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Championship

Leeds United fans rightly wonder what ‘set-piece specialist’ does at club

The Italian has hardly improved matters for Leeds. In fact, they appear to have got worse.

Mathew Nash

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Leeds
Photo: Getty Images

Leeds United lost in the Championship last night, going down 2-0 at high-flying Fulham.

The result at Craven Cottage was more than fair as Fulham dominated much of the game with the Yorkshire outfit struggling to contain their attacking philosophy.

But once again Leeds fans were left astounded by the team’s inability to defend set-pieces. It has been a concern for the club all season and again the problem reared its head last night.

Before Fulham’s first goal Aleksandar Mitrovic had a free run at a header from a corner. On that occasion, Bailey Peacock-Farrell kept him at bay. Not long after it happened again. This time the Serbian’s effort deflected off Kevin McDonald and into the Leeds net.

As reported by LUFC Data on Twitter, the set-piece statistics for Leeds are simply damning:

However, if any team in the Championship should not have this issue, it is Leeds. In November they actually appointed a set-piece specialist.    

Former Fiorentina, AC Milan and Brentford man Gianni Vio arrived in October. Whilst better regarded as an attacking set-piece specialist he has also been working with the club defensively – as reported by the Yorkshire Evening Post.

Well, Leeds are still not exactly thriving from attacking set-pieces whilst defensively they have been woeful.

Much of it is down to their rather deep zonal marking system, which twice allowed Mitrovic to have a free run and jump at a header for Fulham. Personnel does not help either. For instance, with Kyle Bartley organising at the back Leeds always looked solid defensively last season. The same cannot be said about the current campaign.

Leeds’ inability to cause damage from set-pieces is only made worse by their woeful defending against them. Fans on Twitter are asking one thing, what exactly is Vio doing at Thorp Arch on a daily basis…

Sports journalist based in Bristol. Previously spent five years writing for HITC Sport. Everton fan for my sins.

Nottingham Forest

What role can Daryl Murphy play at Nottingham Forest next season?

The Nottingham Forest striker faces an interesting year at the City Ground.

Mathew Nash

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When Nottingham Forest snapped up Daryl Murphy last summer it looked like a coup for the club. Signed for a fee in the region of £2 million from Newcastle United fans were excited about the Republic of Ireland star’s arrival.

They had good reason to be excited. Murphy had just played a role in Newcastle United’s promotion to the Premier League. He had been scoring goals for fun at Ipswich Town. Murphy netted 27 goals in 2014-15 and in the previous three seasons had scored a total of 50 goals.

But last season was a struggle for the Irishman. Injury hampered his debut season at Forest. Despite scoring six goals in his first 11 games for the club, it soon turned sour.

(Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

He scored just once more in 20 more games for Forest and featured just six times in 2018.


“It was a tough season last season for Daryl. So far he has been training really, really well and he looks confident; he looks strong – although he has always been strong.

“I was really pleased, because he is doing really well and he is a player who can help us a lot.”

– Aitor Karanka speaking in July


So does he have a future at the club?

Forest have improved their attacking options immensely this summer. The arrival of El Arbi Hillel Soudani and Lewis Grabban has added massive firepower up top. With youngster Ben Brereton also fighting for a first-team spot with Joe Lolley capable of playing up top, Murphy has a job on his hands.

At 35-years-old he may find himself happy with a bit-part impact role at the City Ground. He may have to because it does not seem he will be a starter next season.

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Wolverhampton Wanderers

Wolves’ incoming recruit Joao Moutinho was once targeted as Luka Modric replacement

Wolves are set to sign the Portugal star for just £5 million.

Mathew Nash

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In many ways, Wolverhampton Wanderers’ impending deal to sign Joao Moutinho from Monaco is no surprise. The Portuguese international is a client of Jorge Mendes who has helped bring many stars to Molineux in recent months.

On the other hand, it is a massive shock. Moutinho only signed a new deal with Monaco at the end of March. Then there is the price-tag. According to Sky Sports, the deal is worth £5 million between the two clubs.

Moutinho has, in the past, been valued considerably higher.

(Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

When Tottenham Hotspur agreed on a deal to sign him in 2012 the fee was £24 million. In the end, he decided he did not want to leave Porto that summer leaving Tottenham without a Luka Modric replacement.  

He ended up joining Monaco a year later for a similar fee and over the years has been heralded as one of European football’s more understated midfield dynamos.

Considering Everton are about to pay ten times as much to bring in Richarlison from Watford, it highlights how good a deal this is for Wolves.

Moutinho succeeds nearly everywhere he plays, even on an international level where he won Euro 2016 with his nation. But even if he doesn’t at Wolves, the price-tag is so low it was worth the risk.

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Leeds United

Leeds United round-up: Saiz wanted, Vydra and Hernandez deals rumble on, Machuca unveiled

All the latest news and gossip from Leeds United.

Mathew Nash

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Saiz-able offer

Leeds United are fending off admirers in Spanish talent Samuel Saiz. According to Fichajes, he was wanted by three La Liga clubs this summer. The talented playmaker has courted the interest of former club Huesca, Getafe and Valencia.

The latter are said to have made a bid of £8.9 million for his services, whilst Getafe have also made Leeds an offer.

However, the report claims that Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa has absolutely no desire to sell the 27-year-old, who he sees as key to Leeds’ hopes this season.

(Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

Demands must change

Leeds have not yet given up on signing either Matej Vydra or Abel Hernandez this summer, according to YEP journalist Phil Hay.

Leeds offered a contract to free agent Hernandez and had a £11 million bid accepted for Czech talent Vydra.

However, both could not agree on personal terms with Leeds as finances proved a major stumbling block.

Hay claims that no deal will go through unless either player drops their demands.

Machuca unveiled

Alejandro Machuca has been unveiled by his new club, after leaving Leeds on loan. The under-23 star has joined Burgos of Spain’s third-tier for the upcoming season.

The attacker was signed last July from Rayo Vallecano and played a prominent role in Carlos Corberan’s team last season.

He will now hope for regular football back in Spain.

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