Leeds United's glass jaw was tempered at Norwich City and now they need an ungloved fist

Illan Meslier and Joe Rodon saw out a clean sheet for Leeds United at Norwich City -Credit:Stephen Pond/Getty Images
Illan Meslier and Joe Rodon saw out a clean sheet for Leeds United at Norwich City -Credit:Stephen Pond/Getty Images

Neutrals would have been as frustrated with this as Daniel Farke was with the officiating of Norwich City vs Leeds United. Sky Sports have consistently selected the Whites for live coverage for years, but Sunday might finally have been the day they saw their viewing figures plummet.

The spectacle of the 0-0 draw at Carrow Road would have been no match for the sunshine and surely had people turning off without a die-hard passion for Farke’s side. Anyone with that passion would have surely taken that bore draw before kick-off.

After two wins in the last eight games and nothing quicker than a limp into the play-offs, glasses were half-empty on the journey down to Norfolk. Just stay in the tie, get back to Elland Road with something salvageable was the order of the day.

READ MORE: Leeds United player ratings as Rodon and Ampadu impress in promising first-leg draw at Norwich

That’s what they got. There were no frills, but, perhaps more importantly, no fatal spills either. On any manager’s to-do list, the first priority has to be clean sheets and a solid defence. The rest can come after. Carts and horses had been driven through the middle of Leeds by Queens Park Rangers and Southampton. Confidence was wavering in a defence that had until recently been the best in the Championship.

Sunday’s clean sheet is perhaps the most pleasing takeaway. Joe Rodon and Ethan Ampadu were far more resistant at the heart of defence as a duo, while Glen Kamara and Ilia Gruev provided that protection, no doubt aided by the selection of Archie Gray ahead of them.

Leeds certainly had enough of the ball to, with hindsight, suggest they should have done more with it to hurt their hosts. However, this was not an occasion for risk-taking. Norwich had their openings and found pockets of space.

Had the visitors overstretched themselves in pursuit of that goal, the damage of a concession would have been painful. This was the reset Farke wanted from the regular season, a blank canvas he and his players could paint a new picture on, forging fresh foundations from which to build ideas and confidence for Thursday.

Confidence and momentum had been battered between Good Friday and last weekend. Leeds had to get back to basics and instil some belief they can be solid and they can be hard to break down with some punch resistance. A glass jaw was tempered in Norfolk. Next on the list: pulling that glove off their clenched Leeds fist on Thursday night.