This article is part of Football FanCast’s Pundit View series, which provides opinion and analysis on recent quotes from journalists, pundits, players and managers…
Speaking to Football Insider, Noel Whelan has waxed lyrical about Stuart Dallas, commenting on how he’s overcome question marks to star so far this term.
Leeds were good value for their 3-0 win over Stoke at the weekend, playing some delicious passing football as the Whites remained top of the table.
Luke Ayling has missed the opening stages of the new term and stepping into his place has been Stuart Dallas.
The Northern Irishman found the net on Saturday afternoon in confident fashion and following the game, Whelan heaped praise on him.
Talking to Football Insider, he labelled exactly where his qualities lie and what aspect of Dallas’ game has improved in 2019/20. He said:
“He’s been absolutely magnificent. The energy levels, the quality, his defending’s got better, his quick passing – you can see he’s enjoying that role and he’s a joy to watch.
“When he gets forward there’s quality there, he looks dangerous. We questioned his defending at times but he’s been educated, his got more intelligent in defensive areas and he’s great to watch at the minute.”
One unquestionable aspect of Dallas’ game is his versatility, something that’s seen him play in a whole host of roles for Leeds.
Last term, he played out wide whilst also featuring at right back and left back. It was the latter position that was most unfamiliar to him but he starred in the playoffs, scoring twice against Derby as he demonstrated his qualities in attack.
But it’s defensively, as Whelan notes, that’s perhaps been the most pleasing attribute of his game this season.
Against Stoke he played slightly further forward as a wing back but up until now, he’d begun the new campaign as an out-and-out full back.
Last season we started to see improvements in his defending and that’s noticeable in the number of tackles he made per game.
In 2017/18, he made just 1.2 per match but last term that moved up to 1.8. This campaign, he’s currently averaging 1.6 every outing, per WhoScored.
Whelan notes that his intelligence has improved and that’s arguably the biggest step up this season.
His overall reading is far better and that’s enhanced Leeds greatly, making 0.8 interceptions every match, compared to 0.6.
On top of that, he’s also making more clearances each game (2), in comparison to just 0.8 in 2018/19.