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Match Preview: Fleetwood Town v. Leeds United - Whites look to bounce back in the EFL Cup
Wednesday, 10th Aug 2016 09:13 by Lucas Monk
Leeds United and Garry Monk make the trip to the Highbury Stadium tonight, with the Whites aiming to secure a first competitive victory of the new season after suffering a 3-0 drubbing at the hands of QPR last time out.
Tonight's game sees United, who were well-beaten at Loftus Road on Saturday courtesy of goals from Sol Bamba (OG), Tjaronn Chery (Pen), and Sebastian Polter, go up against a former head coach in Uwe Rosler. The German recently took over at Fleetwood from Steven Pressley, and his first game in charge of the 'Cod Army' on Saturday finished in a 1-1 draw away at Northampton Town, who won the League Two title last season.
It will be the first time that the two sides have ever faced each other, with a good crowd expected for a clash that pits a minnow of the lower leagues against a revered name of the English game.
(Leeds) - Pablo Hernandez could be set for a first Leeds appearance after receiving international clearance on Monday morning. The Spaniard, who formerly played under current United head coach Garry Monk at Swansea City, recently joined the Whites on an initial six-month loan from one of Qatar's most affluent clubs, Al-Arabi.
(Leeds) - Swiss right-back Gaetano Berardi was hauled off after just 22 minutes on Saturday, and he is now a doubt for this fixture after sustaining a slight thigh injury.
(Fleetwood) - Uwe Rosler has claimed that he has a fully-fit squad to choose from. The German has said that some of his players who were not involved against Northampton at the weekend could be handed opportunities tonight.
Media - Garry Monk and Uwe Rosler
Leeds United head coach Garry Monk is upbeat about his side's chances in this clash, despite suffering the sheer deflation of an absolute debacle at the hands of Queens Park Rangers on Saturday.
“There will be ups and down along the way,” said the United boss. “But what we want at the end of the season is for the fans to be proud of what we have done. That is a long process. We have to all stick together.”
Former United head coach Uwe Rosler’s presence in the home dugout will add an extra spice to tonight's EFL Cup first-round tie. When quizzed as to whether he had spoken to the German prior to accepting the vacant managerial role at Elland Road, Monk replied: “No. I like to make my own judgements. When I meet people going into a situation, I like to make my own judgements and I don’t want that to be clouded by anyone else.
“I came here without speaking to anyone to make my own mind up and I think that’s the best way to work. That is pretty much the process.“
With regards to the competition itself, Monk holds some fond memories of it, having been a part of the Swansea City side that picked apart Bradford City in the 2013 final, a game that ended 5-0 in favour of the Welsh side.
“That is the nature of the cup,” he added when asked about taking on a team from the third tier. “That underdog tag can be a motivation but I don’t see them (Fleetwood) as underdogs. I see us very even at the moment. It is a 0-0 scoreline, you both have 11 players and you both want to win. If we do our best I’m positive we can get a result but it’ll be a very tough game.”
Meanwhile, Monk's opposite number Uwe Rosler has insisted that he has no regrets regarding his brief stint as head coach of the Whites, a spell that was a mere 12 games long.
Speaking to Fleetwood Today, Rosler said that he was shocked when Massimo Cellino opted to fire him last October, with Leeds sitting 18th in the Championship table after winning on just two occasions under the German's tutelage. The 47-year-old stated that he is firmly focused on shaping a new era at Fleetwood, but ahead of tonight’s reunion with his former employers, he spoke quite openly about his five month reign at Elland Road.
Rosler said: “I never saw it (the sacking) coming, especially after being given the targets for the season by the owner. “I don’t think you can measure me at all on 12 games. I felt we delivered on what we got hired (to do).
“We got hired to keep the team in the division. We were never in the bottom four and we made some good Championship signings – players for the short-term, medium-term and long-term future of the club. We recommended players who unfortunately just arrived after we left.
“The players were very co-operative and open to the ideas we put forward. “The situation was not easy when we took over but we unified the squad. We had a decent start and played a lot of teams in the top half.
“Just after we left they played all of the teams from the lower part of the table, but unfortunately we did not get the time to use that advantage. “I never have any regrets about taking a club like Leeds United. “When you are an ambitious coach or manager and you get offered that job and don’t take it, I think in the later stages of your life you will have regrets.
“Unfortunately I could not see it out or be part of the future. It was a long time ago now. I moved on and the club moved on, and I have no problems with that. “Today we compete against a top club and it is fantastic for our players. They have a great chance to measure themselves against a Championship team with Premier League quality.”
Prior to his brief spell with Leeds, Rosler coached Brentford and Wigan, reaching the semi-finals in the 2013-14 edition of the FA Cup whilst in charge of the latter.
Fleetwood - Nathan Pond and Devante Cole.
31-year-old Nathan Pond is a central defender with over 400 Fleetwood appearances to his name. The 6 ft 3 stalwart has been with the club since 2003, and he performs key defensive duties at the heart of the Fleetwood defence. The fan-favourite is a determined, resolute leader at the back, as well as a commanding aerial presence. Fleetwood will most certainly need their skipper to be at the top of his game if they are to negate the attacking threat posed by United forwards such as Kemar Roofe, Marcus Antonsson, and Chris Wood.
21-year-old Devante Cole is a youthful forward who has previously turned out for Barnsley, Bradford City, and Milton Keynes Dons. The youngster, who is the son of former England international Andy Cole, is a product of the Manchester City youth academy. Whilst with the Bantams, he was praised for his pace and agility by then manager Phil Parkinson. Since joining Fleetwood back in January, Cole has made 15 appearances, scoring twice. Although his record for the Cod Army is not exactly prolific, his quickness could prove key for the hosts as there is a distinct lack of pace within Leeds United's defensive ranks. Sol Bamba, Kyle Bartley, and Liam Cooper are renowned for not exactly being blessed with pace, and the home side may look to Cole's speed in an attempt to exploit that particular weakness.
Leeds -Pablo Hernandez and Marcus Antonsson.
31-year-old Pablo Hernandez possesses creativity and flair in spades, and his availability for tonight's clash will most certainly be of huge significance for United. The Spaniard spent last season on loan with Rayo Vallecano in La Liga, scoring 3 goals whilst laying on another 4 goals for his teammates. His penchant for a killer ball, along with his eye-catching dribbling abilities, will most certainly pose a major attacking threat should he be selected for the game.
25-year-old Swedish forward Antonsson joined United from Kalmar FF in June, and at the time of his move to West Yorkshire, he was the leading scorer in the Swedish top-flight with 10 goals to his name in just 12 appearances. Although he didn't have the best of competitive debuts against Queens Park Rangers on Saturday after coming on in the second-half as a substitute, he will no doubt be eager to get off the mark for his new club should he take to the field at the Highbury Stadium tonight.
Writers' View Ahead Of The Game
It does seem rather coincidental that we are set to go up against Uwe Rosler after such a dismal start to our league campaign on Saturday against QPR, doesn't it? If Rosler's beleaguered spell here taught us supporters anything, it's that tonight's EFL Cup tie is very much a potential banana skin for current head coach Garry Monk. If you remember, Rosler was knocked out of this very competition around this time last year by Doncaster, also then of League One, and he went on to get sacked after just 12 games in charge.
I say that this game is a banana skin because of Massimo Cellino's ruthless approach regarding managers. The theme at Leeds United during his tenure here has more often than not been a case of hit the ground running, or hit the ground face first, therefore the recording of a victory tonight is of paramount importance if Garry wants to avoid the sack in the near future. After a 3-0 humiliation by an average, at best, QPR side, the heads in the United camp will be down, and the situation will only worsen if we fail to progress to the next round in tonight's clash. A win is vital in order to fully restore the self-belief of the squad and put ourselves on the right track for this season, ahead of a difficult first home fixture on Saturday against a solid Birmingham City outfit.
Hopefully we will do the necessary tonight and secure our place in the next round. I'm looking forward to seeing how Pablo Hernandez fares (should he play), and it'll also be interesting to see what type of approach Garry Monk will adopt for this game against lesser opposition. No disrespect intended to Fleetwood, their meteoric rise in recent years deserves applause, but we really should be looking to defeat a mediocre League One side who are led by an even more mediocre head coach.
Photo: Action Images
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