Leeds United are still looking for a first win of the pre-season after slumping to a 2-0 defeat to Monaco at the LNER Community Stadium on Saturday.

It was also the Whites’ second successive friendly defeat to the Lique 1 side in seven months following the 4-2 loss in December last year.

Looking to bounce back from the defeat by Manchester United in Olso, Leeds United found themselves at the receiving end of a loss by the identical 2-0 scoreline and in almost identical fashion.

After acquitting themselves admirably in the first half with some tidy football and showing a lot of promise, just as they did against United, Daniel Farke’s men had the stuffing taken out of them by two second-half goals.

Below, we look at the five takeaways from the Monaco encounter.

Another useful workout

Preparation, they say, is half the job done. This was another useful opportunity for players to work on their fitness and the manager to run the rule over his squad ahead of the new season. As the pre-season cliché goes, friendly match results are secondary to the quest for match fitness. In that regard, preparations are progressing nicely, with new players and loan returnees bedding in, affording the manager the opportunity to assess the depth of his squad and selection options.

Although it would have been nice to register that first pre-season goal and win, and for the manager to break his duck, no fan of Leeds United persuasion will be overly despondent because of Saturday’s result. In fact, there were quite a few positives to glean from the defeat.

Squad depth

Farke rung the changes to the side that started again Man United in Norway. No surprises there as managers are wont to do that in pre-season as they make use of the full depth of their squad.

But what can we make of the fact that four players – Liam Cooper, Leo HJelde, Luis Sinisterra and Georginio Rutter – have started both friendlies? It’s too early to say, and I’m wary of overstating the significance, but could those four be emerging as definite starters for the season?

Throw Illan Meslier, Luke Ayling, Crysencio Summerville, Dan James (who had a typical effervescent display but still needs to work on his final ball delivery) and Ethan Ampadu into the mix and the team against Monaco had the look of as close to a first-choice starting line-up as possible.

The return of Meslier in goal also suggests the Frenchman is very much in the manager’s plans. The shot-stopper played for 60 minutes before being replaced by Kristoffer Klaesson. Unless he is sold or sent out on loan, it wouldn’t come as a surprise if Meslier starts the season as the first-choice goalkeeper despite Klaesson’s credidle claims. Meslier had a bit of a wobble last season, but he remains a very good goalkeeper.

Notable absentees

Tyler Adams, Max Wober, Junior Firpo and Stuart Dallas all missed the match. Adams and Firpo are recovering from injuries and not expected back until after the international break, while Wober is reportedly the subject of transfer interest from Borussia Monchengladbach. It is being reported that the Austria international has a clause in his contract. Speculation says it’s a relegation clause which allows the defender to leave the club for the right price, reportedly a fee in the region of £30m.

Ampadu debut

It was a solid no-frills debut for Ethan Ampadu. With the midfield resources severely depleted in Adams’ absence through injury and following the departures of Marc Roca and Adam Forshaw, it was no surprise that Ampadu was deployed in central midfield and not in defence. He will be a welcome addition in an area that needs bolstering.

The Wales international went about his business in tidy fashion, breaking up play and showcasing his range of passing; spraying long passes, offloading shot passes, and looking for that opening to set up attacks and put the forwards through on goal. On the whole it was a satisfactory debut by a player who could yet prove to be an inspired signing for the club.

The longer the wait…

It’s two defeats in as many pre-season friendlies, and as I said, it’s nothing to be overly concerned about. However, it’s important to get that first win under the belt sooner rather than later. Winning breeds confidence and the longer we wait for a first win the higher the risk of doubt creeping in and confidence being sapped out of the players.

Next up it’s Nottingham Forest on Thursday 27 July when fans will again be looking for more signs of improvement, not just in performance, but hopefully the result too.


I'm Barrie Jarrett, born in Leeds, lived over a decade in South Africa, CEO And Co Founder of Planet Sport Limited and Planet Bet Limited.

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