Leeds Utd 1 Sheffield Weds 1: Spirit the key as tide turns at Elland Road – Bamba

United captain Sol Bamba heads goalward after getting the better of Atdhe Nuhiu. Picture: Bruce Rollinson
United captain Sol Bamba heads goalward after getting the better of Atdhe Nuhiu. Picture: Bruce Rollinson
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AT the end of last season, Sol Bamba was brave enough to voice what many at Elland Road were thinking.

That the often chaotic goings-on at the Championship club during the final weeks of 2014-15 had been “ridiculous” and how the fans deserved a lot better.

His critique of how Leeds was being run was pretty explosive and, as Bamba conceded in the tunnel after the final day draw at home to Rotherham United, one that could have ended any hopes of securing a permanent move to Yorkshire for the loanee from Palermo.

A little under four months on, however, and Bamba is not only back at Leeds but also captain of the club. He also believes the United of today is very different to that of last term.

“The big difference between this season and last for this club is the spirit,” Bamba told The Yorkshire Post.

“You can see that on the pitch. We all work hard for each other and we all want to do better. Everyone knew from last season that it was poor. It was poor from everyone.

“A new manager came in to give us a big lift and the spirit is now good. We also spoke among ourselves (in the summer) and said we wanted to do better.

“It is a very tight group. I feel us not having a big squad is a help.

“Everyone gets their chance, the manager has been very clear on that. I think that is why we are doing well so far.”

As pleasing as it is for Leeds to be unbeaten in four league games, Rosler has yet to taste victory since succeeding Neil Redfearn as head coach in the summer.

It is why United will head to Derby County for the final fixture before the international break sitting 15th in the fledgling table, one point and five places behind Sheffield Wednesday.

Chris Wood’s second-half strike pegged back the Owls after Marco Matias’s spectacular opener had lit up an otherwise turgid opening 45 minutes.

For the Kiwi striker, it was a second goal in as many games after his strike in United’s 2-2 draw at Bristol City three days earlier.

Bamba added: “We are all very pleased for Chris to score twice in a few days. It is just what a striker needs. As a squad, we all knew what he brings to the side. We see it in training every day.

“But it is always good for a striker to score in matches, as it will help his confidence. Which is good, as we need someone to put the ball in the back of the net.”

As impressive as the strike by Matias was for the Owls, Bamba felt United could have done a lot more to prevent the ball getting to the Portuguese wideman.

“We conceded a sloppy goal, to be honest,” said the 30-year-old. “The finish was great but we should have done better at the start. I should have stayed with my man.

“I did think it was offside and I spoke to the referee but I have since seen the replay and it was onside. That is what I mean when I say it was a sloppy goal.

“After that, we dug deep and managed to come back. I think we should have done better and got the three points. But it wasn’t to be so we get ready for the next game.”

United’s improved efforts after half-time almost brought that elusive first win. However, over the 90 minutes and considering the number of mistakes both sides were guilty of committing, a point apiece was just about right.

What was clear, however, is that both Leeds and Wednesday will have to improve markedly if both are to make a lasting impression in the Championship promotion race. It is something Bamba believes the two great Yorkshire rivals are capable of doing.

“I believe we can both be in the mix,” said the United captain. “That is for sure. We showed that in the derby match. Obviously, Sheffield Wednesday were away so sat a bit deep and waited for us to make mistakes.

“But they do have some good players, which they showed against us. We know what we can do and we need to keep going. This is a tough league. We have had a lot of travelling and that is why we are happy with a point from all those games.

“We also play good football and are unbeaten. But we do need that first win. After that, we kick on as our confidence will be a lot higher.”