Since replacing Thomas Christiansen as Leeds United head coach, Paul Heckingbottom has not exactly changed things around at Elland Road. Leeds have continued their freefall down the Championship table and fans appear to be losing patience with the former Barnsley boss.
But it is also fair to say, he hasn’t had the best of luck.
Heckingbottom inherited an out of form team, with a goalkeeping department of little envy. In fact, the development of Bailey Peacock-Farrell is a reason to be cheerful.
Leeds have also not had the best of luck this season. Injuries and suspensions have ravaged the defensive position throughout the campaign with January signing Laurens De Bock and Luke Ayling long-term injuries. Liam Cooper has suffered with discipline and fitness whilst Gaetano Berardi has been sent off three times this season. Matthew Pennington has impressed when playing, but injuries have impacted the Everton loanee’s season. All of this has left a forlorn looking Pontus Jansson, wishing for better times with Kyle Bartley beside him.
Heckingbottom has clearly not had it all his own way.
One clear example of this is the signing of Tyler Roberts in January. The West Brom youngster was identified as a player to improve the club’s ailing attacking options. After scoring five goals in 17 league games and impressing in League One the hope was Roberts could thrive at Elland Road.
As reported by the Yorkshire Evening Post, Leeds spent an initial £2.5 million for the player. But, as is the way with Leeds this season, it quickly turned sour. Just two weeks after signing, Roberts suffered a training ground injury. A scan showed a crack in his shin and Roberts has still not been seen in a Leeds shirt.
Considering the fact the Whites are currently fielding players such as Caleb Ekuban and Jay-Roy Grot, it is fair to say Roberts could have had an impact at Leeds this season.
But it is a perfect summation of Leeds’ fortunes since the turn of the year. The player signed to freshen up the attacking options, has still not kicked a ball in vain for the club.
Before anything else, Leeds need to hope for a change from lady luck if they are to be more successful next season.
Wolves signing Miguel Veloso would reunite him with long-time partner Joao Moutinho
The Portuguese pair formed a formidable partnership for both club and country and could potentially do similar at Wolves.
Wolves are being linked with a move for free agent midfielder Miguel Veloso. TEAMtalk are suggesting that the newly-promoted side are looking to add the 56-cap Portugal international to their fold this week. He is a free agent having left Genoa and Everton are reportedly also keen.
It would be an interesting signing for Wolves and one which, on paper, certainly makes sense. Veloso is represented by the Jorge Mendes ran Gestifute company. He is also a player with an illustrious record, winning titles with Sporting and Dynamo Kiev.
At Sporting he was considered one of Portugal’s most promising young talents. He was not alone in that respect. He came through to the first-team picture in Lisbon at the same time as another central midfielder, one Wolves fans will know very well.
Both Veloso and Joao Moutinho came through at Sporting in 2005. The pair went on to form a formidable partnership in the heart of Sporting’s midfield for the next five years. In 2010, both men left. Veloso headed to Kiev, whilst Moutinho made a controversial switch to Porto.
Moutinho went on to establish a reputation as one of the more consistent central midfielders in Europe.
So this summer, when Wolves signed him for a bargain fee of just £5 million, it was an eye-catching piece of business.
If they could also secure Veloso, the pair might be able to rekindle some of their old magic at Molineux.
Bielsa’s Engine Room: Kalvin Phillips continues to thrive in new Leeds role
The 22-year-old came through the Elland Road academy system.
After Marco Bielsa’s Leeds United continued their impressing winning start to the season this weekend, recording a 2-1 victory over Rotherham, several players are being highlighted for praise.
Among those who deserve the majority share of the plaudits is 22-year-old Kalvin Phillips, who continues to thrive in the playing style implemented by the club’s new boss.
A player capable of keeping it simple at the base of the midfield, Phillips has proven to be astute defensively and comfortable in possession – key traits for a player to thrive in the Argentine’s system.
Against Rotherham on Saturday, he registered 112 touches, more than any other player on the pitch and a personal best for the club.
He also completed the most passes on the day (88), recorded more interceptions than anyone else (six) and created two chances, one of which went down as an assist.
Rotherham marked a third exceptional Championship performance of the season for the youngster, with his movement and distribution keeping the ball ticking over in central midfield.
The academy talent is proving himself to be a force in central midfield for the Whites, quickly establishing himself as the lynchpin of the Bielsa revolution at Elland Road.
If Phillips can maintain this level of performance he will be integral in the club’s promotion push throughout the remainder of the season.
One to Watch: Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish at his creative best vs Ipswich
The Villa youngster was exceptional again this weekend.
Jack Grealish again proved why he is Aston Villa’s most important player in their attempt to gain promotion back to the Premier League with an excellent performance in Villa’s 1-1 draw with Ipswich Town on Saturday.
The 22-year-old’s wonderful display was underpinned by the 28 passes he completed in the final third – which, according to WhoScored was more than any other player had managed in a single Championship game thus far this season.
Grealish also completed five key passes in the game, bringing his season total to 11 – more than any other player in the league other than Norwich’s Ben Marshall (also 11).
Furthermore, the Englishman completed five of his six dribbles in the game.
Steve Bruce spoke glowingly of Grealish this week on TalkSport.
“He’s arguably the best young player I’ve had in terms of ability. He can do something where he can lift you off your seat, he’s such a natural footballer and of course he’s grown up a bit,” the Aston Villa manager said.
“For me, he’s going to be a top, top player.”
It is hard not to agree with Bruce. Not only does it appear as though Grealish has matured greatly in the last 12 months, his performances since the turn of the year have been astounding – he has arguably been the division’s best player in that period.
His constant menacing against Ipswich was no different – he has started this season brightly.
If he can manage to help guide Villa to the Premier League, he may be there for the long-term.
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