Big three weeks ahead for Leeds United
The international break was timely this time with the Whites looking like they were losing their way after a promising start to the season.
A lengthy spell on the training ground was just what the doctor ordered to iron out flaws developing after three defeats in four games have sent Leeds down to 16th place and in need of a boost quickly if they are to make anything of their season.
The next three weeks will go a long way to deciding which direction United’s campaign is going to go in.
Head coach Uwe Rosler and his players are set to be tested with little respite in this chunk of the season as six matches will be played in 22 days, beginning with a tough looking home game against Sky Bet Championship leaders Brighton who have yet to taste defeat this season.
With United having failed to win at Elland Road they go into this Saturday’s contest as underdogs and desperate to find a way of playing better at home.
Rosler has hinted at a different playing style and has had time to work on it with the break, but will keep his cards close to his chest before kick-off to keep Saturday’s opponents guessing.
It will certainly be interesting to see his starting team against Brighton and whether he plays a second striker, probably Mirco Antenucci, up alongside Chris Wood, in a bid to increase his side’s threat in front of goal.
Other selection dilemmas concern who to play in midfield and which of the three wingers now at his disposal get the nod.
Will Buckley failed to shine on his debut after coming in on loan from Sunderland while Botaka looked lively off the bench. Stuart Dallas, meanwhile, has faded after a bright start to the season, but he has been busy also helping Northern Ireland qualify for the European Championships.
So far Leeds have failed to score twice in any of their five home games and have only scored three goals in total so it is clear they need to improve their attacking options whoever plays.
They also have to start better after failing to score in the first half any of the home matches this term.
An unwanted record awaits if Leeds fail to beat Brighton as it will be the worst run of home games without victory in their history.
Their points haul of 11 from their opening 10 matches also makes it their worst start since the relegation season of 2006-07. Previous starts have costs managers jobs at the club with October often being the sacking month at Elland Road.
Rosler’s record at Leeds is remarkably similar to his start to last season with Wigan when he was sacked in November.
After 10 matches Wigan had also only won twice, although United have drawn two more to be slightly better. With their disappointing goal tally of nine, Leeds are one worse off than the Lancashire club at this stage last year.
Rosler will be hoping there is no repeat for him in 2016, although he remains confident he can turn the recent poor run round to get the Whites pointing in the right direction again.