Football League Expert & Columnist
The golden Gus
Peter Beagrie hails the impact of Gus Poyet as he prepares to face former employers Leeds.
Last Updated: 22/09/11 2:48pm
Should Leeds United have ever let Gus Poyet go?
He was a popular figure when he worked at Elland Road as assistant to Dennis Wise and a lot of supporters were hoping he would get the manager's job. I think they recognised that he often led the training sessions and was pushing the club forwards.
Gus has lots of ideas, born out of a fantastic playing career, and has combined that with a typically South American will to win and a great sense of humour. I've been in his company a few times and he's very charismatic and funny; nothing is lost in translation when it comes to his humour.
He's as sharp as a tack and Leeds' loss has, ultimately, been Brighton's gain. He led them to the League One title in a division that was packed with quality sides and now has his team playing an attractive brand of football near the top of the Championship.
However, Leeds have also been on the up under Simon Grayson and as far as I'm concerned he did a magnificent job last year in their first season back in the second tier. They scored 81 goals - the second highest total behind Norwich - and were it not for their defensive deficiencies they would have made the play-offs and maybe even pushed for the automatic spots.
This Leeds team are creative in possession and ruthless in front of goal, but they're easy to get at when they don't have the ball. They shift bodies out of midfield too readily and have had numerous centre-half pairings over the last 12 months. The defensive issues have already been apparent this term and they haven't kept a clean sheet in any of their 10 games so far.
I'm not convinced by Darren O'Dea, who has moved from left-back to centre-half, but it's great to see Patrick Kisnorbo getting games after all of his injury problems. I saw him at the Manchester United game on Tuesday and congratulated him on recovering from a horrendous, career-threatening injury. He will improve game by game, I'm sure.
As far as Leeds fans are concerned, the big positive is the youngsters in the team. Adam Clayton has been brilliant so far; he's always brave enough to accept the ball, he has good control and a fine range of passing. He'll stick his foot in when he needs to and he scored a cracking goal against Bristol City last weekend. He drove the team on in that game and he's obviously been schooled very well.
Aidy White is another youngster who did well on the ball against Manchester United and was arguably one of their best players against Bristol City. I will also mention Tom Lees, a natural centre-half playing at right-back who could well move into the middle of the back four before the end of the season.
Up front, Ross McCormack is on fire at the moment and Luciano Becchio has made significant cameo appearances in the last two games, so I expect them to pose plenty of attacking threat on Friday night.
Leeds will feel this is a good time to go to Brighton, just 48 hours after the Seagulls' big cup game with Liverpool, but it's still early in the season and I think the home players will be up for it. I don't think they will have any excuses and the tiredness will disappear when they run out in front of 20,000 home supporters.
Some people say Brighton are doing well against the odds this season. However, I wouldn't say they're punching above their weight because they have a fantastic infrastructure and the right man in charge.
They covered themselves in glory against Liverpool, even in defeat, and Craig Noone deserves a mention after playing against his hero Steven Gerrard. They have a number of good wingers at the club, but Noone has arguably been their best player and seems to have edged out Will Buckley.
I should also mention Ashley Barnes, who continues to improve game after game. He was expected to play second fiddle to trophy signing Craig Mackail-Smith, but has posed a constant threat this season and is a very good athlete.
Overall, this is a fascinating fixture and will be all-out attack because that's how the two managers like to play. Leeds effectively finished the Bristol City game with four centre-forwards on the pitch even though they were down to 10 men - which shows the intent of Grayson.
This will be my first visit to the wonderful new Falmer Stadium and I'll be making a 500-mile round trip from my home to get there. I'm sure I won't be disappointed and neither will the viewers at home watching in 3D.
What else we learned this week
Congratulations to Aldershot... who are the lowest-ranked team to make it into round four of the Carling Cup. I hope they get a big draw for the next round.
The pride of the Rams... The Championship performance of the week goes to Derby following their 2-1 win at Nottingham Forest. To play with 10 men for 85 minutes and win at your local rivals is a great achievement.
The a-Ward goes to... If you're looking for the goal of the week, you'd have to pick Jamie Ward's equaliser for Derby against Forest. Not only was it a stunning mazy dribble, but it was a key moment in the context of the game for a team down to 10 men against their bitter rivals.
Shoots of hope for Forest... After that shocking performance in the league, they pushed Newcastle all the way in the Carling Cup, coming from behind three times before finally succumbing to a 120th-minute winner. That will offer Steve McClaren some light at the end of the tunnel.
Adam and believe... Adam Lallana scored in the club's 4-1 demolition of Birmingham and then stepped off the bench in midweek to score the winner in the Carling Cup against Preston. He will undoubtedly end up in the Premier League one day either with Southampton or someone else.
The King Leon... A first career hat-trick for Leon Clarke secured a third successive victory for Chesterfield, as they beat Carlisle 4-1. The on-loan Swindon striker is certainly proving his worth and is my League One player of the week.
Better Leyton... Leyton Orient haven't won a league game yet this season and are rooted to the bottom of League One, but I'm going to give them a shout for their spirited display at Ewood Park in the Carling Cup. The bookies expected a big spanking, but they can be proud of their positive second-half efforts and let's hope that's a springboard for the rest of their season.
Six of the best What a result for Gillingham last weekend! Any away win is a valuable result in that division, but to go to Hereford and win 6-1 was a spectacular effort. Congratulations to Andy Hessenthaler and his players.
Reid all about it... I was surprised to hear of Plymouth's decision to get rid of Peter Reid. Football is a results business, but that seemed a particularly ruthless act after all he has done for that club. He will always be remembered fondly by the Argyle faithful.
Where will the albatross land... Football fans will be hoping Peter Risdale doesn't turn up at their club next. He'd say he's guilty by association, but after the financial problems at Leeds, Barnsley, Cardiff and now Plymouth, nobody will want him at their club - rightly or wrongly.