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After spending all day feeling sick due to some alcohol exertions on Monday (including a bizarre vodka-fuelled pizza incident relating to a burnt finger, which I won't dwell on) a very different kind of nausea washed over me come 9.35pm.
This was the proverbial "down to earth with a bump". The "wake up call". We were -shite-.
City swamped the midfield and battled hard in defence and as a result, deserved what they got. Too many of our lot were unfocused (maybe an eye on Barcelona?) and not involved. Looks like we'll get whooped at Cov if they remain so lacklustre.
I'm relieved that Viduka (aka Fat Knacker) is off to Australia for the Olympics (very important of course) since it'll mean we play the bloody ball on the floor again (something we're good at, generally) as opposed to hoofing it up to the lummox (something we're notoriously poor at). My worst fears about getting a target man were playing *that* kind of football. Last night, those fears were realised. We had loads of time and possession to get something out of the game, but resorted to hair-brained panic "lump it up" tactics. And that Evans, I'm sure the 'G' on his shirt stands for "Good".
Still, we lost our 2nd game at home last year in an almost equally poor performance (albiet against 'Pool).
Scores on the doors;
Lesson 1 from the David O'Leary "rabbit in the headlights" school of management - if its all going pearshaped don't try and change anything cos you might make it worse.
No movement for anyone on the ball to aim for - the number of times we looked up to pass out left and there was no-one there - big Harry/Wilcox/MCPhail shaped gap.
No width at all - Kelly got forward once or twice to good effect, and that was it. They came with 2 wingers whose job it was to sit on our full backs and keep them penned in. Why didn't Huckerby come on in the 2nd half to add a bit of variety (and width) and pace. Don't know much about Evans, but he didn't seem to have a role - was he a winger, a left side midfield holding player, what? - I'm not blaming him, but I don't think that he'd been told.
The passing was woeful all through the team - Duberry winning the Carlton Palmer award for passing like a guided missile into touch, repeatedly.
Paolo Wanchope - now he's not that good a player - but he made an arse out of our defence yesterday.
Viduka - 5 games in and still not made a keeper break sweat.
The defending for both goals - scandalous - the bloke who hit their 2nd (it was a sweet strike) had 10 yards to himself on the edge of the box from a corner!!
Our goal was sweet, nice move down the left, Smith and Bridges, cross in for Bowyer's head.
Duberry did have a second very dubiously disallowed a few minutes later...but we shouldn't have to rely on we woz robbed talk.
The point where hope seemed to drain was when Bridges smacked a 30 yarder against the bar a minute after their first goal.
Ten minutes pressure either side of half time isn't good enough to win games - some hard training in store I reckon.
Players - well, Martyn can't be blamed for either goal, Kelly was better than most, Dacourt was the only one with any glimmer of a threat or forward drive - the rest can hang their heads in shame.
Good luck to City, came with a game plan, wasted time hideously, and got the points.
Leeds 1 Man City 2
Joe Royle 1 David O'Leary 0
Electrical spark 1 - Joe Royle.....Leeds have been playing 4-3-3....maybe I could crowd the midfield and starve them of any chances. Stop Dacourt and Bowyer, dont bother marking Jones, pressurise Duberry cos he's a donkey and get physical with Bridges cos he cant play if he's got a man on him.
Electrical spark 2 - O'Leary.....We played this shower of shite in the cup last season.....5-2 to us.. murdered them.....we played 4-4-2 and lots of width and passed it on the deck....nah i'll stick with 4-3-3 and hump it long.
Copy from Football Unlimited of 06/09/2000.
Manchester City looked like a Premiership team here last night but Leeds United's pretensions as championship contenders were hardly born out by a vapid performance which cost them their 100% record.
Two goals in six minutes from Steve Howey and Gerard Wiekens gave City a 2-0 half-time lead and, although Lee Bowyer's sharp header brought Leeds back into the match early in the second half, David O'Leary's side were frustrated by a combination of tenacious defending and the poor quality of their own, normally precise passing game.
For Joe Royle and his players this, the biggest surprise of the Premiership programme so far, will dispel more than a few doubts about City's ability to stay up. Last night their defence displayed the organisation and authority which many had thought would be beyond them at this level.
Copy from The Independent of 06/09/2000.
The Premiership's only 100 per cent record, belonging to Leeds United, was plundered last night by a Manchester City team who can justifiably claim to be 100 per cent unpredictable.
The Yorkshire side's hopes of returning to the summit, which they occupied for 14 weeks last season, were dashed by rare goals for Steve Howey and Gerard Wiekens. Lee Bowyer replied to set up a second-half siege, but City held out for a victory that provided the sweetest revenge.
In the clubs' previous meeting, nine months earlier, Leeds' 5-2 FA Cup win at Maine Road had been so comprehensive that City's stoical followers may have crossed the Pennines fearing the worst. Joe Royle's reaction to the home defeat by Coventry was to drop the former World Footballer of the Year, George Weah, leaving Paulo Wanchope as a lone striker.
By contrast, David O'Leary persevered with the adventurous formation that had helped Leeds win all four domestic and European fixtures. Despite the apparent difference in priorities, City supported Wanchope in numbers from midfield, and gave as good as they got during a chanceless and occasionally ill-tempered opening.
Paul Ritchie, recruited from Rangers, received his City debut at left-back. The Scottish international was able to play himself in with relative ease until the 31st minute when Alan Smith skipped past him before whipping in a low centre. The ball somehow evaded Michael Bridges, but the visitors proved less wasteful in front of goal in a devastating six-minute spell before the break.
Mark Kennedy's 34th-minute corner found Wanchope rising to head against the underside of the bar. Howey reacted faster than Leeds' defenders, stabbing in the loose ball for his first goal since a £2m summer switch from Newcastle. Leeds almost gained an instant equaliser, but when Bridges' 30-yard volley on the run shook the same part of the woodwork as Wanchope, City were quick to clear their lines.
In the 40th minute, Leeds were again found wanting from a Kennedy corner. The ball was cleared only as far as the edge of the 18-yard area, where Wiekens allowed it to bounce before dispatching his effort high beyond Nigel Martyn the Dutchman's first goal since December.
Leeds emerged for the second half as if they had received a tongue-lashing from O'Leary. The tempo was initially frenzied, with Gary Kelly setting the tone by rampaging down the right before crossing to Matthew Jones, whose drive foundered on the light-blue barrier.
Yet when Leeds halved the arrears in the 56th minute, the goal owed everything to cool thinking and precision passing. Smith's short ball down the left released Bridges, who made time to glance up as two City defenders converged. The resultant cross picked out Lee Bowyer, who was free to head his second goal of the season from eight yards.
Leeds promptly sent on Gareth Evans for his first taste of League football. The 19-year-old might have marked the occasion with a quickfire goal but for a desperate interception of Mark Viduka's pass. Alf-Inge Haaland, City's new captain and a Leeds old boy, was cautioned for fouling Olivier Dacourt as the pressure intensified.
Wanchope did most to relieve it, one typically ungainly run carrying the Costa Rican 40 yards and through three challenges before he forced Martyn into a sprawling save. Shaun Wright-Phillips, who looks around half Wanchope's height, was introduced to support him in the final stages; an odd couple for an endearingly odd club.
Copy from SportLive of 05/09/2000.
SportLive is no longer operational. Should it return to the web, this report will be removed and the link restored.
Leeds failed to heed a warning from their former star Alf Inge Haaland that they were in for a painful night and paid the price.
The Norwegian had wound them up by saying he would tell his City team-mates to kick everyone as hard as they could.
In fact, it was two legitimate strikes which put paid to Leeds - a rare goal for defender Steve Howey and a Gerard Wiekens effort undermining the Yorkshire side. City had gritted their teeth in the face of adversity against a Leeds side with the European Champions League on their mind.
Leeds tried desperately to salvage their 100 per cent record and a twisting header from Lee Bowyer in the second half gave them some hope. But to no avail.
Right from the start, City made no apologies about their intentions as their Premiership learning curve continued. Manager Joe Royle decided to try to stifle Leeds, who had displayed an air of invincibility so far this season with four wins out of four.
But City, looking to steer clear of early danger, caused a few flutters among home fans with a couple of sharp breaks. Paulo Wanchope, who had flown into Leeds airport at lunch-time after a trip back to Costa Rico, was asked to plough a lone trail through the middle, with former World Footballer of the Year George Weah on the substitutes bench.
But Wanchope was ready for the challenge as he linked neatly with Kevin Horlock and moved in on cross only to head wide.
Leeds, with Mark Viduka saying farewell before spearheading Australia's Olympic Games bid, took their time to simmer, never mind come to the boil. There was little pattern and, more worryingly for manager David O'Leary, a lack of gusto in their initial promptings.
A right-wing cross from Gary Kelly was headed neatly by Alan Smith into the path of Michael Bridges only for his control to let him down. It increased the decibel level among the Leeds crowd, who knew a win would take their side to the top of the Premiership.
But it seemed that the warning to put into the background the forthcoming European Champions League adventure, which includes a visit to the Nou Camp and a test against Barcelona next week, had gone unheeded.
In fact, Wanchope caused Leeds more consternation as Nigel Martyn flapped at a cross and the City striker should have done better than fire weakly against the body of a grateful Leeds defender.
Leeds, rattled by their inefficiency, struck back through Smith, who whipped in a hard, low cross which just eluded Viduka and Bridges. But City, building on their solid base, broke out to stun their Yorkshire rivals with two deadly strikes in six pulsating minutes.
Mark Kennedy floated in a 34th-minute corner and Wanchope sent a fierce header against the bar. Before Leeds could count their blessings, Howey pounced on the rebound to stab home his first goal since a £3million summer move from Newcastle.
Leeds suffered more agony when another Kennedy corner created mayhem in the penalty area. Defender Lucas Radebe could only head out weakly and Wiekens controlled the ball on the edge of the area and drove the ball home off the underside of the bar.
In between, there was still time for Smith to crack a dipping shot against the City crossbar as Leeds looked for a way back into the game.
Undoubtedly, with an O'Leary half-time rocket ringing in their ears, Leeds attempted to extricate themselves from a dire situation. Matthew Jones saw a shot blocked by Howey before Bowyer gave Leeds hope with a 56th-minute header.
Smith and Bridges combined with intent and the accurate cross was made to measure for Bowyer, who sent the ball beyond Nicky Weaver.
That turned up the temperature and within 60 seconds, Haaland was shown the yellow card after an altercation with the equally fired-up Olivier Dacourt. Haaland tripped the Frenchman in full flight, he reacted and the players had to be pulled apart, referee Graham Poll showing leniency to Dacourt by booking his aggressor.
Copy from Yorkshire Evening Post of 06/09/2000.
OH dear, Leeds. This was simply awful. it's back to the drawing board following what must surely rank as the worst display in the two years under manager David O'Leary.
Lee Bowyer's spectacular headed goal was the single bright spot in a match dominated by City to the extent that their goalkeeper Nicky Weaver's solitary contribution was to pick the ball out of the back of the net.
There were sound reasons for this unexpected reverse. Injuries to Harry Kewell, Jason Wilcox and Stephen McPhail severely restricted United's movements down the left and only cursory homework will have identified that weakness.
The triumvirate strike force of Michael Bridges, Mark Viduka and Alan Smith is working to only a limited degree because on too many occasions they are simply getting in the way of one another.
Viduka, particularly, is looking miserable and leaves for the Olympics in his homeland Australia today with plenty of food for thought.
Once you have crowded out a three-man midfield you have rendered it all but impotent and this, too, had not escaped the attentions of the Maine Road card-markers.
City got their tactics absolutely spot-on and were deserving winners.
Said their delighted manager Joe Royle: "I noticed in the programme that two years ago we were playing at Macclesfield, so this is fantastic. I thought we were terrific. It was a great performance.
"We came with a plan and stuck to it and I can't remember our keeper making too many saves. Everyone will invariably say that Leeds had an off-day and we got two goals from set plays, but that would be a little bit disrespectful to us.
"I thought Paulo Wanchope was absolutely world class. To play against two centre halves of their stature and absolutely scare the life out of the pair of them was just something because he only arrived back from World Cup duty with Costa Rica at lunchtime.
"I think I'll send him back. The trip galvanised him. He was fantastic."
Royle delighted in the turnaround in fortunes since Leeds whipped Manchester City 5-2 in the FA Cup at Maine Road last season.
"They had one or two missing, but I didn't see many academy boys out there," he said.
Leeds, defending the Premiership's only 100 per cent record, were also missing Jonathan Woodgate and Eirik Bakke through injury, allowing Michael Duberry to continue in defence and Matthew Jones in midfield.
City, captained by former Leeds favourite Alf Haaland, started with ex-World Player of the Year George Weah on the bench.
Royle's marauders were quickly into their stride and a determined run by Wanchope allowed Horlock to get in an early cross, but Tiatto was unable to get any direction on his header.
Smith won a free kick from which Dacourt's piledriver produced a right wing corner, though Haaland was swift to stifle the threat.
City's harrying tactics were making it difficult for Leeds to settle and after 14 minutes Bowyer was too hasty in their first promising move, shooting well wide from distance.
Ritchie had to have his wits about him to guide a header back to Weaver with Smith ready to pounce on any error and when Jones found Bridges with a fine pass Leeds won a corner from which Harte was considerably wide with his curling shot.
Horlock's 20th-minute drive was deflected for a corner but although Wanchope was first to it his header flew too high.
Jones crossed for Smith to head into the path of Viduka in a promising position, but the Australian's touch let him down.
Radebe did an excellent tidying-up job when Horlock's cross threatened to put Wanchope away and when Smith whipped over a glorious cross from the right Bridges was inches away from getting the vital touch.
But United were having to fight for every glimmer of a prospect and Jones was disappointed to see his 33rd-minute shot sail over.
A minute later, though, City were ahead when Kennedy's corner was met with a glorious Wanchope header which came back off the bar. steve Howey was the first to react with a shot which cannoned in off the underside.
United's instant riposte was a wonderful dipping shot from 30 yards by Bridges, who was unlucky to see it come back off the bar. Then Smith spooned his shot over the top in a packed goalmouth.
They were costly misses, for in the 39th minute another Kennedy corner found Gerrard Wiekens lurking on the edge of the box and his tremendous volley dipped home for his first goal in 10 months.
Within 70 seconds of the restart Leeds could have had one back when Duberry headed Harte's free kick into the danger zone only for Jones to scuff his shot into the arms of Weaver.
Kelly needlessly gave away a corner and when Smith shot carelessly wide soon afterwards it seemed destined not to be United's night.
But then Smith cleverly put Bridges away on 56 minutes and his pinpoint cross was met with a stunning header into the corner by Lee Bowyer.
Now Leeds picked up the tempo and Dacourt was furious when he was stopped in full flight by a Haaland check which earned the City man a booking.
Wanchope fired a warning shot over defensive responsibilities when he ghosted through successive challenges and brought a diving save from Martyn in the 64th minute, but this was more like it from Leeds. However, by now the writing was indelibly on the wall.
The Nou Camp suddenly seems a daunting place to visit for some Champions League action next week, but before then there's a Premiership trip to Highfield Road and Coventry to consider.
Plenty of chalk will be needed for the training ground blackboard ahead of both.