I could live with mid-table, consolidation and being beaten by better teams who show us real football but I hate that while we are ‘exceeding expectations blah blah BLAH’ we are continually making exactly the same mistakes EVERY damned week.
I didn’t expect us to get anything from today; I know I live for being a pessimistic bugger but when a team comes a-knocking with the leagues top scorer in tow, it’s only natural that as a Leeds fan with our defence, I fear the worst.
If you are in any doubt as to why I might feel as such, I point you in the direction of the Championship table. If you can’t be bothered, I’ll break it down for you into easily digestible chunks, which even Bradley Johnson could get his head round.
We have conceded no less than 68 goals in the league this season. That’s 68. Home and away, 34 each. Only four teams have conceded more and they’re propping up the wrong end of the league table. We’re like a shit Real Madrid of the mid 2000’s, except we don’t often score more than we concede.
So, as Simon Grayson says in what might as well be a recorded interview to be played after every match – we keep making silly mistakes at the back and we’re making them every week. It’s wholly frustrating for that reason, right there. Nothing changes! Every match this season, it’s the same story. Shite defence, no matter which combo of centre halves are used, yet transfer windows came and went and still we did not strengthen.
It looked like Andy O’Brien was desperate to get Kasper Schmeichel dropped today; to say they’ve played most the season together is staggering, it looks like they’ve never even met. Such was the lack of communication as O’Brien sent him suicidal back-passes and ignored Schmeichel when he tried to claim the long ball.
Don’t get me wrong, Schmeichel is not beyond censure. I’ve always been a fan of his no-nonsense attitude and spurts of spontaneous anger/passion but he is being exposed beyond the front he gives.
His kicking early doors was confident as he picked out Rob Snograss on the wing a number of times as Watford afforded the returning Scot plenty of room but the fans were getting restless as he dallied when the quick ball was on and crucially, when, as Watford poured forward, he made a suicidal decision. As a cross was swung in, Schmeichel was caught in about 18 minds, striding forward to come and claim, but half way decided to retreat to the safety of his line but it was too late, Lee Hodgson had the easy header in the back of the net.
Minutes before, Leeds had finally engineered a goal; as Barry Bannan swung in a freekick, super-sub Luciano Becchio rose highest to head beyond Scott Loach. It was a well deserved lead; after a dour first half, the only notable chance came through Max Gradel. Snodgrass played him in but Gradel got too much on it, just a couple yards out and the ball came back off the underside of the crossbar and Davide Somma couldn’t make the most of the rebound.
The other bits from the first half? O’Brien powering a back-pass at Schmeichel which he did well to clear; too much hoofing from O’Brien and Bromby; too many misplaced passes and no service what-s0-ever to Somma. I don’t think Somma had that bad a game; I’m not sure what anyone expects when the defence constantly lump balls forward to a striker who never wins a header and a winger who could probably pass as a dwarf. He was starved of service and all too often had to come deep into midfield to even get a touch.
Now, about them lessons being learnt. Why was Jonny Howson playing left wing? He struggled on the right, hasn’t done much down the centre recently.. I guess the law of averages suggests wide left might’ve worked. The interchanging five man midfield wasn’t really working; Watford exploited the lack of solid positions by making some incisive runs, although in the end they came to nothing. Snodgrass was clearly either unfit or just knackered, again; while Gradel wasn’t having much luck down either wing. The only mainstay which was working, was Neil Kilkenny but true to form – having surprisingly survived the axe to start this match, he was hauled off to make way for Becchio.
I agree that Johnson, Howson and Kilkennmy are the staple midfield but when it effectively becomes 4-3-3 with Howson and Johnson unsure of what exactly constitutes being a central midfielder, it just didn’t really work and was exacerbated by the lack of service to lone front man Somma.
Back to the action and the woodwork came to Leeds’ rescue shortly after the break as Danny Graham crossed for Don Cowie whose free header came back off the crossbar into the grateful hands of Schmeichel.
Not ten minutes after the restart and Kilkenny was absurdly sacrificed as Grayson threw caution to the wind, bringing on a second striker, Becchio. The impact was immediate as Leeds began to win headers; Gradel sent a low shot wide before a Johnson header looped just wide.
Becchio then headed Leeds into a deserved lead from Bannan’s freekick and Bannan nearly grabbed a second before Johnson’s deft touch allowed Becchio what should have been an easy finish, but he blazed over.
It felt like that chance may well come back and proverbially bite us on the bottom and sure enough, a lack of concentration and organisation at the back saw Hodgson steal in unmarked to head Watford level. It felt like Derby all over again.
A goal mouth scramble ensued after a Bannan cross caused all sorts of problems in the Watford defence but the ball just wouldn’t go in for Leeds. Becchio then had to be subbed due to an injury allowing Ross McCormack to get the obligatory five minute sub appearance we’ve become accustomed to.
Watford weren’t hanging about though and after Graham danced through a good half dozen ‘challenges’, Andreas Weimann was left in quite literally acres of space for an easy tap in and yet again the Leeds defence were left gazing at each other in search of what could only be a manual in how to defend: the basics.
It didn’t take long for an equaliser though as a Bannan corner was thumped into his own net by Troy Deeney; a fortunate goal but a deserved one none the less. The final five minutes brought nothing more than a flurry of half chances and what one would describe as an obvious penalty. I haven’t seen the replays so apologies if I’m wrong. Snodgrass lined a cross up and the defender, although only a couple yards in front of him, clearly raised his arms to stop the cross and the ball hit his arm. Snodgrass was incensed as the linesman seemed to gesture that he didn’t see it. Which begs the question, what the fuck was he looking at? Scuse the French, but the lino was no more than a dozen yards away and directly in line with play. Again, apologies if the replay suggested otherwise, but it looked nailed on.
So. We didn’t get torn a new one, which was a surprise. We did concede two, again, which was not a surprise. A point gained sees us two ahead of Nottingham Forest and Hull and four ahead of Millwall with four games to go. With Reading, Burley and QPR to play, (not to mention relegation threatened Crystal Palace) things are looking about as secure as a bridge on the M1.
I never liked the play offs anyway. Waste of money, always disappointing and I’ve already been to Wembley. So yeh, whatever.
ON ON ON!