Steve Evans has wasted no time imposing his personality on the Leeds United dressing room. No fewer than three players went under the microscope in his post-match press conference following the 1-1 draw at Bolton last weekend, confounding the old adage that a manager should never single out individuals and criticise them in public.
Tom Adeyemi, Gaetano Berardi and Will Buckley were all subjected to the Glaswegian’s unique brand of honesty at the Macron Stadium. The observations weren’t wholly scathing but the sub-text cast enough doubt to leave each of them with something to prove, and it’s Adeyemi on whom we should focus most of our attention. Take the 22/1 abouthim scoring the first goal and back it up with the 9/1 available on Adeyami scoring anytime.
According to Evans, the on-loan Cardiff midfielder was “poor for the first 20 minutes, running around like a League Two player”, this coming on the back of a high-energy display at Fulham that earned him plenty of plaudits. It wasn’t the first time Evans had used his name in the same breath as the basement division, no doubt all part of an elaborate mind game.
Prior to the draw at Craven Cottage, Evans had urged Adeyemi to ditch any ideas of holding himself back: “If he wants to be a sitting midfielder, go and sit in League Two. I said to him ‘you are not a sitting midfield player, you were fantastic at Cardiff before you got injured, box to box.”
Needless to say, Adeyemi is getting himself into the opposition box at every opportunity now. His tally of six shots across the last two matches includes a volley that smacked the post at Bolton - “when it looked easier to score”, according to Evans - almost doubling his tally of seven shots from the previous ten matches, including the opener in the 2-1 televised win at Derby.
Calling the outcome of the match itself isn’t easy. My ratings, both 24-match and season-to-date, make the 90-minute prices bang on the money, although Leeds might respond well to Evans’ assertion that a club of their stature going seven months without a home win is a “disgrace”. With the new manager desperate to make a positive first impression on the Elland Road crowd, they could be the bet at 17/10.
However, with Blackburn reeling from Burnley’s smash-and-grab raid at Ewood Park, the Whites might have to bide their time. The pain of that derby defeat could trigger a positive early reaction from Rovers but their inability to convert chances can only eat away at their belief and they might well run out of steam if they maintain their current rate of needing 15 shots to score a goal.
With that in mind, you might also wish to consider sticking a few quid on the Draw/Leeds half-time/full-time outcome at 23/4. The Whites have taken a while to get to grips with the opposition in each of their last two matches but finished in the ascendancy on both occasions, once Evans had worked out what was required.