The Javi Gracia era at Leeds United got off to the perfect start as his new side came out victorious in their crucial six-pointer against Southampton in the Premier League on Saturday afternoon.
An unexpected goal from Junior Firpo clinched a much-needed win to move the Yorkshire giants out of the relegation zone.
The Spaniard has been tasked with keeping the Whites up, having enjoyed similar success at Watford many years ago and whilst the early signs are positive, there is still a lot of work to be done.
Despite dominating possession and having the bigger share of attempts on goal, Leeds could only find the net just once and that came through their left-back, rather than their attacking talent.
It was certainly another outing in which long-serving striker Patrick Bamford struggled to impress…
Should Gracia drop Bamford?
How has Patrick Bamford been doing?
The 29-year-old’s duck in front of goal extended to a sixth successive game, with the former Chelsea graduate only scoring one goal across 16 top-flight matches this season, via Transfermarkt.
A lot of his struggles over the past 18 months have been down to persistent injury troubles as the Englishman spent a lot of the last campaign on the treatment table, though he’s been back for much of the current term but hasn’t been able to replicate his past glory.
Indeed, it was only in 2020/21 – Leeds’ first season back in the big time – that he managed to bag 17 times across 38 appearances as their top goalscorer.
But the injuries and inconsistencies may have seriously hampered his chances of ever getting back to that goalscoring best, especially in the top-flight.
In this latest outing, Bamford managed only two shots across the 86 minutes he was on the pitch, whilst Illan Meslier (34) had more touches of the ball (27). Georginio Rutter, who was subbed on for the final 21 minutes, managed 21 touches, only six fewer than Bamford in a third of the time, via Sofascore.
Speaking about his display on talkSPORT, former Aston Villa man Gabby Agbonlahor criticised the 6 foot 2 striker. He said:
“Whenever I have watched him recently, it doesn’t look like he can get around the pitch.”
When Bamford is scoring, his lack of an impact or influence is easy to ignore but right now, he’s holding Leeds back and that’s something that Gracia must look to resolve if he’s to turn things around in west Yorkshire.
It would be a bold and brutal call but with the likes of Wilfried Gnonto and Rutter, as well as Rodrigo to return, it should be a worthwhile risk, so the Spaniard must remove Bamford from the starting XI going forward.
AND in other news, Orta struck gold with “tremendous” Leeds titan, his value has rocketed 2566% in 3 years…