Leeds United have returned to the Championship’s summit after narrowly coming out on top in an enthralling nine-goal encounter on Sunday afternoon.
Marcelo Bielsa’s side edged Birmingham City 5-4 at St Andrew’s thanks to an injury-time own goal from Blues defender Wes Harding.
The other four goals came from Helder Costa, Jack Harrison, Luke Ayling and Stuart Dallas, perhaps a surprise given that the Argentinian wasn’t able to call upon top scorer Patrick Bamford.
His replacement, Arsenal loanee Eddie Nketiah, failed to get on the scoresheet.
However, a wider issue at hand was clearly evident from the off, following the announcement of Bielsa’s starting XI.
In the second half, the Whites chief only called upon two substitutes, both in the final ten minutes of the match, which was quite damning as there was a lack of strength in depth on the bench.
First of all, there was a lack of a striking option with Bamford out injured and Nketiah leading the line – the only other actual first-team players were the unreliable Gaetano Berardi, who has a wholly mixed relationship with supporters, Barry Douglas, who has featured for just ten minutes since the middle of October and Tyler Roberts.
The other four were all youth players, three of which for the backline with goalkeeper Illan Meslier, Oliver Casey and Robbie Gotts and midfielder Jordan Stevens, who have all played a combined three times for the club.
Hence why Bielsa probably didn’t call upon any of them when needing someone to swing the game in their favour – Birmingham had come from behind three times to tie things up throughout the match.
Virtually impossible: Can you name the year all of these Leeds flops arrived at Elland Road?
This only goes to show that Leeds need to do business in the coming weeks in order to supplement their title – or promotion – charge as strength in depth will be vital as the squad will get stretched towards the back end of the campaign.
It will be down to Director of Football Victor Orta to find suitable players and the owner Andrea Radrizzani to fund such signings, all within Financial Fair Play regulations, which could restrict them from clinching a player of Jarrod Bowen’s stature.
January could well be the difference between clinching the title or faltering into the playoffs yet again.