For the second time in eight weeks, Elland Road greeted a new manager and judging by the the paucity of Leeds United’s performance, it might not be the last time it happens this season.
An uninspiring goalless draw with Reading is not the start that Darko Milanic, the new man in the appropriately named hot seat, would have wanted when working for an owner as notoriously impatient as Massimo Cellino.
Milanic had already make a losing start at Brentford last weekend and this was something that Massimo Cellino – who watched that game from the away end – could not help but mention when welcoming the Slovenian in his column in the match programme. “Last Saturday wasn’t the result we all wanted but I believe that Darko is the right man for Leeds United,” he wrote, adding that he was happy to have a coach with international experience.
Any kind of managerial experience represents an upgrade on his predecessor David Hockaday, whose great leap from Forest Green Rovers to Leeds still defies belief.
Leeds actually took ten points from four games under caretaker Neil Redfearn but now they start again under Milanic, the former Maribor and Sturm Graz coach who has no prior experience of English football. There was no fanfare when the Slovenian took his place in the dugout and he admitted afterwards there were no real fireworks on the field either. “We made too many bad final passes,” he said.
If Leeds, he added, showed more “aggression and tempo” than in the 2-0 defeat at Brentford, they still found themselves outpassed for long passages by Reading and did not force a save out of visiting goalkeeper Adam Federici until substitute Billy Sharp tested him in the 85 minute.
Nigel Adkins’ team have showed promise this season, coping impressively with a long injury list and blooding some homegrown talents and they created the better opportunities, coming close to an early goal when Nick Blackman drew a fingertip save from Marco Silvestri after eight minutes.
Silvestri saved well from Michael Hector and Blackman again in the second half when Leeds were fortunate to see defender Giuseppe Bellusci unpunished for a penalty-box foul on Jake Taylor.
Leeds’ only chance of note before the break came when Chris Gunter’s wayward pass gave teenage midfielder Alex Mowatt the chance to lob goalkeeper Adam Federici but his shot cleared the crossbar.
Mowatt was one of Leeds’ brighter performers but their attack carried all the menace of a stale Yorkshire pudding with Casper Sloth, at the tip of their midfield diamond, and forwards Mirco Antenucci and Souleymane Doukara all disappointing.
“We were not clever or composed enough,” added Milanic, who will try again for his first win against Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday lunchtime. “It is extremely important,” he noted – and with Cellino pulling the strings, few would disagree.
Leeds United (4-4-2): Silvestri; Byram, Pearce, Bellusci, Cooper; Cook (Murphy, 59), Bianchi, Sloth, Mowatt (Austin, 67); Antenucci (Sharp, 83), Doukara.
Substitutes not used Taylor (gk), Warnock, Wootton, Morison. Booked Bellusci, Cooper, Doukara.
Reading (4-4-2): Federici; Gunter, Hector, Pearce, Obita; Blackman, Akpan (Guthrie, 71), Norwood, Taylor (Mackie, 77); Cox (Robson-Kanu, 75), Murray.
Substitutes not used Andersen (gk), Pogrebnyak, Long, Cooper. Booked Federici, Hector, Norwood, Pearce.Referee T Harrington (Cleveland).Reuse content