Leeds hoping for a Sharp start against Middlesbrough
Leeds United have the opportunity to turn Elland Road into a fortress once again this season. With new owner and chairman Massimo Cellino at the helm, changes have been swift and recognisable. Clearly a man of action, he gets things done and delivers on his promises.
In the few short months that he has been there, the Italian has brought structure back to the club and is gradually implementing everything clearly absent under old regimes. People know their place, roles, responsibilities and are aware of the aims and objectives.
On a short-term basis, that is winning their first home match of the season against Middlesbrough. A fixture that once upon a time, and not too long ago, Leeds would have been heavy odds-on favourites to win. As such they are 11/5, with the visitors at 5/4.
It is a subtle reminder of how much times have changed for the Whites. After a decade in the wilderness of lower league football, they now appear to have a tangible plan to get back into the top-flight. The expectancy levels for the first game of the new campaign against Millwall were quite possibly, virtually non-existent. This is a new team, with a new coach, and time should be afforded for them to gel.
One of the new buzzwords circling the confines of Elland Road, however is ‘potential’. Sporting director Nicola Salerno is identifying targets with an emphasis on youth, and talented Italian personnel in Serie A; a league he knows well.
However, coach Dave Hockaday has also assisted identifying domestic talents, and as such striker Billy Sharp has been brought in from Southampton, and is 2/1 to net anytime, should he be handed his debut. Souleymane Doukara bagged a brace in the Capital One Cup tie against Accrington Stanley last time out, and as such is 6/1 to strike first.
Boro, however, took all three points on the opening day, beating Birmingham 2-0 with goals from Spanish pair Daniel Ayala and Kike either side of half time. The latter is 5/1 to open the scoring, while the centre back is 7/1 to strike again anytime.
Despite Aitor Karanka’s side being third in the table, all of the focus will be on how Leeds will fare in their first home match of the season against one of their biggest Championship counterparts.