Analysis: Mature Leeds United's patience and calm prospering in the Elland Road chaos

Patience and calmness can be difficult to find at a football ground as passionate as Elland Road, but Leeds United were rewarded at home to Norwich City on Wednesday.

Marcelo Bielsa and Jesse Marsch tried to embrace and even feed the chaos from the home dugout, with varying degrees of success.

The current incumbent, Daniel Farke, has brought a serenity not to the stands but certainly the pitch and press conference room with his assured steering of the ship through a course he knows well.

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Fourth in the Championship after 29 games – 28 for the top three – is not where the Whites want to be, but as Farke consistently says, only where they are after 46 matters. Twenty-six days into a 32-day transfer window they have lost both specialist right-backs without bringing one in.

Farke keeps calm and carries on.

Particularly for the first 20 minutes of the second half there was audible frustration that Leeds seemed so content on the back foot.

They controlled the first half with only Patrick Bamford's fourth goal in five games – hanging in the air to head in a deep Dan James cross – to show for it. Had Gabriel Sara not missed an excellent chance with the last touch of the half, they might have been kicking themselves.

PATIENCE: Leeds United manager Daniel FarkePATIENCE: Leeds United manager Daniel Farke
PATIENCE: Leeds United manager Daniel Farke

Norwich saw far more of the ball after the break, yet still Leeds controlled it, letting them pass in front of them but not work Illan Meslier.

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Midway through the second period, they seemed to recognise it was time to go through the gears and began pressing aggressively again, forcing a string of good – wasted – chances on the counter-attack.

For a starting XI whose average age was just over 24, it was remarkably mature, dare one say un-Leeds.

"It's a bit easier for teams who are used to winning titles, have many experienced players on the pitch and are together for a few years, perhaps even with their coach," explained Farke. "If you have a look at the teams who win titles – the Champions League, Premier League, Bundesliga, whatever – it's quite often an experienced side with maturity.

FAITH: Leeds United left-back Junior FirpoFAITH: Leeds United left-back Junior Firpo
FAITH: Leeds United left-back Junior Firpo

"Archie Gray is 17, sometimes we forget Ethan Ampadu is in his early 20s, Ilia Gruev more or less making his first steps in football, Gerogie Rutter 21, Cree Summerville 22.

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"We speak a lot about game management skills, the soft skills, but you also need to feel it on the pitch.

"When I compare our game management and how we react to difficult situations to when I walked in in July, it's a different level.

"We are not the finished product and we still have many players who need to mature and grow up but that's just due to their age.

MATURITY: Ethan AmpaduMATURITY: Ethan Ampadu
MATURITY: Ethan Ampadu

"We like to work with a young group but we still have quality and we're developing into a pretty good side going in the right direction."

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That nous manifested itself in how Leeds played the second half.

"I didn't like it much but sometimes you have to accept the rhythm of the game and the quality of the opponent," said Farke.

"Our awareness was that we needed to win this game with good possession. We wanted in the first minutes (after Bamford’s strike) to score the second goal, were pretty greedy to finish the game and always went after winning the ball, for the transition (counter-attack) and lost it.

"Norwich are too good, too brave and too confident for that so they pushed us for 50 minutes back into our half – without creating chances, to be fair.

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"It was then we sensed and gave the message that now we have to make sure we keep the ball a bit better, and that we are tidier in our passes and not too greedy to always create a big chance. It was important to push them back.

"Jaidon Anthony, if his first touch had been a bit better, could have scored, Patrick Bamford should have scored perhaps with his left foot."

With one Championship start before January thanks to a succession of injuries, left-back Junior Firpo has certainly had his patience tested.

As happy as he has been at Elland Road, he says he never lost faith.

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"You can be low in confidence, you can be really sad (but) I know the player I am," he said. "If I don't trust in myself who will do it?

"I knew if I could stay fit, if I could get a run of games... I never knew I will be playing like this, making assists every game but I always have confidence and my family always back me, all my friends and especially those in this dressing room."

Farke half-jokingly points out, "I had to be patient because I had to wait for five months until he came back, but it's important he was really disciplined and professional during his rehab.

“He's one of the players with a lot of experience.

“He has chipped in with many assists already in the last games. Wednesday was (about) defensive solidity against a player, (Jonathan) Rowe, who has scored 12 goals already during the season."

The value of patience was seldom clearer.

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