showed the problems which have affected United will not be changed overnight.

In fact, Redfearn’s Leeds was very similar to that of Grayson on Saturday and perhaps highlighted the need for a fresh approach and fresh blood.

Something absent from Leeds which tends to appear in most sides is a player who primarily sits in front of the back four and protects the defence.

This is an area Rovers could look to exploit, having a player such as Martin Woods or El Hadji Diouf looking to operate between the lines.

Woods enjoyed a particularly free role at Hull and something similar could prove the key to unlocking a vulnerable Leeds defence.

Attacking wise, United have one of the better records, something which has allowed them to compete despite their shortcomings.

Ross McCormack has proved a revelation this season after a stuttering start to his Leeds career while Robert Snodgrass has chipped in 11 goals from midfield and Luciano Becchio (pictured left) is always a threat.

They were at their slick best at the Keepmoat earlier this season, blitzing Rovers in a 3-0 defeat.

But Leeds remain a vulnerable side who are certainly beatable.

The performance at the Keepmoat is probably the high point of their season in terms of quality, with much of the rest being pretty lacklustre.