Leeds United this week play hosts to Gus Poyet’s Brighton in a 9th vs 10th clash between two teams aiming for a play-off finish.

Brighton & Hove Albion

After an impressive start to the season, Brighton & Hove Albion’s form dropped off considerably towards the end of 2011 leaving them 16th heading in to the New Year. However, they’ve started 2012 as one the Championship’s in-form teams, undefeated in January with 3 wins and a draw in the league.

Brighton’s impressive start to the year continued in the FA Cup. After scraping through a 3rd round replay against Wrexham, Gus Poyet’s side knocked Premier League Newcastle United out in one the fourth rounds biggest shocks. The Seagulls can now look forward to a trip to Anfield to take on seven times FA Cup Champions, Liverpool.

Brighton’s current team features a couple of faces that will be familiar to Leeds United fans, namely Casper Ankergren and Wolves loanee Sam Vokes. Neither will be expected to start this weekends clash, but Sam Vokes could make an appearance from the bench.

The young attacking duo of Will Buckley and Ashley Barnes, both 22, are two of Brighton’s most valuable assets. With 15 goals between them so far this season, the pair will pose a constant danger to Leeds United’s defence. Brighton’s biggest threat however will be Craig Mackail-Smith. Currently leading the assist chart for Albion (6), he’s also managed 7 goals thus far, 2 of which came in the last meeting with Leeds.

Leeds United

With three additional games to prove himself worthy of the managerial position, it’s unlikely that caretaker boss Neil Redfearn will deviate too much from the tried and tested formula that saw Leeds United beat Bristol City 3-0 – albeit, with a fair bit of assistance from the referee.

The key man for Leeds is undoubtedly Robert Snodgrass. The Scottish winger has more assists than anyone else for The Whites this season (9) and has also chipped in with 11 goals, putting him second only to Ross McCormack (15) in the top scorers chart.

Redfearn’s biggest test over the next few games will be whether or not he can make a 4-4-2 formation work that accommodates both Luciano Becchio and Ross McCormack. The caretaker manager will also have to prove his capabilities defensively, an area that Leeds United have struggled to perform consistently in since promotion from League One.

Alongside that, Redfearn will also have to prove he can manage the pressure inherent in the managerial role at one of the biggest clubs outside the Premier League. With supporters currently campaigning for change, the unrest that has overshadowed on-field events remains a big issue. It’s a precarious situation Neil Redfearn finds himself in where there is little room for error and even less patience offered by the fans and media. For Redfearn’s career and the immediate future of Leeds United, this match is a big one.

  • mojoluafc

    Its gonna be tough, 3-0 flattered us big time at Bristol,would be nice to see us dominate a bit 11 v 11 but i`ll take the 3 pts with a red card.

    • TSS

      Agree, but he had little time to prepare for Bristol game. This should give us a better idea of how good he really is.

      Biggest problem you have with Leeds job is the pressure is huge. You have it at every club, but the bigger they are, the more that is expected of them – and we have the most unrealistic expectations of our manager (under Ken Bates at least) of them all.

      I wish him luck though. If it works, it works. Nothing else matters

    • Paul S Wales

      @mojoluafc I Listened to it on LUTV, and up until the sendings off didn’t hear anything different to any other match from the past two months. I feel annoyed when I keep reading how well Redders has done, we beat 9 men unconvincingly, and that can’t be used as a yard stick of his managerial skills. I can just see it now, we’ll get three beatings and KB will then look for a replacement when it’s too late. I think Saturday will give us a better idea of how well he’ll cope, and I hope he does, but i’m not convinced somehow, time will tell I guess. MOT

  • TimPM

    We’ve an excellent team. Fans are hypercritical of it. If our lads believe in themselves and Redfearn manages the club sensibly, there’s no reason why we can’t get a result. Confidence will have a massive effect IMO.

    Need to keep the atmosphere good.

  • Tyler75

    No secret to brighton – they play possession football from the back and look to use Buckley’s pace on the counter and Mackail-Smith’s workrate and ability to win the ball back high upfield. They won’t come at us like some teams have done at ER this season so good test of Redders tactical nous. Outnumber them in midfield by pushing the full backs high up the pitch and Ross and Becchio putting pressure on their centre-backs should do the trick ! 2-1 to the Mighty Whites.

  • Regardless of the result, should Redders manage to mastermind a clean sheet at home on Saturday I will personally drive down to Monaco from Paris to pick up his contract off of Ken and deliver it to Neil’s doorstep. I think my petrol money is safe though and I’m still hoping for a better long-term appointment once KBizzle has landed.

  • Speedythewhite

    I agree with TimPM. For the first time in ages we need to make Elland Road the place not to be for the opposition – right behind the lads from the kick off. 4-2 -3 -1 for me. Brown to start to put his foot in on Mackail-Smith, Barnes and Buckley – alongisde Clayton. Ross, Fab and Snoddy in the 3 with Luciano up top. In the second half bring on the speed merchants (White, Townshend, Rogers), who and where depending on how the game is going. We will win.

  • Col

    The situation that Redfearn finds himself in, mirrors what happened after Kevin Blackwell was axed in 2006. Then Leeds coach John Carver took tempory charge. A patch 3-2 home win against Birmingham led to a complete overreaction by supporters with many wanting him given the job on a full basis. The YEP ridiculously labelled him “the new Mourinho”.
    Sadly for Carver, that was as good as it got for him. Four league defeats on the bounce including a 0-4 home loss to Stoke and a 5-1 drubbing at Luton ended his spell as Leeds boss.
    Regarding Neil Redfearn, people need to calm down and take last week’s victory at Bristol city into perspective. Anybody who was at the game will tell you that it was a scrappy display and that even when City were down to ten men, we still struggled to take a stranglehold of the game. It wasnt until they had a second man dismissed that we took control.
    Only time will tell if Redfearn can do any better than “the new Mouriniho”. I think employing a cheap option as manager is false economy and is doomed to fail.

    • mralchemy

      @Col spot on

  • TSS

    I think you have to put his managerial record into context and give him a fair chance. Scarborough were on the brink of total doom, there was little he could do there, and the other appointments are merely stop-gap roles where he’s stepped in to help transition clubs between managers.

    • mralchemy

      @TSS what managerial record?, dont get me wrong I have always been a fan of Redfearn as a player……..but a manager to take us and keep us in the premier league?

      I have been a Leeds fan for 50 years and remember lots of “give him a chance” managers……they are the last thing we need

      • TimPM

        @mralchemy @TSS “Gritty” managers are alright, but Mick McCarthy is hardly flourishing at Wolves?

      • TSS

        @mralchemy “Give him a chance” managers like Don Revie, David O’Leary and Kevin Blackwell? (For all his faults, he made the PO final).

        There have been bad ones too, admittedly, but there’s nothing to say Redfearn won’t be successful. You’re citing a record of stop-gap placements and a spell at dying Scarborough. Alex Ferguson couldn’t have done much better under those circumstances.

        I’m not saying Redfearn is the right man for the job, all I’m saying is there is no real evidence to say otherwise. A lot of people – and I’m not saying this applies to you personally – seem to have made their minds up about Redfearn already, solely because Bates has taken the cheapest option (which he has). SG was a cheap option, he worked out OK, didn’t he? Then you have your “experienced” options like Brian Clough that were a disaster.

        The fact is, you can’t really predict how Redfearn and Leeds United will fit together. If the players respond to his methods and get the results then so be it. Warnock could come in and the team could hate him, lose the next 17 games and finish in the relegation zone. There is an inherent risk in any managerial decision. The only thing that matters is that we get results – let’s see if Redfearn does before judging him.

      • mralchemy

        @TimPM @TSS He got them to the premier league and kept them there since 2009, and built his team on a solid defence… a think we might be able to remember what one of those is….he is not my first choice for manager by any means cos as you say they have always struggled

      • mralchemy

        @TSS Yeah sometimes you have to give new managers a chance….like swindon did with di-canio, like leeds did with o’leary. There IS always an element of risk in appointing a manager, BUT what would your opinion be between appointing Neil Redfearn or Martin O’Neill?

        100 out of 100 shout “Martin O’Neill” – that is the point I am making…..you can lessen the risk to our beloved club by choosing the right candidate with the right track record.

        To say “I’m not saying Redfearn is the right man for the job, all I’m saying is there is no real evidence to say otherwise” –

        that is like saying my 7 year old son could take the job as there is no evidence to otherwise he cant”

        I would love ANYONE to be a success at Leeds , redfearn or my 7 year old son !

      • TSS

        @mralchemy I fully agree Leeds should be looking to hire a proven manager, but that’s not Redfearn’s fault. That’s entirely on Bates. People are dragging a bloke down who is only trying to help Leeds United, let’s give the bloke a chance. It could work out like SG – if it doesn’t, then you can hardly blame Redfearn for trying (which will be his biggest crime)

      • mralchemy

        @TSS 100% support for Redfearn , he IS Leeds Manager for the next 3 games :-) MOT

      • TimPM

        @mralchemy @TimPM @TSS

        Don’t get me wrong, he was hard-done-by at Ireland, and he’s done well in the Champship overall, and I like his attitude and he comes across as a good bloke.

        But he shouldn’t have defended the Irish setup which was obviously sub-standard against Keane, and accepting less than the best is a worrying precedent. He didn’t do well with Sunderland in Premship, and with Wolves he’s again eventually lost it up there.

        He’s got the ability to get us up and with the cash we’d get injected even after relegation, for four years, and the income at the club, I’m personally not too bothered about Premiership track records, but I’m not sure how popular he’d be with the fans? And they’re a big part of the team. Getting the team working is one thing but getting the income from the fans and getting the 12th man is what can provide that edge. He’s not doing well at Wolves, he’s not done well at Sunderland, so I don’t know how the fans would take him?

        Would quite like him at Leeds, though.

      • mattbb1

        TSS I really want him to do well as well, but his record as a manager is poor, and like all of us he is a victim of bates, hes blown getting the job today, a 0-0 would have been easy.

  • Tyler75

    Agree on the need for a level of experience but Steve Bruce, a Leeds fan – are you sure ? He’s only ever managed to achieve mediocrity by spending shed loads of money on very average players. Di Matteo is a much better shout and the more I think about it, so is Curbishley. If Wolves lose at the weekend, McCarthy may get the push in which case he’s probably become the favourite.

    • mralchemy

      @Tyler75 yeah I was also shocked to hear that Steve Bruce had been “jumping around the house” when Leeds scored the winner against Burnley at home……obviously in support of his son.

  • mattbb1

    Come on, this is not news, NR is a good assistant and coach, not a manager, just bates trying to save yet more money. What do we expect? the players like him? well quite frankly that lot need to be terrified of their boss given how appalling they are in their application to their work. Keith Curle in the stands and that means Warnock is joining us as soon as QPR agree on a payout, and thank F**k for that, hopefully Bates has put to bed all parsimony now and can get on with focusing on getting us out of this bloody division.

  • mattbb1

    if you asked me to choose between warnock as manager or bates as chairman i know who i’d go for. If he is coming, and i believe he is, that would be a courageous decision by bates. But hopefully one that lead to us going up, and him leaving. He hates us as much as we hate him.

    • mattbb1

      why else do you exaplin ketih curle, spurs fan and former assistant at qpr in the stands?

  • Col

    I saw interview with Keith curle following his sacking by QPR. He was saying that he was looking to become a manager in his own right. Maybe its Curle, and not Warnock who is being lined up by Bates. It stands to reason that Bates won’t spent nothing on the team so Curle would certainly be a better option?

  • mattbb1

    recommend reading the indepedent, apparently graysons son joe was on the LUST march, hashtag #batesout stating 15m in on transfers and not even 1m spent, whats a dad to do…. well buy your son a pint.