With Argyle preparing to face off against promotion-chasing Leeds United for the third time in three weeks on Saturday, I spoke with Leeds fan Adonis Starr from the Roaring Peacock Podcast to discuss travel, transfers, and how maybe – just maybe – Argyle could be the one to put an end to their winning run.

How is your performance so far matching up with your expectations for the season?

It was difficult to have an accurate expectation during the summer. The last two seasons were joyless. 150+ goals conceded. Avoided relegation by a 2 goal swing to Burnley. Then the conveyor belt of managers with Sam Allardyce taking charge – the kind of nightmare you wake yourself up from. And as the relegation-loan clauses were triggered – moves which Leeds were powerless to negotiate, and there was no word on incomings while they were being negotiated, things started to look bleak. A strange start to the season with players refusing to play, Sinisterra threatening legal action should he not be allowed to leave, and a new team, new manager, new tactics all struggling to gel, eased expectations significantly.

I expected us to finish in the playoffs, so we’re exceeding expectations. But with the managerial and playing staff it’s also not a surprise.

As we move into the second half of the season, can you see yourselves keeping up the fight for automatic promotion?

There was a great bit of research by Joe Donnohue showing the second half of the season improvements by Farke’s Norwich side. We’ve already seen an improvement after Christmas, a small adjustment, with Rutter moving into the 10 position. Since that change the team looks much more balanced. The impressive thing for me is the consistent energy levels. In the first part of the season there would be occasional games like against Southampton away when there was an unexpected significant drop-off in the energy of the team. In the aggressiveness of the pressing, in the urgency to track runners. There has been none of that. So all signs point to Leeds maintaining this momentum.

How do you feel he is doing at the helm and are Leeds fans hoping to see him here for the long term?

Farke is putting up numbers no Leeds manager has since the 1960s/70s. So yes, he is doing extremely well, and of course Leeds fan want him to remain at the helm. He has at the very least bought himself another couple of seasons – i.e. he’s got enough credit in the bank to stick with him for a third season should next year be average (regardless of division). The only way he would get fired is as a hail mary to avoid relegation should we get promoted and really struggle.

Have you been surprised with the fight argyle have put up against you in our last couple of fixtures?

Not really surprised no. You’ve seen what Ipswich have done and you guys won League One. As Daniel Farke said, the top of League One can be mid table Championship side, that’s just how the divisions work. Obviously both games were in the Cup. So there is a combination of reserve team style squads with players who haven’t really played together, and obviously the cup being more important to teams who will benefit more from the revenue. So I expected a tricky challenge and in recent years these are the exact type of games previous Leeds squads have lost.

Can we expect a similar lineup to what we saw last time out?

Obviously we had to bring on our starters towards the end there to deliver the final blows. So you can expect our strongest 11, not the weakened sides you played in the cup. Meslier, Gray, Ampadu, Rodon, Firpo, Gruev, Kamara, Summerville, Rutter, Gnonto, Piroe (depending on Bamford’s fitness) will be the likely starters.

You’ve scored 5 goals against us in the last two games, with a different man scoring each time. Who is your main goal threat this season that we need to be looking out for on Saturday?

Crysencio Summerville is our main goal threat, tied with Morgan Whittaker for 2nd place in the Championship for goals + assists on 23 for the season but having played fewer minutes.

Summerville is 0.90 goal or assist per game. He is a diminutive winger who is very direct, loves to cut inside from the left wing and is a very clinical finisher.

What can we do differently to get the win this time? Are there any weak areas we should be looking to exploit?

The teams who have given the most trouble to Leeds this season are the teams who have not conceded early, nor scored early. Simply sitting in a mid block or a low block and asking us to break them down, which we have at time struggled to do. We are a fast team, brilliant and explosive on the counter. We don’t have a creative midfielder who is great at unlocking defences, and because we play possession based football, we can struggle to have the urgency and directness needed at times against this style. When scoring first, in the last 45 Championship games, Leeds have won 40, drawn 5.

We have a good home record this season, especially for a team sitting 15th in the table. What is the Leeds fans perspective on a trip to Plymouth? Is it a fixture that is perhaps more difficult than it could be, based on league position?

Well obviously rather than league position with Plymouth you think of geography. It’s not quite Land’s End but it’s not far off. You do, for whatever reason, get teams that aren’t good travellers. Leeds weren’t great in the first half of the season but they seem to have overcome that. Plymouth is somewhere, obviously with a lot of pride and passion, buoyed off a title-winning promotion. And we’re everyone’s cup final so you absolutely have to be ready for a fight when you go to Plymouth.

It was just the single signing for you in January: Connor Roberts on loan from Burnley. How is he shaping up so far, and were you disappointed not to see a bit more business being done?

There are gaps in the squad, but not too many, and when you’re on the run we are, then it’s easy to forget about them. Of course, they are mentioned after a loss, as is always the way. Our two left backs are very injury prone, and we look so good when they are fit, so that is an area where back up would have been good. We’re playing Ampadu at centre back, and we look strong there, and are blessed with options at defensive midfielder, but a centre back might have been nice. Right back was absolutely the minimum after losing Djed Spence and Luke Ayling.

And if I’m being greedy, which, when it comes to Leeds in transfer markets, most fans are. Then I would have been looking at a creative midfielder that is able to unlock defences and feed Piroe more often, as well as take our set pieces, which is definitely a weakness in this side. Someone like Ward-Prowse/Maddision or in recent Leeds history Pablo Hernandez-type player.

Any thoughts on the argyle side and who could cause you problems? Championship top scorer Morgan Whittaker perhaps?

Whittaker is the obvious one. Joint second top scorer in the league with Southampton’s Adam Armstrong, one ahead of Summerville. We haven’t seen the best of Whittaker, he was kept fairly quiet for most of the game at Elland Road, I thought the combination of Joe Rodon who is maybe the championship’s best defender, and Sam Byram was effective. Byram’s is a right footer and so him at left back made it harder for Whittaker to cut in onto his favoured left foot. You could see that at some points Whittaker was almost central at times. But Firpo is known to struggle defensively at times, although recently he has shown some improvement in his defending, so this will be a test for him.

Score prediction?

Leeds winning run has to come to an end at some point, or does it? I think it might be here. I think Whittaker might get the better of Firpo and finally turn it on, but Leeds will have too much fire power up front to deny the hosts the win. 2-2.


Check out The Roaring Peacock Podcast here: 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/PeacocksRoar
Website and Blog: https://theroaringpeacock.com/
Podcast: https://theroaringpeacock.com/podcast/