That football is a short career is a truism used to justify players who move from club to club to find the biggest contract they can; but what of the players who stay behind? It’s an equally short career for them, and even if the financial rewards are there - I doubt Ross would complain about the living he makes - the trophies are not.
Against that backdrop of chaos, I’ll take a 1–0 defeat in Brighton. In a time of constant upheaval and change, it’s natural to reach out to anything familiar, anything stable, that you can. Leeds still take ridiculous numbers away. Tom Lees still gets confused sometimes. Murphy and Mowatt still can’t dominate a midfield. Ross McCormack still can’t do it all on his own. Leeds still can’t put a consistent run together and break into the group of teams above us.
Since negotiations to sell the club were confirmed in late November; since Massimo Cellino first toured the training ground in October; since Gulf Finance House bought the football club in December 2012, Leeds United have been playing into a headwind; but it hasn’t always been as obvious as it was against Yeovil, or as it was during the chaos of last week. There has always been a Ross McCormack to pop up with an equaliser, or a David Haigh to pop up with a platitude or two; there has always been a reason to carry on as if everything is alright.
I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. And neither do you. There are people who do know, and they work for an investment bank in Bahrain called Gulf Finance House. But if they’re not even telling Brian McDermott what he needs to know, they’re not going to tell us.
No collection of gifs from the 6-1 game would be complete without a reminder that Gordon Watson is, was, and always will be a cheat:
There’s also this, which I like to cite whenever people say Lee Chapman couldn’t run and had no skill. He did this, once:
I’ve also always had a lot of time for Wilko’s celebration after the fourth goal went in:
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.