Sunday, 30 September 2012

Toffees, Bristol City and takeover titbits

I along with many other supporters didn’t believe that we would get anything out of the Capital One Cup tie against Everton on Tuesday night. A belief that was further strengthened when I saw the team sheets announced on Twitter. A team featuring Fellaini, Mirallas and Naismith would easily overpower and defeat a Leeds team starring the likes of Brown and Pugh I thought. How wrong was I? Brown was strong, sturdy and his tackles stifled the Everton attacks, whilst Danny Pugh gave his best performance for Leeds and was equally as impressive. Both these players have come in for a lot of criticism from myself and many others in the stands, but I’ll hold my hands up and say they performed beyond my expectations on Tuesday. However let’s not kid ourselves that this solves squad problem, as it clearly does not. However if they continue to put in these performances then they could become valuable squad members. Fingers crossed ay.

As for the rest of the team, they all performed admirably. No one had a bad game and for the first half, Everton had nothing to throw at us. Leeds stifled the Toffees and for the first 20 minutes or so would not let them out of their half. And even though, Everton came back into the game in the second half following two changes from David Moyes, Leeds continued their brilliant performance and duly deserved to go through and have their name in the hat for the next round. If i had to pick a player for man of the match however, it would have to go to Diouf. I was among those who didn’t want the Senegalese when he joined the club. But his performances have been nothing short of brilliant for the club since he has joined, whilst his behaviour has been exemplary. Who’d have thought we would have been saying that two months ago? If he carries on like this he will no doubt become a cult hero at Elland Road. It could very well be another Vinnie Jones situation brewing. I enjoyed the atmosphere at the game as well and I am looking forward to the same kind of atmosphere every week if this takeover finally goes through, however more on that in a minute. It was great to sing for Gary Speed once again for 11 minutes and when our fans are in full swing, I don’t think anyone can match them.

This brings me to the Bristol City match. The first half was one of few chances and as Eddie Gray kept mentioning, it was very ‘dour’ or was it ‘dire’? Who knows? However in the second half Leeds managed to break the deadlock with a goal for Diouf. Unfortunately Bristol hit back six minutes later with an impressive diving header from Adomah. The pendulum swung in Bristol’s favour as the home side applied more pressure on Leeds’ back line. However 11 minutes later it was the away side that were back on top, when Diouf calmly slotted under the goalkeeper. Two minutes later on loan midfielder Michael Tongue lashed a shot into the net from outside the box sending the crowd into delirium. I thought we would hold out and head back to Leeds with a plus two goal difference. However a scrappy Austin own goal ensured a few nervy minutes until the referee ended the match sending Leeds home with three points. It was a good win away at Ashton Gate, especially seen as only Blackburn had beaten them on their home patch so far this season. The match rounded up an impressive streak of three victories for Leeds United. The first time we’ve achieved the feat since 2010. Let’s hope we can continue this rich vein of form into the Bolton match at the Reebok on Tuesday night.

As for the takeover, we all know it has taken its sweet time, but developments in the past week or so seem to finally indicate that it’s moving in the right direction. Statements from GFH Capital surely hint that it is all but done, as such statements surely wouldn’t be released if there was lingering doubts. All signs lead to it being completed and announced this week, with tomorrow even being a possibility. Who knows? Monday 1st October could be the start of a new era for Leeds United. New week, new month, new start?

Thursday, 20 September 2012

The season so far

So after Leeds’ 3-2 defeat on Tuesday we are in the same position in which we concluded the last campaign. Is this where we all expected? Well before the season started I predicted a 5th place finish on The Scratching Shed but that was dependent on this ‘imminent’ takeover going through. Without it we will obviously struggle but personally I thought we’d be doing slightly better than we are doing right now. I have mentioned many times before that our squad is average at best and it is certainly too small to mount a promotion challenge. But the injuries to Paul Green, David Norris and more recently Ross Mccormack and Luciano Becchio have depleted it even more. Whilst players like Davide Somma and Leigh Bromby have been out since the season begun. There is no doubt in my mind that we have been unlucky with injuries for a few seasons now and it’s just our luck that with the smallest squad I can remember for some time, we have suffered an even higher volume of injuries than in recent seasons.

But they say one man’s misfortune is another man’s opportunity and these injuries have allowed youngsters to come through and flourish. Dominic Poleon and Sam Byram have come into the team and settled in immediately. Whilst Poleon has only had fleeting appearances, young Byram has become a permanent fixture in the first team and has churned out consistently impressive performances whether that be at right back or on the wing. His goal against Oxford in the cup showed maturity beyond his years and he evidently has confidence in abundance. His finish was composed and outrageous at the same time. If he carries on in the same vein, I believe he will become a very valuable player for us in the future, if he isn’t already, so hands off Norwich. Poleon will no doubt be starting games more often after the recent injuries to the forward line, starting with Forest on Saturday. I hope he can start scoring some goals that his energy and evident skill deserve.

As for the games we have already played, five of the six teams we have played are in the top 8 with bottom of the league Peterborough being the other team in question. First game of the season against Wolves was a great result and in my opinion a very solid performance, the injury to Green being the only sour point that day. Our loss to Blackpool was coming all game as they well and truly dominated the game, but it was still a shame we couldn’t hold onto our slender lead. The victory over Peterborough wasn’t that convincing to be honest but the victory was still deserved. The game against Blackburn was a thriller and it was one I didn’t think we would get anything out of when we went 2-0 down early on. But the lads fought back and showed great character to bring it back and go in front. The back heel surprised everyone and there’s certainly an argument that the free kick leading up to the goal shouldn’t have been. Diouf could and maybe should have won it at the end and with that goal we would be ninth currently. As for Cardiff, I never expected anything as we haven’t beaten them in 28 years and to be honest we didn’t deserve the three points but we could have certainly drawn the game. Bellamy’s free kick was brilliant but Michael Tongue didn’t have to commit the foul, whilst I don’t think it was a penalty for their second goal. The defending in the Hull game was reminiscent of last season and all in all it was a depressing night, with Poleon being really the only shining light.

So all in all we could have and maybe should have got all three points against Blackburn and without a silly mistake and a contentious refereeing decision against Cardiff could have got a point and maybe all three. You need a little bit of luck in this game and we certainly aren’t getting a fair share of it at the minute. With this takeover still chugging away in the background, I hope it is completed fairly soon, so that Warnock can get whatever is left available. If it is completed then hopefully Warnock can keep us in contention until January when we can hopefully strengthen the squad and maybe mount a promotion challenge. However until it materialises, I can’t see us challenging this season, with our threadbare squad and mounting injuries. Let’s hope these rumours of completion this week are correct and we can finally start thinking about football once again, after all, that’s what everyone else is doing.


Saturday, 1 September 2012

Transfer window slams shut, as takeover saga continues

The transfer window closed last night at 11pm with Leeds managing to hang on to their key players for once, however they failed to add to a depressingly small squad. Fans had to endure one time targets sign for our Championship rivals, and with so many teams strengthening it’s hard to see us challenging this season. Of course there is always the hope that we are taken over and that we strengthen in January and do a Reading. Or that the takeover is concluded in time for us to delve into the oh so familiar emergency loan market and acquire players with a view to permanent deals either in January or at the end of the season. But the frightening reality is that our squad cannot handle back to back Saturday and midweek games. It is too small and the quality outside of the first eleven too average for us to hope we can go to the likes of Forest, Cardiff and even Bristol City and continue to pick up results.

Warnock is no doubt as annoyed as us that he hasn’t been able to strengthen. A poster on WACCOE who is well respected and was deemed ‘kosher’ by the LUST chairman Gary Cooper confirmed as much last night when he posted that Warnock has already resigned ‘once this summer, but was persuaded by Harvey and the buyers to stay’ and that ‘he will be gone if bates is still presiding over next summer’. This to me proves that the Warnock resigning rumours earlier this summer were certainly true, whilst the poster also revealed rather interestingly that the ‘buyers have been in contact with Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich. Presumably this is to get information on how to deal with Ken Bates and the best tactics if you will to acquire the club. This to me is a great sign, I think that it shows that our potential new owners are business savvy and doing all they can to purchase the club.

There is of course other information given by that poster and others on WACCOE but I’ll let you seek that out for yourself, I would recommend every Leeds fan to do so as there is information that many of you should, but probably do not know. Moving back to the transfer window, I can’t help but look back and imagine what sort of team we could have had right now. I do think that the back five is the best we had in years, but imagine adding the likes of Howson, Snodgrass and Gradel to our midfield, whilst having players such as Beckford, Johnson, Clayton and Delph in reserve. Whilst I think that the situations with Beckford and Delph can be excused if not condoned, as I feel that Beckford was always going to end up in the Premiership and we should be glad that we held on for as long as we did. Whilst Delph was the first in a long line of players to leave and we couldn’t really turn down the reported amount of money whilst in League 1. The situation with the other players could have easily been avoided. Instead of signing the likes of Vayrynen and Pugh we should have been offering new contracts to our best players.

It really is inexcusable what has happened at Elland Road over the past few years and there isn’t any words that exist that could describe how we all feel about the current situation and what we have had to suffer over the last seven years. Fans are sick of it and many have ideas of how to try and show our feelings. Chants, banners, flags, peaceful protests and ideas such as sitting in the centre circle before a game or lining up outside Elland Road and not going into the games, but the main problem is that many are struggling to agree on what the right course of action is. We aren’t marching on together in the same direction at the moment and that is all down to one thing, and until that disappears the majority of supporters will not be happy and we will not be united as one.