Former Leeds United striker Jermaine Beckford was confused by Javi Gracia’s reluctance to make use of starlet Wilfried Gnonto in a 1-1 draw with Leicester City yesterday evening.
Leeds squandered the chance to pull further away from the bottom three last night, despite leading for the majority of the game courtesy of Luis Sinisterra’s 20th minute header.
It was a game that the Whites started brightly – yet then seemed to fade and let their opponents back into the contest during the second half – with Jamie Vardy’s 80th minute equaliser seeing both sides gain a point apiece.
The Elland Road faithful will be most concerned with the lack of attacking impetus in the game’s second period, despite the game being there for the taking.
Gracia’s decision to stick with what his side had – rather than risk going forward and being caught out by a dangerous Leicester attack – was reflected in his repeated reluctance to introduce young star Gnonto into the action.
The 52-year-old made two substitutions during the game, with both instances providing the perfect opportunity to bring the Italian onto the field to provide more attacking thrust.
Yet the Spaniard opted for Crysencio Summerville as a replacement for the injured Sinisterra, and Brenden Aaronson for the understandably tired Rodrigo.
It is the second time that Gnonto has remained an unused sub under Gracia, with his last three substitute appearances coming late on – at a time when his impact on the game would be minimal.
The Leeds fans in Elland Road made their desires to see Gnonto clear to Gracia, something noted by Beckford in his comments made on BT Sport’s coverage of the game.
“Do you know what? As soon as Luis Sinisterra got injured you could hear the whole stadium just erupt with Willy Gnonto – they started singing his song,” Beckford said.
“There’s no doubt he’s a fan favourite, he’s a fantastic football player. He’s one of those players that as soon as he picks the ball up he’s so direct but his close control, such focus, such passion and the drive – the fans buzz off that sort of stuff.
“That’s what you need, especially when you’re at home. I don’t know [why he wasn’t introduced], if I’m being completely honest. I don’t know. There was another opportunity to bring him on as well, when Brenden Aaronson came on.
“There were only two substitutions today and one of them was forced and that’s bizarre. Especially when you can see the players are getting a little bit tired, a little bit leggy, Leicester were starting to dominate the game. I don’t know [why he wasn’t brought on], if I’m being completely honest.”
Leeds fans will be hoping to see more of Gnonto before the Premier League season ends, beginning with the Italian youngster being granted a place in the starting XI for another crucial contest against Bournemouth on Sunday.