First up is the goalkeepers. This is a position that most people would argue we shouldn’t even have looked to change following an impressive season for Rob Green even with a shaky start. After making mistakes early on, Green’s place in the starting eleven was questioned, however, he went on to make crucial saves and to add confidence to the defence in front of him. This season it is a completely different story. Felix Wiedwald is much better in possession and at playing the ball out from the back, however, this is the only attribute of his that is better. He doesn’t offer confidence to the defence and it is safe to say that we’ve downgraded over the summer letting Green go and bringing Wiedwald in.
Two of the back four from last season remain in the starting eleven, however, their form is very different. Ayling was arguably the signing of the season last year, but he has failed to live up to expectations this year, with the loss of the next player, I believe being the main reason. Kyle Bartley had a brilliant season, bringing a steady, calm influence to the side and leading from the back. This allowed Ayling to push on and he was influenced by Bartley as to when to attack and when to defend. The same can be said about Jansson, who despite a good start to the season this year, his performances have massively declined in quality. I also think this is due to the loss of Bartley, who helped Jansson a lot as each one’s strengths helped to improve the other’s weaknesses. Third choice centre back from last season, Liam Cooper, is now first choice this season. A player who off the field is a nice guy who has plenty of time for the fans however, he just doesn’t perform on the field. He’s a player that will always give the opposition a chance and against the good teams is usually punished for it. Last up is left back, a position that those in charge of bringing players in have failed massively with other the summer. Last season Charlie Taylor brought a left footed left back who was good going forward and defending. He wasn’t always at his best, however, remains of a higher standard than the players we have this season. Due to the actions of previous owners it was near impossible to keep Taylor, but the reported five million we gained from selling him should have been reinvested and it wasn’t. I like Berardi, but like the previous position we have downgraded over the summer. Overall the players that are still in the starting eleven this season from last are not playing to the same level and the players that have replaced Bartley and Taylor are not at the level required.
Not a lot has changed in the two midfield defence positions this season and the same players are fighting for the two spots. This is an area that last season let us down and if addressed in January could have been the difference in the end. Klich was brought in this season to make that difference but has struggled to get game time. The main difference this season compared to last is the attacking areas, arguably the only unit of players that we’ve improved on. Alioski and Saiz have come in this season and took the places of Dallas and Sacko in the starting eleven. Saiz has been that good that he’s forced Hernandez out wide so that he can play his best position. Alioski has been showing glimpses of the quality he has and recently hit a bit of form scoring in the last three games. Sacko hasn’t had a look in this season, and to be honest when he has played he has not shown enough quality to replace anyone in the team. Dallas however is a bit unlucky not to get more game time and away from home should be playing instead of Hernandez. Overall, when you compare last season’s midfield to this season, it’s fair to say attacking wise we’ve improved but defensively we’ve remained the same.
The final position and the position we have downgraded on the most this season. Last season we went into every game with a chance of winning due to the goals of Chris Wood. He finished the season as Leeds United’s top scorer and the top scorer in the championship. It wasn’t just his goals but his ability to lead the line and bring other players into the game. If you sell your top scorer and replace him with a player who has never been prolific in his career you are asking for trouble. Grot and Ekuban were brought in for their potential, however Lassoga was Wood’s direct replacement. Roofe has also had spells as striker and has done an okay job, but when you compare the four options to Wood they are all way off his level. If you want promotion out of the Championship you need a player who can score twenty plus goals and Leeds sold theirs and failed to replace him.
We are still not halfway through the season yet so it’s not to say that the players brought in won’t come good in the end but so far, the only unit of players we have improved on is our midfield area. This being said however, the real judgement will come at the end of the season when all of our games have being played. I do understand that keeping Bartley was always going to be difficult after the season he had had and how poor Swansea were, the same could be said of Wood. The issue is we gained a lot of money from the sales of Wood and Taylor and replaced them with players that aren’t of the same standard. Green should, and would’ve stayed at Leeds so letting him go was a massive mistake. I’m still unsure as to the ability of Victor Orta, he signed a lot of players but Saiz and Alioski are the only players to really impress so far.