Leeds United under pressure to deliver in Town derby

Leeds United head coach Garry Monk.
Leeds United head coach Garry Monk.

So the upshot of transfer deadline week was a sum total of one in, one out for Leeds United and fans generally none too thrilled.

Eunan O’Kane joined the already well stocked midfield ranks while club captain Sol Bamba departed for “personal” reasons with his contract ended by mutual consent, leaving Leeds with just one centre-back of their own with first team experience, plus two on loan and a full-back who can play there.

The biggest disappointment seems to be failure to deliver a striker to give Chris Wood stronger competition, although as United demonstrated when freeing Bamba the day after the deadline there is still the chance to sign free agents who other clubs do not want with these kind of deals allowed outside of the transfer window periods.

There are a number of talented players, usually towards the end of their careers, available as they do not currently have clubs, but a dearth of good strikers, so it seems United will have to muddle through until January with the squad they have got with loans now not allowed.

The attention switches back to the pitch this Saturday with Leeds back at home and head coach Garry Monk looking for his first win in a competitive game at Elland Road.

Huddersfield Town are the visitors and in contrast to the Whites they have made a superb start to the season.

With four wins and a draw so far, the Terriers are the Championship’s early season surprise packages after a successful rebuild in style and squad under manager David Wagner.

United, meanwhile, are only outside the relegation places on goal difference with one win, one draw and three defeats.

The fact that their one win came in another Yorkshire derby can stand them in good stead, however, and they do have a good record in recent meeting with Town to give them more confidence.

Against that, though, is an inconsistency shown so far with Monk yet to find a winning formula and yet to work out his best team or tactics.

After the international break the pressure is on to deliver now, especially in the next two matches with the derby element on Saturday and another home game quickly following next Tuesday night when Leeds take on Blackburn Rovers – also their opponents in an EFL Cup third round match at Elland Road the following Tuesday.

Monk’s team selection for the first of the matches will be interesting as he has had time to take stock with the week off to work out which of his players are delivering.

His biggest selection dilemma appears to be who to play in central defence with Kyle Bartley and Liam Cooper under pressure from Pontus Jansson after their unconvincing display in the last game at Nottingham Forest.

At the other end of the pitch, it is about whether to go with one up top or two.

The form of Marcus Antonsson has meant it has been two for the last few league games as his style does not suit playing a lone striker role so Monk has to decide whether to sacrifice his most in-form forward for his preferred 4-2-3-1 formation.

New boy O’Kane will be in contention to start, but faces plenty of competition in midfield, particularly from another recent signing, Liam Bridcutt, the encouragingly back-to-form Alex Mowatt and youngster Ronaldo Vieira who signed a three-year contract extension with the club last week.