After watching tonight’s youth cup tie against Liverpool, I thought that it was a travesty we hadn’t won. That’s the extent to which this generation of youngsters inspires hope.
Last nights display was impressive for a number of reasons, some of which I will endeavour to list below:
A) They’re being taught correctly – The tactics were ideal and ludicrously modern in comparison to the style the first team plays, playing a progressive possession based 4-3-3 system. There was nothing more symbolic of this than the usage of split centre backs when distributing the ball out from the goalkeeper, the sort of advanced, attacking play that the likes of Bielsa and Barça have extolled in recent years. It is excellent that these ideas are being coached into our youngsters.
B) Chris Dawson looks like he’s going to be a hell of a player – The Welsh Under-21 player reminded me (obviously to a lesser extent, but at an impressive skill level nonetheless) of a tiny Rooney, coming deep and picking the ball up but remaining a huge threat in the attacking third. Dawson was all over the pitch and controlled everything. I am very very excited to see him as a part of Leeds’s future.
C) It wasn’t just Dawson – Alex Mowatt, the captain, looked excellent in the centre of the park, the sort of solid midfielder Leeds have often cried out for in recent years. Alongside his solidity came passing ability however, and he also looks like he could be a real gem of a player. Others impressed, even Lewis Walters, who despite only playing for under half an hour (having to leave thanks to injury after a nasty tackle) looked a good modern centre forward. Lewis Cook also took his goal excellently. It was very clear why this team had previously gone 12 undefeated in all competitions.
D) They deserved to win against Liverpool’s cherry-picked continental youngsters – The difference could be seen in Liverpool’s use of a swede as a second half substitute. Leeds were far and away the better team on the night, valuing the Lobanovskyian collective whilst allowing individuals to shine. It was ultimately just two moments of individual running that put Liverpool ahead, and their third was very clearly offside, so isn’t worth talking about.
All in all, a display that should whet the whistle of any Leeds fan looking to the future.
Follow Amitai Winehouse on Twitter (@awinehouse1).