I expect I will get a lot of abuse over this but as a Leeds United fan of nearly fifty years' standing I feel I have to say what I think about the LUFC defence. Regular readers of my blogs will know that I always try to be positive and forward-looking. I really believe that this now applies to the team - positive and forward-looking. Unfortunately that will get us nowhere while our defence keeps shooting the rest of the team in the feet - usually after going ahead in games. I seem to have heard the same speech from Simon Grayson onwards about 'cutting out mistakes,' or 'becoming more organised' and still it happens. Like too many of our defenders too often we just stand still and will do again this season - if the forwards can even keep us in the division.
I have been a fan of Jason Pearce and thought him a worthy candidate for the captain's armband. I try not to join this or that currently favourable criticism of our players and really do think that we need to march on together, everywhere that we go. But, I'm afraid that enough is enough. Jason will put his heart and soul into defending for Leeds United and never shirks or hides - nobody could ever question his work ethic; if anything he tries too hard - but he is just not a good enough defender for this league, and certainly nothing higher. We need a commanding defender who can not only help to organize younger defenders but one who naturally reads the game. Jason - and it really does pain me to say this - is not our man. I saw a goal against us from a completely unmarked player at Norwich and saw the ball float over Jason's head again at Ipswich, not to mention forwards such as Murphy and Smith being in acres of space for much of the match - before, during and after scoring against us. Jason has two states, it seems to me, sleepy or anxious; what we need is calm authority that can only come from being in control of his game and allowing his fellow defenders to be in control of theirs, rather than feeling as if we are either joining them on a pleasant nature walk along the River Aire on a summer's day or blind panic mode.
I am still not sure if Bellusci is a natural defender or not but he and Cooper do seem to be a more natural pairing. I also think that Byram and Tom Lees before him are quality defenders who are let down by the lack of organisation and authority and made to look much worse than they really are. I was never convinced that Tom's mistakes were totally of his own making: you simply do not become a bad defender overnight. I really rate Cooper but worry that he too will suffer as a result of Jason's shortcomings and eventually leave the club. It is fine for Neil Redfearn to call the defending 'abject' and that we need to find solutions. No doubt people will also say that you should go with your 'tried and trusted' players in big matches. Unfortunately we have tried and can no longer trust in Jason. Why not try Del Fabro or Ross Killock - it can hardly be any worse than the shambles at Portman Road and, let's face it, the other kids that Neil has nurtured and encouraged aren't doing badly are they? I feel disloyal to Jason in writing this post and am certainly not one of the 'bandwagon haters' but if it is not going to work then for the love of Leeds United please let's get past it and build a new defensive foundation for the future.