By Keith Ingham
On a rainy, cold night Leeds warmed the 17,000 fans with a brilliant display to put Southampton the way Everton went before them: Out of the Carling Cup.
Neil Warnock made changes from the weekends team with Ashdown, White, Brown and Varney coming in, he also changed the way the team played with balls played to feet instead of the 'route one' that has been a feature of the last two games. Leeds started brightly with chances being created for Varney, who somehow missed from two yards after being set up by the impressive El Hadji Diouf, next
to miss was Austin when he headed wide from a cross.
Luke Varney didn't let the miss worry him as he seized on a defensive mistake, but his lofted shot
came back off the bar. Leeds would not be denied and Tonge curled in lovely shot after a great run and cross by Varney. The goal was well deserved and at the break a 1-0 score line was scant reward for a fine first half display.
Leeds pressed for a second from the off but the final ball just didn't come off and they were brilliantly led by the Senegal international, who was cheered on his every touch. Varney got into a another good shooting position but it was just off target. Southampton briefly threatened but the impressive Leeds back line stood firm.
With time ticking down 'The beast' Rodolph Austin got the ball in the Leeds half and ran forty yards before his shot was parried to gift El Hadji Diouf the goal his performance deserved. Luciano Becchio came on and within two minutes he was celebrating a penalty goal, after Tonge was sent sprawling by a Saints defender.
This was no doubt a fantastic win and although the crowd was disappointing in number they deserve credit for getting behind the team.
It was a pleasure to be there and a quarter final tie awaits, the first time the club has reached this stage since 1996. Credit to the manger for changing things around and the team for the performance. A great night.
Man of the Match: El Hadji Diouf but every player deserves praise
Crowd 10/10: Great backing and humour ie the good natured banter with the Southampton keeper.
On On On to the next round
By Keith Ingham
After a few under par performances, Leeds face a struggling Southampton side for the right to go through to the quarter finals of the newly named Capital One Cup.
It's been a troubling period for Neil Warnock as his side have not got back into their stride after the break for the World Cup Qualifiers.
He might be tempted to give a few of the substitutes on Saturday a starting place, the likes of Jamie Ashdown and Paul Green could well be in the manager's thoughts. Another player who may get a chance is Andy Gray as Luciano Becchio has looked well off the pace since his winner versus Barnsley.
The manager has promised his daughter a Wembley visit so I'm sure whoever gets the eleven shirts will be sent out to get the win she wants. The Saints come with a poor record so far this season but gave Premiership Champions a fright before they lost the game 3-2, as they did against the other team in Manchester.
20+ thousand are expected for this game and I'm hoping for that brilliant, battling performance that we showed against Everton in the previous round.
I'll be there and I'm going for a 2-1 Leeds win to keep a smile on Amy's face. Come on Leeds !!
On On On
By Russ Vernon
Leeds United Under 18s and Under 21s teams faced Coventry City on Saturday and Monday respectively.
On Saturday United's Under 18s won 6-1 thanks to goals from Luke Parkin (2), Kalvin Phillips (2), Chris Dawson & Lewis Walters on target for Richard Naylors Youngsters.
Leeds: Grimes, Coyle, Tiesse, Skelton, Coker, Purver, Mowatt, Cook (Phillips), Dawson (Stokes), Walters, Parkin. Subs: Atkinson, Booker, Amiri.
On Monday goals from Patrick Kisnorbo & Ryan Hall gave Neil Redfearn's U21 side a 2-1 win over their Coventry counterparts.
A Goal in each half from Kisnorbo & Hall was enough despite Coventry getting a late consolation goal in stoppage time.
Leeds: Rachubka, Green, Kisnorbo, Gimpel, Taylor, N Turner, Lenighan, L Turner, Hall, Antelmi (Walters 65), Payne. Subs: Grimes, Clamp, Snodin, Dawson
By Josh Grainger
Leeds’ defeat at the hands of Birmingham City on Saturday was a sad reality to what has been lacking from Neil Warnock’s side at times this season. Boring, flat and lacking are just some of the words that have been used to describe the underwhelming performance by the Whites on Saturday.
The fixture was a real chance to gain 3 points after back to back draws against teams fighting around the bottom half of the table. However unfortunately it was the away side that played all the quality football, as Leeds were again reduced to the long ball tactic. Birmingham hardly knocked the ball about in Barcalona-esque fashion, however even their ability to pass the ball out of their own half seemed impressive in comparison to Leeds’ dire attempts. Leeds’best players such as Diouf, Becchio and Austin were all far from the best, and it was a jabbing pain to see such players look so poor. The effort from the team was there, it would be unfair to say anyone didn’t try, however their ability as a side must be questioned, if despite putting in the effort, the quality isn’t there to see.
The last few games could have easily gone this way for Leeds, the performances against Barnsley, Sheffield Wednesday and Charlton were all desperately lacking in quality, and it was a string of luck that the team managed to acquire 5 points in total from them. It was inevitable that Leeds’ recent luck would run out soon, the team were on a 6 game unbeaten streak in the league, however could not rely on luck if they wanted this to continue.
The question now is, what is actually going wrong? Far too frequently this season, the Whites have been too slow to start the game, only really coming alive and usually playing their best football after the halfway stage. This slow starting tendency has often resulted in Leeds falling behind and on occasion not having the quality to comeback. Another fault that lies within the side, is the lack of creative players. With Ross McCormack still out injured, the only real player who can consistently make things happen
is El-Hadji Diouf. The fact that the majority of fans were horrified when we signed him, now see him as a hero, is a sign of how desperate we have become. Similar in a way to a bloke who hasn’t been with a girl for a while, and is desperate, we will take anyone. I don’t want to sound like I’m criticising Diouf, he’s been a revelation since joining the club, and has improved week by week, however we can’t be solely be reliant on him, it’s almost a case of, if Diouf has an off day, so do Leeds… One man teams do not get promoted.
Another player who’s had an ‘off day’ or three in the last few weeks, is Luciano Becchio. The Argentine has been in blistering goal scoring form so far this season, however recently has looked a different player to the one we know he can be. His lack of initiative, and technical ability has been dreadful in the last few games. At times it seems like our main tactic is to hoof the ball long up field for Becchio and hope that he will take it down and a chance will arise, however this isn’t the case. Whilst Becchio can be supreme in front of goal, he has never been technically brilliant, if it weren’t for his impressive work
rate, he would have far fewer admirers than he does. Against Birmingham, he won few headers and those that he did win often went to a blue shirt! He kept the ball poorly, and never really brought others into the game like he often does. It is critical that if our game plan is to hit him with the long ball, he is at
his best, and he was far from this at the weekend.
Another player lacking form in the last few weeks, has been Rodolph Austin. He, unlike the others has an excuse in that his fitness isn’t brilliant, due to his recent international exploits with Jamaica, so in theory it should be Warnock we are criticising for playing him, rather than Austin himself. I remember watching games against Wolves, Forest and Everton and thinking what a player we have here, he bosses the midfield physically and at the same time passes the ball about under no pressure. At the weekend however, it was painful to see him lose possession so often, and I can’t remember him winning more than one tackle. Without the ability to hold the ball up in the attacking third, we have no hope of winning games. The defence has been fairly good in recent weeks, certainly against
Birmingham the back four looked solid and Birmingham didn’t really look like scoring unless it was from a moment of brilliance, which inevitably it was. However going forward the full backs desperately lacked attacking ideas. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who was surprised to see that Danny Pugh was starting
the match, he impressed me defensively, however looked timid every time he crossed the half way line, which is surprising considering his main position is out on the wing. His shyness however looked nothing compared to that shown by Tom Lees! Again defensively Lees was solid and made few mistakes, however going forward looked like a fish out of water whenever he ventured anywhere near
I’ve written about the faults in the side, now what can we do to erase them. Some people have said that Aidan White should never have been dropped from the side, whilst he at times doesn’t make the best decisions whilst on the attack, his pace can be a real asset to the team. Another pacey winger in the squad, is new loanee Ryan Hall, the 24 year old, like White, came on for the last 8 minutes of the game at the weekend, and had little time to make an impact. Hall gained the most assists in the top 4
divisions of English football last season, and whilst he has never proven himself in the Championship, Warnock now may seriously be considering giving the young man a chance, however this will not be possible against Southampton on Tuesday, as Hall has already been cup tied by Southend.
Another young man out on loan this time from United, is Dom Poleon. The 19 year old scored his second goal in his loan spell at struggling League 1 side Bury, it was quite a goal as well, beating 3 players in a run from his own half, before unleashing a powerful strike across goal into the top corner. Poleon scored on his first Leeds start against Forest the other week, however hasn’t started since and was shipped out on loan a few weeks ago. Whilst the first team experience he is gaining is beneficial, it may be argued he should be starting the games for Leeds. Poleon still has a lot to learn in the game, however no one can deny he lacks flair and energy, and Neil Warnock may need to think long and hard if Bury want to extend his loan spell.
It would be unheard of to write about Leeds United these days, without mentioning the takeover, however it does finally seem as though the talks are in the final stages and a deal should be agreed before the end of the week. Whether GFH Capital can provide the club with the funds to bring in quality players on loan, we will have to wait to find out, however if the money is there, a creative central midfielder, a winger, however most importantly of all, a striker will be on Warnock’s agenda.
Finally, a look to the next week or two down Elland Road way. The Whites will hope to bounce back from the Birmingham defeat, with a win, or at least a good performance against premier league outfit, Southampton in the fourth round of the Capital One Cup, on Tuesday night. Neil Warnock’s men surprised many when they produced a very impressive performance when they knocked high flying Everton out the competition in the last round and will be hoping a similar night will be in store at Elland
Road on Tuesday. It is expected that Warnock will field a changed team to the one that started against Birmingham. Rodolph Austin isn’t expected to start the game as he looks to regain full fitness, Michael Brown or Paul Green could be in line to replace him, regular substitutes Jamie Ashdown and Andy Gray will hope for a starting spot, as will Adam Drury. Ross McCormack is still out with an ankle injury, as is long term absentee, Davide Somma. It’s back to league action on Friday night for Leeds, they travel down to the south coast to face Gus Poyet’s Brighton, in what should be an exciting game.
If you have any questions for me, or would simply like to talk anything Leeds Utd or football related, you can access me on twitter - @joshgrainger16
By Keith Ingham
When Derby County came to Elland Road last season, Neil Warnock offered his hand to Nigel Clough and said 'Enjoy it, cause you won't get another of my teams lying down like that'. I may have missed a word or two but the sentiment was the same.
Please don't get me wrong I fully support what Neil Warnock has tried to do since he took the job but I'm afraid lately the players on the field are not showing the supporters that they want success as much as Neil and the fans. Also this takeover business has taken far too long and it is affecting the club as a whole.
I'm not just saying this after one poor game, since Barnsley the eleven sent out are just not performing to the standards they themselves set in earlier games.
Leeds made changes for the Birmingham game with Peltier, Tonge, Austin and Pugh restored to the side, the latter at left back with Sam Byram in a more advanced position. Still no place for Ryan Hall, who was mentioned in Neil Warnock's press conferences as part of his 'Plan B' but stayed on the bench.
Leeds started brightly with a good run from Sam Byram and Butland was quick to react to one of his own defenders. Birmingham though had good moments themselves, but again the alert City keeper was on hand to deny half chances by Byram and Austin. At Half Time the score was 0-0.
In the second half Diouf did his best to spark Leeds into some fluency from his position on the left but again the final ball was just not good enough to prise open a resolute Birmingham defence. Diouf did go close though after another great ball by Sam Byram.
The deadlock was broken when in a quick breakaway Lita received the ball some way out and unleashed a shot that flew past the despairing dive of the Leeds stopper. Neil Warnock brought on Ryan Hall for his first appearance and Aidy White with eight minutes remaining, they replaced Lees and Norris... But Leeds could not find an equaliser and Birmingham held on to give Leeds their first defeat in eight games and the second on home soil.
I understand Neil Warnock reads the 'locals' and I hope that he understands that the fans feel frustrated by this latest poor performance. Somehow we need to bring in a player who offers us something different from the bench or as a alternative to those already up front.
Man of the Match: Sam Byram - Best player in a white shirt and never gave up
Fans : Better than Tuesday but still quiet 6/10
By Mark Rasdall
Last season Leeds United lost narrowly away to Birmingham and much less narrowly at home; in fact our entire defence seemed to be no match for the height and power of Nikola Zigic that night.
Tomorrow we get the chance to have our revenge - at least partially - at Elland Road. The display against Charlton was poor and we were probably lucky to salvage a point in a game which was far too open. Birmingham, on the other hand, came back from three goals down at The Den so will take great confidence from that and ensure the last few minutes of the game are nervy ones for everyone if the score is still close (hopefully we'll have killed the game long before then).
Lee Clarke will need no introduction to Leeds after those years with the Dudds and he will no doubt feel he can motivate his new team in the same way as he always seemed to when they came over the hill. Given that we lack a bit of confidence at the moment and significant injuries, I'm expecting a really close game and so a long ninety minutes...
There have been various games against Birmingham I remember well - most recently for me was the John Carver team winning 3-2 and, of course, the terrible day at St Andrews when that wall caved in.
My favourite memory, though, is the 1972 FA Cup semi-final when we beat them 3.0 and went on to win the cup in its centenary year. I remember being allowed to stay up and watch the goals on Match of the Day as we cruised past a team which, let's face it, despite being in the Second Division at the time were one of the golden teams in Birmingham's history: an early 'Seventies combination of the likes of Trevor Francis and Bob Latchford up front, with Roger Hynd at the back, and managed by ex-Leeds player Freddie Goodwin.
Mick Jones got two goals that day and Peter Lorimer the third. The first goal was the best with seven men involved and simply stretching and then carving Birmingham open with Allan Clarke heading across goal (yes, really!) for Mick Jones to apply the finishing touch.
There is a strange little YouTube video here and, despite the commentary and strange musical accompaniment, it's great to see Billy et al and then Don Revie looking forward to the Final at the end.
Tomorrow's game won't be nearly so one-sided but perhaps we are beginning to edge past the likes of Birmingham once again as we aim for even a small part of the success Don enjoyed and which we all crave for so much.
By Keith Ingham
Leeds reach the middle of a three game home run hoping to put two under par performances behind them, with lowly placed Birmingham visiting it is hoped that the team can return to winning ways.
Leeds really owe the visitors a game as both last season's matches ended in defeats, the home game being a 5-1 beating and with it the departure of Simon Grayson.
Ex Huddersfield manager Lee Clark is in charge and under pressure after a less than convincing start to the season.
Birmingham boast a number of good players, Butland, England Under 21 keeper, Hayden Mullins in midfield and Leroy Lita and Marlon King upfront with the later fresh from his three goals in midweek v Millwall. The game ended 3-3 with City coming back from 3-0.
I'm hoping that Ryan Hall and Aidy White get a chance as there was very little pace in the side v Charlton and we need to test their full backs and try to stop bypassing midfield, far too many times the
ball has been sent forward this way. We have players who can use the ball intelligently so it makes sense to use them.The goal v Sheffield Wednesday was a great example of this. By all accounts on Tuesday we could have played 4-0-2 as the midfield barely got the ball at their feet.
I'm not Neil Warnock but if I picked the team for the game v Birmingham I'd go for as follows:
five picks itself, it's the midfield I'd change with in the middle Austin (if he's fit), if not Tonge, who's really surprised me with his shooting and Norris with Hall and White on the wings.
Varney might be better employed just behind Luciano Becchio as he has struggled to make any impact on the left hand side of midfield. El Hadji Diouf might benefit from a rest and could come on if needed. I'm not the manager but a change might work.
Despite the visitors position it's a hard game and apart from last year it's usually a close one but Leeds can win it and I'm backing them to do so.
Prediction: Leeds 2 Birmingham 1 Becchio and Pearce with the goals
On On On
By Andy Gregory
This week we are talking to Marc Bracha, a 39 year old Yorkshireman exiled in Norwich, where he lives with his partner Sharon, and 11 month old twins, Frankie & Ellie. Marc is currently in the process of writing Ian Baird’s biography. He follow's Leeds home and away and has only missed the Bristol City game this season.
How long have you supported Leeds?
For as long as I can remember, my Dad took me to Elland Road at an early age.
What is your favourite memory?
The 1989/90 second division title winning season. Very special times when Leeds finally delivered after many frustrating seasons of mediocrity. Strachan’s goal against Leicester at Elland Road will stay with me forever, as will John Helm’s legendary piece of commentary.
Favourite player past and present?
Past: John Sheridan. Present: Luciano Becchio
If you could bring one player from any era back to the club, who would it be and why?
Billy Bremner, although I never saw him play he WAS Leeds United. Video’s of Billy I have watched and things I have read leave me in no doubt he is the greatest player to play for the club. Although Jon Howe’s new book may prove otherwise.
Best goal scored by a Leeds player?
I would have to say Tony Yeboah’s volley against Liverpool, although there have been so many.
Do you think the takeover will happen? How important do you think it will be?
It is imperative, the atmosphere at Elland Rd is dead, the squad is threadbare and we cannot progress without it happening. Whether it will or not, I have my doubts to be honest.
What are your thoughts on LUST and what they have done so far?
I was openly critical of LUST back in the summer but I have grown to appreciate the work Gary and the people have done. We need a voice and because the fans have been divided, LUST give an opportunity for the fans to unite once again.
How would you sum up our season so far?
I am happy with the position we are in bearing in mind the squad was put together late on in the summer and the opposition we have faced. To go 6 unbeaten in the Championship takes some doing.
Which player has impressed you most this season?
Without doubt, Sam Byram. Has come from nowhere and showed maturity and class beyond his years.
Warnock has again stated his desire to bring someone in on loan, who would you like to see come in?
That’s a difficult one, he will only bring in someone who’s better than what we have got but can he do that with the money available? I’m not so sure. I would like to see Max Gradel but that’s never going to happen.
If the takeover is completed, which two players would you like to see join us in January?
Again, Max Gradel and Craig Mackail Smith
How would you describe our current team?
Lacking in pace but full of fight and spirit.
Where do you think we will finish this season?
I believe we will finish in a play off place IF the takeover materialises we can bring in quality to ensure
we can build on a very decent start. We just need to keep in touch over the next 8 weeks.
Which game are you most looking forward to this season?
Ipswich away is one I enjoy, not far to travel.
Score prediction for the Birmingham and Southampton games?
Leeds 3 Birmingham 2, Leeds 2 Southampton 1
Anything else you would like to add?
Let’s keep the faith and stick together in what are quite difficult times with various goings on.
WE ARE LEEDS
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