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Talking Points: Leeds versus Wolves

Talking Points: Leeds United versus Wolves

Talking Points: Leeds versus Wolves

The Becchio-McCormack Partnership

Last season, there was incredible doubts as to whether these two could work together. McCormack was at his best during the period when he was partnered with on-loan Becchio-lite Andy Keogh, during which period McCormack scored around ten goals in thirteen games. This was likely due to Keogh’s work ethic and ability to run the channels, plus his ability with his feet, something Becchio lacks to an extent. Becchio similarly did not seem at his best last season, partnered primarily with McCormack. Admittedly, Becchio was off the boil and effected by a pre-season injury that he never truly recovered from. However, looking at performances where McCormack and Becchio did not play as a conventional front-two, for example Nottingham Forest away, Becchio seemed to still have the ability locked away, unable to be brought out by McCormack. However, against Wolves, the two worked excellently in tandem. McCormack and Becchio, obviously, were the only two outfield players involved in the goal. It is the less obvious moments that showed how effective they were however. It was only once McCormack went off and Diouf partnered with Becchio that it became clear how much the first choice front two have been working on their attacking movement. Diouf was far less able to get onto Becchio’s flick-ons, and much of our attacking threat died with McCormack’s departure. Admittedly we were seeking to hold on to our lead, but it proved a point. Becchio and McCormack is a partnership that can run and run, and will hopefully lead to goals this season.

Additional Attacking Threat Required
Whilst the above is the case, it is clear we could still do with someone to come off the bench for occasions like this. Diouf held the ball up well, but it would have been useful to bring a striker on with pace in the place of McCormack. There were enough occasions where we could have nicked another goal in the last 20 minutes, putting the game to bed. Hopefully rumours about Maynard coming in on loan turn out to be true. It does not seem entirely ridiculous.

It’s Not Easy Being Green
Green had an excellent first thirty minutes. He was instrumental in counter-attacks from Wolves set-pieces, oddly accurate with overhead kicks (grounded, but still) to McCormack, who could then break. It seems a real shame that he might be out for an extended period. Diouf looked a decent replacement, but I’d prefer Green’s solidity and work ethic to an extent.

The Beast Unleashed
Rodolph Austin was a heavily hyped signing. There were two trains of thought, the first being one of sheer excitement, the other one tinged with memories of Da Costa. This is no Da Costa. Austin is a terrifying, terrifying man. He’s going to be integral to our midfield this season, and came ever so close to opening his United tally. Whilst he will likely require a break mid-season to deal with his lack of holiday, for the first few months Austin will be ahead of the curve.

No Hole in Defence
Jason Pearce was excellent. He got his head on everything. Peltier was solid. The full-backs, whilst they both slipped on occasion, were good enough (it is worth pointing out Wolves players also slipped once or twice – this shows the pitch was at fault if anything). Tom Lees is fit and should be back soon, allowing Peltier to actually play in position. Finally, our defence looks solid. This is an odd feeling, one where mistakes and defensive failures are not constantly expected.

The Real Test
Warnock’s teams generally do poorly against teams with good passing ability and pace. Blackpool on Tuesday is the real test. A result against them and we may have a season on our hands.

Follow Amitai Winehouse on Twitter (@awinehouse1) to get a constant, ridiculous, never-ending, stream of thoughts about Leeds.

Rodolph Austin

Opinions on Rodolph Austin

Rodolph Austin

Leeds United and Neil Warnock have confirmed interest in Rodolph Austin, and press from Norway seems to suggest that not only have Leeds got interest in the player, but negotiations with SK Brann are underway. With £200,000 already rejected, and Leeds seemingly willing to push higher in order to secure the Jamaican, it is clear that this is an important target for Warnock this summer. Whilst highlight packages of Austin have proliferated on the internet (including below), these can be deceptive, as football fans around the world have discovered. Who can forget Nacho Gonzalez’s signing for Newcastle thanks to the YouTube browsing Dennis Wise. Similarly, Filipe Da Costa looked like the real deal according to Mr. YouTube, but we all know how that worked out.

With that in mind, I’ve tasked myself with getting the ‘lo-down’ (which is what I believe the kids are saying these days) on Rodolph Austin from those who know him best. We’ve got information from a journalist from Bergen, who is working on the Rodolph Austin transfer story for Bergensavisen. We’ve also got a report from a man who has seen pretty much every game Austin has played for Bergen, Asbørn Perry Sve. Svend Karlsen, Leeds fan, Norwegian and editor of Leeds United ‘Peacock News’ of the Scandinavian Supports club. Synthesized below are these opinions.

Asbjørn Perry Sve has had the opportunity to watch Rodolph since August of 2008, after a mooted move to Stoke failed due to a lack of international clearance. Sve has seen essentially every game Austin has played for Brann Bergen, as a season ticket holder and by viewing away games on television.  In a description that will delight Leeds fans, and goes a long way to explaining why Warnock is such a fan, Sve refers to Austin’s “never say die attitude”. He’s also seen as the “bone-breaking kind of midfielder any opposition hates to play against” by Svend Karlsen, who has seen him in action many times as a man who follows the Tippeligaen closely and has reported on teams for years. Rune Ulvik, journalist for Bergensavisen, says that Austin is “feared by his opponents”. This, to be honest, sounds like the sort of player we have been missing to run the midfield for a while now, something Svend refers to with the belief that he “commands the midfield”. Sve similarly suggests that this is the case, as although he is “no talker”, he “leads by example”.

Asbjørn says that whilst, at first, he had a “problem of timing” tackles, the club have since worked on his game and he’s improved immensely in this regard. Given that our other option currently is Michael Brown as a tough-tackling defensive midfielder, Austin seems to be a step up, given he now combines his desire with an ability to not merely focus upon the shins and knees. In fact, Sve refers to Austin’s tackles as being “immense”. Ulvik refers to him now being a “very strong tackler”.

In terms of the technical aspects of his game, both Svend and Asbjørn have referred to Austin’s “fantastic crosses”. All three of the people we contacted believe that Austin possesses pace, with Svend particularly pointing out that Rodolph Austin “is quicker than the average midfield-anchor tends to be”. Furthermore, Sve puts focus on his ability in front of goal, referring to him as having a shot in the “Hasselbaink class”, and also points out that he is the club’s regular penalty taker. In 2011, when he was voted the best player in the Tippeligaen, he scored seven goals in 25 appearances (each team plays 30 games a season, there is no injury worry). Clearly this is no slouch in front of goal, in statistic and opinion.

There is also already a Leeds connection in place. Sve talks about how Austin has played alongside both Eirik Bakke and Gylfi Einarsson, in fact displacing Bakke from the center of midfield. Bakke could only find a place up front when competing with Austin. Hopefully these two ex-Leeds names have told Austin about all the positives that surround playing for our club.

When asked about the disparity in quality between the two leagues, both Asbjørn Sve and Rune Ulvik point out that there is a difference. It is clear to both that not just any player can make the step across with ease. However, Ulvik reckons Austin is “well above average”, and he thinks he will “do just fine”. He’s also been called, officially, the best player in the league before, so clearly this is not just a player of normal standards.

As to why this move is being allowed to take place, Austin has let his contract run down, and at this point, he could agree a move for free that would take place six months from now. Svend is also of the belief that Brann are keen to buy back Eirik Huseklepp from Portsmouth. Brann therefore need to generate cash to achieve this (they are no longer heavily backed by private investors as they were when Austin came to the club). Svend’s sources suggest that SK Brann are ready to sell at about £350,000, and that Leeds will likely come back with a further offer having heard this asking price. “If Leeds pass the £300,000 mark,” said Svend, “I think they have a deal”.

The only real fear now is that someone will beat us to the deal. Clearly with so many sources, biased and not, in favour of him as a player, he is a worthwhile signing at £350,000 and with years of football ahead of him. Warnock also rates him heavily, so professionals are in agreement about Austin. Leeds fans have already taken to him based on the video footage, with #rodolphaustinfacts a common hashtag on twitter. A signing worth making I feel.

Follow Amitai Winehouse on Twitter (@awinehouse1).

Credit and great thanks goes to Asbjørn Perry Sve (@perrysve), Svend Karlsen (@svendleeds) and Rune Ulvik (@runeu) for their help in researching this article, and providing much of the content.

Video footage: