Leeds United triumphed 3-2 in their game against Wolverhampton Wanderers on Thursday night. Here are five things we learned from that victory.
1. Leeds need to invest in their defence, not the attack
Steve Evans has repeatedly spoken about the need to give Massimo Cellino a reason to spend money in January. The players linked with the Whites have tended to be attacking options - the likes of Kyle Lafferty and Lewis Grabban. However,
Thursday night’s game has shown that Leeds’ attack is the one area that does not need much in the way of additions. The manner in which it scythed through Wolves’ defence repeatedly showed that. However, there are still doubts over the defence. Leeds need to create a solid platform that guarantees the attack they will not have to score three to win a game away from home. Buying a pair of top quality central defenders could be the difference maker.
2. Marco Silvestri has developed and is acclimatising to the Championship
There were two moments in the space of a minute on Thursday that suggested Marco Silvestri is a changed player from the one who struggled at the start of this campaign. Firstly he charged out of his net to grab a loose ball with Adam Le Fondre within touching distance. It was described on Twitter as one of the more commanding pieces of goalkeeping shown by him in a Leeds shirt. Then he remained on the ground, wasting time, insisting Le Fondre helped him up. Refusal was met with a confrontation. It is hard to imagine the Silvestri of a few months ago doing that, showing spirit in such a way. He is clearly becoming a better goalkeeper. At 24-years-old, that is no surprise. The Italian ‘keeper should have his best years ahead of him.
3. There is something there with Souleymane Doukara
To paraphrase Winston Churchill, I cannot forecast to you the action of Souleymane Doukara. It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key. That key may be the gentle encouragement given to him by Steve Evans, who insisted Doukara had earned his place on the bench through hard work, and he was only selected as an option because he was a legitimate option. Frequent watchers of the Under-21s will say, with all the requisite caveats, that when he looks interested he tends to be one of the best players on the pitch. His introduction from the bench in the 30th minute turned the game, contrary to all expectations. A year ago Doukara was a first team regular, but his absence has been justified since this point in 2014. If he can have a similar impact to the one he did last night, he could prove an asset. That is more than anyone would have said as recently as Wednesday.
4. Sam Byram must start, contract or no contract
The major oddity of Sam Byram’s contract situation and the impact it is had on his first team involvement is that very few other clubs have dealt with a similar problem in the same manner. Leeds have rarely operated in this manner before. Had Jermaine Beckford been treated the same way in 2009/10, the Whites still might be in League One. Byram was struggling for form earlier in the campaign, but the reality is that he should have been played back into it. Last night he showed what the team had been missing all along. His first goal was excellent, and his second spoke for an under recognised aspect of his play - he is brilliant in the air. It would be a shame to see him out of the side for the visit of Preston on Sunday.
5. Even on an off day, Chris Wood leads the line well
There was a palpable frustration when Chris Wood spurned a series of opportunities, especially as they looked as though they might cost Leeds the game until Stuart Dallas put the Whites in front. However, the Kiwi striker needs credit for what he does well every game, even when he has not necessarily got his shooting boots on. There are occasions when he is the only player in the opposition half, and he tends to make the defence work, despite the absence of any support. As an out ball, you will not find many better in the division. Yes, he fluffed his lines a few times last night, but Leeds are a better side with Wood in it.