HUGE CONFLICT: Daniel Farke set to axe senior Leeds man over Southampton loss after ‘message’

Daniel Farke did not start Joe Rodon for Leeds United against Southampton because it would have conveyed the “wrong message,” according to Phil Hay.

The Whites manager was perfectly within his rights to put his faith in the players who delivered a great 3-0 win against Watford last week, and to give them the opportunity to reproduce that performance against the faltering Saints.

Instead, his optimism was not rewarded as Russell Martin preserved his job with a 3-1 triumph after four straight defeats.

Cooper had replaced the suspended Rodon last week, and while the club captain was not exclusively to blame for the setback on Saturday (30 September), he was the leader of a back line that looked all over the place after falling down 3-0 after 35 minutes at St. Mary’s.

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Farke told Hay after the game that he didn’t believe his centre-back selection was the reason Leeds United lost their six-game unbeaten streak, but Rodon has been a key addition to the squad since his loan arrival from Tottenham and is almost certainly set to return to the starting lineup against QPR in midweek (4 October).

The German is correct that he needed to demonstrate to players who came into the modified XI to beat the Hornets, which included Glen Kamara for Archie Gray and Jamie Shackleton for Luke Ayling, that great performances will be rewarded, but poor ones will almost certainly be punished.

It’s difficult for Cooper, who has spent so much of the last couple of years in and out of the club due to injuries, but the defense looked worryingly similar to how it has looked during key Premier League troubles without Rodon.

Pascal Struijk cannot escape criticism, but he has mainly been chosen to accompany the loan-signing as the first-choice combination when available, and he did score a good consolation goal, even if it wasn’t enough.

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make up for defensive disadvantages.
Rodon has also been statistically stronger than Cooper so far this season, so on paper he deserves the nod, and while it is possible that Southampton would have still responded if the Welsh international had been in the side, it appears that the captain is now facing an extended spell on the bench.

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Using FB Ref Opta figures, both have an amazing 100% tackle success rate, but Rodon makes much more every game – 0.85 vs 0.53, and he also blocks more shots (1.49 per 90 minutes vs 1.05) and passes (0.43 vs 0).

Cooper has intercepted the ball more often than Rodon, with 2.11 interceptions per 90 minutes compared to 1.49 for Rodon, but the Spurs loanee has cleared the ball more frequently, with 4.26 per game compared to 2.63 for the Scotland international.

Aerially, Rodon has the advantage once again, with a 71.9% success rate compared to his teammate’s 64.3%, and while his sending off against Hull City clearly counts against him, it was highly contentious, so the numbers all point to him regaining his spot and likely keeping it barring another suspension or injury.

Farke stated in his prematch news conference (28 September) that despite the expectation of another big win given the two teams’ form going in, it could be the “worst” time to face Southampton, and he was correct as his players failed to match their prior performance levels.

Cooper is likely to be one of those sacrificed as a result of the manager’s response, though he may not be the only one.

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