It’s said that ‘a week is a long time in football’ and by the same measure, the three days since Leeds were unceremoniously dumped out of the FA Cup by a classy Man City side has certainly not passed by without dragging somewhat.
Even longer seemed to have passed since Leeds surrendered at Middlesboro’ a mere eight days previous, so brimming confidence was hard to come by as Blackpool rode into town. Those two defeats in a week had been a continuation of Neil Warnock being his stubborn, uncompromising self, but after both games, he finally made the admission that his days at Elland Road may well numbered. For Warnock, it was probably mind games; succumbing to the fans will without taking the most decisive step of leaving but it was all a pre-cursor to what turned into a very comfortable and deserved win over the Seasiders.
We should be surprised that Warnock tells us what we want to hear, he always has done and despite the recent run of form, the misery and the downright awful, he has suddenly pulled himself back from the abyss by beating a side lead by the newly-appointed Paul Ince; a hugely important win for morale but in the grand scheme of things, not much more.
Significance of league standing aside, the win was so valuable for a plethora of reasons, that culmination includes the work of the new owners to encourage the fans back to Elland Road and that worked. One couldn’t help but have feared the attendance at category prices would’ve seen a sub-17,000 crowd but with the ‘Watch Leeds 4 Less’ scheme in place, the fans were out in force. For the first time in a long time, there were so many parents with their kids in tow; however ridiculous football gets, it should always be attainable for the regular fan.
The atmosphere may not have been on a par with the cauldron-like passion from the Champions League days but since the visit to Man City, Leeds fans have regained their sense of humour on a much larger scale. Lets face it, the football has generally been awful, we’ve had no big signings to look forward to, there is still doubt over much of the particulars of the clubs’ finances and we’re probably not going to get promotion, BUT if one thing can improve off the back of the few glimmers we’ve been clinging on to, perhaps the fans can once more be united in our mutual love of Leeds. And all the **** that comes with it!
And hey, when the football is decent on the eye, it can be wholly appreciated as a massive bonus.
Effective it was too; with Warnock almost completely banishing the square pegs which have so blighted his round-holed team by dropping Michael Brown, Leeds can once more look forward, hopefully, to more free-flowing, intricate and confident football. Much of Leeds’ victory was owed to the newly found/regained veracity of Luke Varney; controlling the attacks down the left wing and dominating in the air up front.
Blackpool were hardly push-overs either; formidable they weren’t but they found many a path through the centre of Leeds’ midfield and tested Paddy Kenny a number of times; Kenny’s shot-stopping is top quality undoubtedly but his kicks still leave plenty to be desired. At least in Steve Morison and Varney, he has two targets to aim at instead of one. But no one tell Warnock that Varney was here at the same time as Luciano Becchio; because we didn’t have anyone’s head to aim it at before Morison.
It wasn’t until the second half till Leeds made the breakthrough they deserved; Ross McCormack was looking frustrated and creative in equal measure but his wide position meant chances were hard to come by. Not to worry though as his whipped corner went sailing through the Blackpool box and sat up nicely for a well-placed David Norris to fire Leeds in front.
On the hour, Leeds pulled further in front as ex-Leeds defender Stephen Crainey only succeeded in diverting Norris’ header into the path of the on-rushing Morison who picked up the ball, composed himself and sent Matt Gilks the wrong way to put Leeds two up at the near post. Clinical and confidence in a strike which will hopefully spur him on to look like he gives a damn; although in fairness, this was by far the biggest output he’s managed in terms of effort, so far. Nonchalant is not the word.
Amazing. A Leeds win which was wholly deserved, the right tactics, selection and in the stands, the right prices, the big attendance renewed belief. It’s like Warnock wasn’t even at training this week… Chuck in a clean sheet and it’s a full house.
A week really is a very long time in football. But then again, time is a healer.
ON ON ON