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Wednesday, 13 April 2011

That familiar sinking feeling…


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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  1. Yeah i think you are about spot on there

    similar to last season where despite beckford not giving a shit, he persisted with him until becchio gradel partnership got us back on track

    lets hope for a similar epiphany soon

  2. Things are getting so desperate in defense, we must be due to recruit another striker or midfielder soon ! Of course, make sure they are free or cheap first.

  3. Spot on there like, we might have gained promotion but the main problems are still there, with kisnorbo injured there is no leader, we need a leader who isnt afraid to give all the players a bollocking. this team just isnt consistant enough and definately wont be going anywhere with this current defence, also schmeichel is a brilliant goal keeper, especially at championship level, but makes far too many errors and lets in some easy goals.

  4. And not to mention these invisable owners not investing any money into the club! If Usmanov does decide to sell his shares in Arsenal to Stan Kronke, he can always have a Yorkshire bargain on his hands!

  5. Are the defenders really that bad or is the formation that brings about goals the reason we concede so many. There doesn't seem to be any other formation other than 1 up front with two wingers.

    Away from home I would like to see a much narrower formation and push gradel up along side becchio to give us some real pace down the center.

  6. Too many mistakes from the defence, they look as if they have never played together, amateur stuff

  7. and just like the titanic we are still sifting through the reck it will take time i dont see anybody in the wings wanting to take over when ken bates has had enough

  8. " an embarrassment of riches at this level and without doubt some of the best individuals the NPower Championship has to offer"

    How deluded do we look when people write that sort of stuff?

    Our squad has overachieved this season. We were riding the crest of a promotion wave. Grayson has done an excellent job.

    Makes us look deluded like those dimwitted Geordies or Scousers when people come out with crap like that

  9. Please tell me which teams in this division wouldn't snap up Gradel, Snodgrass, Becchio or Howson. Promotion waves don't last an entire season, Millwall and Norwich are up there too, so have we really overachieved??

    Grayson has done an amazing job and will continue to do so, im sure. but it doesn't hide the fact that we're obviously missing vital pieces of the jigsaw and we have shown no sign of acquiring them...

  10. " an embarrassment of riches at this level and without doubt some of the best individuals the NPower Championship has to offer"


    "How deluded do we look when people write that sort of stuff?"

    Suggest you read the main article again...YES we do have a surplus of decent out and out strikers in Somma, Grella, Paynter and McCormack. They are all unable to claim a regular starting place, you can also throw in Watt, Sam and Nunez as surplus.

    It is in the defensive area that the squad is particularly weak, with loanee midfielders not the answer, and has been for quite some time as the goals against tally clearly demonstrates.

    As pointed out by others Norwich and Millwall have done well after promotion so have Leeds overachieved? Performance overall this season has to be a B- "Could and should do better".

  11. Agree with comments re Norwich & Millwall. We have to gauge our progress against these and we in same place as end of last season, sandwiched between them! Is that progress? Would not be happy to see Millwall in play off's and us not.


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