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Monday, 9 August 2010

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly…


Well that’s the first game out of the way, and as the hysteria of an opening day defeat for Leeds United begins to subside, I’m sure, like me, most people realise that this league isn’t going to be easy. I’m not suggesting for a moment that we’re in dire trouble, far from it. Saturday’s performance would have produced 3 points in League One  eight times out of ten. On another day, with a little more luck we’d have been celebrating 21 seasons without an opening day defeat.

As it was, we were punished for mistakes that ultimately cost us the game. Mistakes that wouldn’t necessarily have been exposed in the third tier.

The most pleasing aspect of Saturday, and the part that should fill all Leeds fans with confidence was the ease in which we created chances and real goal scoring opportunities, this without arguably our three best attacking players in Gradel, Snodgrass and Paynter.

I’m sure most will point to the defence as our main achilles heel, and without a solid base, our attacking prowess is academic. There is no denying that we looked shaky at the back, ok downright awful at times, but as the squad and players settle down and with games, I’m sure that they’ll improve. Kasper aside though, the rest of the back five seem devoid of leadership, I hope that changes as the various individuals become more comfortable with their new colleagues.

For me, our main area of concern is central midfield. Three in the middle is fine, providing they’re not all doing the same thing… Kilkenney is not a holding midfielder, nor does he play like one. He comes short for balls into feet to link defence to the attack, which is exactly how youngsters should be taught to play the game. Unfortunately, such qualities are useless when a move breaks down and you’ve got three midfielders running at an exposed defence, as was evident for Saturday’s opening goal. An orthodox holding midfielder would have halted that move, legally, or otherwise before Rob Hulse was released.

Strangely, this has been Leeds’ problem for over 18 months now and has yet to be addressed. League One midfielders won’t punish such a tactical omission, but in the coming weeks we’ll be coming up against much tougher midfielders than those that Derby possess, players who just 3 months ago were lining up against the likes of Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and Cesc Fabregas. Grayson has to act on this issue! Our new 4-5-1 formation, that was so effective for teams in South Africa operated with TWO holding midfielders, we don’t have any!

That also brings me onto what exactly Bradley Johnson brings to the team? Answers on a postcard please. (or the comments section below)

Going forward we seemed fine, a little lack of understanding and unfamiliarity was obvious, but to be expected. I can see why Simon brought Billy Paynter in; to share the duties of lone frontman with Luciano Becchio. Evidently leading the line on your own is a tiring job, poor Luciano looked like he was about to keel over towards the end on Saturday, expect his number to appear on more than a few fourth official’s boards this season as soon as Paynter is fit.

All in all, it was a decent performance and an entertaining match for any neutrals. Kasper Schmeichel looked for all the world like a top class goalkeeper and his ability will undoubtedly earn us several extra points this season, both in his handling and his kicking. Jermaine Beckford would have notched at least another ten goals last season had we possessed a goalkeeper with such distribution.

More difficult games on the horizon and we need to pick up a win ASAP but I'm not besieged with fear so far,  I’m as confident of a midtable finish as I was on Friday… the dreams of a surprise promotion party come May though are beginning to fade…

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  1. I am totally disgusted with bates for not spending any real money on players,relying on free signings and loan players.for god's sake bates must go,and go now!!!.


  2. yeah I agree with most of that,the thing that worried me apart from the dreadful defending was that we had over an hour to equalise at home which we failed to do,Lloyd Sam looks to be a good player but looked very nervous on saturday but without doubt a defensive midfielder who can tackle win the ball and pass it to kilkenny simple as that,anyone know Batty's phone number !!

  3. well it hasn't bothered me too much losing the first game of the season as atleast 2 other top teams in this league lost there opening game . it also takes the pressure off of us in future seasons opening games. we need time to grow and really need kis back asap as he is our best defender .i thought watt would of taken over gradel with ease but i thought he looked a little shaky at times with ball sticking inbetween his feet.the lincon game should help on tuesday and i think its time to give grella a bigger part to play in cup games

  4. i think bates as done very well for us to be honest. hehas got us out of debt and now we are earning a profit . i dont know what u want him to spend his money on really. hooper would not of come to us as he had the chance to play in europe, billy sharp had already made is mind up where he was going and anyone else decent cost over the odds and would get snapped up by prem league teams.bates said he has 4 mill in bank but neva said what it was for.maybe he will spend in jan if we are in trouble.if not its extra money for when we are mor established in this league.

  5. not at all worried about this defeat - although a victory would of been ideal, i think everbody saw enough to agree we shouldn't struggle this season.

    I agree regarding Bradley Johnson, i can't put my finger on what his main attribute to the team is?! his workrate is tireless which i like however a good workrate won't win you games if the basics aren't there ie quality. I would gamble on replacing him with Bruce next week as we need a protecting midfielder for a fixture such as Forest away, and Bruce can play the holding role.

    When Snoddy, Gradel and Paynter are back (which i imagine will all be around the same time) i think we could be a handful for some teams, providing we set our stall correctly and accordingly.


  6. Re. Johnson - Dreadful, just dreadful. Really can't understand how he can go from a capable midfielder one week to whatever that was on Saturday the next. And for Christ sake we need to stop him taking free-kicks!

  7. in all fairness his 2nd freekick probably would of burst the net if it wasn't for Barker getting in the way with his head!

    saying that his 1st one was terrible!!

  8. Yes defensive midfielder is a must and yes Johnson was awful but people that think we have money are deluding themselves I think. I am convinced all the spare cash we generate is going to pay off the debt that was 'cancelled' when Bates took us out of administration but it's only my opinion of course

  9. How much would Doyle cost,to come back?
    Not the earth i think,plus he wants to play for us.Being fair to simon Grayson,you can only use the tools you are given,Naylor looked out of his depth on this one showing.Hope things get better.

    Jon-paul Pittman,from Wycombe,would seem like a good gamble.

  10. I was most dissapointed with both Watt and Sam, they seemed to give away possession every time they got the ball. I was hoping to see a few decent crosses but they just kept loosing the ball :(
    On the otherhand I was delighted with Schmeichel and Becchio :)
    and yes... the defence need some leadership and organisation.

  11. The Herbman said ...

    Same story unfortunately, no holding central midfielder, poor central defenders (loads of hoofing up field 1st half, backed off all the time, no pace), i doubt we will see Kisnorbo much this season, and a striker who can score goals. Grella has had enough chances, just gets pushed off the ball too much, SG needs to get some quality quickly. Sam and Watt looked okay to me, but need a forward to pass to.

  12. Heard any rumours sweeping the net about Becchio going to celtic,hope it's not true.


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