FRESH from Saturday’s lunch-time Yorkshire derby, Lee Sobot looks at five issues highlighted by Sheffield Wednesday’s 2-0 Championship defeat of Leeds United at Hillsborough.
1. Nothing should surprise when it comes to refereeing decisions.
Every team has been on the wrong end of the odd dubious refereeing decision or two but Saturday’s gaffe by Anthony Taylor took the biscuit. Technically, the official had no choice but to wipe out Liam Cooper’s header after Alex Mowatt’s free-kick because Fernando Forestieri had still not left the field of play to be substituted with the referee’s back turned though Taylor did turn around to have a look. Rules state a substitution has not taken place until the outgoing departure has left the field of play. But the point is that Taylor blew his whistle for United to take the free-kick which should not have been allowed to have been taken in the first place until Forestieri had left the field of play. Even worse, the official then awarded the goal before changing his mind after Wednesday’s protests. Steve Evans had some strong words to say about Taylor in his post-match press conference and it’s no surprise. Yes, Leeds were 2-0 down at the time but there were still around 15 minutes left and who’s to say the Whites couldn’t have salvaged at least a point?
2. Gary Hooper could be crucial to Sheffield Wednesday’s cause.
Saturday’s victory put the Owls into the play-offs, and whether or not they can retain the services of striker Gary Hooper could be crucial as to their chances of staying there. Hooper’s brace made it four goals in two games - impossible to argue with - and six goals from his last eight. Saturday’s appearance was the last of Hooper’s loan spell from Norwich City but the Owls seem confident of securing his services on a permanent basis which would be a huge boost to the club’s promotion chances.
3. Fernando Forestieri is proving worth his weight in gold.
Forestieri was always going to be in the spotlight given that Leeds also wanted to secure his services and the Italian certainly showed what Leeds are missing. If anyone deserved a goal on Saturday it was Forestieri who had plenty of dangerous efforts on and off target and was a real livewire throughout. Aged 25, the attacking star’s best may also be yet to come.
4. Leeds could do with offering long contracts to their young stars.
Sam Byram’s imminent switch to Everton has hit everyone associated with Leeds United hard but Steve Evans was keen to stress that United had no choice but to sell Byram who otherwise would have left anyway when his contract expired in the summer. But who’s to say it won’t happen again with a Lewis Cook or Charlie Taylor in the years to come? It could be argued that Byram had been offered a new deal at Leeds but his original new offer was on reduced terms and the lingering thought is that Leeds need to be doing more to encourage their crown jewels to stay.
Taylor and Cook’s current deals are both up in summer 2017 which seems like a long time away but there will quite clearly be major interest in the both of them. The longer Leeds get the duo signed up for the better.
5. Leeds United desperately need a new striker.
Head coach Steve Evans’ search for another striking option has been well documented, and Saturday’s defeat screamed the need for that recruitment loud and clear. In the absence of Chris Wood who himself has not been prolific, United wasted plenty of goalscoring opportunities in the first half, chiefly through sole striker Souleymane Doukara and Lewis Cook. If the excellent Cook could add a clinical edge to his game that would help United enormously. But Cook is a midfielder and it’s upfront where Leeds badly need strengthening in order to take advantage of such decent opportunities. An example of who would be perfect? Wednesday’s two-goal hero and Norwich City loanee Gary Hooper - the difference between the two sides.