Whether you agree or not, The Boro game at home has been the biggest game of the season to date for obvious reasons, and unless we are involved in a promotion battle it will be the biggest. On a horrible run, Monk returning and Christiansen under huge pressure, and he came up trumps. I was unsure if he had maybe lost the dressing room but what I saw on the pitch today told me that simply isn’t the case.
A few things stood out for me today. The first was the performance of Pontus Jansson. I would go as far as saying that it was one of his best performances for the club, which given his season last year is quite something. I wasn’t convinced he was giving his all for Christiansen and I think that was a fair assessment but he was a human wall today. His chance of making it to Russia for the World Cup are dependent on him playing well for Leeds, he has a place in the Sweden squad at the moment and if he plays like that he will be pushing for a place in the team. The second was the reaction to the win at the end, Christiansen and the whole bench went mental at the final whistle and that was for a few reason, one of which was we actually won a game, another that he just out-thought Garry Monk over 90 minutes, something he needed to do.
I also liked the team selection. Hernandez and Roofe both came back into the side which made a huge difference to the style of football we played and Boro didn’t like it. We could have been 4-0 up by the time the penalty came around for Boro and it wouldn’t have flattered us. Saiz, Alioski, Hernandez and Roofe were dynamic and worked very well, Alioski having his best game at Elland Road for the club to date. The players were putting bodies on the line from the very beginning and towards the end they were desperate to make sure they left everything on the pitch, Jansson and Cooper attacking everything that came their way. The midfield grafted and got on the ball, the partnership between Phillips and Vieira worked very well, I thought Phillips put in his best performance since Nottingham Forest, winning tackles and covering so much ground.
The pressure was mounting on Thomas Christiansen, no doubt about it and if he had lost today it would have been a loss that effected his popularity more than any other so far this season. He went back to his style of football and it worked, he got Alioski and Hernandez and the full-backs which was the weak point of Boro and made sure that his substitutions weren’t for the sake of it, Grot stayed where he was. He needed a win today, we all knew it and he got 100% out of every single player on the pitch both on and off the ball, making sure there was only ever one place the points were going. Getting beat by Garry Monk would have been well documented and Christiansen did everything in his power to make sure that the only story will be that Monk returning and getting beaten, convincingly it has to be said.