'We couldn't afford' - Leeds United problem tackled by Cooper and Dallas in critical week

Liam Cooper has to play a key role in the Leeds United dressing room still -Credit:MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Liam Cooper has to play a key role in the Leeds United dressing room still -Credit:MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Leadership will come from the top at Leeds United this week as they prepare for their biggest match of the season so far. A dearth of experience in the Whites ranks means Daniel Farke has to lead from the front and set the tone over a few days that must hit reset on a poor end to the season.

The manager admits Stuart Dallas and Liam Cooper have continued to chip in where they can as the experienced heads in the dressing room, but their absence in matches harms their influence, according to Farke. While seven of Norwich City’s 11 most-used players are 28-years-old or older, Leeds have just two in their 11 most-selected.

“[The leadership comes] from the manager,” he said. “This is what I have to do during the whole season because I know I have many players in key roles who are in their first season in the Championship.

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“We don't have the 30-year-old leaders with 400 games on Championship level with four or five promotions under their belts. It's a side where I have to do even a bit more leadership.

“I also take our more experienced players a bit more into the boats. Stuart Dallas is fantastic, although he can't help [by playing] on the training pitch, in the dressing room, anymore, but he's there on the training pitch [on the sidelines].

Liam Cooper, who has to wait for his appearances, is also doing a fantastic job, but it's always a bit more difficult when you don't have many experienced leaders in the group who are playing. This is the group we are, we know this, we know we're lacking perhaps a bit of experience, we're not the finished end product.”

Farke sees the potential of this squad, many of whom will comfortably play in the Premier League as they mature, as its big advantage. There is no sense, he sees, in dwelling on the lack of experience or feeling sorry for themselves.

“It's not a perfectly balanced group due to the reasons we spoke about,” he said. “We had to allow some experienced players to leave in the summer due to the situation with the contracts.

“We couldn't afford to buy experience. We wanted to use our potential and the good thing with this group is we have lots of potential, we have lots of individual quality and players who will develop to play, one day, not just at the top Championship level, but also at a really good Premier League level.

“This is the big advantage of this group. There's so much potential and skills. Yes, in the crunch-time period, there's not much experience, not much natural-born leadership, you're spot on, but in this moment it’s also [important] not to dwell on it and to feel sorry for that.

“It’s even a bit more my task to lift everyone up and to lead by example. This is what I'm trying to do.”