By Steve Barras
The game against Shrewsbury on Saturday in the newly named Capital One Cup, albeit not against the most technically gifted side, was a joy to behold. For me personally it was the best performance that I have seen from a Leeds side in almost twelve months and that in footballing terms is a long time.
We had eight debutants in the starting eleven on Saturday and you could tell, the players weren’t quite gelling at times but when they did…well lets just say that I am now very optimistic for the coming season. After the dire showing at Burton the previous Tuesday you could have been forgiven for saying that we had swapped tat for tat but not now.
Paddy Kenny, apart from one mistake that any Championship striker would have put away, was head and shoulders above our previous keeper Andy Lonergan. He commanded his area well and pounced on every loose ball that threatened the eighteen yard box. His rapport with the following faithful is refreshing to say the least, waving and raising his hand in acknowledgement whenever he heard his name being chanted.
Although still looking vulnerable from set-pieces this season’s defence is already looking better than last season’s! Lee Peltier and Jason Pearce were dominant figures, their heads doing the business on more than a few occasions and what a debut Sam Byram had, the academy lad is already looking better than Paul Connolly. Aidy White at left back was predominantly solid but was caught out of position on a couple of occasions which needs to be worked on, having said that I did miss his threatening runs down the flank.
Into the midfield and what a revelation Rodolph Austin and David Norris have been. Are we sure they play for Leeds? Solid in the tackle and creative going forward, the same can be said for Luke Varney but one of my two disappointments of the day was Paul Green. Yes he did his job but I saw very little else to comment on.
The positives do not stop there though, for me the best moment of the day was when Ross McCormack slotted away his penalty and ran to The Revie Stand and mimed signing his contract, like I previously said, a joy to behold.
Luciano Becchio was near his best, winning most of the headers he challenged for but with one slight criticism, he gave up balls way too easily.
The biggest talking point surrounding Saturday’s match was the signing of El Hadji Diouf on a non-contract basis. He played around fifteen minutes and was booed by our own fans every time he touched the ball. That I do not agree with, I never boo a player in a white shirt! It goes against everything I have grown up believing. That and the occasional ‘Bates Out’ chants were the second disappointment of the day.
It is easy to forget that with eleven new signings, there is one more new fixture at Elland Road this season. Facing the East Stand is none other than the fan paid for statue of Mr Don Revie. I saw him for the first time on Saturday and it was a ‘Shivers down my spine’ sort of moment and it capped a great day out in Leeds.
Roll on the Wolves game and I urge all like minded fans to get behind the team and manager, leave the ‘Bates Out’ chanting alone until we see how good this team actually is. Don’t get me wrong I want ‘Bates Out’ as much as the next fan but I always think that cheering on the mighty Whites is more beneficial than creating a hostile atmosphere.
Hopefully our dreams will be fulfilled before the Wolves game comes around…fingers crossed.