Club Focus – Leeds United – Whites finally get back on track with valuable home win

Since the beginning of the year Simon Grayson has witnessed his squad drop points at an alarming pace with the Whites gradually surrendering topspot in League One to Norwich City. The players have tasted victory only twice in the league in 2010 with both wins coming at Elland Road.

The latest success came against Oldham Athletic to provide a massive boost to the side and allow the players to focus on the upcoming fixtures as opposed to contemplating how to emerge from a delicate crisis. Grayson was satisfied with the performance of the team and refused to single out any player, preferring instead to hail the squad’s spirit, grit, energy and effort. The manager admitted the large number of games had taken its toll on his players but refused to cower behind the congestion in fixtures. He went a step further and acknowledged the Whites were lacking in confidence and in need of a positive result in order to reinvigorate their flailing campaign. Considering Leeds are only three points behind leaders Norwich, the situation was not drastic and the first positive result could probably serve as a stepping stone for launching an assault to regain the number one position in the standings and gain promotion to the Championship. Working in favour of the club is the tremendous start to the season which presented the Whites with some room for error and in fact this came in handy as witnessed in the struggles of recent weeks.

Beating the Latics restored pride to the Elland Road outfit and gave a lift to the boisterous supporters of the club. The hero of the game against was Argentine striker Luciano Becchio who has gradually worked his way back to full fitness after a season hampered by injuries. Becchio scored a winning brace and showed once again he can be relied on to supply the goals alongside top-scorer Jermaine Beckford. Earlier in the season Becchio suffered an ankle injury against Charlton Athletic and missed almost two months of the current campaign as he returned towards the end of November against Lincoln. The Argentinean had a solid first season at Elland Road and was hoping to build on the early success but this unfortunate injury hindered his progress. Despite missing a chunk of the season Becchio has still managed to score eight league goals and registered another two strikes in the FA Cup. In his first year he found the back of the net 15 times in 45 League One matches. A quick comparison between the two seasons reveals Becchio is still hovering around the same strike-ratio of scoring one goal every three games. Obviously Leeds have missed his contribution and with prolific striker Beckford also missing some games the Whites have not been able to rely on their first-choice strike partnership for some reasonable time. The two must work towards recreating a solid partnership to help propel the side to the next division without having to go through the risky play-offs scenario.

Becchio has played in Argentina and Spain prior to joining Leeds after impressing on trial when former skipper Gary McAllistar was still the manager. Despite being on the books of two famous clubs in the shape of Boca Juniors and Barcelona, Becchio never played for either of the side’s first-team. The Argentine played at the youth level for Boca and for Barca’s B team. The striker was the top scorer in Segunda Division B, which is the equivalent of the third division in Spain. He scored 22 league goals and added another six goals for a grand tally of 28 goals in all competitions. One interesting factoid about Becchio is back in his days with Boca he played with Manchester City star Carlos Tevez when the two attackers were part of the club’s youth system. He might not have been given the opportunity to shine at the top level but Becchio has proven to be a solid contributor in the lower divisions.

Grayson will be counting on both Beckford and Becchio to convert the opportunities created in order to ensure the season is a successful one. By next season the partnership between Beckford and Becchio might be split for good as Beckford will likely move to new pastures once his contract expires. In the meantime Grayson will be hoping to reap the benefits from their partnership.

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