Trips to Oakwell are – no offence Barnsleh fans, generally an unattractive proposition; the same way someone who hates shopping and home improvements might look forward to visiting Ikea. You hate it; you hate the people, you hate the place, you have to go where you’re told and at the end of it, you’ve spent a fortune and come out with nothing more than a burning desire to break every piece of chip-board in sight.
I digress. I do actually like Ikea.
The point is, Barnsleh is a trip that has all the makings of a good away day – save for the fact it’s Barnsleh but every season, despite the optimism, it’s is an utterly depressing affair. Even the copious amounts of alcohol can do little to blot out how utterly awful Leeds United are at the moment and yet, we’re always still there.
Of the near 14,000 crowd, around 4,800 were Leeds; it just goes to show that however bad it can get, the fans are always there – at the away games at least.
In @ken_demanges’ latest article, he explores the intentions of the new Leeds United owners based on their own promises and tired soundbites in GFH: Supporter Engagement – Mandate or Myth?
The problem for GFH is that the whole club needs an overhaul, and while much of it is already under-way internally, the fans need to see more evidence of this in the areas that really matter to the paying customer, namely on the pitch. One cannot see the logic in keeping Neil Warnock at the club any longer without tying him down to a longer stretch. If he intends only to see out his contract – which is up in summer, then he must be relieved of his duties now.
We cannot be left with a squad of Warnock’s moulding to hand over to a new manager without losing yet more seasons to ‘transitional’ periods; strong decisions need to be made. It is a great shame that Warnock’s short time at Leeds hasn’t worked out as well as hoped; sure he had the pedigree, the nous and the bollocks to haul Leeds back into being contenders but unfortunately for him, his time has been dogged with uncertainty over the clubs future and indeed his own.
The Barnsleh result was just one in a long line of tired, frustrating and passionless performances which have angered the fans to the point where Warnock and his players cannot escape the continued anger of the fans. The booing at the end of the matches is getting louder and more vociferous with every passing loss. Warnock appears powerless to halt the slide and his selections and tactics have become a point of ridicule.
That Leeds had not one effort on target throughout the match was no surprise but to face the leagues’ basement and managerless club and be outplayed to such an extent was a tipping point. Are we to be subjected to another four months of this?
Leeds were sluggish, second to the ball and wasteful in possession. Untidy positioning allowed Jim O’Brien and the ever annoying Marlon Harewood efforts on the Leeds goal before O’Brien was stretchered off in the only real incident to grace an utter dreadful first half.
Ross Barkley, making his full debut after signing online from Everton carved out a good chance after the break but sent his shot just wide.
Even the introductions of Ross McCormack and Paul Green for El Hadji Diouf and David Norris did little to get Leeds into the contest although the did add energy. Predictably though, it was a mistake from Leeds which gifted Barnsleh the lead. Uncharacteristically though, it came from Sam Byram’s clumsy challenge on Chris Dagnall in the box and Dagnall himself got up to smash the ball beyond Paddy Kenny.
To make matters worse, just three minutes later, the game was over. Dagnall burst passed Byram in the box as though he weren’t there and neatly finished beyond Kenny at the far post. It was nothing less than the home side deserved from there neat passing and considered attacks. Leeds could do nothing to counter it and even less to further their own cause.
Jason Pearce was constantly tormented by a stronger, instinctive Harewood who orchestrated the Barnsleh attacks while Alan Tate was struggling to work out which foot was which.
At the end, the boos reigned down on Warnock and his men as they trudged off into the corner; a clearly angry Becchio was first down the tunnel while the others followed meekly. Warnock knew what to expect and couldn’t even hide his limp applause behind Barkley as he came to meet his new gaffer.
As Warnock followed, he looked lonely, frustrated and with less fight than ever before trotting out the cliches, excuses and tired old ramblings to the media, like this gem:
“I think I’m doing a great job if I’m honest…”
In fairness to Warnock, the whole stagnant mire we find ourself currently in is not all of his making, he has been played a hand which many would’ve lost long ago, while Warnock has played on regardless.
His selections and tactics have been head-scratching at times but one cannot absolve him of blame as he continues with the Leeds United love affair of pegs and round holes. Warnock could do worse than to admit he should never have appointed Lee Peltier as his captain; let alone as his first choice left back. Warnock continues to insist that Adam Drury is a non-option due to illness/injury/the apocalypse (whatever it was this week) yet when he was fit, he was continually overlooked.
Tom Lees was one of our most consistent performers and most prominent centre back and yet he seems to have been nudged out in favour of a below par Pearce and Tate who appears to be turning into Roque Juniour with every passing game.
Leeds have long struggled to dominate in midfield and we can all comfortably come to the conclusion that despite his cult status, Rudy Austin is not the marauding, brickshithosue option we hoped he could be. Leeds need width and pace, of which we have no natural options and up front, one cannot feel eternally sorry for Becchio as he plies a lone-furrow up front in the hope of even the most meagre scraps.
McCormack’s continued omission from the starting line up is also nonsensical. Ok, yes, I am biased – I love McCormack but he is a creative, attacking forward whom we can ill afford time on the subs bench.
It’s not good enough. Leeds have a good dozen players with the quality to challenge for the play offs at the very least. Now if we could just get them in their positions, Neil….
The Birmingham replay mid-week may well be a nice distraction. But I doubt it.