Leeds United manager Daniel Farke has stressed the important role which forward Joel Piroe plays in his side, and claims that the effectiveness of the Dutchman should not just be based on the amount of goals he scores for the Whites.
Whilst many expected Piroe to slot into the lone striker role when he signed from fellow Championship side Swansea City in summer the reality has been different, with the 24-year-old playing as more of a number 10 – or shadow striker – behind Georginio Rutter.
Piroe still finds himself joint top-scorer for the season so far despite occupying a more withdrawn position however, having notched 8 goals already this term alongside winger Crysencio Summerville.
There still exists a small minority of Whites fans who would prefer to see Piroe start further forward despite these impressive statistics. Yet Farke – speaking in his pre-match press conference today before his side travel to face Blackburn Rovers in Saturday’s lunchtime kick-off – is insistent that there is more to the Dutchman’s game than just finding the back of the net.
The German believes one of Piroe’s strongest assets is his hard-working nature, and how his willingness to come deep to receive the ball to then kickstart an attack can help unlock the potential of the Whites’ other attacking threats.
“End products are always crucial for the confidence of offensive players, but I think what shines through more for Joel is how much he works for the team.
“The distance that he has covered in some of the last games, 12, 13k, is amazing and is also due to an improved fitness level and also how he links meanwhile the play and lets other players shine.”
Farke was also keen to stress the importance of Piroe’s work off the ball, with his defence-splitting runs drawing the attention of opposition players, leaving space for fellow attackers Summerville, Rutter and Dan James to operate in behind.
“I think this is quite crucial and is a major part, with his movement, he took so much of the opponents’ spotlight on himself that players like Cree Summerville or Daniel James can shine with perhaps even an unpredicted amount of goals and assists so far.
“I think he is crucial for our whole offensive game and I wouldn’t judge Joel just for the goals he scores.”
Leeds make the journey to Ewood Park sitting third in the division’s rankings, with another three points being crucial to continue applying pressure on the two sides who occupy the table’s automatic promotion spots above them.