By Andrew Butterwick
Leeds United might have designated today's game a "Paint it White" game but the West Yorks weather wasn't joining in with the spirit of the initiative as a horrible grey drizzle descended upon Elland Road. Neil Warnock had injury problems that curtailed his selection options so Habibou, Diouf and Austin all got a starting place at the expense of Ross Mac, Morison and Norris. "Well the fans who have clamoured for Habibou to get a start will be pleased" I muttered to the Happy Chocker as we had a pre match pint of last of the play off wine. Still Huddersfield were in shocking form and leaking goals for fun so we should get three points that would keep the play off dream alive? Shouldn't we?
The Paint it White salute was impressive as the players ran towards the kop. All we needed now was a passionate performance and a few goals to saviour. Leeds started as if they meant business. Luke Varney met a Warnock corner at the front post only to see his header beat Smithies in the Huddersfield goal but cleared off the line by a desperate defender's head. Minutes later Diouf's low shot from the edge of the box had Smithies stretching every sinew to tip the ball round the post. This was a good start and Huddersfield were rocking. Habibou's first three touches showed some promise as he defied his big frame to engineer neat passes that released Leeds attacks. The sheen soon wore of the mighty whites though as the game became almost attritional as the lack of quality on both sides shone through like an embarrassing Uncle at a family wedding. It was a local derby but there wasn't much to stoke the atmosphere on the pitch.
Vaughan should have put the Dog botherers in front when he inexplicably found acres of space in the box but headed a perfect cross onto the bar with Kenny well beaten. Clayton was having by far the better of his midfield tussle with his ex colleagues despite his liking for giving the ball away cheaply. This wasn't a match that was pleasing to the eye. Jermaine Beckford got the loudest cheer of the half as he warmed up in front of his adoring ex fans. Mmmmm I'm sure he used to be a lazy bastard in a lot of people's eyes? The first 45 minutes finished with Kenny saving superbly from a Danny Ward header after some head tennis in the Leeds box. Half Time 0.0. "I can't seeing this staying goalless" I suggested to HC. "I don't know about Paint it White the first half was more like Paint it Shite" HC moaned.
Austin was sort of industrious in midfield with his two best bits of play ending up with two Town players in the advertising hoardings. Diouf was an eager beaver in the first half reminding fans of his undoubted skill but also his fast reducing speed on the ball. Habibou started well but looked laboured as half time approached. The game desperately needed a goal as the 2nd half got underway.
From the stands neither team appeared to have the usual derby day passion. I'm not sure if that was as a result of the disjointed nature of the game or what but the match needed a spark and it got it with just over 50 minutes gone. Leeds indulged their neighbours with some generous defending as first Byram headed the ball back into the box from the right and then Green stood by motionless as Danns got goal side of home volleyed home the opening goal. The travelling Huddersfield fans celebrated their precious lead whilst there was a group shrug of the shoulders by the home fans. After all we are now far to well used to our favourite team flattering to deceive us into thinking we might just have a chance of the play offs and then delivering a stunning body blow. 0.1 Huddersfield.
The goal shook everybody up. Was that the subs board being prepared by the Leeds bench? It can't be there's still over thirty minutes left I thought but no I was right NW was making not one but two subs and it wasn't the 90th minute. Unbelievable. More unbelievable that it worked almost immediately. White and Hall replaced Habibou and the seriously out of touch Green. "If we're relying on those two to pull us out of the shit were in big trouble" I depressingly muttered to HC. But how wrong was I? White's first touch was a cushioned header into the goal after ghosting round the back of the Town defence to equalise from an inevitable long ball into the box. 1.1 and game on.
Each team now looked for the winner as they slugged it out toe to toe like two aging overweight heavyweights looking for the knockout blow. The game entered the last ten minutes with the scores still level. Could Leeds reverse the trend of recent weeks in conceding late goals? Well Austin nearly pinched all three points when he latched onto the ball on the edge of the box and screamed a volley onto the bar. Varney had a penalty shout turned down as he was nudged in the box as Leeds pushed forward looking for the win. Hall looked off the pace though and when he lost possession on a promising attack Leeds looked stretched at the back. Town broke quickly and exposed the sparsely populated Leeds back line........Vaughan easily found space in the box and slid the ball coolly past Kenny. 2.1 Huddersfield and the final drop of the Last of the Play Off wine emptied from Leeds' cracked glass.
Leeds still had time to miss a glorious chance to equalise in added time as Byram made a horrible hash of a chance at the back post. The referee blew his whistle to end the game and Leeds' season. What has been excruciatingly obvious all season, the fact that we are just not good enough for the play offs, was finally confirmed. Our chance to put pressure on the top six by beating a poor Huddersfield side was refused. In truth we never looked like winning despite hitting the post twice. This was a poor match between two poor teams in a poor division.
The win will ease the relegation fears for Town ensuring we can renew this rivalry next year. For Leeds a massive cloud of uncertainty continues to thrive in a low depression over Elland Road. Who will takeover from NW? Will there be any money to strengthen the team? Will NW leave before the end of the season? Whatever happened to Adam Drury? One thing is for sure and that is the current team are nowhere near good enough to go up.
A weekend off next week due to the international break. Hopefully Morison and Ross Mac are fit for our trip to Ipswich. Difficult to see much joy during the final games of this season now?
Hopefully a new manager and few new players could lift spirits over the
By Keith Ingham
Neil Warnock had to change the team for the first time in seven games due to injuries to Ross McCormack and Steve Morison, and Norris was dropped.
Habib Habibou made his first start with El Hadji Diouf partnering him up front. Rodolph Austin came in midfield for David Norris. Leeds started brightly with Varney hitting the bar early on, he should have scored and nearly every game gets in good positions only to fluff the finish. Habibou was booked early for upending a Town player, a silly booking so early in the game but maybe a lack of game time contributed to that. Adam Clayton was singled out for a 'bit of treatment' by the Leeds faithful, not surprising after his antics after scoring in the previous fixture between the teams.
Huddersfield were next to have a chance when Vaughan headed against the bar when in a equally good position to score. El Hadji Diouf was pulling the strings for the home side and had a chance saved brilliantly by Smithies, Varney hit over when in a good position in the area. Ward tested Kenny in stoppage time but the Leeds keeper saved superbly.
The second half started slower but the first goal came on 54 minutes, when Danns scored from inside the box. Leeds made changes, Hall and White coming on for Habibou and Green. Within two minutes Aidy White seized on a poor clearance to equalise. Game on we hoped, Ward had a effort saved and Byram sent a shot wide. Ex Leeds hero Beckford entered to a warm welcome from both sets of fans with around fifteen minutes to go. Leeds were unlucky not to go in front when Austin's fierce shot came back off the bar. With time nearly up, Town claimed the points when Vaughan beat Kenny from inside the area on 86 minutes. Byram had a late chance from a corner but it went over and that was that.
The defeat confirmed what most of us had known for a while, Leeds would still be in the Championship in 2013/14. I said around January this squad wasn't up for challenging the top six and unfortunately I've been proven right.
Man of the Match : Sam Byram, great runs and unlucky with a few efforts on goal. He is the best thing to come out of this season. I'll finish with this...
Wally Warnock's Words of Wisdom:
"Realistically we're running out of games and [the owners] GFH know my situation, I speak to them on a regular basis. Once we're out of contention for the Premier League they know I won't be having another year in the Championship. "They've got to look after themselves really. We've spoken about my successor, about people coming in if mathematically it's impossible to get into the play-offs."
Time to go Mr Warnock !
On On On
By Josh Grainger
After a disappointing draw at home to Peterborough on Tuesday night, Leeds United’s season was hanging by a thread and only three points against local rivals Huddersfield would keep them in touch of an unlikely play-off spot. Prior to the derby, Leeds lay in 10th position, five points behind 6th placed Nottingham Forest. With Forest facing a tricky visit to high-flying Hull, if Leeds could beat Huddersfield in the early kick off, they had the potential to finish the day only two points behind the play-off positions.
Neil Warnock’s side went into the game in mis-leading form, whilst the Whites had not tasted league defeat since a 1-0 loss at Middlesbrough, roughly a month ago, they had only won one game since, when David Norris and Steve Morison’s goals saw them beat Blackpool. Time was running out for Warnock’s Whites and it was common knowledge that Leeds were going to have start turning draws into wins sooner rather than later.
Neil Warnock had fielded the same starting eleven for the past five matches, however injuries meant that he would have to switch things around for the visit of his former team. Ross McCormack, Steve Morison and Tom Lees were all doubtful for the clash, the latter passing a late fitness test and started the match, whilst McCormack and Morison weren’t able to feature. Leeds lined up with Paddy Kenny in goal, a back four of Sam Byram, Tom Lees, Lee Peltier and Stephen Warnock, a midfield trio saw Rodolph Austin come back into the side for David Norris, the Jamaican was accompanied by Paul Green and Michael Tonge. The absence of McCormack and Morison meant that El-Hadji Diouf was recalled back to the starting line-up, whilst Habib Habibou was handed his first start for the club since a loan move in January. Highly-rated youngster Chris Dawson was included on the bench. Huddersfield included former Leeds man, Adam Clayton in their midfield, the central midfielder had scored in the reverse fixture earlier this season and celebrated his goal under the nose of Whites boss Neil Warnock.
Huddersfield manager Mark Robins had told the press that Leeds favourite Jermaine Beckford would not be fit for the clash, however the former whites striker was fit enough for a place on the bench.
The game had been subject to the ‘paint it white’ scheme, in which Leeds fans were urged to where home colours to the match, whilst White cards were provided for supporters in the Kop to be held up before kick off.
The match started very brightly, Leeds were inches away from taking an early lead, but Luke Varney’s header was blocked on to the bar by the Huddersfield defence. The game soon settled down and Leeds weren’t able to build on their early pressure. Habibou, Varney and Austin all picked up early yellow cards in a fairly dull opening twenty minutes. Despite this, Leeds again were denied an opening goal, this time Alex Smithies was on hand instead of the crossbar, the Huddersfield keeper got down well to tip El-Hadji Diouf’s shot round the post for a corner. Leeds were nearly made to pay for their missed chances when James Vaughan found himself unmarked in the penalty area, however the forward’s header came back off the crossbar. The match looked likely to be goalless at the interval, this may not have been the case, if Paddy Kenny hadn’t have been on hand to brilliantly save a close range header.
The two sides emerged for the second half unchanged, and neither side showed any signs of breaking the deadlock in the early stages of the second period. Nine minutes in however, the deadlock was broken. Slack Leeds defending meant the ball remained around the Leeds penalty area, a smart pass found Neil Danns who hadn’t been watched by the disappointing Green, and the Leicester loanee volleyed the ball past Kenny from close range. The 1,644 travelling fans celebrated wildly, whilst the angered home fans were forced to watch on.
Neil Warnock responded to the goal by bringing Ryan Hall and Aidy White into the action, in place of Habibou and Green. The changes made an immediate impact. A long ball into the box evaded everyone, except Aidy White who was on hand to head home with one of his first touches. The immediate response pleased Warnock, as well as the majority of the 23,814 crowd, the goal was Aidan White’s first in the league for the club. Leeds hoped that the equaliser would act as a catalyst in sparking a comeback for the Whites, this was nearly proved to be the case, Rodolph Austin’s spectacular volley cannoned back off the crossbar. Leeds lost their momentum and to Huddersfield’s advantage, the game settled back down. With four minutes to go, Huddersfield regained the lead. A flowing counter-attack gave James Vaughan a chance inside the area, and the Norwich loanee sidefooted the ball passed Kenny into the Kop end goal. Substitute Jermaine Beckford nearly finished the game off however his shot was straight at Paddy Kenny. Leeds failed to recover from the late goal and Huddersfield rode out the game, with the score finishing 2-1 to the visitors. None of the Leeds players performance’s warranted more than 7/10, Paddy Kenny arguably the pick of the bunch.
The result leaves Leeds eight points behind Forest. The loss was seen as the final nail in Leeds’ season, many feeling that the play-offs were now out of reach. Neil Warnock received some criticism for the loss, and it seems almost certain that he will not be in charge next season. Leeds’ next fixture sees them travel to Ipswich in a week, however the majority of the fans believe that the Yorkshire side will definitely be playing Championship football next season.
By Andrew Butterwick
Negativity seems to have finally engulfed Planet Leeds after a season of frustration, mildly false dawns and the usual rabid over expectation. Leeds will enter the West Yorkshire derby on the back of a six match unbeaten run that has included three clean sheets but more tellingly four draws and only two wins.
In recent years a comparable run would have had begrudging smiles returning to the gnarled faces of the battle weary Leeds faithful in the hope that this was a platform for the return of that long lost mistress, Mrs Success. So with only five miserly points between Leeds and the precious sixth spot why isn't everybody eagerly awaiting the chance to reduce that deficit against our West Yorkshire neighbours who are currently flirting with the relegation?
The simple answer to that teaser is that the majority of fans who have had the pleasure of watching the mighty whites this term have long since recognised that this team is just annoyingly short of the quality that's required to convert draws into wins and defeats into draws. Unfortunately we seem to have an unerring ability to do exactly the opposite especially on this recent run where the curse of conceding late goals has become expected rather than a frustrating surprise. My only real surprise is
that we are still statistically in touch with the play off bun fight which reflects the wafer thin difference between the top and the bottom in the very competitive Championship.
On a more positive note the new owners again showed this week that they are listening to the fans as they announced reductions on season ticket prices for next year. Another initiative will precede the game against Huddersfield as the Elland Road crowd will be urged to "Paint it white" in the shape of white shirts and white placards around the famous old stadium. This should ramp up the atmosphere, not that it should need ramping for a derby, but I suspect I'm not the only fan hoping that this isn't the thin edge of a wedge that includes other cringe worthy ideas such as club bands or drummers and the dreaded goal music?
So back to the West Yorkshire derby. Town fans are even more depressed than their Leeds cousins as
a season that started so encouragingly for them has spiralled out of control and into the fringes of the murky whirlpool of the relegation dog fight. The managerial merry go round in Kirklees has failed to halt the slide down the league for the Tesco Bags so they will arrive at the Theatre of Frustration with expectations as low as a Pot Bellied Pig's belly button. Maybe it should be billed as the "nobody's going to win derby"? Yorkshire folk are well known for being dour and slightly critical of the ones they love................this game could write a new chapter in Yorkshire folklore with both fans taunting each other with songs such as "We're shit and we're worse than you" or even "there's only one shit team in Yorkshire"
Finally I had a new experience this week in my long association with Leeds United. I watched my first match on Twitter. Exiled away on business in Venice I scanned the social media cyberspace in between my Antipasta and Il Primo whilst watching Barcalona spank Milan's bum in a Messi inspired 4.0 win. The outpourings of Leeds United's keyboard warriors mixed with my sheer amazement at the skills of Barcalona accompanied by sumptuous food washed down with a fine glass of red was certainly a heady mix. Such a mix of emotions as Leeds struggled to beat Peterborough whilst in the presence of two stellar teams that used to feature on the mighty whites radar such a short time ago. A disappointed Milan fan enquired what was distracting me from the game and the wonderful food. When I told him he poignantly enquired in perfect English "ahhh Leeds United what ever happened to them" "that my friend is a very good question, bring that bottle of Chianti and I will try to enlighten you. When I've finished you will be grateful you've just watched your team lose 4.0 to Barcalona"
Can we beat the Tesco Bags and creep nearer to illusive 6th spot? Course we can. Will we bridge that 5 point gap? Very much doubt it.............but that won't stop me dreaming of the impossible. Don't you just love football!
By Rob Atkinson
For many football fans, the words “George”, “Graham” and “dour” go together like “fish”, “chips” and “vinegar”. Yet I look back very fondly on Stroller George’s too-brief reign at Elland Road, not least for the reason that it did a lot to put right the problems surrounding the latter part of the Howard Wilkinson era. Wilko’s dismissal in the early part of the previous campaign had brought a dapper Mr. Graham through the West Stand doors with a promise to steady the ship and to “sort things out at the back.” What followed was an exercise in football austerity, tight in defence, almost completely impotent up front, yet surviving quite comfortably despite the paucity of attacking product. He even managed a 1-0 Cup win at his first love Arsenal's Highbury fortress, but for the rest of the season it was very meagre fare indeed. “We’ll score again, don’t know where, don’t know when” was the fans’ refrain as the league programme died of boredom. But if we thought it would be more of the same next time around – and frankly, we did - we were to be happily surprised.
Season 1997-98 saw a turnaround in the composition of the first-team squad, Carlton Palmer and Brian Deane departing, one south, one north, both relatively unlamented. The in-comings included David Hopkin, who would provide a traditionally ginger influence in midfield; Bruno Ribeiro, a tin-type of a mid-sixties era John Giles; Alf-Inge Haaland, who became a cult hero for his abuse of Royston Keane, and is still fondly-remembered today; and the exotically-named Jerrel Floyd Hasselbaink. All in all they seemed to promise much in terms of increased effectiveness of the side as a unit, and it was the two lesser-known signings from the Portuguese League who made the most initial impact. Hasselbaink in particular got off to a flyer, scoring against Arsenal at home on his debut, and displaying a turn of pace and a rocket shot that inspired cautious optimism even among the cynical Leeds fans, who had starved for such thrills the previous year. By the time the Derby game came around “Jimmy” was not quite a first team fixture but whenever he was involved, there was that air of threat about him. And so it would prove on this day.
Leeds had in fact produced a couple of decent home wins on their last two Elland Road outings, beating Man Utd 1-0 and cruising to a 4-1 win against Newcastle, both in front of near-40000 crowds. Derby was a slightly less attractive prospect, but there were still 33572 in the ground as the teams came out that November afternoon. Derby, to be honest, were not expected to prove too much of a problem. Most teams have their “rabbit side” – opposition who always seemed quite straight forward to deal with – and Derby had been this type of easy meat for Leeds for some little time now, a situation sadly reversed these days. So the atmosphere was one of anticipation if not exactly complacency; there was this definite air of expectation that the recent home success would continue.
It was with bemusement turning to anger and outrage then, that Leeds fans beheld the scene which had unfolded by the 33rd minute. Without ever looking massively inferior on the field, United had contrived to trail 0-3, uncharacteristic goalkeeping howlers from Nigel Martyn gifting Derby striker Dean Sturridge the chances to score twice, and then the concession of a stonewall penalty which was gleefully converted by Aljosa Asanovic - all at the fanatical Gelderd End of the ground. As the penalty hit the back of the net, and the Derby players celebrated, there was a loud detonation from the Kop as someone let off an extremely noisy “banger” firework which had somehow survived Bonfire Night three days before. At the time, this explosive detonation seemed the only response a speechless home support could muster, but the crowd noise and vehemence of encouragement were to reach more positive levels before the break.
It was the kind of situation that demanded a determined fight back immediately; failing that, Derby could well have gone on to assume complete control and finish up winning with embarrassing ease. Embarrassing for us, anyway – at this point the awayfans were enjoying life and looking forward to more goals. Leeds got the message loud and clear; the Kop roared support as they pressed forward, and the belief seemed to be there that there was still plenty of time to retrieve something from this disastrous situation. The first dent was made in Derby’s lead only four minutes after their third goal, Ribeiro gathering possession around thirty yards out and hammering a left foot shot into the penalty area. It was a powerful effort, but probably destined to be harmless – until Rodney Wallace got the merest of touches to it, diverting the ball past Mart Poom in the Derby goal. 1-3 now and better was to come by half-time.
Young Harry Kewell was being hailed as the latest Wonderkind around this time; he’d been the quicksilver inspiration of the previous year’s FA Youth Cup-winning team, and was precociously, extravagantly gifted as he had already demonstrated at first team level. His contribution to this match was embellished now by a clinical finish to draw Leeds to within one goal of Derby before the interval. The ball came over from the right to find Kewell in space beyond the far post but at such an acute angle that there was hardly any of the goal to aim at. No matter; Kewell met the ball as sweetly as I’ve ever seen anyone connect with a left-foot volley, the ball flying with tremendous pace and power past a startled Poom and into the far corner of the net. 2-3, and it was so nearly all square right at the end of the half when a snap shot from Haaland was just scrambled off the line. The situation at half-time was bizarre; the away team was leading but it was the home team feeling upbeat and with the momentum behind them as the game restarted.
Leeds were attacking the Kop now, and the second half swiftly set itself into a pattern of relentless pressure on the away defence, the addition of half-time substitute Lee Bowyer adding extra energy to the midfield thrusts forward. Derby defended well, desperately at times, yet effectively - and managed somehow to weather a 30 minute storm to bring themselves within sight of holding out for an unlikely victory. But then it was time for Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink to enter the fray.
With 15 minutes to go, it was a timely substitution by George Graham, who took Hopkin off, and moved Kewell to play behind a front two of Hasselbaink and Wallace. Suddenly Derby had different problems to deal with, and it was to prove, finally, just too much for them. With under ten minutes to go, defender Christian Dailly, challenged in the air by David Wetherall, was pressured into a blatant handball, and the whistle sounded for the second penalty of the afternoon. Hasselbaink immediately stepped up to the plate, leaving no one in any doubt that he was up to the job of equalising from the spot. I remember hardly daring to look from my vantage point on the Kop, but Jimmy was coolness personified as he placed the ball before calmly walking up, and rolling the ball into the right hand corner as Poom started to go the other way.3-3, and to be frank, I’d have settled for that with grateful thanks when we were three behind, but now team and crowd were after Derby's blood in harness, and both could scent victory.
In the greatest traditions of the very best comeback wins, the decisive moment was saved until time was all but up. It was to be a combination of the two substitutes that finally undid Derby, Hasselbaink getting hold of the ball on the right and, going rapidly through the gears, scorching past a helpless defender into the box before pulling the ball back from the dead ball line. Jimmy could not have picked a better pass, the ball arriving just at the edge of the penalty area, where the onrushing Bowyer met it beautifully first-time with his left foot, sending it hurtling past the Derby ‘keeper high into the left-hand side of the net for a sensational winner. It was the cue for the Leeds fans
behind the goal on the Kop, and indeed all around the stadium, to go deliriously potty as the players celebrated in an ecstatic knot just below them, and the lonely figure of Mart Poom, surely the man with the biggest lower lip in football, gazed skywards in bewilderment that such a seemingly impregnable lead could have yielded only defeat.
My last memory of this game is of the anthemic Chumbawamba hit “Tubthumping” blasting over the PA system, and the jubilant fans almost bouncing towards the exits, hands clapping above their heads and the raucous refrain “We get knocked down, but we get up again, you’re never gonna keep us down” being sung over and over as the stadium slowly emptied. There can’t be many feelings to compare with victory snatched from the jaws of such a poor start and the despair that accompanies going three behind at home. The buzz of this one took a long time to fade into what is still a pleasurable glow, and it’s a memory I cherish whenever I hear that anarchic Tubthumping sound. After the match, Jimmy was interviewed for the TV highlights, and demonstrated his mastery of English, commenting sagely “The ball is round, and sometimes it goes in unexpected places.” Indeed.
Leeds went on to rub salt into the Derby County wounds, easily winning the reverse fixture at their inaptly-named Pride Park, 5-0. And in the aftermath of this 4-3 comeback, there were two further victories from a losing position, beating West Ham 3-1 after trailing 1-0, and then in the pouring rain at Barnsley, running out 3-2 winners from two down. For a short while, Leeds United were the Comeback Kings, and it was probably the real purple patch of George Graham’s time at Elland Road, which was to end amid controversy early the following season. But it is for games like this that I fondly remember George and, despite some of the successes of the David O’Leary years, I still wish he’d stayed longer and seen the job through.
Thanks for the memories, Stroller.
Next: Memory Match No. 5: Leeds United 4, Southampton 0.
Season 1978-79 started with the short reign of Jock Stein, followed by the initially-promising tenure of Jimmy Adamson. A Leeds side inspired by Tony Currie in his pomp threatened at times to make an impact on the League, and did reasonably well in the Cups too. This early-season romp against the Saints was a real highlight, for one golden moment in particular.
By Mark Rasdall
Neil Warnock can count. He's worked out that Leeds United have nine games left and therefore "There's 27 points left and we're in a lot better situation than we were two months ago."
Mathematically he's correct and, when you look at some of the performances from LUFC as a team in the last two months he's correct there too. We have certainly battled for every point but then so have other teams. Look at Billy
'job done' Davies's impact at Forest. Yes, Brighton - where injuries have played a huge part - and Boro' - where inexperience has shown - are currently doing a Cardiff, but they're still in with a realistic chance of promotion, and with sufficiently more points than we have to put them in that position and us in tenth place.
In short, we have left it far too late to mount a realistic challenge and have left it far too late in games to make the correct tactical changes to hang on to winning leads which, again, the team has battled really hard to achieve. Some us us have recognised this - despite the secret hopes of every Leeds fan - for some time - and are planning ahead to next season. There seems to be a backlash on the various web forums whereby people aren't supposed to say things like this but tow the line instead and 'get behind the team.' Well, I get behind the team from kick-off until the final whistle in every single game I watch. I also look for the constructive at all times - sometimes when a sad reality is hitting me hard in the face like that game at Bolton all those years ago when Viduka threw in the towel early on but none of us did, even when we all knew we were doomed. We are Leeds after all they throw at us.
But I am also a Leeds United fan of more than forty-five years' standing and I have every right to say what I think outside of matches and here it is again: We do not currently possess sufficient quality in enough players to take us to the next level; certain players are not good enough to play for us in the Championship, let alone the Premier League; the modern game has passed our current manager by in terms of tactics and proactive use of substitutes; our best players such as Sam Byram will be sold in the summer by owners who have shown themselves to be spineless, inconsistent and without access to the kinds of funds we all thought they did. The official site crows about Ryan Hall scoring for the Development Squad. We brought Dom Poleon back early from his loan stint. Have you seen them play for the first team?
But, we can begin to turn this round now. We do have many good players who, with the right coaching could be very good indeed; we could try harder to hang on to them instead of allowing our corporate heads to be turned so easily; we could get a different, tactically much more astute manager, in now - one who better understands the modern game; we could do all of this and have a full pre-season with manager and those players who really are good enough to play for Leeds United.
This won't happen, of course, any more than we will be in the Play Offs. Why? Because Warnock can count on GFH not wishing to get involved in severance/compensation at this late stage in the season when they (and we) know that Warnock will retire in the summer anyway. Warnock can count on a substantial salary until then. He can't lose whether Leeds win, lose or draw.
So, once again we, the loyal, paying fans, are the losers. I do think we're in better shape as a team but, frustratingly, after yet another night of missing chances, Warnock patronises us with his "it's all still very much to play for" comments. He publicly puts pressure on McCormack to take his chances while still insisting that Becchio was holding us back as a team (how often was he the one who saved us in exactly the kinds of games as last night's in the past?)
We'll always be there and, for Leeds United fans, there's always something to play for while the world keeps going round: it's called the next game that we all look forward to so much. But nothing's going to happen this season; not with Warnock. Yet another season has been squandered and battling on the pitch or battling through traffic, rain and snow to watch our beloved club is not enough to take us up. Money talks and money counts, apparently.
By Kim Bjerregaard
When I first became a Leeds fan back in the early 90’s the games I looked forward to and was told about were the games against the likes of Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea. Games with a history, games that meant everything, to fans of both Leeds and our opponents.
Leeds United and the fall from grace is a well known story and games between us and the teams we compared ourselves to became few and far between, which also meant that the rivalries died out a bit, however I do believe that the clubs mentioned miss us in the Premier League, I base this on the fact that whoever they play they waste no time in singing: “We all hate Leeds scum”, apparently that is the only thing the “big clubs” can agree on, they hate us – but don’t worry, the feeling is mutual.
Until I joined Twitter I actually still thought of those clubs as our big rivals and as the clubs we aspired to be, but it seems that quite a few people on Twitter think that out rivals these days are Norwich, Wigan, Huddersfield and Millwall? I can live with Huddersfield as they’re a local rival and also with Millwall because they’re a sick bunch, but really fellow Leeds fans, Wigan? Norwich?
I realise that Norwich in recent years have managed to get quite a few of our better players and that Wigan are in the Premier League for the 8th year running, but still, to see them as our biggest rivals and have more focus on them and their games (or any other games than Leeds for that matter) is just pathetic in my opinion. That I can see Norwich's starting 11 and a swipe at Becchio, Howson, Snoddy or Bradley Johnson written or retwettet before I see anything about Leeds seems wrong to me, we're all quick enough to make fun of other fans who are more concerned by other teams than their own but it should go both ways I think.
For me Leeds are as big a club as Liverpool or Manchester United, we’ve just suffered a massive fall, but that’s no reason to change rivals and creating rivalries with the so called “tin pot clubs”, if anything that just makes us a “tin pot club” ourselves.
If you look at Twitter Leeds/MOT/ any Leeds player and other Leeds related stuff is trending almost every week, so why do we lower ourselves and compare us to small teams? If anything we should keep the “original” rivalries going so the “big teams”are prepared for us when we return, our fans are among the best in the country which we’ve proven time and time again when playing either Manchester United, Arsenal, Spurs, Manchester City or whoever in the cups – So let’s leave this weird “Norwich obsession” behind and focus on Leeds United and our march back towards the top of English football.
By Steve Barras
This seventh instalment of our Youth and Development feature centres around the goings on at Thorp Arch during February.
Goals from young stars Dominic Poleon and Lewis Walters earned the Development squad an early February draw at Premier League Wigan Athletic. Poleon scored an early opener before the hosts scored two goals of their own. Walters scored an equaliser late on in a match that was played in atrocious conditions. The waterlogged pitch played a part in Poleon’s opener; he pounced on a pass that was held up in the water. The match was also the first appearance for Patrick Otte; the 21 year old Dutch midfielder was on trial for Leeds from Fort Lauderdale Strikers in America.
A young Leeds XI made the trip over the Irish Sea to entertain Cork City, in one of the Irish Premier League side’s pre-season friendlies. The game itself finished 1-1 with Cork City edging in front early in the second half but Sanchez Payne levelled matters at the death. Leeds could have won the game with very late chances falling to Luke Parkin and Afalobi Coker who were unable to convert. This game featured an un-named trialist.
The Development Squad’s next game was against Barnsley at a snow covered Oakwell and a side bereft of any senior players were beaten 3-1 by an experienced Barnsley side. All four goals came in the first half, Alex Mowatt put Leeds ahead but Barnsley’s experience told as they scored three goals before the break. Both sides made changes in the second half and Leeds were on top but couldn’t turn their possession into goals.
Young striker Dominic Poleon joined Sheffield United on loan until the end of the season hoping to gain more senior experience. Poleon has currently made seven senior appearances for Leeds, scoring his first and only competitive goal to date against Nottingham Forest. Poleon is also the Development Squad’s leading goalscorer with seven goals in all competitions.
The Development Squad hit back after their defeat to Barnsley by beating another Yorkshire side in Sheffield United. The game finished 3-1 with Leeds’ goals coming from Chris Dawson, Lewis Walters and a first goal in a white shirt for Habib Habibou. The Blades went in front but a rasping 25 yard strike from Dawson levelled matters before Habibou tucked a penalty away. Keeper, Eric Grimes saved a penalty before Walters sealed the win.
Leeds Development vs Wigan Athletic:
Eric Grimes, Lewis Turner, Ross Killock, Monty Gimpel, Nathan Turner, Ryan Hall, Patrick Otte, Simon Lenighan, Alex Mowatt, Habib Habibou, Dominic Poleon. SUBS. Jake Skelton, Lewis Walters, Luke Parkin.
Leeds XI vs Cork City:
Eric Grimes, Lewis Turner, Ross Killock, Monty Gimpel, Jordan Snodin, Alex Purver, Nathan Turner, Alex Mowatt, Patrick Antelmi, Lewis Walters, Trialist. SUBS. Lewie Coyle, Kalvin Phillips, Jake Skelton, Luke Parkin, Eoghan Stokes, Afalobi Coker.
Leeds Development vs Barnsley:
Eric Grimes, Lewie Coyle, Monty Gimpel, Ross Killock, Jordan Snodin, Simon Lenighan, Alex Mowatt, Sanchez Payne, Chris Dawson, Luke Parkin, Lewis Walters. SUBS. Afalobi Coker, Jake Skelton, Alex Purver, Patrick Antelmi.
Leeds Development vs Sheffield United:
Eric Grimes, Alex Purver, Jason Pearce, Monty Gimpel, Lewie Coyle, Ryan Hall, Simon Lenighan, Alex Mowatt, Habib Habibou, Chris Dawson, Lewis Walters. SUBS. Smith Tiesse.
Dominic Poleon 7
Ryan Hall 6
Patrick Antelmi 5
Chris Dawson 5
Lewis Turner 2
Lewis Walters 2
Ramon Nunez 1
Peter Poloskei 1
Zac Thompson 1
Patrick Kisnorbo 1
Luke Varney 1
Charlie Taylor 1
Danny Pugh 1
Paul Connolly 1
Sanchez Payne 1
Alex Mowatt 1
Habib Habibou 1
Leeds u18’s made it eleven wins in a row against Barnsley at Thorp Arch. The game finished 3-0 to the whites with Eoghan Stokes getting a hat-trick; a delighted Richard Naylor said “I was very pleased with the result in the end. We had a young team out and a lot of the lads involved had only returned from Cork late on the Friday night.”
Then Leeds u18’s made twelve wins in a row by beating Huddersfield Town 2-0. Goals from Corey Roper and Alex Mowatt decided the game and the defence enjoyed a third clean sheet in a row.
The youngsters bowed out of the F.A. Youth Cup after a respectable showing at Anfield. Liverpool won
the game 3-1 but Leeds were the dominant side for much of the game. Leeds started brightly but were dealt two blows in quick succession. Lewis Walters was on the end of a bad challenge from Liverpool’s Yalany Baio and had to be replaced by Eoghan Stokes. Stokes had the ball in the back of the net with his first touch but the header was ruled out for a challenge on the goalkeeper. Liverpool scored two goals in eight minutes shortly afterwards and went in at half time 2-0 up. Leeds came out for the second half and started on the front foot again, Chris Dawson twice going close before Lewis Cook halved the deficit on 72 minutes. Leeds pushed for an equaliser, Alex Mowatt and Luke Parkin coming very close to getting it but as the game ticked into injury time, Leeds pushed everyone forward and inevitably Liverpool hit on the break to make it 3-1.
Leeds u18’s vs Barnsley:
Eric Grimes, Lewie Coyle, Afalobi Coker, Luke Booker, Corey Roper, Liam Bennett, Kalvin Phillips, Lewis Cook, Alex Mowatt, Luke Parkin, Eoghan Stokes.
Leeds u18’s vs Huddersfield Town:
Dan Atkinson, Corey Roper, Afalobi Coker, Jake Skelton, Smith Tiesse, Kalvin Phillips, Lewis Cook, Alex Mowatt, Tom Lyman, Luke Parkin, Eoghan Stokes. SUBS. Alex Purver, Luke Booker, Lewis
Leeds u18’s vs Liverpool (F.A. Youth Cup)
Eric Grimes, Corey Roper, Smith Tiesse, Alex Purver, Afalobi Coker, Jake Skelton, Kalvin Phillips, Alex Mowatt, Luke Parkin, Lewis Walters, Chris Dawson. SUBS. Lewis Cook, Luke Booker, Eoghan Stokes.
Lewis Walters 11
Luke Parkin 10
Alex Mowatt 8
Chris Dawson 7
Eoghan Stokes 6
Kalvin Phillips 4
Lewis Cook 3
Afalobi Coker 1
Corey Roper 1
The Future’s Bright, The Future’s White