Sheffield Wednesday's step forward is bigger than Leeds United's backwards in 0-0 draw

For Sheffield Wednesday it was a lesson learnt, for Leeds United United one to work on.

An Elland Road 0-0 felt a bigger step forward for a previously pointless Owls than backwards for a Leeds side for whom a largely positive last fortnight has been undermined by the last two results.

The timing of football's transfer window meant 15 points played for – and less pressingly League Cup fates decided – before either completed squad trained together.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The Owls did the bulk of their work early, signing 10 players, but took time to grasp that talented often young players new to this country plus a couple with experience but not the match fitness to fully use it required Championship-ready help. Loanees John Buckley and Jeff Hendrick came late on deadline day.

BLOCKING THE WAY: Sheffield Wednesday goalkeeper Devis Vasquez denies Leeds United's Crysencio SummervilleBLOCKING THE WAY: Sheffield Wednesday goalkeeper Devis Vasquez denies Leeds United's Crysencio Summerville
BLOCKING THE WAY: Sheffield Wednesday goalkeeper Devis Vasquez denies Leeds United's Crysencio Summerville

The bulk of Leeds' rebuilding had to wait until someone paid serious cash for one of their players – Bournemouth, for Tyler Adams, it turned out. So Djed Spence and Glen Kamara joined too late to start a Yorkshire derby, Ilia Gruev to get a work permit. Jaidon Anthony was not registered after coming the opposite way as Luis Sinisterra joined Bournemouth, on loan, an hour after the window technically shut.

Six points from five games is not a disaster for a team looking to get promoted, nor is one for visitors who, whatever ambitions its chairman has, just needs to consolidate.

“The first time we were promoted (at Norwich City) with a club record 94 points (in 2018-19), after the same amount of games we had less points than we have today (4-6)," stressed Leeds manager Daniel Farke

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Even so, it felt an important 90 minutes for Wednesday. Big clubs tend to be less patient and going into an international break pointless would have threatened not just morale, but potentially Munoz's job security. Sacking season has already begun in League One, as at York City.

KEPT QUIET: Leeds United forward Joel PiroeKEPT QUIET: Leeds United forward Joel Piroe
KEPT QUIET: Leeds United forward Joel Piroe

The Owls played well in their previous two matches, but lost at Cardiff City to an added-time penalty, then in a shoot-out gifted Mansfield Town by an 85th-minute equaliser.

So having defended with great determination and no little skill, they had to see it out. Munoz chucked on Dominic Iorfa and Pol Valentin to help but not only did concentration not waiver, their counter-attacks grew sharper as a Leeds team who started brightly and dominated possession throughout – two thirds of it – ran out of ideas and ended with fewer shots on target (five to four).

"We've learned from our mistakes," said Munoz, smilier than in many press conferences, where he has been even more defensive than Leeds forced his team to be.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"If you don't make a mistake, you don't learn. The other day we had one stupid thing in the last moment, and we lost the game.

DETERMINED: Sheffield Wednesday's George Byers tackles Jamie Shackleton of Leeds UnitedDETERMINED: Sheffield Wednesday's George Byers tackles Jamie Shackleton of Leeds United
DETERMINED: Sheffield Wednesday's George Byers tackles Jamie Shackleton of Leeds United

"On Saturday I think everybody was thinking, 'Don't lose this game!'"

With five across the back, and inside-forwards evolving into orthodox midfielders as hatches were battened down, they unashamedly did the necessary – and were good at it as defenders got as tight to men as possible and kept their shape.

Shortly before his substitution the ball fell to Lee Gregory about two-thirds of the way into Wednesday's half and despite no one team-mate in Leeds' territory, he simply whacked it towards Illan Meslier's area, allowing his side to regroup.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Wednesday will want – and need – better in future. A manager who talks about "control" has seen them average 35 per cent of the ball in five Championship games.

But they had to start walking before thinking about running, and showed they can learn.

"We need to work every day because we need to continually improve,” said Munoz. “We need to have more solid situations in some moments, to manage games better.

"When the team has this capacity maybe you can win, lose or draw but the team has the same face (demeanour), the same personality."

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Leeds must learn ruthlessness. For an hour they looked excellent – slicing through with quick passes forward largely from midfielders Archie Gray and Ethan Ampadu, Crysencio Summerville regularly coming off the wing to receive them, Willy Gnonto holding the left wing.

But the chances were not taken. Luke Ayling’s free back-post header was the worst miss and Devis Vasquez saved a couple of times from Georginio Rutter, who looked confident at the start only for it to visibly drain. Playing off him, Leeds made only one chance of note for Joel Piroe, bought for goals.

"We find it so difficult to find the back of the net with one exception, at Ipswich (a 4-3 win)," said Farke.

"We have the qualities to score. Georginio Rutter at Ipswich away scored a world-class goal and (put in) a world-class performance.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"On Saturday we lacked the quality to bring the ball over the line."

Three goals in four league games outside of Ipswich is Leeds' record.

With Piroe and the creativity around him, solutions should be there. Wednesday proved to themselves they can find a way.

Both have lots to do but we were never likely to see their best so early.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Leeds United: Meslier; Ayling (Spence 81), Rodon, Struijk, Shackleton; Summerville, Gray (Kamara 88), Ampadu, Gnonto; Rutter, Piroe. Unused substitutes: Cresswell, Gyabi, Poveda, Darlow, Gelhardt, Hjelde, Joseph.

Sheffield Wednesday: Vasquez; Paterson (Valentín 90), Famewo, Diaby, Bernard, Delgado; Byers, Bannan; Gregory (Iorfa 67), Windass; Smith (Fletcher 70). Unused substitutes: Dawson, Palmer, Vaulks, Bakinson, Ihiekwe, Musaba.

Referee: D Whitestone (Northampton).