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We now have the Dream Team model in kit form at Leeds. All we need now is some super glue to cement the pieces together, some instructions as to how to assemble these precious bits and most importantly, somebody with a footballing brain to carry out the delicate construction work.
On Saturday against Villa the side were held together by blu-tac, the instructions quite clearly ignored and David NO'Idea-rly was left blaming everyone except himself for failing to come up with the goods.
Next time we have a spare 30 million quid knocking about I suggest we buy another 6 Olivier Dacourts. That way if we are in the unfortunate position when half-a-dozen Ollies are injured, suspended, in prison, or Xmas shopping then at least we'll have the one vital cog left in the heart of our midfield. Without him we were nothing.
Copy from The Independent of 23/12/2000.
David Ginola, once thought expensive at £3 million, showed the difference between value and price with a masterful display against the Yorkshire rich kids. His efforts earned him the wrath of the Leeds United following and, on his substitution, he had a blazing row with one supporter who was led from the stand.
By then, though, Ginola had done enough to leave the Leeds manager David O'Leary pondering the benefits of having a purse the size of Yorkshire. Having the cash is one thing, converting it into results is another.
Robbie Keane, the man who made only four starts for Inter Milan, could only find a place on the bench for his prospective full-time employers Leeds while Mark Viduka and Alan Smith retained their positions in the starting line-up.
The home side settled the quicker with Harry Kewell the focus of their clean passing manoeuvres from midfield, but once Ginola, who had a long-range effort well saved by Paul Robinson, and Paul Merson started to find each other, Villa began to find space on the flanks from which to create opportunities.
Ginola should have opened the scoring after a fine dribble down the left. He skipped round a trio of Leeds challenges but his shot was both weak and mis-directed. The Frenchman then delivered an inch-perfect cross for George Boateng, who volleyed over from an awkward angle.
With both sides keen to offer entertainment in the bitter Yorkshire cold, Smith was again thwarted after a speedy move begun by a measured ball from Rio Ferdinand and culminating in a low Kewell cross which just evaded the advancing striker. Kewell produced the most dazzling piece of individualism of the opening period, surging down the left and heading goalwards but Merson, who had tracked him from the start of the run, lunged from behind and earned a yellow card for his reckless challenge.
If Leeds had the edge territorially, the visitors were creating the sharper forward thrusts and their efforts were rewarded just before the break when, following a Merson cross, Gareth Southgate reacted quickest in a confused penalty box and headed home at the second attempt.
No doubt the Leeds manager would have had stern words with his expensive young charges at the interval and they certainly emerged looking sharper, Eirik Bakke just failing to connect with a neatly flighted cross which would have resulted in an equaliser.
But despite urgency of their hosts, Villa, largely through the defence-stretching exploits of the excellent Ginola and his own back-line's constant frustration of the home side's fractured forward play, remained firmly in control.
O'Leary's patience with the lacklustre performance finally ran out and Keane, due to sign for £12m next summer, replaced Lucas Radebe and slotted in just behind the strikers. The Irishman's initial contribution was to begin the move for Leeds' first chance of the second half with a run through the middle, the ball eventually falling to Kewell whose powerful drive from a narrow angle was superbly tipped over by David James. A similar surge brought another excellent save. This time Keane worked without support and struck venomously from 15 yards.
The necessity of a more attacking approach inevitably led to the home defence becoming more stretched, and from James' parry of the shot Merson raced down the left flank and found an unmarked Boateng who finished with ease. Jonathan Woodgate headed an injury-time consolation from Kewell's cross.
Copy from Football Unlimited of 24/12/2000.
To suggest they played Scrooge to the Christmas festivities that Leeds planned for this match would do them a great disservice. Neither were they mere party poopers. Instead Aston Villa delivered a victory that was as deserved as it was surprising. Their tactics were spot-on; the execution admirable; the potential for the New Year considerable.
Four successive draws and a defeat in their previous five matches suggested containment at best. When Dion Dublin was not in the right frame of mind to play after his wife gave birth to a daughter late on Friday night, their options narrowed further.
But by setting the pace and pattern of the game early on, rather than letting Leeds do it, Villa established a platform that was never dislodged. Certainly they had to soak up plenty of pressure after a David Ginola-dominated first half, but their composure never wavered, with Gareth Southgate marshalling his defence admirably.