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Wednesday, 13 April 2011

That familiar sinking feeling…

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This week marks the 99th anniversary of R.M.S. Titanic’s maiden Trans-Atlantic voyage. It’s a familiar story, the grandest feat of human engineering laid to rest at the bottom of the ocean, due in most part to over confidence and complacency. “Titanic was unsinkable” or so the designers and engineers believed, not because they were intellectually inferior to modern day engineers, but because they believed that they had solved the problem of losing vessels to icebergs by constructing water-tight compartments below the water line, at the front of the ship. Thus, any breach of the hull could be contained and crucially keep the ship afloat.

As it turns out, the engineers and designers had made the crucial error of only constructing the water tight sections in the front third of the liner, any glancing collision down the side would prove fatal… Other  reported design errors with Titanic were that the ship was too large and too powerful, with too small a rudder and that the steel used on the hull of the ship was brittle and poorly manufactured. Not to mention a crew that were ill prepared and a Captain who’s mind was set on his retirement once the ship docked (Well done to those that already have Ken Bates in mind).

At this point you may be thinking why a Leeds United blog is describing the short comings of a century-old ocean liner, let me explain;

Having wasted an entire evening (and early morning) watching Leeds United at Pride Park yesterday, I’m struggling to grasp what the thinking was behind the majority of decisions that resulted in The Whites squandering a lead and almost a Play-off place in the space of 4 minutes.

Surely when you take the lead in a very tight away fixture against a team fighting for their lives, the obvious thing to do is steady the ship and consolidate your position for the next 10 or 15 minutes, ensure people are doing their jobs and not allow any situations to spiral out of control…

Unfortunately, the current Leeds squad has no leader, nobody to take charge, and nobody to make sure the aforementioned plans are put into action. This isn’t a slight on our current captain. Jonny Howson has performed above all expectations this season but you’re either a leader of men or you’re not; Jonny is not! A Roy Keane type figure wouldn’t have allowed last night’s debacle to unfold, Jake Livermore would have been strangled near to death for continually conceding possession long before he passed to a Derby man on the edge of his own area and gifted them the equaliser. Bradley Johnson would have been told in no uncertain terms that blazing the ball, first time from 18 yards into the visiting support, isn’t the required action when you’ve got space, time and players in support whilst chasing a game in injury time. Similarly Paul Connolly would have received a mouthful for shirking his responsibility to cross the ball in the 96th minute, instead he chose to pass to Max Gradel who was surrounded by two Derby players. Come to think of it, the serial clown that is Robbie Savage would probably have had something to say about most of those ridiculous situations. As it is, similar to R.M.S. Titanic, Leeds are without a capable crew and without a sufficient rudder.

Statistically we have the most potent strike force in the division, an embarrassment of riches at this level and without doubt some of the best individuals the NPower Championship has to offer. Yet, all that grandeur and fa├žade is undermined by a brittle and incapable defensive line, a soft underbelly, and  like Titanic a poorly constructed foundation that all the splendour and awe-inspiring riches are built upon. It doesn’t take a mathematician to figure out such a basic equation… Simon Grayson has plugged leaking holes, bailed out unwanted bilge and waded through the treacherous water of the loan market for over 2 years now, but has never got around to building the water-tight bulkheads above E-Deck, if you will. Every Leeds fan (and opposition manager) knows we have a dreadful back line, yet we loan a further two young midfielders and send an experienced International out to fight a relegation battle elsewhere… a crazy decision. Almost as crazy as finding yourself a goal down, 4 minutes after taking the lead and then respond by substituting your top goalscorer, and main aerial threat, before launching long, high passes at his replacement. You can’t blame Davide Somma, an aerial battle with 2 huge centre halves isn’t his game and why Grayson resorted to Andy O’Brien as makeshift targetman, meanwhile Becchio soaked his feet on the bench.

Fortunately Leeds have a little longer to stem the tide than those poor souls in 1912. However, without addressing the serious issues that have plagued us all season, and most of last, it’s likely to all end in disaster…

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Monday, 11 April 2011

Petition to hand Lucas the 'Key to Leeds’

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Amidst all the fall-out, sour grapes and verbal mud-slinging that followed last week’s victory over Nottingham Forest, I stumbled across this very nice idea to honour our former captain.

Loadsof Leeds.com has drawn up a petition to make Lucas Radebe a ‘freeman’ of the city of Leeds.

I’m sure every Leeds United fan would welcome ‘The Chief’ as a Freeman of Leeds so please sign the petition by following the link below;

SIGN THE PETITION

Lucas logo


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Monday, 4 April 2011

Leeds, Forest, Danny Mills, Small man syndrome and the BBC

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With the prolonged lack of activity on this blog you might think I’d have more to write about but following the inexplicable fall out from the weekend’s game against Forest I have more than enough issues to forward my opinion on…

Firstly lets start with Leeds United; Having had two whole weeks to ponder the disastrous performance at Bramall Lane most would be forgiven for thinking that the same United eleven would have started this game with something to prove and set about a team who are evidently low on confidence from the first whistle. However, as is common with the current Leeds squad, they ease themselves into a match and only start to play when the situation dictates that they have no other alternative, conceding the opening goal usually does the trick!

On Saturday though it wasn’t until the second half that Leeds worked out that playing against 10 men is usually an indication to spread the play and utilise our excellent wingers, presumably Simon Grayson pointed this master tactic out at half time, as prior to this Leigh Bromby and Andy O’Brien were seemingly partaking in their own school yard competition of who can kick the ball the furthest!

After this revelation, there was only ever going to be one winner. Most seemed convinced that the 4-1 scoreline  flattered Leeds but had Max Gradel located his shooting boots 30 minutes earlier then it could have been six or seven…

Forest for their part played some decent stuff but I commented during the game that if Leeds got one then The Reds would likely implode. Having had the majority of the opening play they were dictating the game, without really impressing. Although only Leigh Bromby’s shins prevented them from taking the lead and that little intervention resulted in the game’s biggest talking point – Max Gradel cleared the loose ball down the line to George McCartney, as the ball bounced in front of the Leeds man Chris Cohen launched himself into a heavy challenge, taking the ball but sending McCartney sprawling. The challenge sparked uproar on the home bench and in the stands, indeed even the opposing members of staff were involved in an altercation on the touchline.

Television replays show that Cohen took the ball and that both players went into the challenge ‘committed’. The rights and wrongs of the decision will roll on and on (well ‘til Thursday at least). As a fellow referee, I can certainly see why Halsey sent Cohen off, in real time, from all angles, other than that from behind the Forest man it looks like a shocking challenge. Unfortunately neither official or Simon Grayson had the luxury of that ‘perfect’ angle. From my view point, granted 70 yards away in The Revie Stand it looked horrendous. One thing I would say is that if you throw yourself into a challenge at that velocity and with your whole body off the floor then you leave yourself open to the interpretation of the officials regardless of how ‘clean’ the challenge may have been, for that reason you could say that the dismissal was warranted and I’d be very surprised if it was overturned (Despite Steve Claridge’s excellent case for the defence)

Speaking of Mr Claridge I’m can see why he was in the BBC studio on Saturday, as a regular pundit for The Football League show he obviously watches his fair share of lower league action. On the other hand, his fellow studio guest has clearly watched very little. Danny Mills’ summary of the game was seemingly a catalogue of pot-shots at Leeds United, culminating in the ridiculous statement that “Leeds have been decidedly average for two seasons”. Quite how he comes to this conclusion is a mystery, sure when compared to the exploits of Barcelona or even Manchester United then yes, Leeds have been average, maybe even below average! But to tag a team that has just won promotion from the division that it found itself in and then in the following season be in without a shout of a second promotion (not to mention our goal scoring record – just short of 2 goals/game) is just plain stupidity. Quite what Danny Mills’ problem is, is anybody’s guess. However, he can rest soundly tonight having gotten all that off his chest. He can also be safe in the knowledge that despite their average performances, the current Leeds squad have achieved far more in the white shirt than Mr Mills ever did…

Whilst on the subject of hateful little Ba****ds, that brings me on nicely to the subject of Billy Davies. If any psychologist doubted the reality of ‘Small man syndrome’ they need only spend a few hours with this little c**t. Three games against this man’s teams have ended in unparalleled fall-out. His now legendary ‘Job Done” claim whilst manager of Preston resulted in petty, futile claims of vandalism directed at the Leeds staff and fans following his sides defeat in the Play-off semi-final. After the return fixture at The City Ground earlier this season he claimed Leeds were overly-physical and cynical, yet declined to comment on Chris Gunter’s blatant stamp on Sanchez Watt. His post match interview on Saturday intimated that Simon Grayson was responsible for getting Chris Cohen sent off… nothing to do with his teams cynical, petulant approach to a match that they were in control of for the opening half hour. You’d think he learn his lesson, From pissing about on the sidelines trying to provoke the Elland Road crowd just prior to his team losing a man and with it, all hope of three points, to subliminal attacks on fellow professionals. In his head he must imagine that the whole world is laughing at him, persecuting him for his own feelings of inadequacy as is common with small man syndrome.

At the beginning of February, Forest were everybody’s favourites for promotion, after 1 defeat in 10 games they were the proverbial dark horse and were seemingly going to sail to promotion. Unfortunately Billy mistook the plaudits of the football world as an attack on his small demeanour so he opened his mouth again… Davies claimed that his team weren’t ready for automatic promotion just yet… Forest have won just one of their 12 matches since… we are indeed all laughing at you Billy.

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