The only complaint that I had from the game yesterday was the lack of creativity and attacking intent in the first half. Pablo Hernandez was the only player really running at players and making them commit. Mowatt was out of position as usual and Hadi Sacko was extremely quiet, probably having his least effective game in a Leeds shirt since arriving at the club. All three subs made an impact in different ways, changing the momentum of the game.
Substitute #1 – Kemar Roofe – Attacking Intent
Kemar Roofe has been the most frustrating deal of the summer so far. I watched him a few times last season and when he signed I was delighted we had brought him into the club, I still am. He is very raw and the step up has proved harder than I had thought for the talented forward. I have little doubt that in time he will find his feet at Leeds United and prove to be worth the £3 million we paid in the summer. His confidence seems to have taken a knock bit yesterday his impact was obvious and the momentum swung. We finally had our outlet. We used him to great effect and for the first time I felt like he fitted in and was the player to push us on. He held onto the ball, took players on, drifted inside and lost the Derby left-back who previously had Hadi Sacko in his pocket from the start. Roofe looked like he had a point to prove and if Dallas is still out on Tuesday I think Roofe has done enough to get a start.
Substitute #2 – Matt Grimes – Tempo Increase
Matt Grimes has been the least effective signing so far but yesterday we saw his game for the first time. He’s certainly not leapfrogging other players in his position because of a good 25 minutes but he made an impression and it will have been noted by the coaching team. We were keeping the ball but moving it forward quickly wasn’t exactly coming easy. When Grimes was introduced he began dropping into areas that he could collect the ball and rather than going square he was cutting in and looking for quick one-twos with the central players and getting the ball into the forward players. Although positioned on the right he was popping up all over, left-back, deep midfield, right-wing and allowed others to exploit the space. The main beneficiaries were Charlie Taylor and Luke Ayling who began who hit the by-line at the other end of the park. It’s the first time I’ve seen Grimes make an impact and fair play to him. He has much more to do but yesterday was the start.
Substitute #3 – Marcus Antonsson – Movement To Think About
The Derby defenders were struggling to get to grips with Pablo Hernandez, Kemar Roofe and others coming from deep but they had Chris Wood boxed off without much hassle. The introduction of Marcus Antonsson had them on the back foot. His movement into the channels and in behind the defenders helped create room for Hernandez, Roofe and Grimes too play in and we began to get more joy in and around the box. In the last 15 minutes we could have had two or three goals, Marcus Antonsson bending a glorious effort off the post in the 96th minute of the game. He was a handful and was more influential in the last 15 minutes than Wood was before he went off. Wood looked tired and his touch and running power was totally off, the long trip to New Zealand perhaps taking it out of him, not something that can be helped in all honesty. The question would be should we start with him on Tuesday or give him a rest, starting Antonsson who will want to run in behind a very average Wigan defence. Wood can’t play every game and Antonsson has proved at times he’s capable at this level, whether or not he’s capable of playing the lone strikers role from the start I’m not so sure.
At 6:45pm on Tuesday we will know if any of them have done enough for a start.