AFTER travelling the best part of 900 miles in the past week, Leeds United will be happy to be back on home ground this lunchtime.
A punishing schedule that saw Uwe Rosler’s side travel to, first, Reading and then Bristol City did bring a respectable return of two points and a continuation of the club’s unbeaten start to the Championship campaign.
It should, though, have been more with United 2-0 ahead going into the 89th minute at Ashton Gate and seemingly well on their way to a first victory of the season.
A calamitous finale, however, saw the Robins hit back to claim an unlikely draw. It was a major disappointment to both Rosler and the 1,300 fans who had trekked down to the south west on a Wednesday night.
Now, though, with the dust having settled on what had up until that crazy ending been a hugely encouraging night for Leeds, the club’s German-born head coach admits to being pleased by the progress his side is making.
“We are improving game by game,” said the 46-year-old ahead of this lunchtime’s televised derby clash with Sheffield Wednesday.
“I honestly feel that in pre-season we would have lost the last two games. We all want that first win but I have said to the players we are very, very close.
“We have knocked on that door now several times very, very hard and I said, ‘The more you knock on that door, the more resilient you are, the more determined you are – this door will go off for the first win.’
“The point against Bristol City will turn out to be a very good one when we win the game (against Wednesday).”
United’s unlikely draw at Ashton Gate proved a low point for Marco Silvestri. The Italian-born goalkeeper, one of the first signings made by Massimo Cellino following his takeover last year, was badly at fault for City’s equaliser when he failed to deal with an injury-time corner and Aden Flint stabbed the ball into the net.
Silvestri was also beaten at his near post by Kieran Agard for the Robins’ first strike on 89 minutes and the 24-year-old came in for some fierce abuse from supporters on Twitter later that night.
Rosler was unaware yesterday of the comments directed at Silvestri that left the goalkeeper’s partner, model Sofia Jamal, so angry she described one particularly unsavoury tweet as “disgusting”.
He had, though, spent time speaking to the Italian in the wake of the Bristol City draw and is unequivocal in his backing.
“Marco will be in goal against Sheffield Wednesday,” pledged the Leeds chief. “That is how I see it, no question. He is a very talented goalkeeper, who is quite young for a No 1. The older he gets, the better he will get.
“He will be in the firing line. And every time he is there, he will take things on board. He will learn things.
“I have spoken to him like I have spoken to every other player and he is fine. He’s in a good mental state. He didn’t mention anything (about the abuse on Twitter) to me.”
Pressed on what was discussed with Silvestri, Rosler added: “We didn’t speak about the mistakes.
“We spoke about things in general, what is the next step in his development stage. About how we can get there together, what we think he has to do and what we have to do with him.
“He coped very well last year. I don’t see any reason why he should not cope this season.”
Under Simon Grayson, United players were forbidden from using websites such as Twitter. Rosler, despite being no fan of social media, does not intend being so draconian and instead leaves it up to the discretion of the individual.
“I have said many times that I am not a fan of social media,” he added. “I am not reading social media.
“I always give my players advice. I am not telling them, I am not dictating to them. But I give them advice not to make themselves vulnerable to criticism or abuse by not being on social media. Simple as that.”
Silvestri, for his part, has not posted on Twitter since August 9 when he praised the atmosphere at Elland Road for the opening day draw with Burnley.
Like Bristol City in midweek, it was a game United led until near the end when the Clarets equalised through Sam Vokes.
Considering Leeds have only played three league games this term, this trait of leaking late goals has to stop if the club is to make a concerted push for the play-offs.
Asked if he felt United were on their way towards being able to challenge for a place in the top six, Rosler replied: “Things have not changed one little bit since I walked through the door. I can see the potential but I also see areas where we have to improve to be called an established top six team. We are not there now.”