On the face of it, this match was about much more than what happened on the pitch. Two clubs in similar positions but worlds apart but both with a seething dislike for their owners.
So, who hates their owners more? Well it would appear Blackburn fans are getting down to business and supporting their team and oddly, their belligerent boss Steve Kean; although the latter is up for discussion as the small contingent of fans which made the trip were rather quiet.
Pre match, one couldn’t help but be somewhat flabbergasted at the utter hypocrisy of chairman Ken Bates’ programme notes. The man never ceases to amaze; after a few weeks of tepid remarks in his column, he once again continues to prod uncomfortably in the conscious thoughts of the moron masses.
‘Who are these investors?’ He asked. ‘Do they have funds?’ ‘What are their intentions for the club?’ I mean, is this man for real? You think, ‘this man knows not what he says’ but he writes this! He has the pure, fucking cheek to ask if someone with a shit-load of money has honourable intentions for the club when you’ve been pissing our money up the wall on a frickin’ casino blueprint!
I must start talking about the football before I get an aneurysm.
Leeds took to the field as expected, while Blackburn brought a squad which Neil Warnock could look upon with nothing less than seething envy. Parachute payments aside, they’ve kept a core of their best players and invested in the team – but as Ken says, that doesn’t get you anywhere except League One.
£8million pounds worth of (unproven League One) striker up front faced up against Tom Lees in defence, while Adam Drury and Lee Peltier slotted in at full back.
For Rovers, it was a return to Elland Road for Paul Robinson, one of the clubs’ fondest sons and a switch over at kick off for both sides brought a standing ovation for the former England number one from the kop.
The match was never going to be an easy one for Leeds; the aim for Warnock is to make Elland Road a ‘difficult place to come’, Leeds must build on home form but from the off, it was clear they were up against a higher class. Of footballer, of diver and of referee. Actually scratch that last one.
Leeds were on the back foot from the off and struggled to contain Blackburn in midfield and to assert any sort of presence on the pitch. Unbeaten in the league, Blackburn were confident in possession and took the lead with 19 minutes gone; Morten Gamst Pedersen’s diagonal pass found Markus Olsson who raced passed a non-existent defence and finished well across Paddy Kenny.
The goal had been coming but worryingly for Leeds, it was an all too easy spectacle. Peltier had got lost in midfield, presumably disorientated by a nosebleed from being that high up the field and in El Hadji Diouf, does not have a capable deputy at right back. Olsson simply shrugged him off as he jogged passed the former Blackburn man.
Their second goal came before the half hour as Peltier was again at fault, as was a very anonymous David Norris; this time it was Nuno Gomes in space to pick his spot and finish past Kenny. It was no less than they deserved; Leeds simply had no presence and no one looked prepared to step up and get the team going.
Luckily, if you want to see it like that, Diouf was in the right place as Leeds finally took advantage in a second goal-mouth scramble in as many minutes to grab Leeds a lifeline and Leeds suddenly had some momentum. Robinson was forced into a finger tip save as Leeds went in search of an equaliser but they were up against a referee determined to make a bad name for himself.
The linesman on the nearside was having an equally poor show as the crowd jeered and booed every decision, the most inexplicable as a Blackburn throw in curved out of play, only for the referee to order a retake anyway but with 11 minutes gone of the second half, Leeds had come back from the dead.
Drury’s long pass forward was seized upon by Ross McCormack who smashed home an unstoppably brilliant, outside-of-the-right-boot scissor kick which is better seen than described..
Elland Road exploded into life, from 50 minutes of barely registering in a clash which should’ve been over as a contest way before half time, suddenly it felt as though we could win. Or that we needed to hang on for another half hour…
Ten minutes later and it really was dreamland as Luciano Becchio, denied once on the line, stooped to head home a corner which Robinson seemed to take an eternity to reach; he wasn’t quick enough though and the header squirmed into the net.
Leeds should have had the points secured but Jason Pearces’ goal was ruled out for a foul by the defender but there was more controversy as the referee inexplicably changed his mind awarding Leeds a free kick, instead gave it to Blackburn. The ball pinged about in the area before Ruben Rochina’s backheel in front of goal found its way into the net past an unsighted Kenny.
On the face of it, the result was probably a fair one, the match had swung more uncomfortably and menacingly than a ride at Hull fair but the sense of injustice from the decisions of the utterly inept referee was more prominent than the fact that we had been dominated for large swathes of the game.
There were positives though, without wanting to be too obvious, the fact we should’ve lost this game well before half time and still came out with a point has to be up there. £8m worth of striker was kept utterly subdued by a superb Tom Lees as well, Jordan Rhodes may have bagged for fun in League One but he will face sterner tests than Lees in the future.
On the downside, our midfield struggled immensely. Before Luke Varney and Diouf swapped wings, Leeds had nothing, Becchio and McCormack were utterly isolated up front and forced to feed off Rodolph Austins wayward hoofs.
Varney for the most part has shown little since he arrived at the club and did little to improve that standing with a performance synonymous only with that of the ghost-like proportions of Danny Pugh.
David Norris has talent to spare but looked completely lost and devoid of any will to stick his f**king foot in while Austin was too busy hoofing the ball any which way on the odd occasion he got near the ball.
Peltier was worryingly bad; granted he had very little in the way of acceptable cover from right midfield but his continued positional failings left Blackburn with an easy route to two goals. His presence, or lack of as captain was also found wanting.
Becchio and McCormack just never really got into the game, they never got a chance. Such was the style of play, if one can call it that left McCormack bereft of service on the floor while Becchio was left to chase long balls which looked to have been primed by Bradley Johnsons GPS. Talk about wayward. When the play was more focused, Varney and Becchio did well in the air and Leeds threatened well at corners.
The facts remain though, with Warnocks continued insistence that there is no money with which to improve his already thin-on-the-ground, Leeds have a squad which may challenge for the play-offs at best but struggle in the derge of mid-table at worst.
Warnock came to the club with the premise that he’d be backed and that he’d take the club back to the promised land but while he is undoubtedly enjoying being at the helm, one can only but wonder the bubbling frustrations over the lack of investment in a team which badly needs strengthening.
The ever-intensifying speculation over a potential date for the takeover to be completed is doing nothing to aid Warnocks job. He knows his hands are tied until such time when a takeover is completed but fastforward till the end of January if you will. What happens if Leeds are marooned in midtable, no agreement on the takeover is forthcoming while Bates looks to squeeze every penny before signing and Warnock walks? What if he walks before then? He doesn’t particularly like loans and even if he had any money to make any, it’s not what he wants or what he thinks will get this squad promoted.
The matches seem to be a sometimes convenient distraction to the goings inside boardrooms in Monaco and Bahrain and every match seems to be dissectable by the shortcomings (past and present) of the Leeds board to build a team and not a hotel.
The next two weeks promise to be as uncomfortable as most of the summer months, bullshitting ‘in the knowers’ will spin forth rumours from farther afield than Beeston but by the time we play Cardiff in Wales, one can’t help but feel we are as far away as we have been from this takeover being completed.
P.S Excuse the promotion but while we’re on the subject of takeovers, please visit http://www.redbubble.com/shop/toma+t-shirts for a excellent piece of TOMA memorabilia.