FA Carling Premiership
Leeds United 0 - 1 Manchester United
(Half-time: 0 - 0)
|« Tottenham Hotspur||Middlesborough »|
|Leeds United||Martyn, Kelly, Radebe, Woodgate, Harte, Bakke, Jones, Bowyer, Wilcox, Kewell, Smith||Robinson, Mills, Haaland, Hopkin, Huckerby|
|Manchester United||Bosnich, G Neville, Stam, Silvestre, Irwin, Scholes, Butt, Keane, Giggs, Yorke (Sheringham 30), Cole||P Neville, Cruyff, van der Gouw, Berg|
|Manchester United||Cole 51|
|Yellow Cards||Red Cards|
|Leeds United||Kewell 62, Jones 90|
|Manchester United||Irwin 20, Stam 45|
|Leeds United||Manchester United|
|Shirt numbers of goalscorers||0||9|
|Jabba||A bit of a bad streak|
|Kev Lewis||Scum Game|
|Nick Allen||vs Manchester United|
|The Guardian||Beckham the United outcast|
|The Electronic Telegraph||United sink Leeds and seize title control|
|The Times||United take care of closest rivals|
|The Independent||Cool Cole maintains leaders' standing|
|Yorkshire Evening Post||FA clampdown robs game of passion play|
|BBC||Goal king Cole sinks Leeds|
|Carlingnet||Leeds United 0 - 1 Manchester United|
It was, as they say, One Of Those Weekends.
A decent train trip up on Saturday, followed by a good beer or several. Followed by the casino - and a few serious pointers from Lady Luck that I shouldn't hope for too much on Sunday. Example: dealt 2 aces at blackjack, split them and get a 3 and a 4. Twice. Of course, being an eternal optimist I just assumed that I was getting the bad luck out of the way ahead of the game....
It made a change to amble down Beeston Hill instead of the headlong charge - it was 5 minutes to kick-off, which is unheard-of early. From the top of the car park, we saw a whole bunch of Plod charging off towards the roundabout - turned out that a ManU fan had timed his arrival to perfection - sitting in a traffic jam near the ground just as the more vocal members of our support turned up, and with his car decked out in team colours. While I can't condone the Leeds boys giving him a scare and rocking his car, you've got to question how many brain cells this guy had brought with him: we've come a long way from the stand-up all-in fights of the 70s and early 80s, but there are still some things that could reasonably be described as Asking For It.
The game in a sentence: we wuz robbed.
In slightly more detail: we deserved a draw, but because we made one mistake, failed to take our chances and watched Bosnich play a blinder we came out of the game with no points.
Early on, we didn't settle too well and ManU had some pressure. Philip Don is a ref who has impressed me when he's run Leeds games earlier this season, and his position as second bottom of the card league shows that he didn't feel that he needed the explicit backing of the PL and the FA before using his discretion. Maybe he overused a little today, but I would say that, wouldn't I. Certainly Jaap Stam must have been as amazed as we were that he got all the way up to 45 minutes before being booked. Harry Kewell was upended by each member of the ManU defence in turn, but we got away with a couple as well. In the circumstances, Kewell was unlucky to be booked for dissent after taking what must have been his twentieth whack of the game. Which is not to say it was particularly dirty: it wasn't - it was a fair, well-contested match.
Ian Harte has a wicked free kick - so how come his corners are so bad. Today he managed to split them evenly between ones that were hopelessly overhit and ones that failed to clear the first defender. At the end of the first half, we got about 5 corners in a row, but only one required a serious clearance from the ManU defence, and in the end the ref's patience wore out when he realised that we could be here for another half hour before Harte made something of the successive corners.
We looked a lot more positive at the start of the second half, so of course this was when we were caught. Andy Cole flipped the ball over Lucas Radebe's head near the halfway line, then won a chase with the not fully fit centreback to the penalty area before leaving Nigel Martyn with no chance.
Still, with over an hour to go this wasn't a crisis, and although we wobbled a little and came close to conceding another, the team played well and soon found themselves making more chances.
With the final quarter starting and still a goal behind, we expected to see some sign of life from the bench. Jason Wilcox was having a very quiet game, and Matthew Jones was starting to look a little tired (not helped by an unpunished hack from Sheringham). Surely now was the time to introduce Huckerby - and maybe Hopkin - for a late charge to snatch a point. But for the next 20 minutes, for reasons known only to DOL, the tracksuits stayed on and the 4th official wasn't required. In truth, Leeds were still making chances but some variation might just have made the difference. Wilcox's cross from the left found Alan Smith in the middle, but he could only help the ball onto the post. The ball bounced out to Lee Bowyer on the six yard line with an open goal. Surely this was the equaliser! "Bowyer for England!" chanted the ManU fans as he blasted the chance over the bar and into their end.
Eirik Bakke had a header against the bar late on but it wasn't enough. For the 2nd time this season, we'd played extremely well against the best team in the country (if not Europe) and for the 2nd time we came away empty handed. That's football. That's life.
I thought we matched them all the way, apart from 1 crucial area, the finishing. To come out of the 2 games against them with no points is a bit hard on Leeds.
Bridges might have made a difference there, but his 2 goals in the last 2 months, admittedly including injury and suspension, may mean that teams are looking for him a bit more the second time they face him.
However, when you see that Scums starting strikers cost 20Mil and ours absolutely nothing, then you can possibly see why over the 2 games they scored the decisive goals, and Leeds did not. Hate to say it but Hasselbaink' s record of scoring against top sides meant a lot in this type of game.
Anyway as for yesterday's scores. Perhaps I've been a bit harsh, considering we were up against Scum, but that's who we measure ourselves up against now.
Martyn 7 - Assured, but might just have come out quicker for Cole's goal.
Kelly 7 - Coped well with Giggs
Woodgate 7 - Much happier when Lucas is alongside him
Radebe 7 - Slight mistake on Cole's goal, but many crucial tackles and interceptions.
Harte 7 - Decent in defence, great freekicks, reasonable corners.
Bowyer 6 - Back on the right again, Okayish game, 2 misses - 1 glaring.
Jones 6 - Not overawed, gave possession away on occasions, good tackles.
Bakke 7 - Pick of the midfield, ran with the ball well, unlucky with header.
Wilcox 6 - Played OK, but didn't produce enough up their end.
Smith 6 - Good link-up play, unsettled them at times.
Kewell 7 - Can cause problems to even the best defenders, but in General they coped well with his threat.
The lack of a natural right winger to attack Irwin, especially after an early booking was a telling factor.
Perhaps DOL should have been brave enough to put Huckerby on the right and move Bowyer inside (taking Jones off) for the last 15.
Here goes - my 1st armchair report:
Didn't have much to do, although did make a couple of good saves. Should have come out and prevent Cole from scoring.
Had a solid game and kept Giggs quite for best part of the game. Don't know why he has stopped making those long runs on the wing and floating in balls
Lacked confidence - does not seem to be playing well since the 'incident' involving him and Bowyer. Have noticed a tendency over last few games, of Woody hoofing the ball out of play when in no apparent danger. He would normally control and pass it to team mate.
Did not seem 100% to me. If he was on top form, he could have dealt with Cole and prevented the goal. But defence did seem more solid with his presence.
Was really on form with free-kicks, but totally woeful with taking corners (was it 3 or 4 consecutive corners Sherryngham put out before ht whistle - is that a record for the same player do so) Do we not have another player who can take corner kicks.
Seemed totally out of depth with the big scum boys. Also useless at passing the ball. Was left chasing shadows most of the game.
Not the best of games, but positional play was good especially outside the opposition box. Supported the front two quite well.Oh if he only scored that sitter.
Was good at taking on players when with the ball, but kept losing it when near corner flag. I am sure he will improve to be a solid midfielder.
Didn't figure much until well in the 2nd half, making one telling cross but with no one to out it away. Did try and help defensively unlike Bakke and Jones.
Gave Stam and Sylvester a torrid time. Really showed his 1st class skills late on in the game. Still has the tendency to lose the ball in and around the oppo box after making great runs and bypassing defenders. Should may be try and shoot more from outside the box.
Looked really physched up for the game and good overall performance. But don't think he will be a top goal scorer. Tends to struggle against top defenders and lacks control of the ball when tightly marked, therefore always losing it at the crucial moment ie shooting on target.
Sounded like great atmosphere. Really got behind the team after Scum scored but to no avail.
Good performance, allowed play to continue and was leniant with some players who made bookable tackles.
Although they did not outplay us, we never looked like winning the game.
Why was Hopkin not selected instead of Jones.
Why was Huckerby not brought on at 70 mins, to provide some different attacking options? DOL did not seem to be unduly worried about us being 1 down, and changing tactics (looked clueless to me) Its seems that when we are a goal behind, we cannot respond positively by maybe changing the pattern of play. This is probably the difference between us and the other 3 sides at the top.
Just to re-iterate: We are desparately short of a right sided midfielder who can put in crosses. Is it time to put in bid for Becksum.? Still need a topclass striker who is a really threat in the air especially from corner/free kicks, someone who can also hold the ball up front. (Jimmy type - maybe).
Also Scum/L'pool have now done double over us this season and we have lost to Arse. Does this question are true Championship credentials.?
Where would we be now in the table, if it was not for the excellent run of 10 winning games we had before Xmas.
Well it looks like Lee Bowyer didn't read any of those endless articles last week quoting Big Nige saying that at this level you have to take the chances you get. That bloody miss... the worst sitter I've seen us miss for years... and of course we hit the bar, twice, and the post. Harte's 2 or 3 free kicks in the first half were decently saved by Bosnich. We had the chances, we should have scored. This is the rub we're matching Manchester blow for blow in the game but we don't have the finishing power to kill em off. Our biggest weakness summed up in one game.
The two things that worried me about this performance is that again it has proved that we are not even holding our nearest rivals - we'll never win the league while we don't win at least half of the games against L'pool, Arse and this lot. And secondly the period following the goal in the 2nd half where we simply lost belief that we could win... we were just thumping the ball long, aimlessly... and not tackling or chasing at all. It lasted for about 20 minutes until we picked ourselves up again, we could easily have conceeded another goal then. That said...
Smith and Kewell gave Jaaaaaaaaaaap and Sylvester the run around all game... I really think that Bridges's close control, vision and finishing would have made a big difference. As somebody said why Huckerby wasn't given the last 20 minutes to run at two tired, booked, CHalves that were under the cosh is beyond me ... O'Leary seemed like a rabbit frozen in the headlights. He would have come on for Wilcox who was shit... frequently getting the ball, only to turn back facing his own goal, he never got beyond Neville - he never even tried -except when Quasi fell over. When he did swing a couple of crosses over, they were decent - so why not try and do it more often? Also he just never tracked back, so Harte was constantly faced with two forwards.
I thought that the defence was mainly sound, Lucas looked OK and Woodgate looked happier with him there -we were all talking about how solid they looked at half time - but then 2 or 3 times early in the second we lost the plot. For the goal it looked like Lucas could have got his head in before Cole flicked it on... Lucas was stripped for pace - how much his injury has to do with this we'll never know - I also can't decide whether a decisive rush out from Martyn would have got there first - of course it may have got him sent off if he got it wrong, I suppose he also thought that Lucas would not get beat for speed.
Contrary to most I thought Jones had a good game stopping Keane, which was surely his job out there. Bakke was good in the middle, but this again left us with Bowyer out wide - where he had his worst game for ages.
The few times we got out wide we caused bother, but it happened so infrequently that you had to despair. There was simply too often not enough movement and not enough options for the man on the ball. They weren't that good - certainly not as good as last year, but they'll win the league because no-one else believes whole- heartedly that they can finish above them.
We need to relax now, settle for the media spin that the title is decided, and simply got out and play for the enjoyment of it - with the boys we've got we'll win most of our games that way - and see where we finish the season.
MARTYN -7- generally sound - just a question mark over his speed out of goal for their goal
KELLY -7- a good battle with Giggs - rarely got forward
HARTE -8- very good, considering the lack of cover he had - quality free kicks too.
RADEBE -7- generally sound - but has to shoulder some blame for the goal.
WOODGATE -7- happier than most to have Lucas back.
BOWYER -5- not at the races at all.
JONES -6- excellent job on Keane. Many challenges in the middle.
BAKKE -7- another sound game - unlucky with the header.
WILCOX -5- should have been subbed.
KEWELL -8- deserved more from this -a constant thorn
SMITH -7- continued his good form of last week, against some more highly rated defenders - perhaps he was injured earlier in the season.
Ref - had a very good game - no silly bookings - went back to speak to players about dodgy tackles, once the ball was dead.
Crowd - noisy noisy.
Have heard similar rumours re Batty, and reached the same conclusions about our interest in Dacourt, as the Rev.
Copy from Football Unlimited of 21/02/2000.
Sir Alex Ferguson made an important point here yesterday before seeing Manchester United gain three more of somewhat greater significance. The United manager dropped David Beckham after a row at the training ground on Saturday but such is the depth of strength in the squad that Beckham's absence made a difference only in style, not quality.
A superbly taken goal by Andy Cole, his 18th of the season, early in the second half brought United their second victory of the season over Leeds, a win which re-established their six-point lead at the top over David O'Leary's team. On this evidence the gap looks about right.
The victory, however, was overshadowed by the latest Beckham rumpus. His was the most surprising absence since Ruud Gullit signed his own execution warrant at Newcastle last August by leaving out Alan Shearer and then losing at home to Sunderland. Indeed it was almost in the Ronaldo category. At least Ferguson got the right result after omitting one of the nation's icons.
© Guardian Media Group plc