After a second successive defeat and a first at home this season with Neil Redfearn in charge Leeds United are in need of some festive cheer when they go to Nottingham Forest for a Saturday evening game in the Sky Bet Championship.
A 1-0 defeat to Fulham when Redfearn accused his players of lacking conviction in the final third left the Whites down in 19th place with the head coach coming in for some stick from the fans for the first time.
In parts United played some decent football, certainly for the first hour, but the lack of a plan B again meant they let the game fizzle out and never really looked like getting back into the game once Hugo Rodallega had put Fulham ahead and Adryan missed a great chance soon after for Leeds.
It might have been different if Alex Mowatt’s first half header had not hit the crossbar, but the Whites will certainly need to find more of a cutting edge if they are to bring back any points from the City Ground this Saturday.
While Nottingham Forest have faded of late after a bright start to the season under new manager Stuart Pearce, they have plenty of firepower at their disposal, including 12-goal striker Britt Assombalonga, but they are likely to be without injured midfield playmaker Andy Reid and key centre-back Jack Hobbs.
Leeds hope to have their own defender, Giuseppe Bellusci, back after injury and will check on new captain Stephen Warnock, who went off injured towards the end of last Saturday’s game, but who has since assured fans on Twitter that it was not a hamstring strain as first feared.
Midfielder Rudy Austin looks set to be missing, however, after pulling out of the Fulham game with an ankle injury aggravated in the pre-match warm-up. He had been declared fit enough to play despite picking up the knock a day earlier and head coach Redfearn was left frustrated.
He was also unhappy with the display of some of the players who did play, but had words of encouragement for young right-back Sam Byram who is getting back to near his best.
He said: “Sam was a big plus, he in recent games has been a lot more like Sam Byram.
“He’s been around the box, he’s created things, he just needed that little bit of luck.
“But I thought there was too many off-days today
“We lacked the conviction we’ve had in previous home games. We huffed and puffed without ever looking like we were going to get a grip of the game.
“If we’d gone 1-0 up we’d have gone two or three I feel. But when you don’t get that first goal, you’re always open to a sucker punch.
“Where we’ve had that conviction in front of goal before, we just seemed to lack that cutting edge. We had opportunities in and around the box but the passing was tatty compared to what it has been.
“No disrespect to Fulham, we should be beating people like Fulham down here.”
“It (the league position) is a concern. But I inherited a situation where in the other 10 games we got six points. It’s nowhere near enough.
“But we’ve made things better and we have been playing better, especially at home.”