Samu Saiz had the most memorable debut this season, without a doubt. In actual fact there won’t be many Leeds players, past or present who score a hat-trick on their debut for the football club. It was against Port Vale in the league cup yes, but a debut all the same. Yesterday saw Pawel Cibicki thrown in at the deep end, and it didn’t take long for him to make his mark.
I say thrown in at the deep end for a few reasons. After all he has been at the club for long enough now to have made some sort of impact and he hasn’t. The reason being he has barely had a chance. Two league cup starts against Premier League opposition barely represents a huge chance for him to impress. The under 23’s development system currently in place doesn’t exactly give players the chance to get up to speed, the old reserve system was actually better, but it still wasn’t great. Yesterday Cibicki made the bench because of circumstances out with the control of Thomas Christiansen. Had Pablo Hernandez, Stuart Dallas, Pierre-Michel Lasogga and even Jay-Roy Grot been fit then he wouldn’t have had the chance to be involved.
Chances come in strange ways occasionally, Caleb Ekuban was thrust into the action and The Stadium Of Light earlier this season and it was another horrible looking injury for the striker that meant Cibicki was coming on. Kemar Roofe was moved up front and Alioski to the left to allow Cibicki to play from the right and before the break he wasn’t really involved. There wasn’t much time anyway but as soon as the second half started we looked a different team, getting more of the ball in the middle of the pitch and feeding it wider. After going 0-1 up after a ball from the left the next key moment was who got the next goal. It came from the right, Ayling feeding Cibicki who took a touch and arrowed a beautiful ball into Kemar Roofe who added a crucial second goal.
We’ve been watching Jay-Roy Grot come off the bench week after week and he hasn’t made any sort of impact in games. The assist for Cibicki, and all-round play was very tidy, and what that does is give him a platform now, something that will boost his confidence hugely. When the second goal went in yesterday every player headed straight for Cibicki before going to celebrate with Kemar Roofe, that shows the popularity of the young Swedish forward amongst players and had he been slipped in rather than Roofe at the end he could well have added a goal to his game but Roofe was on fire and grabbed his hat-trick. A lot of work for Cibicki to do but yesterday was an encouraging debut for the Swedish striker.