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.

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  • Matthew

    Personally I think Cellino should go for an older, more experienced keeper. Someone who isn’t afraid to get hurt, someone who isn’t afraid to come out to collect crosses. And more importantly, someone who can control his area. Late 20s, early 30s. Someone who has regular gametime at this level. But that would be expecting too much.

  • henrymouni

    Steve Evans has said he is looking for an experienced keeper to compete for the No1 spot.
    He is also looking bring a defender, and an attacker.
    He said the squad is unbalanced,
    I went to Bolton yesterday and it was difficult be critical of the teams 100% effort.
    We were the better side, but lacked the cutting edge.
    Some of our crossing was awful, and there were too many ‘flicks’ to no one, when in a good position.
    Mowatt and Murphy are still off the pace.
    Understandable in Murphy’s case.
    Cook buzzed around but lacks the killer ball.
    The crowd was 18,100, with 4,419+ from Leeds!!!
    Bolton have the loudest tannoy in the world!!
    I was talking to some Bolton people, including employees of Bolton wanderers.
    Their current debt is £183 MILLION pounds!!!
    The Bolton chairman has travelled far and wide to try to find a buyer, with no success!!!

  • Ron

    Valid points re. Wood and Silvestri. We clearly miss Taylor, however the saddest part about yesterday was that Bolton are dead last and we still needed to come back from a goal down to scrape a point. Even Steve Evans in his infancy knows you need to beat the strugglers in this division to avoid pain further into the season. Unless I see a big improvement pretty soon we should all be strapping ourselves in for a nasty relegation scrap. Personally I think Evans has until Xmas to steady the ship as even Cellino won’t buy another watermelon without giving him a transfer window to work with. At this stage I’d nearly donate my left gonad for a home win on Thursday.

    • Matthew

      The lack of goals in this side concerns me more, nothing is being produced. 3 goals, 2 of which were from penalties in the last five games. Goals win games, the more we score, the greater the chance of getting a win.

  • Scally Lad

    Relegation? I don’t think so. Even with some disappointing results, we are still mid-table and only 11 points from being level with the sides in the top six. A good run against loser sides like Blackburn, Huddersfield and Rotheram in the next few weeks should see us climb in the table. Early days. No panic. We’re far too good to be relegated.

  • oldschoolbaby

    All valid criticisms but I`ve long felt there is a confidence issue.
    A lack of mental toughness and inability to focus for the full 90 are, IMO, all that have stopped a gifted individual like Bamba from having had a top level career. Probably too old to change. He shouldn`t be a captain
    Wood is a Kiwi blind side flanker on a soccer pitch. He`s a handful though and his unsettling of opposition defences has to create opportunities for others.
    Silvestri is the really infuriating one. There is no discernible evidence he is working on his weaknesses. He still gives the impression he`d rather be looking at himself in the mirror. Footballers are existing in a bubble these days and forgetting that not all football problems have football solutions. I said last season he needed to train with the Marines. He needs his head shaving. A meanish looking stubble. Two nights a week at a boxing club. Regular weight sessions. And reminding every ten minutes he`s an animal who should be dominating his area. I suspect there`s a better all round keeper within and it would be a shame if someone else released it.
    Plus we need a leader with some Bremner spirit to tie all this together.

  • PMH

    The on field performances continue to be poor and there is plenty of blame to go round We can always find fault with any player but the challenge is to get the best from the championship level talent that we have. Leeds are not going to be hiring Gareth Bail or Lionel Messi any time soon. At a certain point you have to recognize that chopping and changing players is no more helpful than hiring and firing managers every two minutes.

    • henrymouni

      It is so difficult.
      Our squad has proved over a season or 3 that they are not good enough.
      They have got quite a few managers sacked already, but they keep drawing their wages.
      I enjoyed our display at Bolton, but we always looked like we could give a goal away at any time, and never looked like scoring!!
      The lads gave 100% for the whole game but they lack quality in all areas.
      This is the view of Eddie and Tom, and now Steve Evans, and many others who watch them play.
      The teams around us, at the bottom, are just as good/bad as we are!!
      Our team is very quiet and polite on the pitch.
      Hence the number of mix ups at the back.
      We are a sucker for breakaways, and there is always a gap between the defence and the midfield.
      After the Blackburn game the manager said the coaching staff were angry because the team ignored the game plan from the 1st minute.
      He wants players in with a pedigree he can trust.
      Unless he gets that, he will be out before Christmas!!

  • Honeymonster

    Hi all only seen one game live at mk wiñing at a canter pulled one back and we nearly shat ourselves
    Kicked the ball anywhere no leadership to just hold the ball and control
    Boy its still so much fun following the whites any one member away at suttonnunited my first game on those were the days
    MOT