Liam Bridcutt went into the summer as captain of Leeds United, knowing he would get a full pre-season to get fit and hopefully get back to the standards he set when he was first at the club. Two months later and he didn’t even travel with the squad for the opening day, for tactical reasons.
Something had to give yesterday and in the centre of the park someone was losing out. As it was both Liam Bridcutt and Ronaldo Vieira missed out, but we are aware that Thomas Christiansen is protecting Vieira after a heavy summer that included an England campaign that went until the very end, and then no break before pre-season training began. Bridcutt though was left out of the squad for tactical reasons according to new manager Thomas Christiansen. He also said that he had told Bridcutt he still has a part to play this season, which is interesting given he didn’t even travel with the squad, as others did.
Stuart Dallas missed out of the 18 despite impressing in pre-season and looking like he may even break into the starting team yesterday. The Northern Irish winger rounded of pre-season with a wonderful goal against Oxford and he seems to be back in the plans, but there was no explanation for why he was sat behind the dugout yesterday and not amongst the subs. As I said, things had to give and yesterday we saw the first big decisions that Christiansen had to make and he wasn’t trying to keep players happy. Bridcutt, Doukara and Antonsson didn’t even travel and Dallas and Vieira missed out. Cameron Borthwick-Jackson was in the stands and has signed today and Pontus Jansson will walk back into the side after suspension, so more will have to give.
The squad as a whole is much stronger, the bench we had yesterday was full of quality, Green, Saiz, Ekuban, Sacko, Klich all sat and watched on, Anita and Shaugnessey called into action earlier than Christiansen would have wanted and Sacko the only tactical sub. Dallas will certainly feel better after watching Sacko have a nightmare when he came on. He looked unfit and lost the ball every time he got it, for some reason he didn’t look like the player of a week ago, full of confidence and energy. I would expect Dallas to start against Port Vale on Wednesday, along with Sacko, Saiz, Ekuban, Klich and either Vieira or Bridcutt, probably the latter. What is for sure is that for a change players are fighting to hold onto their places, and Christiansen won’t play you because of a reputation.