Norwich CIty v Leeds United: Leeds need to show quality and toughness, says Milanic

Leeds United manager Darko Milanic directs his players during defeat at Rotherham United (Picture Bruce Rollinson).
Leeds United manager Darko Milanic directs his players during defeat at Rotherham United (Picture Bruce Rollinson).
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AS someone who once captained Slovenia at a European Championships against the country he had played for before the violent break-up of Yugoslavia, Darko Milanic is no stranger to pressure.

So, going four games without a first win as Leeds United manager is not something that is going to cause the 46-year-old sleepless nights.

Instead, Milanic is determined to embrace any pressure that accompanies being at the helm of the Elland Road club as he prepares tonight to take on high-flying Norwich City.

He said: “In football and at this level, it is normal that we have this pressure. This is a big club in a very good league. It is normal we all have pressure.

“My job in every moment is under pressure. Norwich is the same. Their head coach, their players and everyone there also has pressure. Some have pressure to be first, some to not be on the bottom and some to improve themselves. It is normal, (part of) our daily job.

“I am calm (about that) and just work hard. My job is to improve.

“We have not played bad. In the last three games, we have shown a lot of quality, but I know that we need the points.”

Last Friday’s defeat at Rotherham United means Leeds are yet to claim a point on the road since Milanic took permanent charge last month.

His first game ended in a 2-0 defeat at Brentford and tonight will not be any easier with Norwich pressing for an instant return to the Premier League. The Canaries sit fourth in the table, three points off the summit, and Neil Adams’s men will be boosted by the return of Jonny Howson from injury.

Bradley Johnson is also likely to feature against his former club, but Milanic’s priority is how his own players perform.

He said: “If anyone thinks it will an easy game, it won’t be. It will be extremely difficult.

“We know that Norwich are one team who have experience in the Premier League. The first-team squad has one young player and all the rest are experienced.

“They are quick and play a good English style of football, with a lot of power and overlaps down the sides. They are dangerous and a good team.

“But we know that in the last three games there have been parts where we have been very good. We have controlled games and had chances, but we have also made mistakes and that has to stop.

“We have to give our maximum and we have to run, play good and fight and (be) tough in our challenges against a good team.

“We must also have a little luck to win the game.”

Tonight is the second of several long midweek trips for Leeds this season and Adryan, so impressive off the bench at the New York Stadium, could be given his first start.

Milanic added: “Adryan played 30 minutes very well (at Rotherham).

“He was dangerous, took responsibility, received the ball and played forward. He was brave.

“He showed a lot of quality. These things he has to do against Norwich because Adryan is a player with great talent and a player who has (the potential) to be a very good player.”

The trip to Norwich is the second of six games United will play before the next international break gets under way in the second week of November.

To a manager who, when in charge of Sturm Graz, was used to playing only Cup ties in midweek, such a schedule could be seen to be a draining one.

Milanic, though, is adamant that he and his players are up to the task.

“I like the Championship,” said the United chief. “It is dynamic and has tempo.

“It (this week’s schedule) is not unusual. This week is an English week (three games in a week), then next week we have a rest and play only one game in one week and then have another English week and then until Christmas, we have no English week.

“As for Norwich, between two games there is not a lot of time. That means I don’t have five days to think about my team. I will decide (today) who will play.”

United head to Norfolk sitting 14th in the table, five points off the play-off places and five points clear of Fulham in the final relegation place.

Asked where he expects his team to finish this term, Milanic said: “It is difficult to say.

“In the four games, we have not made a lot of points. But we are not a bad team.

“We are competitive and the differences are not too big in each game.

“When you play against one team at the top and bottom, there is not much difference. Every game is extremely difficult.

“We have been good in training but in the matches we have to cut out the mistakes.”

Last six games: Norwich City DLWLDL, Leeds United DWWLDD.

Referee: M Clattenburg (County Durham).

Last time: Norwich City 1 Leeds United 1; November 20, 2010; Championship.