Leeds United: Top ten finish is still the target, insists boss Rosler

Leeds United's head coach Uwe Rosler gives orders to Gaetano Berardi.
Leeds United's head coach Uwe Rosler gives orders to Gaetano Berardi.
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Uwe Rosler insists a top-10 finish as very much a realistic target for Leeds United this season after a 1-1 draw with Brentford maintained the club’s unbeaten run this season.

United’s head coach said his pursuit of that goal in his first campaign in charge would “not change” regardless of form as he faced down questions about his tactics at the end of Saturday’s game.

Mirco Antenucci came off the bench to earn Leeds a point with a 76th-minute equaliser at Elland Road, claiming his third goal of the season and averting United’s first defeat of the Championship term.

Leeds remain one of four unbeaten clubs in the division and Rosler praised his side’s recovery from a period in the first half when Brentford took control and opened the scoring through Austrian striker Marco Djuricin.

Antenucci’s half-time arrival helped to turn the match, though Rosler insisted afterwards that the striker’s impact would not automatically prompt him to alter his line-up to accomodate Antenucci in his starting side.

Rosler has a number of selection issues to mull over, including when to drop new signing Jordan Botaka into the mix. The Dutchman was left out of the playing squad at the weekend as he is given time to settle in at Elland Road.

Rosler said Brentford – last season’s play-off semi-finalists – would be “round about where they were last season, no question” but asked about his own squad’s potential, the 46-year-old insisted: “It’s very important that we never lose our targets.

“It was crystal clear in May that we wanted to be better and improve from last season. Hopefully we’ll finish top 10. That was, from day one, the target and that will not change.

“It will not change with an unbeaten run or when we maybe have one or two disappointing results. That’s what we’re aiming for and I think we’re on track to achieve that.”

Leeds are 12th in the Championship table ahead of tomorrow’s clash with Ipswich Town – who lost 5-1 away at Reading on Friday night – at Elland Road.

As for Botaka, Rosler will either use him in an Under-21 fixture against Bristol City this afternoon or name him in his squad to face Ipswich Town tomorrow night having agreed with the winger that he would not be blooded over the weekend.

Botaka, 22, signed for Leeds on a two-year deal from Dutch club Excelsior on transfer deadline day but a spell of international duty with Congo restricted him to two training sessions under Rosler last week.

United’s boss said he was anxious to ensure that Botaka could “do himself justice” on his debut and the youngster was put through an extra session of training on Saturday while United fought out a stalemate with Brentford.

Rosler said: “Jordan and I had a conversation. He hadn’t trained much in the last two weeks.

“We tested him and he had training sessions on Thursday and Friday, then we talked about what is best for him and us. We came to an agreement that (Saturday) would be an opportunity to train again and bring him up to speed.

“We need to bring him up to a level where he can live up to the expectation he has of himself and that the supporters have of him. To throw him in would have been unfair. He needs to be on a level where he can do himself justice. He was part of that decision.”

United’s development squad host Bristol City at Thorp Arch at 1pm today, their fifth match of the season.

Rosler said: “There’s two options. He will be involved on Tuesday, option one. The second option is that he plays (today), the full 90 minutes.”

United’s head coach is preparing for a second home match in the space of four days, with Ipswich Town due at Elland Road tomorrow.”