Leeds United have kicked off the season in style with a 3-1 victory over recently relegated Stoke City. Marcelo Bielsa and Gary Rowett were both taking charge of their teams for the first time in a competitive fixture but it was the Argentinian who came out on top.
Mateusz Klich opened the scoring before Pablo Hernandez added a second, thanks in part to an error from Jack Butland. After the break, Stoke revived a lifeline with Benik Afobe converting from 12 yards after Barry Douglas brought down Tom Ince.
Liam Cooper extended the home team’s lead only three minutes later to kill the tie off and Leeds remained composed as they saw out the tie for the win.
Here’s what can be taken from the clash…
Bielsa is already having an impact
There has been an awful lot of excitement surrounding Marcelo Bielsa’s appointment as Leeds United manager but few knew quite what to expect from the man in charge. With the line-up revealed, people were equally at a loss but on the opening day it worked to perfection.
Perhaps the clearest example is Mateusz Klich. A disappointment in the past, in pre-season and against the Potters he has looked a formidable potion and opened the scoring with a well-taken goal on Sunday, his first in Leeds colours.
Gary Rowett’s problem is the hangover of last season
On paper, Stoke City’s squad is probably the strongest in the division. Yet, in reality, it hasn’t quite worked out. Bringing on players like Darren Fletcher and Bojan Krkic as substitutes is something that most Championship managers could only dream of, yet his team looked a shambles for much of the tie.
Like much of 2017/18, big names with talents to match, such as Jack Butland, Ryan Shawcross and Joe Allen, didn’t live up to the occasion and left plenty to be desired. Even new signing Tom Ince was lazy in his tracking back and defensive duties, costing the side dearly for the second goal.
Leeds may not need another striker after all
What will have impressed Marcelo Bielsa most will have been that his team looked to have a goal threat even with £10 million signing Patrick Bamford on the bench. Goals from a defender, holding midfielder and more advanced midfielder showed that goals will come from all over in the current team.
Kemar Roofe lacked the killer instinct that is required but produced a magnificent display running Stoke ragged with his movement. The addition of Bamford could add the clinical final touch. Some have claimed that the Whites must sign another centre forward to be in with a chance of promotion this season, but early signs suggest it may not be the case.