Leeds United interim boss Michael Skubala is enjoying himself in the Elland Road hotseat as he prepares to face Manchester United for the second time in the space of a week in the Premier League on Sunday.
The co-caretaker stepped up to take the reins after Jesse Marsch was dismissed following last weekend’s loss to Nottingham Forest and responded with a shock 2-2 draw at Old Trafford against Erik ten Hag’s men.
The chance to take points off the Red Devils once again has come around quickly for the Whites, and Skubala is looking forward to squaring off with one of the club’s oldest rivals again.
“I’ve loved it,” he said. “Is that allowed? What’s good is the senior players are helping the younger players.
“Probably the biggest challenge of a head coach in these moments is to think about what the other coach is going to do. It’s a bit like a game of chess, especially playing these games back to back. That’s where I have to be calm and strong in my decisions and focus on our strengths.
“The club and the fans should be proud, but it was still one point. Whatever happened in the last game, for me, is now closed – the book’s closed and we go again Sunday and we try to get three points. Some of the senior players have been through this before and it helps the younger players to be calm, relaxed and deal with the change.”
Ten Hag meanwhile offered praise for youngster Alejandro Garnacho, after the latter’s emotional reaction to being replaced during Wednesday’s 2-2 draw against Leeds.
“He’s quite emotional, that is his strength,” he said. “He wants to win, he wants to play football and he doesn’t want to miss a minute. That is a good thing. He’s totally convinced about himself, you need that. When he is coming off, that emotion and that frustration is not because he’s not accepting it.”
Ten Hag further outlined that he does not expect to have the trio of Anthony Martial, Antony and Scott McTominay available after all missed Wednesday’s game through injury, with the three of them also a doubt for next week’s Europa League tie with Barcelona.
“I can’t say 100 per cent but I don’t expect it,” he added when asked on their availability going forward in the short-term.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Leeds – Wilfried Gnonto
Despite only making his home debut for the club in November, and playing just five home games, only Rodrigo (6) has scored more goals at Elland Road for Leeds in all competitions this season than the Italy international, who has netted three.
Man Utd – Marcus Rashford
The England international has scored two goals in his last three Premier League away games, having netted just once in his previous 18 on the road. Couple his rich run of form in general, and he will be hoping to strike in West Yorkshire.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– Leeds lost this exact fixture 4-2 last season but haven’t lost consecutive home league games against Manchester United since October 1976.
– Manchester United have scored 4+ goals in three different Premier League away games against Leeds, winning 4-0 in September 1996, 4-3 in March 2002, and 4-2 last season. Only Arsenal (4 times) have scored 4+ goals at Elland Road as visitors in the competition more often.
– This is the first time Leeds have faced the same opponent in consecutive top-flight fixtures in the same season since April 1974 against Sheffield United (0-0 at home, 2-0 away), and the first time they’ve faced Manchester United in consecutive league fixtures since April 1947 (1-3 away, 0-2 home).
– This is the first time Manchester United have faced the same opponent in consecutive top-flight fixtures in the same season since December 1967 against Wolves, winning 4-0 at home and 3-2 away en route to a second-place finish that season.
– Leeds have won just one of their last eight Premier League home games (D4 L3), beating Bournemouth 4-3 in November. Their last two at Elland Road have both finished level (2-2 v West Ham, 0-0 v Brentford).