Leeds’ season took somewhat of a reality check on Sunday evening.
Battered at Old Trafford in their biggest game since returning to the Premier League, Marcelo Bielsa’s team were a sight for sore eyes.
Thus, are changes needed? Quite possibly.
Bielsa’s side aren’t usually cut open at will but against Manchester United they were absolutely demolished by some sweeping football from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men.
The final score was 6-2 as Illan Meslier was forced to witness 26 attempts on his goal. The young French stopper managed to save eight shots but that wasn’t enough as the defence in front of him were carved apart.
What hasn’t helped is a number of injuries. Robin Koch and Diego Llorente were missing from the squad that played United and then on 72 minutes, their situation was made worse when Liam Cooper hobbled off.
What didn’t aid their cause either was the performance of Gjanni Alioski. Time and time again he was caught out by Dan James, losing a mammoth 67% of his duels.
That being said, the week before he was a goliath defensively and in the final third, registering a goal versus Newcastle and winning 81.8% of his duels. However, there lies the major question with Alioski – his consistency.
Leeds will need all the experience they can get at the heart of their backline now. Charlie Cresswell and Pascal Struijk are candidates to replace the injured Cooper which means senior heads don’t look too hopeful.
As a result, it would perhaps be risky to throw another youngster in the mix but before too long, Bielsa will need to start unleashing Leif Davis.
The 20-year-old, who has coined the phrase ‘very good Davis’ for something Bielsa once said in pre-season, is a promising talent that hasn’t really emerged as a genuine option yet.
He has made two substitute appearances in the Premier League this term, coincidentally against both Manchester clubs, but standing at 5 foot 5, he’s not exactly a height to be reckoned with.
Crucially, however, he has pace. That’s something Dean Windass exclusively told Football FanCast Leeds needed more of in their backline.
Consequently, Davis should become a real contender to make the starting XI. In terms of the way the left-back uses the ball, it’s incredibly eye-catching.
Speaking about him last season, YEP journalist Graham Smyth was effusive in his praise: “When Leif Davis came on, he just really showcased his pace. Legs were tiring and QPR were maybe a little bit more open because they were 2-0 down away from home and thinking they had to go for it a little bit and Davis just exploited that space on the left flank,” he began.
Smith continued: “For a defender that is terrifying, somebody coming on with that kind of pace. It was reminiscent of Gareth Bale against Inter Milan, pushing the ball ahead and backing himself to beat anyone else to it.”
To be compared to someone like Bale is quite the statement and with more game time, Davis will only improve.
It’s up to Bielsa to find a way of utilising him on a more regular basis.