Leeds United dropped two points late on to Manchester United on Wednesday night, taking a 2-2 draw to aid their fight for Premier League survival.
While the win would of course have been appreciated by the Elland Road club, a point from a high-flying rival can also be seen as a positive – particularly in light of Leeds themselves being in a state of flux following the dismissal of Jesse Marsch as manager.
The list of potential replacements has been whittled down as candidates remove themselves from the running, with Feyenoord boss Arne Slot reported to have been approached over the vacancy.
Whether it’s eventually the Dutchman or another successor to Marsch who takes the top job, there remains plenty to fix with Leeds – but huge reasons for optimism over the club’s future, too.
Here are the top five items in the inbox for any incoming boss.
Establish clarity with Victor Orta
One question mark fans have had is on sporting director Victor Orta, a man with influence at the club but a questionable track record in certain regards.
Expensive signings such as Dan James, Junior Firpo and Diego Llorente have not worked out; there have been accusations over his behaviour at matches being unacceptable and he has been unable to land his reported first-choice replacements for Marsch, with Carlos Corberan and Andoni Iraola both opting against joining.
The relationship between sporting director and head coach needs to work seamlessly if Leeds are to fulfil their potential in the top flight – and indeed stay there beyond May.
Improved defensive resilience
On the pitch, it’s a more obvious task: stop conceding so many goals.
Only three teams have conceded more than them this season, including two of the sides in the relegation zone, and even if it has improved in recent weeks the facts remain they’ve kept one clean sheet away in the league all season and until the 0-0 draw with Brentford in their last Elland Road game, they had allowed at least two in each of their previous five home fixtures.
It’s not sustainable and the new manager must make hard calls on personnel and tactics to fix it.
Keep Bamford or Rodrigo fit
At the other end of the pitch, two centre-forwards with decent goal records but awful fitness records are another issue.
Rodrigo has ten league strikes this season but has played just 69 per cent of available minutes, including missing the last two games, while Patrick Bamford has yet to play a full 90 minutes in the top flight this term.
The Englishman also has only three league goals in the last 18 months, having hit 17 in 20/21.
Build around the young guns
Longer term, and assuming the survive this season and continue to build, it’ll be about making the most of some terrific young talent at the club – particularly in attack.
Brendan Aaronson, Luis Sinisterra and Crysensio Summerville are all between 21 and 23, while breakthrough forward Wilfried Gnonto is just 19.
Add in new club record signing Georginio Rutter, aged 20, and there’s a fantastic group to work with if the supporting components can be added around them.
Keep the American contingent happy
Not that there should be any cliques in the squad anyway, but there’s little doubt a handful of players came in because Jesse Marsch was there: Tyler Adams and Brendan Aaronson brought in to join their compatriot, Rasmus Kristensen joining from Salzburg where the American boss previously worked and, more recently, Weston McKennie joining on loan from Juventus.
The USA international pairing at the heart of midfield should bring more tenacity and aid that defensive resilience the team needs, but as part of the wider group they’ll need reassurance that their style and approach is still a fit for Leeds’ new direction.
Quality is without question built within this squad – the new manager must let it show more consistently.
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