Lack of competition likely to be Number 7’s downfall TSS October 25, 2015 Leeds United 10 Comments Cellino’s 7th manager, otherwise known as Steve Evans, has made an encouraging start to his Leeds United career but while performances have improved, it’d be foolish to predict a lengthy stay for the former Rotherham boss because the squad is still a long way from the success Cellino is demanding of his watermelons. Marco Silvestri may well rank among the best shot-stoppers in the league, but in every other department, he’s a comically bad goalkeeper who the defence have no faith in. Whether he’s flapping at crosses, punching balls into dangerous areas or making a hash of routine catches and clearances, the Italian stopper is running a heavy points deficit that his top drawer saves can’t excuse – because making saves is the job of EVERY goalkeeper and should come as standard. Based on performances to date, there should be at least half a dozen free slots in the Leeds United line-up begging for someone to stake their claim to a starting XI place, but a lack of genuine competition in several areas means we’re allowing poor and inconsistent performers to go unpunished, providing little incentive for them to up their game. To defend Silvestri on the basis of shot-stopping is like excusing a striker from missing routine chances because he works hard and moves around the pitch well, which is exactly the position we’re in with Chris Wood currently. In the last two games, Marco Silvestri has been at fault for both goals conceded (failing to make a routine save v Fulham and making a hash of a simple catch that led to Bolton’s corner yesterday), but had Chris Wood scored the chances that a very average striker would convert almost every time, we’d have won them regardless. Elsewhere, I’m finding it increasingly difficult to argue that any of our central defenders are fit for purpose. Sol Bamba is great for 95% of the match, but for the other 5% he switches off or tries to be too clever and it generally leads to disaster. Liam Cooper is pretty much the same, while Giuseppe Bellusci has no consistency whatsoever and is too much of a liability when it comes to discipline. Even if you reason that Bamba and Cooper can be an effective central pairing with a better goalkeeper behind them, the competition for places in our defence is currently being driven by who makes the least amount of silly mistakes. The only parts of the field in which Leeds have genuine competition for places is midfield and right-back, which, left-back aside, happen to be our strongest areas. It’s no coincidence that Leeds’ problem areas – up front, central defence and goal – are the areas in which we have the least genuine competition. Even when we played 4-5-1 Lee Erwin’s loan was ill-advised because Mirco and Wood were never really interchangeable. They’re very different types of player who weren’t really challenging for the same spot, rather, they were played according to who best suited the system. Now that we’re playing with two strikers again, they’re picked by default. If Number 7 is to outlast his predecessor, he’s going to require a new goalkeeper at the very least. Lee Erwin’s return from an ill-advised loan spell will add some desperately needed competition up front, but Leeds are still a handful of players short of genuine competition across the squad. Number 7’s comments suggest he recognises this – he even admitted some of the players weren’t good enough – but it’s all rather trivial when Cellino constantly excuses the poor performances and quality of players by firing the manager. There’s little incentive to up your game when no one is competing for your spot in the team and even if you are dropped, the manager you’ve fallen out of favour with will be gone in a month.