By Mark Rasdall
I was at the game at Carrow Road last night to witness Leeds United come back to gain a point against a poor Norwich City team who only scored thanks to a gift from the LUFC defence.
But there are a few more points to make:
None of the vile animals in white or harmless beasts in green and yellow had any idea why Mark Clattenburg stopped the game in the first half. It transpires that Cameron Jerome accused Giuseppe Bellusci of making a racist remark towards him. Because of Clattenburg's own previous involvement in racist disputes he was bound to take it seriously enough to report it. If proven, Bellusci will be punished and rightly so. There is absolutely no room for racism in football or any other aspect of a civilised society. I tell my children now about the games I attended in the 'Seventies and the shocking behaviour we all witnessed. Thankfully as a society we can and have moved on, but none of those players then or now could ever change the colour of their skin. It was shameful and I am immensely proud that, as a club, Leeds United has been at the forefront of trying to change people's attitudes and perceptions.
We will have to wait and see what the investigation finds. From previous FA and Football League 'investigations' against Leeds United, the omens are not good. Jerome, meanwhile, clattered Bellusci shortly afterwards and went on to have another poor game, as did Clattenburg who was petty throughout and failed to let the game flow - which was difficult enough in the swirling wind.
Bellusci had frustrated Jerome up until that point and effectively nullified his footballing presence. I still do not think, though, that he is a natural centre half. The goal we gave away to Norwich captain, Russell Martin, in the second half was dreadful - a corner that lands on the head of the biggest man in the stadium who is unmarked and unchallenged is a disgrace and this has to be eradicated or we will be let down time and time again.
I think Bellusci has a sweeper role just in front of the defence and I'd bring Cooper in as partner for Pearce. I thought Byram was OK and Berardi was a revelation. He closed players down, got his tackles in and showed real speed on the flanks. I hadn't really rated him so far but he was excellent last night.
Unfortunately the diamond does mean that we lack width and, even with Adryan on from the start, playing through a packed midfield (Norwich showed little ambition as the home team) gave our forwards precious little to work with. Adryan is fantastic on the ball but obviously very slight and was outmuscled a lot of the time last night. I think he is a player to bring on, not to start. I also think that Lewis Cook immediately gave us more going forward and I have to say that, for me, our troubles against Rotherham started when he went off last Friday. I would certainly rest him from time to time - he is only 17 for goodness sake - but I'd start with him and bring Adryan on for Austin as a general rule and possibly replace Cook with Sloth later on in games if necessary.
Doukara makes far too many misplaced passes for me but took his goal really well. People around me were screaming for him to be replaced by Sharp but with so little service to the forwards. especially from the wings, I don't see how he would have fared that much better. It will be interesting to see what happens against Wolves with Doukara now suspended.
We kept our shape pretty well but against a better attacking team I think we'd be punished. I remember vividly Forest pulling teams on to them in the late 'Seventies and hitting them on the break. Although Antenucci ran and ran all night I just think that we not only starved Norwich but also ourselves. When we did attack we showed little conviction and I got the feeling - apart from the goal - that we didn't really believe we'd score. We didn't really go for it when we did get one of the few chances in the match to do so.
Norwich fans surrounded us on the train back and were moaning about Neil Adams and his playing of players out of position and so on. For me, a point at Norwich is a good point but not sure whether we'd have got one if they'd really been on their game. I certainly felt - and feel this morning - more optimistic for the future than they did and, once again, to be part of such a huge away following on a cold night in an overpriced stadium many miles from anywhere shows what Leeds United is really all about: a passion for football, and what a pity that this simple truth is so often overlooked by other news.