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Tuesday, 17 August 2010

A Very Rare Mindset – Leeds United 2010/11


“Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I assure you, it's much more serious than that.” – Bill Shankley

For as far back as I can remember, a match involving Leeds United has had the ability to dictate my immediate wellbeing. Entire weekends have been lost to depression and despair following adverse results, similarly the joy and elation of past and more recent triumphs have had me walking on air for days. The crippling, constant stress that last season’s promotion run-in brought upon me is not something I’d relish on an annual basis. I even developed a skin irritation that surfaced around early April, coincidence? probably not…

For years the pleasure of a bi-weekly trip to Elland Road has always been tempered by the thought of what the return journey across the M62 might bring. Would Eddie Gray still be as positive following another shambolic home defeat to the likes of Cheltenham Town?? Knowing that I’m at the mercy of a force that has the ability to destroy my entire weekend, and the worst thing? I’m powerless to stop it.

Now a Father, I’ve tried to limit the impact that Leeds United defeats or general disasters have on my life. By the same token, with our fixture against Nottingham Forest to be broadcast directly into my living room, I took the opportunity to stay at home and spend the time with my family. Having said that, it was only me watching Leeds!

One-nil down and probably only touched the ball a handful of times, it made for very difficult viewing. It was at this point I had something of an epiphany… Leeds United aren’t expected to get anything out of this game, we’re up against a side that only dropped points at home on five occasions last season. Meanwhile, we were making hard work of escaping the league below. As long as we reach the magic 50-point mark come February or March, I’ll be more than happy.

As much as our opening day defeat to Derby was difficult to stomach, it may actually have done us all a favour. Gone are the crazy optimists who were predicting The Whites to rampage through this league to the land of gold, sharp suits and inflated egos that is The Premiership. Instead we all pretty much accept that this will be a season of consolidation, a season to build foundations. Yes, our 20 year record of no opening day losses has gone, and was only made worse by the pantomime antics of Robbie Savage. Who incidentally, has threatened to retire from Twitter following the abuse he and his family received from some Leeds United themed usernames. Something to do with his ill Father, I'm not sure, I can’t fully remember…

Unfortunately, Robbie’s threat to abandon his online followers came at roughly the same time that David Beckham was publicly axed from the England National team. Alas, only 5Live took a mild interest in his plight, and he is still desperately living up to his childish Disney villain persona via the online network.

So here we are, about to embark on 9 months of football that will undoubtedly have more than a few ‘ups and downs’ but ultimately enjoyable and stress free. I think we’re steady enough that it shouldn’t be a matter of life and death come May. Having said that, with arguably our five best players set to return before Christmas… who knows?

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  1. Despite much better performance against Forest - a better team than Derby, the key problem is vulnerability at the back - resulting from same frailties that as obvious now as they were before the season started, namely central defence and a protective holding midfielder. I think more than any other this is the crucial factor we face as to whether we are able to seriously compete for play-offs or aim for consolidation this season, if that means a steady ship that stays safely away from danger.

    We miss Kis hugely, not just for his play but for the rest to organise around him. Against Derby especially there was no shape at all. It was like watching England. But even with him back his partner would be a trier, a 110 percenter with little class. Naylor, unfortunately, is a liability. Collins may be a step up from him but may progress as a player partnering Kis. In meantime Bruce will have to replace Naylor as lesser of two not-very-goods.

    This weakness means a good holding midfielder really important for protection. With Doyle gone, even though he may not have been the greatest, we are weak there. We are very impressive now moving forward from midfield, with good fluid movement, even with Snoddy and Gradel out, and it is hard to see how all talents can be accommodated. Would need to keep either Kilkenny or Howson as nearest to tackling/passers. Can't drop S-W or Sam. Guess Johnson will have to make way. But still leaves holding weakness. I'm not actually worried about striker issue. We have players already who can step up to from line either to play off or with front man.

  2. I agree with you about us going forward. We don't have the constant availability to drop a ball into the channels for Beckford anymore, as a result our interchanges and build up play has been superb so far. Most importantly we're creating chances from the play as opposed to just retaining the ball like we did under Gary Mac.

  3. I Really hope that Somma is given a chance.
    Do we need McCormack?


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