Sheffield Wednesday 1 - 6 Leeds United, 12th January 1992.>
It was that lack of fight, as much as anything, that caused the abuse that rained down on Brian McDermott and the players at the end. In injury time, when United should have been chasing the game, to salvage some pride, they were instead chasing the ball, as for 50 uninterrupted seconds the Rochdale players sprayed the ball around Spotland virtually unchallenged. By giving Henderson so much time and space in the penalty area we had made him look like Pele as he stroked the ball under the crossbar; we ended the game by letting the whole Rochdale team look like Brazil circa 1970.
(Full report at Rochdale 2 − 0 Leeds United: Remember The Date — The City Talking)>
Occasionally a first time ball would go directly towards Byram, but that normally meant a throw in to Blackburn. A potential tactical innovation for McDermott to consider: fatten Little Sam up to Jon Parkin proportions to make him harder for Austin and Murphy to miss.
Though still not at his best, when Byram did receive the ball he was the one player in our side who looked willing and capable of beating a player, to start a quick passing movement, to try and attack with tempo and with an aim in mind
My desperate idea of the afternoon, and I’m not sure it’s such a bad one, is to get Byram playing on the right side of midfield instead of right wing back; if he’s going to dictate the play - as he often did last season, and as he tried to do against Blackburn - he might as well do it from a position where he already has influence, rather than have to get there from full back first.
Signing four new players won’t be a guarantee of instant success, and the gossamer-thin structure of Leeds United’s first team at the moment means putting four new players into the mix is an easy way to set yourself up for a period of failure. But this is the work; this is a big part of what Brian McDermott is here to do. He’s reached that point in the job now, the point where he has no choice anymore but to unbalance the delicate edifice he’s put up, and hope he can keep it upright and steady without it all coming down around his head.
"And then the first team manager was there, and he said, ‘We’re short of a left back, anybody play left back?’ And I put my hand up, and I got on the pitch, and at half time he said, ‘Right, we want to see you again.’ And that’s how my career started. I went home that night and practised kicking the ball - I’d never used my left foot! I played the whole season without them knowing I was right footed, I was that scared they’d find out."
The second goal was again down to Austin’s power. The 101 Great Goals website has been collecting photos of Barcelona’s Iniesta surrounded by defenders, imitating the classic shot of Maradona v Belgium and wondering how he would ever get through them all (he always does); here Austin was fed by Zaliukas with his back to goal and, if the shutter clicked at the right moment from the right angle, you might have captured a half dozen Yeovil players around him and no team mate in sight. When Austin is in this mood, that’s not a problem. He doesn’t turn as deftly as Iniesta, but neither does an oil tanker, and woe betide anyone who gets in his way. The through ball to McCormack was another one in the eye of anyone who says Austin can’t pass; McCormack’s placed shot a jab at anyone who says he can’t finish.
(via Leeds 2 - 0 Yeovil: Responsibility — The City Talking)>
Part of this is purely status. We’re Leeds effing United, and we shouldn’t be embarrassed in front of anybody. We don’t blush. We don’t have anything to blush about. But when Brian McDermott shifts uneasily on the television and tries to explain the conversations he has with a chief scout that doesn’t exist; when he tells Murphy that he can feel it in his gut that he could have made some better runs in the last game, but doesn’t have the tools Crewe have to back it up; when those things happen, Leeds United can only look at its shoes and mumble. Sorry, sir, the dog ate our Prozone.
“I should have scored, 100%,” said Luke. “I was in two minds whether to take a touch or whether to hit it first time. I hit it first time, and I sort of scuffed it - and it’s hit the post and gone wide. I should have scored but you can’t really dwell on it too much. It was a great move and a good over from Matt and, yeah, as simple as that - I should have scored.
“I thought Rudy would either hang it up or cut it back, so when he cut it back I held out, and I thought Matt was going to hit it with his right foot. But I shouted over, and then, unfortunately, I put it wide.”
“I’ll hit the back of the net, don’t worry about that. I’ve been practising a few in training. It’s fine.”
I don’t think Austin lacks self-belief, but Luke Murphy’s awful miss suggested it might be an issue for him. Credit where it’s due - this was a great bit of football from Leeds. Down the right Byram, Mowatt, Austin, Byram again then Austin again, took at least five Town defenders out of the equation with a short passing move Byram orchestrated from the start; there was nothing wrong with Austin’s pull back, but everything went wrong with Murphy’s shot from near the penalty spot, with Smithies aching to be beaten. Against Brighton on the opening day, Murphy had no problem bursting into the box and hammering home a winner; the adrenalin boost of a £1m transfer may have turned into an albatross now, as the scuffed attempt to place the ball in the Town net - rather than just blasting it the hell in - looked like the effort of a player desperate not to make a mistake. And when you’re that desperate not to make a mistake, you’re much more likely to make a terrible mistake.
(via Huddersfield 3 - 2 Leeds: Help Yourself — The City Talking)>
We know Blackstock will be leaving on January 25th; it was announced as part of his arrival. The end of his career at Leeds is already there, in its beginning. Leeds will play 15 games while Blackstock is here; it’s like buying 15 tickets to a sideshow at the fair. 15 goes for a goldfish.
You can cut that down straight away to 14 and a half at most. Brian McDermott seems to set a great deal by being fair to his players, and it would be uncharacteristic - and a mistake - if Mathieu Smith didn’t start against Huddersfield tomorrow. He was a key part of an excellent all-round performance against Birmingham, and his two goals - almost three - showed once and for all that he ain’t gonna be no Billy Paynter II at Leeds United. As Eamo said on Twitter, if this is an emergency loan, “What was the emergency?”
Faces of Football: Ross McCormack.
Mowatt kept hitting the attackers with pinpoint through balls and sublime crosses. Smith didn’t look offside for his disallowed goal, but the pass from Mowatt looked excellent; and all you can really say about Mowatt’s cross for the fourth is that it’s worth watching over and over.