Leeds United's long ball nightmare: Failure to win every time a midfielder goes over seven

Leeds United 2

Rodolph Austin played 14 long balls in Leeds United's defeat to Charlton. And once again the side lost.

Forget the off pitch distractions, was a clue to Leeds United's failure to beat Charlton on Saturday in their approach play?

For the sixth time this season a midfielder completed more than seven long balls. And for the sixth time the side failed to record a win.

Rodolph Austin made 14 as he did in the loss at Brighton, with five of the six games resulting in losses and one a 0-0 draw.

  MatchAccurate Long BallsResult
Rodolph Austin Leeds vs Brighton 14 2-0 loss
Rodolph Austin Charlton vs Leeds 14 2-1 loss
Rodolph Austin Millwall vs Leeds 10 2-0 loss
Rodolph Austin Watford vs Leeds 9 4-1 loss
Michael Tonge Leeds vs Wigan 9 0-2 loss
Luke Murphy Leeds vs Forest 8 0-0 draw

Two of the matches, away at Millwall and Watford came under the management of Dave Hockaday early in the season. The other four were under Neil Redfearn.

Just two goals have been scored by Leeds United in these six matches.

Clearly the 'lump it up to the striker' approach is not one which works, and is a symptom of the team playing with a lack of guile and intricacy which is required to unlock defences.

The fact it happened on Saturday against Brighton was an example of the Whites losing their way in the second half, with Redfearn telling the club website the team lost momentum.

Austin is the most frequently guilty party, responsible for four of the instances of playing long balls. Michael Tonge was sent on loan to Millwall in the mid-season transfer window.

Head coach  Neil Redfearn has made clear he is a big fan of Rudolph Austin, whose contract expires this summer, but if he manages to keep him - the best thing he could possibly do is work with him to ensure he keeps it simple when he is in possession. Austin has only two assists in 28 games this season.

Completing long balls is not always a negative, but when matched up with the results Leeds have recorded when a midfield player has attempted a high rate of them over the course of the season, it's fair to say they have not helped.

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