Expectation level rises for impressive starting Leeds United

Marcelo Bielsa watches on sat on his upturned bucket as Leeds United take on Bolton Wanderers. Picture: Bruce Rollinson
Marcelo Bielsa watches on sat on his upturned bucket as Leeds United take on Bolton Wanderers. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

With their first two league tests well and truly passed and progress in the Carabao Cup made a different challenge awaits Leeds United this Saturday.

While the Whites had no pressure on them for the first two Sky Bet Championship games against sides expected to challenge for promotion they now have a weight of expectation behind them and start very definitely as favourites against newly promoted Rotherham United at Elland Road this Saturday.

With a 4-1 demolition of Derby following on from a 3-1 success against Stoke it could hardly have been a better start in the league for Leeds and it will be interesting to see how they handle being expected to win.

There has been no going under the radar either as some bookies have now made them favourites to win promotion and head coach Marcelo Bielsa was the talk of football last week, even taking column inches away from the start of the Premiership.

He made eight changes to his team for last night’s first round Carabao Cup tie against Bolton, but despite the different personnel the style was the same - a high pressing game and taking the game to the opposition, in this case Bolton Wanderers.

It seems the intensity and fitness of the first team players is being matched by those on the fringes at the moment and the head coach has options at his disposal.

There was plenty of promise from all the players brought in, including academy products Jamie Shackleton, who played at right-back, and Tom Pearce, at left-back, but no-one really pressed their claims to an instant call-up for the Championship team.

It will be a big surprise if Bielsa does not stick to the same starting 11 from last weekend when the first of this year’s Yorkshire derbies is played against Rotherham.

Young midfielder or full-back Jamie Shackleton, meanwhile, has signed a new contract after making his senior debut at Derby.

The Leeds-born 18-year-old came on as a substitute for Mateusz Klich in the 73rd minute of last Saturday’s game and has now agreed a new three-year deal with the club.

The academy product has grown up as a fan of the club and impressed the new head coach when playing in three of the pre-season games.