I haven’t used this blog for a while, due to my ‘transfer’ to ‘Football Talent Spotter’ but seeing as a new rant.. I mean, blog, won’t be up till Monday, I wasn’t sure I could wait that long to voice my frustrations – with Leeds United that is.
Leeds’ game today, against inconsistent but sometimes decent Brentford, was never really going to be a goal fest, Brentford’s goal difference of 0 says it all really and Leeds’ recent poor form was hardly going to add to the occasion.
And unsurprisingly, it did not.
Yet again, Leeds started positively, well they saw plenty of the ball albeit while craning their necks as each one was sent skywards and came down with snow on it. The problems were evident from the off, the team selection yet again left plenty to be desired; although it was fan-bloody-tastic to see Aidy White getting a starting place.
Brentford arrived with ambitions as high as Paul Dickov, Leeds new and rather unpopular signing and predictably, parked the proverbial coach in front of the goal. Jose Mourinho was on to something when he spoke about Spurs’ lack of positive tactics in 2004, “As we say in Portugal, they brought the bus and they left the bus in front of the goal…”
With that in mind, and having seen the first half take rather awkward shape, you might have been forgiven for thinking the best option for a manager up against such tactics would be to start a midfielder in that Frank Lampard-esque role to come take the ball off the defence and pick out the space and the passes ahead of them; that ‘creative spark’ if you will. So it was disconcerting to see no sign of Neil Kilkenny although I later heard he’d picked up a knock in the warm up. Personally, I would’ve put him on even if he was on crutches, such was the ineffectiveness of Jonny Howson.
Listening to Minster FM on the way home, I heard no end of idiots spouting all sorts of rubbish on match they probably listened to on the radio; unfortunately much of the questionable content came from Eddie Gray who refuses to acknowledge that a) the players have been below par and b) that Grayson is getting some things wrong.
We had most of the possession and the BBC stats alone showed our domination but the same has been true in many recent games, having the ball but not having the intelligence to do anything meaningful with it. I might get criticised for being too negative about Leeds’ play but even when we were playing well in the first half of the season, there were very few matches where we actually went out and battered the other team and thoroughly deserved our win. Too often, our tactics seem to be to hoof the ball as high or far as possible, sometimes both and it was all the more baffling when Paul Dickov was introduced; if you didn’t know, Paul Dickov isn’t exactly a towering presence, not physically anyway. He’s a mere 5ft 5″, not exactly the best outlet for said hoofball tactics. Baffling even more that Tresor Kandol didn’t get a chance to show he can actually win headers after he did just that off the bench at Huddersfield last week. So many players in the Leeds squad must be stumped, what exactly do they have to do to start or even get on as a sub? I wouldn’t blame Mike Grella for waiving any rights over his contract and leaving the club; he is amongst one of the most skilful and capable players we have, yet Leeds have brought in the likes of Dickov – no disrespect to him and Grella has been relegated to the reserves. Proof if ever it was needed that football really isn’t fair.
Andy Hughes’ untimely departure from the field through injury/illness seemed to unhinge everything; our fluency evaporated. Hughes hadn’t even had a good game! Aidy White had a stormer but his injury problems preceded him as he made way for Bradley Johnson on 79mins, despite looking capable of fulfilling a full 90, instead of the 60 he is allegedly only capable of. White looked the only one capable of creating a goal; aside from his efforts and the occasional one from McSheffrey, I couldn’t see where a goal was going to come from today and when it did come, it owed as much to the hesitancy of the Brentford defence as it did Beckford’s poaching.
So, what are we left with? Well apart from an insurmountable gap between us and as-good-as promoted Norwich, we are now just 2pts ahead of Charlton. Yes we have a game in hand, but it is away at Tranmere on Tuesday, who will be well up for it after snatching a win against Southampton today.
League table aside, the problems are mounting; fast. Simon Grayson was untouchable from August through January but even since *that* win against Manchester United, it just hasn’t happened. Leeds have been exposed for too inconsistent and too mediocre on many occasions; never mind the FA Cup, every game is a cup final – every game must be won. If the players adopted the same attitude in the league, we’d be a few points from the 1st place trophy, yet here we are in a slump that seems like it’ll only end in yet more abject failure in the shape of the play offs.
So once again fingers are pointing at Ken Bates; Leeds’ chairman continues to keep the identity of the clubs real owners under wraps which begs the uber obvious question, what is he hiding? Norwich made significant investments in their squad in January and by God has it shown in their form; Leeds on the other hand did quite the opposite. How much does it say that the only significant investment we made is getting splinters up his backside on the bench, week in, week out? I’m not saying Max Gradel is the answer, but it speaks volumes about the club’s policy of attempting to ‘do a Burley’ and go up on the cheap. It’s clear that such a business model is not working for Leeds. I’m a big fan of Grayson and those calling for his head are getting way beyond themselves; it is not down to him alone that we ourselves in this position and he is undoubtedly doing everything he can to remedy the situation but clearly, he can’t do it all. As much emphasis must be placed on the resources he [doesn’t] have and those that he does, who aren’t performing. Today owed more to the fact the final ball wasn’t good enough and that we were wasteful, as oppose to poor selections. The most worrying thing is, this has been the norm for the last half dozen games or so, how is it going to change?
Tuesday could be a very, very long day.