If I had a quid for everyone who asked me ‘Ooh what happened with Leeds last night then?’ then I’d be able to buy a baseball bat to hit them all with.
What happened? Well… This was a freak scoreline however beyond the drubbing and the ridiculous result, the cracks which have long been expanding burst into open chasms.
Forest weren’t bothered about playing football, like Leeds. The constant hoofballs and misplaced passes were punctuated by their willingness to gamble in attack, to take a chance and go ‘ah what the hell’. All aided ably by the rather hapless Andy Lonergran.
The facts have long been clear; the Chairman said the same squad was good enough when Simon Grayson was in charge but now we’re still a few loans short of a bank.. Umm. Anyway.
The squad is not good enough. That’s the bottom line. Neil Warnock knows it, Ken Bates knows it, everyone knows it. One keeps harking back to Grayson’s tenure but the point is, Leeds were only a few quality players short of a promotion charge.
The continued exodus of dead wood has long been overdue and we’re now down to the bare bones; the incomings though, just to make a change, have been thin on the ground. Warnock has mentioned regularly his need to get one or two players here and there.
The same question seems to pop up with Leeds, namely why the hell the team never turn up on a Tuesday night game? Another was what the hell had changed so much since the draw against West Ham on Saturday?
Warnock was generous towards his players in public but one hopes the half-time hairdryer stayed firmly lodged up their backsides. He said that managers learn more about their players when they’re losing but one would be most surprised if Warnock hasn’t already made his mind up about much of the squad but for fuck sakes Neil, don’t give us excuses. Are we really supposed to believe that seasoned professionals who train regularly and have expert fitness guidance are only capable of playing one match a week?
The match was an utter debacle.
After five minutes, Leeds had taken the lead through a Rob Snodgrass penalty after Ross McCormack was tripped in the box by Adlene Guedioura but even by then, Dexter Blackstock had nearly put Forest ahead but his toe poke squirmed off the post.
Minutes later, Guedioura atoned. The Leeds defence backed off and his speculative drive from 35-odd yards swerved in the air and past a helpless Andy Lonergran.
The match was painfully poor, football was sacrificed for hoofball as both sides struggled to keep the ball on the deck and when it was, Paul Robinson was meting out some hefty challenges, one of which ended up with him in the book.
As Leeds went back down the other end, Snodgrass made a run into the box and centred for Aidy White but his audacious backheel was easily cleared. From the resulting corner, Forest broke with staggering ease. Andy Reid’s pass to Radoslaw Majewksi had Leeds struggling for cover and sure enough, Garath McCleary found himself in acres of space down the right. The finish looped over Lonegran.
Forest continued to press and Leeds’ defence continued to crumble. First, Lonergran didn’t get close to collecting a cross, which allowed McCleary a shot which was off target before Reid crossed for Blackstock to head home, out-jumping the hapless Tom Lees.
I have recently been very complimentary of Lees; he has improved immensely this season but fatigue or not, there was no excuse for his inept performance. One wonders whether the public criticism of him by his manager had affected him but after being at fault for West Ham’s late equaliser, he’s treading a thin line.
Snodgrass was doing his best to help Leeds back into things and when his right wing cross found Luciano Becchio alone in the Forest box, the Argentine made no mistake.
What happened next was a thing of real beauty. A miracle if you will. Michael Brown has never so much as even troubled an opposition keeper with anything other than mouthing off too much but he does have the odd stunner in him. His half volley with the outside of his right foot from just outside the box was one of the most surprising moments I’ve ever had as a Leeds fan.
Sadly, the elation wasn’t to last. McCleary latched on to a long ball down the Leeds left and even with the angle against him, managed to fire a rasping shot into the far corner past Lonergran.
Reid was again involved when he found McClearly unmarked in the box for his hattrick, as his shot went underneath Lonergran. Leeds were just about still going and Snodgrass was unlucky when his fierce drive was acrobatically saved by Lee Camp.
McCleary then made it six with a run and shot from down the Leeds left and Blackstock made it a record-breaking seventh.
So, these cracks. Warnock has Bates in a corner; fail to back him and Warnock will walk, regardless of what happens in the next 18 months and Warnock will be done with football.
It’s the same old situation, Bates needs to back his manager in the transfer window yet there is no precedent here, despite the fans optimism. Oddly, the result didn’t leave us any worse off than before the match. *Straws*
Too many good players have left Leeds and we’re left with the likes of Danny Pugh. He cost *half a million* pounds. Read that again; what a ridiculous amount of money to spend on a player who is as woefully inept as him. I’ll never know what Grayson saw in him.
Give or take half a dozen players, the team desperately needs an overhaul. Warnock continually alluded to the fact that he is down to the bare bones with his squad and one can only hope he is doing so to put pressure on the chairman to dip into the ‘warchest’ this summer.
Last night was an utter embarrassment and a disgrace to the club, make no mistake but the worst thing is, it’s hardly a rarity, we’ve been treated to ‘classics’ like the 4-6 vs Preston, the 0-4 trashing from Cardiff, the Blackpool/Rachubka show and the Birmingham 1-4, chuck in the defeats to Barnsley and so on.
At least if he didn’t know the size of the job facing him, he sure does now. Like a slap round the face and a swift one to the bollocks. Good luck Neil.