Round 5 of fixtures in the Championship threw up a whole raft of surprises and freak results.

It’s safe to say it was a bleak day for punters, with many coming a cropper on an afternoon upsets were the order of the day. The bankers either lost or drew matches they were fancied to win.

Black Cats among the pigeons

Sunderland set the tone for the round with a 5-0 thumping of hitherto undefeated and one of the pre-season promotion favourites Southampton in the lunchtime kick-offs.

With the news the Black Cats had sent the Saints scurrying for cover reverberating through the division  going into the 5pm kick-offs, you would have thought Southampton’s promotion rivals had been given the perfect incentive to capitalise.

Instead, much-fancied Leicester City and Norwich City also surrendered their unbeaten records with defeats to Hull City and Rotherham respectively. And as if to emphasise the “day of the underdog” theme, Rotherham had taken just one point from a possible 12 prior to the win over the high-flying Canaries.

Opportunity spurned

After a tentative start to the campaign, defeats to three promotion rivals was the perfect opportunity for Leeds United to close the gap on the early pacesetters. But in keeping with the pattern of the weekend’s freak results the Whites also dropped points against Sheffield Wednesday, who came into the match having suffered the ignominy of losing all four of their opening matches on their return to the Championship. The goalless draw at Elland Road halted the Owls’ wretched run.

“Football, bloody hell,” quipped the manager of a club not far from here after his side had snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.

Perhaps that’s what makes the game of football so beautiful; unpredictable with a knack for veering off the script and turning matches on their heads.

Welcome breather or disruption?

Leeds United currently have 13 players on international duty, excluding those on loan. It’s a sizeable contingent whose absence from the Thorp Arch training ground for the next week or so will frustrate Daniel Farke’s preparations, especially as a few of those away on international duty had just joined the club. In that sense, the international break is a nuisance and unwanted disruption.

No sooner had Farke welcomed Joe Rodon (Wales), Ilia Gruev (Bulgaria) and Glen Kamara (Finland) to his squad than the players were called away on country duty.

Winfried Gnonto also cracked the nod for Italy, days after his reintegration into the Leeds United squad after failing to force a move away from Elland Road.

Ethan Ampadu (Wales), Charlie Cresswell (England U21), Jeremiah Mullen (Scotland U21), Darko Gyabi (England U20) Leo Hjelde (Norway U21) Diego Monteiro (Portugal U19), Charlie Crew (Wales U21), Dan van den Heuvel (Netherlands U21) and Charlie Allen (Northern Ireland U21) make up the rest of the Leeds United contingent on international duty.

The anxious wait

Leeds United return to Championship action on 17 September against Millwall. I’m careful not to succumb to the temptation to overstate the impact of the international break on Farke’s preparations for the trip to The Den.

Only three players (Rodon, Ampadu and Gnonto) from the side that started the stalemate with Sheffield Wednesday last Saturday are away on international duty. So an objective assessment suggests the disruption to squad preparations is rather minimal but not insignificant. The bulk of Leeds United’s first-team squad remains at the club’s training ground where they are being put through their paces.

However, Farke will not want to lose any of his charges away on international duty. The manager faces an anxious wait to discover their fitness statuses on their return in a little more than a week.


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.

Write A Comment