This week’s blog is dedicated to two of our own. You are always with us.
We remember you today and every day. God Bless Chris and Kevin.
Twitter post by Amy Kelly:
“18 years ago today, two of our own went to watch #lufc play away from home in the UEFA Cup, only they never made it home to their families.
“No one ever deserves to not return home safely from a football match.
Forever with us.
RIP Chris & Kev 💛💙”
Paul Heckingbottom on Sunderland: “We know they have good players in the side. They find themselves near the bottom of the league but on their day they are a really dangerous team. We're expecting to take the same approach as the Bolton and Fulham games and we want the three points.”
“They're down there because they've not produced as often as they can. But the approach we had the other night(at Fulham)is what we want going forward. A no fear approach and to express yourselves. The players have to believe."
On injuries: O’Kane(groin), Pennington(calf strain),Adam Forshaw (calf),Liam Cooper (torn thigh muscle),Andy Lonergan (stiff neck),Laurens De Bock (hamstring), Luke Ayling (ankle),Conor Shaughnessy (ankle) and Tyler Roberts (shin) are definitely out, but striker Roofe has now returned to training having missed the last six weeks with a calf injury picked in the 2-2 draw at Derby County on February 21. Heckingbottom said “We had him back last week but it was a bit too soon to involve him so Sunday he started and it was too soon to involve him Tuesday and we wanted to make sure we got as much work into him as possible.”
“What we hoped was initially a three-week injury, ended up rumbling on into five or six so it’s important to build him up to make sure he can have an impact when he gets on the pitch.”
Pontus Jansson if his future is at Leeds: “For sure, I signed a five-year deal and I said it since the first day here: this club changed my life and changed my football career. I’m proud and happy with that. You never know in football but what I said in Sweden, you use Google Translate to understand it so maybe something is not correct. That’s a normal reaction for me, of course I feel frustrated, of course I want to speak to people in this club about what the goals are. I said I had a dream to play in the Premier League but I also said that the dream for me is playing with Leeds. That’s what I said from day one.”
“The only thing I said is that I want to talk to people around this club and just hear them being positive, to see what they want. I also said that this club belongs in the Premier League.” He also said of the team’s recent form: “We have two wins in four months. To be fair, that’s ridiculous. It’s been tough for me and for others also, all you can do is go out there and try to change it.”
Top Championship average home attendances this season:
31,703 - Leeds United
31,527 - Aston Villa
28,151 - Wolves
27,839 - Sunderland
26,855 - Derby County
26,753 - Sheffield United
The day eighteen years ago when Leeds United were ‘forced’ by UEFA to play a team who’s so called fans had murdered two Leeds fans the previous evening who had travelled to Istanbul to watch their team. Distasteful, Shameful and Disrespectful.
We’ve met before
Leeds 0 Sunderland 3 Championship September 2006
Leeds 0 Sunderland 1 Champ 2004
Leeds 0 Sunderland 1 Prem Aug 02
Leeds 2 Sunderland 0 Prem Apr 02
Leeds 2 Sunderland 0 Prem Dec 00
Sunderland’s plight is well documented and most of the senior players are still on Premiership wages, but apart from apart from a few games they have let the supporters of the club down, but they will be ‘up’ for this one with Leeds without a doubt. Chris Coleman has started to rebuild the squad by introducing some good youngsters into the side and most if not all have equipped themselves well.
Leeds were superb in the 2-0 win at the Stadium of Light and apart from Bristol City I thought it was the best away display of the season.
Paul Heckingbottom will be without O’Kane and Pennington for the game with Sunderland so either Gaetano Berardi will move to partner Pontus Jansson at centre back or Paudie O’Connor, who travelled to Fulham but was not named in the eighteen could come in. Kalvin Phillips will probably join Ronaldo Vieira in midfield due to O’Kane’s injury. Despite his numerous missed chances, Caleb Ekuban looks likely to lead the line, under 23’s striker Sam Dalby trained with the first team this week so may well be involved in the eighteen.
Leeds’ last victory over the ‘Mackems’ is back in 2002 so they will be hopeful of securing their first ‘double’ over their rivals for a very long time. Leeds owe them one for the 1973 FA Cup Final defeat, so sending them a bit closer to relegation might be tinged with just a little revenge. Leeds 2-1.
Chris Coleman on the game at Leeds: “We’re going to play at Elland Road, great place to play football. Leeds United are a great football club and we’ll be taking loads of supporters there because this club means a lot to so many people no matter where we are(in the league). We’re representing this football club and that’s the motivation everybody needs, you’ve got to go out and do your job.”
Cardiff City 0 Wolves 1, the Championship leaders survive TWO injury time penalties awarded to Cardiff. Madine and Hoilett missed the opportunities to claim a point, Wolves are now nine points clear of Cardiff City.
‘Colin Wanker’s’(Warnock) reaction at the final whistle was to ignore Nuno’s offer of a handshake and basically tell him to ‘go forth and multiply’. Definitely a man with so much class.
Leeds v Sunderland
Team News: Three changes for Leeds. O’Connor(debut), Phillips and Lasogga come in. Ekuban drops to the bench alongside Callum Nicell, the youngsters first appearance in the starting eighteen.
Team: Peacock-Farrell, Dallas, O’Connor, Jansson, Berardi(c), Phillips, Vieira, Alioski, Siaz, Hernandez, Lasogga.
Leeds were quick ‘out of the blocks’ and Lasogga should have given the home side an early lead but the German’s effort flew over the bar, Ronaldo Vieira was closer but his shot bounced off the woodwork, not the last time they would be denied by the frame of the goal. Camp denied Ezgjan Alioski with a tremendous save as Leeds sought to record only their third victory of 2018.
The chances spurned gave Sunderland hope, McGeady’s header excellently kept out by Peacock-Farrell, the last action before the break saw Fletcher’s header came back off the upright. Scoreless at the break, but an interesting contest.
Sunderland went ahead three minutes after the interval, McNair taking advantage of casual defending by Leeds, shorty after Samuel Siaz tangled with McGeady in the area but luckily for Leeds the referee ignored the Sunderland plea’s for a penalty. Pablo Hernandez, who is in excellent form(SIGN HIM UP!) levelled matters with less than twenty minutes left. Peacock-Farrell then brilliantly denied Fletcher with a point blank save and soon after goalscorer McNair wasted a great chance to put Sunderland back in the lead.
He shoots, he celebrates. Pablo Hernandez with the equaliser.
In the last ten minutes both Alioski and Siaz hit the woodwork as Leeds tried to get the winner, the last two incidents of the game saw Gaetano Berardi sent off for a reckless challenge. He will now be suspended for the rest of the season due to it being his third red card this season and right at the end of the game, Peacock-Farrell denied McManaman with yet another splendid save.
Paul Heckingbottom: “You can't be satisfied with the draw but you have to give the players credit for coming back. We opened the game up and we knew we'd be giving Sunderland more opportunities, but we were hoping we would create more and we did. We have to give the players credit for that but I would have liked us to capitalise on those big moments early on because then it's a different game.”
"We looked slick at times and Sunderland were a threat on the counter, they hit the bar from a set-piece and a lot of our best opportunities had to be really well worked. Sunderland had bodies behind the ball and they were keeping the ball in front of them, anything we did get was going to have to be eye of the needle stuff. Whilst it looked really good I thought we were limiting the amount of opportunities that were available to us.”
On the Berardi sending off: "I'm upset about that and frustrated. Berra is an honest person, I questioned if he lost his head, but he's genuinely going for the ball and he's accepted it was a bad tackle."
Chris Coleman: "A point is not enough, a point was never going to be enough for us today. We needed the three with the position we are in. The performance was more than enough, it was good. Normally you come to Elland Road and are happy to get a point because it is such a tough place to come.”
On the Berardi sending off: “That's a straight red, the one earlier on Lynden Gooch as well on the far side, if you don't jump out of the way I dread to think. Being a defender myself I was no angel but I call it as I see it.”
Fulham continue their incredible run, their nineteenth unbeaten game with a 1-0 win at Sheffield Wednesday.
David Watkins steps in for the Jamaica bound Andrew Butterwick to review the draw with Sunderland. He hopes that in the near words of John Lennon “Give Hecky a chance”.
Thank you David.
Most plaudits gave top marks to Bailey Peacock-Farrell for his superb display yesterday, goalscorer Pablo Hernandez and Paudie O’Connor were also given positive comments. Paul Heckingbottom’s popularity is nose diving after only two wins since taking over from Thomas Christiansen.
Leeds have hit the woodwork 16 times in the Championship in 2017/18, only Fulham have managed more (17).
Heidi Haigh on LU Trust renovating some very special plaques at Elland Road and her review of the draw with Sunderland.
Thank you Heidi.
On This Day 1975
Leeds United 2-1 Barcelona European Cup Semi Final 1st Leg. I got a ticket at the last minute and stood on the Lowfields Road, what a night!
Leeds v Barcelona highlights. Commentary by David Coleman.
We’ve met before
Preston 1 Leeds 4 Champ Dec 2016
Preston 1 Leeds 1 Champ May 2016
Preston 1 Leeds 2 Champ March 11
Preston 4 Leeds 1 Champ October 06
Preston 0 Leeds 2 Champ Play Offs May 06.(Job done!)
Leeds travel to Preston probably without ten players due to injury and suspension. The ones left will hopefully give the playoff hopes of their hosts a ‘knock’ by once again defeating them. It’s a happy hunting group for Leeds, the last time they beat them 4-1 and have a prettygood record at Deepdale.
Preston are six points behind sixth place and Alex Neil’s team know that a win is imperative if they are to make a late attempt to reach the playoffs, Leeds on the hand will just hope to end the winless run away from home that stretch back to the last week of 2017.
Paul Heckingbottom must decide who will replace Gaetano Berardi at left back, Vurnon Anita or Tom Pearce are the likely replacement. Paudie O’Connor could continue at centre back alongside Pontus Jansson, fit again Kemar Roofe is an option up front as Pierre-Michel Lasogga was ineffective(useless!) against Sunderland.
A large contingent of Leeds fans are expected over the Pennines and it is hoped that Leeds give their long suffering fans something to cheer about, they bloody deserve something! Leeds 2-1.
Preston North End vs Leeds United
Team News: Four changes; Anita, Roofe, Grot and Ekuban come into the starting eleven, Hernandez captains the team.
Team: Peacock-Farrell, Dallas, O’Connor, Jansson, Anita, Vieira, Phillips, Roofe, Hernandez(c), Grot, Ekuban.
It’s been a while but Preston was my first ‘away day’ this season. I accompanied Shane and his son Jamie to darkest Lancashire in the hunt for something very rare...a Leeds United away win, the last sighting was back in 2017.
One there I bumped into Heidi Haigh one of the superb contributors to my weekly musings on all things LUFC, I Thanked her for her continued support and off we went into Deepdale. Around four thousand fans were in good voice and even batter Leeds actually scored the first goal! Kemar Roofe getting on the end of a cross from Kalvin Phillips, it could have been even better but both Roofe and Hernandez were unlucky, Roofe’s boot just missing a through ball and Pablo’s shot smartly saved by the Preston keeper. The hosts threatened throughout the half and only a coat of paint saved Leeds on one occasion but the lads deservedly went in 1-0 up at the break.
I wish I could put my finger on exactly went wrong in the second half, we were attacking one minute then giving away a penalty the next. Preston didn’t pass up the opportunity, Gallagher slamming the penalty under the despairing body of Peacock-Farrell.
Within minutes as Pontus laid face down on the pitch Preston took the lead when Maguire headed in and some Leeds heads dropped in the stands as well as the pitch, Pontus left the field with his head hurting and he was replaced by Diaz. Samu Siaz and Ezgjan came on to offer a more threatening attacking threat than Ekuban and Grot, surprisingly Roofe was substituted and the other two stayed on, another Heckingbottom master substitution!
Two became three when Browne headed it and the Leeds fan’s made it plain that they wished that Victor Orta would take up the job offer he’s rumoured to have been offered in Spain. 3-1 it finished.
Shane, Jamie and myself, Deepdale, Pre-match huddle.
A decent night out but not the result we all hoped for, the pressure on Heckingbottom to deliver something from his under performing quad, but the elongated injury list or suspensions hasn’t helped his cause.
One more thing the support this club still receives is incredible considering the rubbish run the club is on. Well done to each and everyone that travelled to Deepdale and supported the team with gusto.
Paul Heckingbottom: "We started brightly in the second half but they scored from one of our attacks, we had players in decent position but Billy Bodin does a stepover and Vurnon Anita brings him down. There didn't seem to be too many appeals from the lads, so giving a penalty away is a blow. The big turning point in the match is the second goal.”
"Pontus Jansson was down and it got stopped for the same incident in the first half. It should have been stopped. We had a man down in the box playing them all onside and giving them a free header. The worst thing is how it leaves us, credit to the players who stuck at it but as it stands now that's all we've got - those players are the only ones available."
Alex Neil: “We are more pleased with the result as much as anything else because our last few performances have been good but we've not had anything to show for it. How we played doesn't really matter, it's about getting the points. I thought we were unfortunate to be behind at half-time.”
"I thought we had the better chances in the first half, we were concerned it would be the same as previous games. We are all a bit fed up of playing well and not getting a result. I said to them they are all in the team to do certain jobs and that they needed to pull their finger out and go out and do it. To be fair to them that's exactly what they did so the players deserve a lot of credit for that."
Mick McCarthy leaves Ipswich Town after the 1-0 win over Barnsley. He’d been subjected to a poor reaction by a section of the crowd after he made a substitution during the game. Three minutes or so into a Post Match interview he banged the table with his hands and left the room.
He said after leaving: "I have continued to do my job to the best of my ability but there is something missing and I'm not comfortable with that. I have had a great time here and worked with some great people and to all those who have given me wonderful support over the last five and a half years - and there are many - I want to put on record my personal thanks. The players here can look forward to a new challenge with whoever comes in and I want to wish them, the staff and the club the best of fortunes."
Liverpool beat Manchester City 2-1 to progress to the Champions League Semi Finals 5-1 on aggregate. Roma stun Barcelona 3-0 to go through on away goals, the first leg ended 4-1 to Barcelona.
On this Day
Chelsea 2 Leeds 2
David Watkins reflects on what went wrong in the second half at Deepdale and have some player’s waved ‘the white flag’
Thank you David.
The FA have extended Gaetano Berardi’s van to five games due to this being his third sending off. Here’s Phil Hay’s reaction;
Juventus nearly pulled off the comeback of all comebacks when they led 3-0 at the Bernabeu, unfortunately an injury time penalty awarded by English referee Michael Oliver gave Ronaldo the opportunity to take Real Madrid through 4-3 on aggregate, he didn’t let them down. Real had won the first leg 3-0 in Turin but the Italians levelled the tie before Ronaldo broke their hearts.
Gianluigi Buffon, probably playing his last game in the Champions League was sent off by Oliver in the fracas that followed the penalty decision.
It never gets any easier being a Leeds fan, a less than inspiring draw with doomed Sunderland and a second half collapse at Preston. Heckingbottom could be looking for a new job before the season ends if results don’t improve.
By Keith Ingham