Where the promotion push went wrong for Leeds

Leeds, Burton, Marvin Sordell

Overall, it’s been a fantastic season for Leeds despite falling just short in their bid for a play-off spot.

However, Garry Monk’s side surrended an eight-point gap with the same number of games remaining. This opened the door for a flying Fulham side, who took advantage of Leeds’ poor run of form towards the end of the season.

We take a look at some of the reasons as to why Leeds’ form took a dramatic turn as the season closed in on a pivotal point of the season.

January Transfer Window

Alfonso Pedraza

Without a doubt the main reason Leeds failed to push on following a fantastic run of form over the winter period.

The addition of Alfonso Pedraza looked like a good piece of business, especially with his important goal at Birmingham. Unfortunately, it seems like we will go back to Spain or elsewhere but it would have been good to see him after a full pre season with the team.

On the other hand the signing of Mo Barrow has been a complete let down but most of all, the lack of intent to sign another centre back and a centre forward to help Chris Wood eventually proved to be the final nail in the coffin.

Changes in the middle

Ronaldo Viera Leeds

One of Monk’s rare problems this season is being able to the same midfield partnership. Over the course of 45 games (played 4-1-3-2 v Reading) Leeds have had 10 different central midfield pairings this season.

Partnership P W D L W % Pts Av Pts
Hernandez/Bridcutt 1 1 100% 3 3
Hernandez/Phillips 1 1 0% 1 1
Hernandez/Vieira 1 1 0% 0 0
Bridcutt/Phillips 7 1 3 3 14% 6 0.86
Bridcutt/Vieira 9 3 1 5 33% 10 1.1
Bridcutt/O’Kane 5 5 100% 15 3
O’Kane/Phillips 8 5 1 2 63% 16 2
O’Kane/Vieira 7 3 3 1 43% 12 1.71
Vieira/Phillips 5 3 2 60% 9 1.8
Vieira/Diagouraga 1 1 0% 0 0

If you look at teams in the top six then they usually have a strong, consistent midfield pairing. Just look down the road at Huddersfield, Jonathan Hogg and Arron Mooy have been pivotal to their promotion push and they will have played a large chunk of Huddersfield’s games together.

As you can see from the above, the best central midfield partnership was Liam Bridcutt and Eunan O’Kane, winning all five games they played together. However, due to injuries, the pair only featured only five times alongside each other.

The second best pair were O’Kane and Kalvin Phillips who took 16 points from eight games. It seems the absence of O’Kane has been fairly critical in Leeds’ season and it’s only come to the surface since he’s been starting again.

Would it have been a different story if O’Kane was fit all season to help add some stability to Leeds’ midfield?

Overusing Pablo

Pablo Hernandez

It was clear to everyone that Pablo Hernandez struggled in the second half of the season It seemed like after the Derby game, to be more specific.

You can see one of the main reasons that Monk persisted in the 32-year-old because he could come up with the goods at the right time, just look at his goal against Norwich as a recent example.

However, surely one of the better options from January onwards could have been to play Kemar Roofe in the number 10 role in four or five games to allow Hernandez to find his feet again.

Roofe shone in the League Cup game against Liverpool playing the free role and in other games when called upon.

It’s worth noting that Pablo has played the most games he has ever played in a season to date and its clear fatigue caused a dip in his form.

Sutton FA Cup game

Sutton v Leeds

Leeds went into the game at Sutton United sitting fourth in the table. Fielding a very weakened team they crashed out the FA Cup 1-0 and were dominated by the non-league outfit who exposed Leeds’ lack of squad depth.

Monk’s side then struggled to a 2-1 win away at Blackburn the Wednesday following the Sutton defeat thanks to a Pontus Jansson header. Leeds’ form seemed to take a dip the weeks following the defeat so would have playing a stronger team kept Leeds’ momentum going?

Reporter | Matthew Beedle

Throwback

  • Take a look at how we predicted the season would go in our start of season preview…. there was some interesting ones.
  • The Leeds Avenger

    The biggest problem by far has been the midfield, the last 3 occasions we played huddersfield it has been thier midfield of mooy and hogg that have caused us to lose ,, Everyone was going on about wingers and extra strikers in the Jan window, they would have been of no use if you can’t get it right in the middle, I understand he couldn’t get the midfield he wanted in a January window, but this Sumner there should be no excuses