FROM THE ETIHAD STADIUM – Welcome back to the Premier League, Sam Allardyce.
Maybe, just maybe, he will be able to keep Leeds United up. But he needs one thing to go his way, and that is luck. Nothing more than luck.
This was evidenced in his first game as Leeds manager at Manchester City. The game somehow ended 2-1 to City despite almost entire domination from the home side.
Over 80% possession confirms the control of the game City had, but it was not just that – most teams will concede that sort of ratio to one of the best teams in the world.
Leeds showed no less of what they have earlier in this dismal season – at times their work-rate was questionable, it was pure luck on Leeds’ part that City did not make this a huge win.
It was luck that City should be so sterile in the final third, no one more so than record-breaking Erling Haaland.
The Leeds-born striker was staggering in his waywardness in front of goal, and on another day (almost any other day), he would have been walking away with the match ball, which brace-grabber Ilkay Gundogan should have if not for his penalty miss.
In truth, there was little to no improvement in this Leeds team aside from one thing – they had a bit more luck today and they will need that down the final stretch.
Even their goal was fortunate – Manuel Akanji, who had been excellent to that point, headed the ball straight at Rodrigo, who did well to finish at least.
That goal should have set-up grandstand ending, it should have seen Leeds pushing forward desperate to get the unlikeliest of draws. But it didn’t. They didn’t push on, they didn’t look like scoring. Allardyce claimed Leeds massive improved in the second half, but in reality they didn’t.
Current Premier League table, top scorers & upcoming fixtures
But as with any game of chance, sometimes it is better to be lucky than good and that is why Allardyce is here. He has done it with Blackburn Rovers, Sunderland, Everton and Crystal Palace before, and there is no reason to suggest he won’t or can’t do it with Leeds.
Another key thing for Allardyce is getting the fans behind him, and he made sure his men went over to applaud them after the game to show their appreciation.
“We have got to keep the fans on board when they expect more than what they are getting, but by their response they saw a bit of fight of spirit and it gives them that bit of hope. We need them,” he said.
Leeds are drinking in the last chance saloon and they have gambled on Allardyce being their sheriff. If somehow they can hold this City team to 2-1, the odds have to be in their favour to claim enough points in their final three games to stay up.