High standards required as Sheffield Wednesday and Leeds United jostle for leading role

Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa (centre) and Garry Monk on the touchline at Hillsborough on Saturday. Picture: Danny Lawson/PA
Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa (centre) and Garry Monk on the touchline at Hillsborough on Saturday. Picture: Danny Lawson/PA
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Garry Monk said Sheffield Wednesday set a benchmark for the rest of the season in Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Leeds United.

While both sides hit the woodwork and both goalkeepers were made good saves, Leeds’ Marcelo Bielsa admitted the Owls imposed themselves on his team in the second half.

Leeds United's head coach Marcelo Bielsa, at Hillsborough. Picture: James Hardisty.

Leeds United's head coach Marcelo Bielsa, at Hillsborough. Picture: James Hardisty.

If playing well without winning had been a frustration for the Whites going into the game, it did not seem to bother Monk too much afterwards.

“While we’re building it’s about setting the standards and I thought we set a really good standard in terms of performance,” said Monk, who only took the reins at Hillsborough on September 6. “We dominated defensively and we created the most offensive actions in the whole game, so I was very pleased.

“The players have been great with me in the last seven or eight weeks. I can see that mentality to compete and I’ve seen the lads fighting each and every week.

“Saturday was probably the highest in terms of standard and I said to them at the end it’s all part of trying to fight for that standard, that’s what we try and push every day. Can you push it in games as well?

While we’re building it’s about setting the standards and I thought we set a really good standard in terms of performance

Sheffield Wednesday head coach, Garry Monk.

“Saturday was the next step in terms of performance, now it’s about whether can we maintain it and make it even better going forward? It’s very hard to do that every single game in the Championship but that mindset to do it is very important.”

Steven Fletcher hit the crossbar from the second of three good chances carved out by a Wednesday team that literally played to its strengths. Leeds goalkeeper Kiko Casilla also made a fine save from Liam Palmer, and denied Kadeem Harris and Adthe Nuhiu with 10 minutes remaining.

The visitors had chances too, Kieren Westwood keeping out a Patrick Bamford header and Ezgjan Alioski heading against the upright, but Bielsa admitted Wednesday held sway after the interval.

“Both teams had different styles,” he reflected. “In the first half we played better, but even when we controlled the match they had chances too.

LOOKING UP: Sheffield Wednesday boss Garry Monk. Picture James Hardisty.

LOOKING UP: Sheffield Wednesday boss Garry Monk. Picture James Hardisty.

“In the second half the match changed. Sometimes we commanded the match and sometimes they controlled the match. We missed goals and they missed goals too.

“They, in the second half, could impose their style on ours. To analyse the match we have to give value to that.

“The result was fair. In this kind of match you can win or you can lose.”

Bielsa has been resisting calls for Nketiah to be picked ahead of Bamford at centre-forward but hinted that could now change.

Sheffield Wednesday's Steven Fletcher (centre) battles against several Leeds United players, including Gaetano Berardi and Luke Ayling, far right.. Picture: Danny Lawson/PA

Sheffield Wednesday's Steven Fletcher (centre) battles against several Leeds United players, including Gaetano Berardi and Luke Ayling, far right.. Picture: Danny Lawson/PA

“Patrick is a player who has the skill to fight in the physical challenge,” he said. “Until today we thought Eddie had less skill in this sense, but he showed the opposite.

“Eddie showed he also can dribble in the one-v-one that Patrick used less. Both of them are similar.

“I saw a lot of good things in Eddie and I didn’t see that in previous performances.”