By Keith Ingham
The last two performances could be called 'chalk and cheese' as they differed so much in content and quality, it was widely accepted that the team played really well against Wolves but didn't look as positive against the Seasiders (Blackpool). Too many passes went astray and the front four were criticised by Neil Warnock in his post match reaction, he also said 'he might have to work with what he has' which can only mean that no players are to come in before the weekend.
We move on to visit 'Posh' at the weekend who have lost both their opening games and sit bottom of the Championship. They have a player who Leeds have been linked with for most of July, George Boyd is a good winger at this level and scores regularly so the defence will have to be wary of him and Darren Ferguson will have his charges fired up for this game as he dislikes losing to Leeds.
I see the line-up changing with Diouf getting a first start but think the rest will stay the same unless any knocks were picked up at Blackpool.
Peterborough 1 Leeds 2
By Mike Courtney
After the euphoria of last weekend’s victory over relegated Wolves I was quietly confident we could get something out of our trip to Bloomfield Road, and finally put to bed our woeful midweek record of the past few seasons.
Tom Lees replacing the injured Paul Green was the only change in personnel from Saturday's team which saw Lee Peltier moving to left back and Aidy White in a more forward role, and our light blue away strip looked impressive.
Fifteen minutes in we had our lead as the aforementioned Lees rose highest to nod home Ross McCormack's corner, even if it was against the run of play, and my confidence soared. I knew we'd be hard to breakdown and this proved the case.
In fairness Blackpool dominated proceedings and if it wasn't for the brilliance of Paddy Kenny in goal and the post they would have equalised earlier. We did have a couple of half chances from Ross and Becchio but I always felt that we were just hanging on in there.
My worst fears were realised when two quick fire goals from their two subs turned the game on its head, both coming from low crosses from the left, and we just didn't have the strength in dept on the bench to claw this on back.
In truth we were well beaten by a much superior and stronger outfit. Warnock admitted such after the game and was very critical of our forward players for not retaining possession. A fair enough point I suppose but I said this on Saturday and I'll say it again now, we went into defensive mode much too early and having got the one goal lead we were intent on just holding onto that and not going for the jugular to kill off the game. But this seems to be the Warnock way of playing with the limited squad we have. Our bench just isn't strong enough and when we went behind there was just no one to turn to, although leaving a striker on the bench and bringing on a player that is transfer listed and hardly featured pre-season was a bit of a mystery.
So where do we go from here? We definitely need to strengthen our squad. I know that's stating the obvious and it’s not looking likely if Warnock is to be believed. The takeover saga has limited our opportunities to get the strength in depth we'll need to challenge in this division. The loan market looks the most likely route to getting new players in and although it’s not ideal it can be effective. We need more firepower and creativity and this is the type of player Warnock will be looking at. Until then we're stuck with the 18 or so players we have and a few of the youngsters from the academy. What we have is good but needs to be better to sustain a challenge.
The odd win here and there will not do and will lead to mid table mediocrity and the fans, the manager, and the team deserve better than that.
I know we're only two games into the season but it seems like the same old story all over again and that just won't do. We'll travel to Peterborough on Saturday with confidence and hope to get our first win on the road and who knows what the final few days of August will bring. Takeover complete and four new signings with flair creativity and goals galore. I can only dream.
MOT... Leeds Leeds Leeds
By James Dielhenn
Tuesday 21st August 2012
Bloomfield Road, Att: 14,315
Blackpool 2 - 1 Leeds
Dicko 75' Lees 17'
Team: Kenny, Byram, Lees, Pearce, Peltier, White, Norris, Austin, Varney,
Subs: Ashdown, Kisnorbo, Drury, Pugh (on for White 79), Brown,
Diouf (on for McCormack 58), Gray
Leeds were brought back down to Earth with a bump as Blackpool thoroughly outclassed them en route to a 2-1 win. Despite taking an undeserved lead, Blackpool dominated possession and created chance after chance but were made to wait until the last 15 minutes to score twice.
Leeds' resilience was impressive but Blackpool proved that they are a far better team. While our defending was very good for the most part, our inability to keep the ball meant that Blackpool attacked constantly for 90 minutes.
Paddy Kenny prevented the score line becoming embarrassing. The keeper made a string of excellent saves throughout the game that kept Leeds in with a shout. His domination of his box was good but it was his endless shot-stopping that caught the eye. 9
Sam Byram retained his place at right-back but had a tough night. Blackpool used their wingers relentlessly so Byram was given the run-around for large parts of the night. He stuck to his task but never really was able to stop Blackpool attacking down his flank. 6
Tom Lees came into the starting line-up at centre-back and scored the opening goal with a powerful header from a corner. He played well, defending stoutly on the edge of his box. In the end he couldn't do anything about Blackpool's goals but he did enough for Neil Warnock to consider giving him another start at the weekend. 7
Jason Pearce looks like he could be one of Warnock's best signings. For the second game running he was instrumental. He organised the defence, headed everything and put himself in the way of anything that Blackpool threw at him. A superb defensive display. 8
Lee Peltier switched to left-back in a reshuffled defence. Naturally a right-back, he has now played at centre-back and on the left, begging the question why Adam Drury was overlooked for this game rather than putting the skipper out of position. Peltier proved his versatility with an impressive showing, not letting anything get past him. 7
Rodolph Austin wasn't able to leave his mark on the game in the way that he did against Wolves. Blackpool moved the ball past him so quickly that he won't have been used to it. He ran constantly but in vain. 6
David Norris was also very busy in central midfield, doing everything he could to close Blackpool down. But when the midfield tired it showed. Norris wasn't ever able to put his foot on the ball and pass it. 6
Aidy White was moved from left-back to the right wing, but his poor performance against Wolves was replicated. White never got into the game, never affected the play and wasn't able to be an influence in taking Leeds forward. He simply never got into it. 5
Luke Varney also put in a second consecutive poor display on the left wing. Warnock admitted that returning to his old club was a problem for Varney and it showed in his performance. He never got possession and didn't threaten Blackpool at all. His dithering cost Leeds a goal. 4
Ross McCormack played slightly deeper in a 4-2-3-1 but never saw the ball. Leeds' inability to retain possession meant it never reached the feet of McCormack, who was subbed after an hour. He did, however, take the corner leading to our goal. 5
El-Hadji Diouf replaced McCormack for the last 30 minutes but it was a similar story as the ball never went high enough up the field. 6
Luciano Becchio cut a lonely figure up-front as Blackpool dominated the ball. Leeds had to resort to whacking it long and Becchio was unable to hold it up. He also missed a good chance with a free header. 5
Warnock confessed afterwards that he didn't have the resources to change the game with his substitutes, which is worrying. Our first 11 is decent but wasn't able to compete on this night with one of the division's best teams.
By Keith Ingham
After a very good and workman-like performance v Wolves, Leeds travel to the Lancashire coast to visit the Seasiders. Blackpool too had a solid win v millscum and will be hoping to repeat last years 1-0 win, they have some good players in Ince,Taylor-Fletcher and the evergreen Phillips, also ex Leeds left back Crainey will be in their side.
Leeds will be changed as Green is unfit with a knee injury and it is to be seen if Diouf gets the nod or White moves forward with Drury getting the left back spot.
This is a hard one to call as Blackpool had a decent home record last season but even with that considered I'm tipping a 2-1 Leeds win with goals from Pearce and McCormack.
On On On
By K.G Bailey
The 2012/13 league opener against Wolves was an eye opener. In a very good way.
The last time I visited Elland Road it was for the can’t be bothered, lethargic, please let the season end today 2-0 loss to Watford... This time it was a whole new ball game.
There was a different atmosphere around Elland Road, a positive one. From the first whistle you could see this starting 11 was what you would want to see from a Leeds United team.
The defence was immense. Peltier & Pearce in particular tackled like their lives depended on it. Rodolph Austin didn’t disappoint either with some crunching tackles that got the ball cleanly each time. Unlike last season’s midfielders both he & David Norris gave us a commanding presence.
I noticed walking around there was a lot of "Austin 8" shirts, he’s fast becoming a cult hero here, performances like that prove why.
Young Sam Byram is a huge plus, a product from the academy and he kept a very good winger in Matt Jarvis fairly quiet, in truth Jarvis' body language was saying "Please West Ham make another bid for me" but still Byram more than held his own.
Paddy Kenny is Paddy Kenny. You always feel like a save can be made with him in goal, very reliable unlike Lonners who for me didn’t give me any confidence when he played.
Diouf came on for the injured Paul Green and he kept the ball very well and as witnessed can take the ball past a couple of players at pace, he is someone I hope we will have signed by the Blackpool game tomorrow night.
Mentioning the injury to Paul Green, I think this is where we will be a bit stuck if we get a couple of these as the squad depth isn’t there yet, but here’s hoping we get a bit of luck there between now & January.
We do need another striker in for if Becchio or McCormack need resting. I’d even suggest giving Dom Poleon a shot if we can’t sign a quality striker as he looks like he could be another nice surprise like Sam Byram.
This was a very promising start to the season & yes, I would happily take another 45 of these 1-0's if it will get us promoted!
By Mark Rasdall
Like all other Leeds United supporters I couldn't wait for our opening game against Wolves on Saturday. We'd spent the summer wondering whether we were going to be taken over and yesterday morning wondering whether we'd be overcome.
I actually think the takeover is very much on. I think the Leeds United Supporters Trust (LUST) were asked by the club to issue their provocative statement just over a week ago in order to push the potential purchasers over the line, whilst keeping them just about on side.
The money has begun to flow a little more strongly over the past few days and I think Ross McCormack's new contract deal is as much a sign of that as any new players coming in. I'm sure there are players the club wishes to offload and everyone is sticking to the same hymn sheet about moving players on before new faces can come in. To me this just means that the PR machine is working as well as at any time since Ken Bates has been in charge. The Championship campaign is a long haul and I really don't believe that at his age and with his supposedly deteriorating health he would really be holding out for riches that come with the Premier League.
As to the football (ah yes, the football), well wasn't it great to see 23,000 + packed into Elland Road again with a collective hope that this could be our season? I know we are all fanatical about our club and loyalty is in our DNA not our bank accounts, but I really did sense that we are getting behind Neil Warnock and the new team. When you remember the false dawns and worry over the summer we've all had to put up with, to come out with any kind of belief intact is quite amazing I think.
For me, there were two points of difference from last season, quite apart from the new players. I thought we were more organised as a unit and players new and old knew their roles and largely stuck to them. Individuals did not go walkabout and we looked less ragged when the play was suddenly brought to us at pace. Secondly, I felt that every single player tried the best that they possibly could - typified by Austin. One of my favourite Clash songs is 'Rudie can't fail.' If he and the other players are able to keep up this kind of tempo and commitment for even half of our games this season, then surely the team will succeed?
Whether some of the players' best is going to be good enough or of sufficient quality against the very best Championship teams, we'll have to wait and see. We're off to Blackpool on Tuesday and will need to dig in quickly because they too had a good win at the Den yesterday and will be more than ready for us - as they were last season. We're not going there or anywhere else this season to make up the numbers or to necessarily play pretty football. We're going there to win. We never get any credit but hopefully we won't be overdrawn either
By James Dielhenn
Saturday 18th September 2012
Elland Road, Att: 23,745
Leeds 1 - 0 Wolves
Team: Kenny, Byram, Peltier, Pearce, White, Green, Austin, Norris, Varney, McCormack, Becchio
Subs: Ashdown, Drury, Lees (on for Mccormack 75), Kisnorbo, Brown, Diouf (on for Green 45), Gray
For the first time in months, optimism surrounds the Leeds United team. Aggression, commitment and dedication were on show at Elland Road in abundance and it has been a while since we could have said that. Neil Warnock has put together a hard-working team that will battle anybody, and while question marks may surround Leeds' creativity and skill in the final third, their graft was enough to topple Wolves.
Paddy Kenny didn't really have a proper save to make, such was Wolves' lack of quality in front of goal and Leeds' dominant back four. Kenny did, however, rush off his line to clear a few crosses in a confident manner. His pass that led to the goal was sublime, too. Distribution has been a real problem for Leeds keepers in the past couple of seasons so it was impressive to see Kenny use his feet with such technique. 7
Sam Byram looks to be a real revelation. Neil Warnock admitted afterwards that Byram played on merit rather than due to other defenders' injuries, so the 18-year-old has his manager's faith. And rightly so after this performance. Faced with Matt Jarvis, rated by his club at over £10m, Byram was beaten early on but stuck to his task and ended up winning the battle against the big-money winger. His timing in the tackle was excellent, and so was his bravery to keep committing even when the going got tough. He switched to right midfield later in the game as Warnock shored up the defence and did a good job of helping Leeds hang on. 7
Lee Peltier, at centre-back, was handed the captaincy and responded with a classy performance. His strength, pace and agility is not something that Leeds have had in central defence for a while. He couldn't always win aerial balls, but Peltier defended solidly and nothing bypassed him. 7
Jason Pearce, the other centre-back, was the best player. He was totally dominant at the back and shows all the signs of being a top-class player in the making. In the air, Pearce heads everything, but he was equally adept at covering for his team-mates and sweeping up any danger. Pearce was even cool when in possession. A brilliant display. 8
Tom Lees came on for the last 15 minutes to make Leeds more solid as they hung on to victory, and during that time he made a few timely interventions and definitely played his part. 7
Aidy White struggled at left-back, though. It is easy to forget he is still so young because he has gathered a season of Championship experience already. Against Wolves he looked dodgy though - slipping over once at a critical time and being beaten for skill on several occasions. He picked up a booking after one player skinned him. White had to rely on Pearce to maintain the defensive stability next to him. 5
Rodolph Austin is already a fans' favourite. The deepest lying of the midfield, he epitomises everything about Warnock's philosophy. Austin flew into countless tackles with strength and aggression, dominating the midfield battle. He doesn't shirk a single tackle. He also possesses an impressive engine and was still running frantically to close down the opposition in the closing stages. He isn't the greatest with the ball, but Austin's performance was superb. 8
David Norris also did a sterling job in central midfield next to Austin. Given license to bomb forward, Norris made intelligent runs and got into goal scoring opportunities several times. He was busy and combative. 7
Paul Green had an impressive showing until succumbing to injury after 44 minutes. He retained the ball well and despite his lack of pace and guile, used his intelligence to pose Wolves problems from the right wing. 7
Green's replacement El-Hadji Diouf went some distance to winning over the sceptical fans with his hard-working performance. His experience showed as he protected the young Byram behind him. Diouf was strong and as Leeds were hanging on, his ability to keep the ball was vital. A really good showing. 7
Luke Varney, on the left wing, didn't get into the game much. He had a great chance to score but his control let him down as he ran through on goal. He'll need to improve, although he put in a shift. 7
Ross McCormack played very well, the day after signing his new contract. He played right up-front in a 4-4-2, and his movement across the width of the pitch was too clever at times for Wolves to track. His control and cross for the goal were immaculate. Unfortunately he didn't get a proper chance on goal and was subbed as he faded in the second half. 7
Luciano Becchio might just be back to his best. The target man looked fully fit, and ran his heart out for the cause. he also showed some fantastic hold-up play at times. The way he took his goal was very classy - it was a difficult finish but Becchio stuck it away. He'll need to be on this form all season, such is his importance. 7
Wolves were a Premier League team last season so this win was impressive for Leeds. Feet must remain on the ground, but it was undeniably the perfect start.
By Keith Ingham
Saturday started with more rumours that the potential buyers were to watch the match with Uncle Ken and he kindly mentioned in his notes that 'negotiations were ongoing.'
Neil Warnock gave eight players their league debuts and handed the captain's armband to Lee Peltier, a surprise to many as McCormack, fresh from a scoring appearance with Scotland and signing a new three year deal with the club was favourite to get the nod as skipper.
Leeds started really positive, with a very direct way of playing. Austin went close and there were a few half chances before Paddy Kenny sent a 'Gerrard' of a pass to McCormack who took it on before a slide rule of a pass was met at the far post by a diving Luciano Becchio, who headed the ball past the Wolves keeper and attempted a 'Bolt' celebration. Green was replaced by Diouf at the end of the 1st half and he was greeted by a mixed reception but I cannot understand why anybody wearing a white shirt should not be backed.
In the second half Leeds still played well but Wolves came into the game and had a few chances. We defended well as a team and deserved the win.
Man of the Match. Jason Pearce - Solid as a rock but ran close by Austin and the unpopular Diouf.
A positive way to start the 2012/13 season.