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Danny Mills - F***ing brilliant
So Top of the League and we've only had about 1 and half decent games, we made a lot of really basic mistakes yesterday, Viduka fell over the ball, Kewell leaving it behind etc but thanks to Charlton's injuries and the sending off won easily. We need to improve to stay top.
P.S Keane and Shearer - Quality viewing, the way the ref gets the yellow knocked out of his hand so calmly shows Keane the red as well. Only downside was Beckham grabbing Keane before he thumped Shearer, a broken jaw for Shearer and a long ban for Keane would have been hilarious.
Three London away games, two wins, two games with great atmospheres...
Really enjoyed Sunday, once the second goal went in, the threat of Charlton somehow getting an equaliser and spoiling the day out in the shade receded faster than Danny Mills' hairline and we sang along happily with Roy Orbison who had surprisingly turned up. I never knew he was a Leeds fan.
A friend of mine thinks I'm mad spending eight hours travelling half the length of the country to watch a ball kicked round a field, but matches like Sunday make it worthwhile. It's not that it was classic football, it's not like we were watching us beat a world class side in a tense game, but was a great chance to stand, sing and shout and see Leeds go to the top of the league.
The Valley's a tiny little stadium, hidden away among the archetypal London suburb streets, you walk round a corner and there it suddenly is. They're in the process of building a new tier the opposite end to where we are, so presumably even Charlton can't get enough people in; they could certainly do with more people in making more noise. But that's all seater stadia for you...
Meanwhile in the all standing parts of the Leeds end it was as noisy as you want.
First half was pretty even; at times our defence looked shaky and Nige pulled off a stunna from a Charlton corner. Keane went down in the area and was booked for diving. Impossible to tell from our end whether it was a penalty or not. Having seen the reply on the TV, I'm still not sure. However, when Harte stabbed a ball through to Keane and Mark Fish said "after you, old boy" Keano dinked the ball over a bemused Kiely Minogue and we were away.
Shortly afterwards, in one of Charlton's regular forays towards the Leeds area, Graham Stewart jumped in two footed at Harte. It looked nasty and I don't the think ref had much choice but to sent Stewart off. However, having seen it on the TV it doesn't look quite as bad; Stewart's a bit of a fckwit diving in both footed like that though.
After this, the Leeds players found it a bit harder to find a Charlton player when they passed it about, in fact the game to turned in to a bit of an exhibition match once The Millennium Dome Head struck a fantastic goal to seal the match. (This only after Euell had spurned a glorious one on one with Nige at 1-0, after Rio had made his almost customary glaring error.)
After a corner to Leeds, the ball found its way to Batts who scampered across the edge of the area, he saw Danny boy standing there and rolled the ball backwards as he propelled himself forward, totally fooling the Charlton defence. Danny stepped forwards and left footed (before any of us the chance to shout the customary "shoooot"), twatted the ball in off the post. It was a brilliant, brilliant strike and Millsy just turned and walked slowly away as if this was something that he did all the time. "Danny-Mills-Is-F***ing-Brilliant" could be heard all the way up at the Spurs-Chelsea game.
After this, the game became like a training ground/friendly type game with Leeds trying to walk it in. Although in between the calm, there were some wonderful moves, the best of which culminated with Keane back heeling the ball to split the defence open and let in Bowyer to blast wide; would have been a quality goal.
Kewell went on a few long, mazy runs but often forgot to take the ball with him; on one occasion he did run thirty odd metres past three defenders into the box, Kiely made a smart save. Keane should have had a couple more goals, Bowyer had a few half chances and even Batts had a surging run, blasting high and wide which brought him great rafts of "Batty, Batty, Batty..."
McPhail came on and strolled around the midfield looking like he owned the place; he knitted it all together and there was a bit of showboating from him in one overhead pass straight to Harte. All around where I was, everyone (without irony - I think!) was creaming themselves over the cultured left foot.
In between, Roy Orbison lead us in renditions of Pretty Woman in the odd quiet bits of the game and on the way back to London Bridge we commiserated with a couple of Charlton fans. Definitely a day to remember.
4 clean sheets, 11 points, and most significantly - we are top of the league.
But we arent really playing very well. Or are we just perfectionists?
Until Stuart got sent off for a silly lunge at Harte, Charlton were marginally the better side. The Leeds goal came under some serious threat from the impressive Bartlet and only a breathtaking Martyn save from Fish's mullet....i mean...bullet.... header kept it level.
Stuart was a touch unlucky to go. It was right in front of the Leeds fans who went potty and also Harte made a 5-course meal of it and the referee had no option really. Once the red had been produced Harte was straight up and with a quick rub of the ankle and a token 2 second limp he was back as good as new.
Copy from Football Unlimited of 16/09/2001.
With a swagger and an arrogance that suggests a team approaching the height of its powers, Leeds United swept to the top of the Premiership yesterday. Victory over a compliant Charlton, achieved with the minimum of bother, ensured David O'Leary's side took full advantage of Manchester United's Newcastle nightmare.
The manager will hope this proves a pivotal weekend in the championship race. Leeds were in full flow yesterday, aided by Graham Stuart's sending off after 36 minutes which left Charlton dazed, confused and praying for the final whistle. It was some tonic for Leeds to take into their re-arranged Uefa Cup tie against Maritimo on Thursday.
With Harry Kewell, Mark Viduka, Robbie Keane and Lee Bowyer at their cocksure, pulsating best Leeds dominated a Charlton side bereft of nine first teamers through injury. United's one regret was the number of chances they spurned. The result, and their position at the league's summit, suggests, however, that they will push Manchester United much harder than last season when a slow start meant they were only 13th in January.
Copy from The Independent of 16/09/2001.
The naive young manager has become a stealthy old fox and his boys are now men. David O'Leary's Leeds United, playing against 10 men for 55 minutes, showed little compassion for their beleaguered hosts in climbing to the top of the Premiership for the first time in 20 months yesterday.
Once Charlton, missing seven players and already a goal down to Robbie Keane, had their captain Graham Stuart sent off 10 minutes before half-time for a foul on Ian Harte, an already formidable task turned into a Herculean one; and if Hercules was on Charlton's books at the moment, he would be injured. They did well to maintain some self-respect and restrict the visitors to one more goal, brilliantly drilled in by their former full-back Danny Mills.
Leeds appear to have reached the summit without playing particularly well, though only one goal in five matches has gone past a defence glued together by Rio Ferdinand, their outstanding player yesterday. ''We know we can play better and we should have scored more goals, but we're gathering points,'' said O'Leary. ''Let's start our run from the top this time, not from 13th like last season, when we almost got into the Champions' League.'' Apart from detecting a lack of ruthlessness in front of goal, O'Leary's only gripe was the yellow card shown to Robbie Keane for diving. Keane was the game's dominant figure until the interval and must have impressed the Republic of Ireland manager, Mick McCarthy, who was sitting in the stand, with his industry and sharpness. He headed an early corner at his fellow Irishman, Dean Kiely, in the Charlton goal, then hit a 25-yard drive over the crossbar, and in the 21st minute nipped in between Mark Fish and Kiely to open the scoring.
A few minutes later Keane, slipping clear again, went to ground as Kiely dived at his feet and got up expecting a penalty only to receive a booking.
''It was scandalous,'' O'Leary said. "It's a hard job for referees, but one thing I think they could learn is if they make a mistake to rescind the booking." Keane, undismayed, drifted wide of the goalkeeper once more and stayed on his feet to hit the outside of a post from an acute angle.
The one-man show was then interrupted by the sending off of Stuart for an injudicious lunge at Harte, who initially looked badly hurt but was soon on his feet. ("We've got a very good physiotherapist," said O'Leary, with tongue suspiciously close to his cheek.) Charlton, for whom Fish had forced a fine save from Nigel Martyn, rallied defiantly until half-time, but Keane's miss when clean through early in the second half was the first of many. In the 62nd minute Mills, booed throughout, drew some reluctant applause from the more fair-minded home supporters by taking David Batty's back-heel and hitting a ferocious low drive just inside Kiely's left-hand post. Lee Bowyer might three times have added another old boy's goal, Kiely saved well when Harry Kewell wriggled clear and Keane again shot wide.
''They're a good, honest bunch of lads,'' is O'Leary's new mantra. Charlton's Alan Curbishley can say the same, but would just like more of them fit. The only morsel of comfort on that score yesterday was the return of his captain Mark Kinsella. If Claus Jensen can soon join him in midfield and Jonatan Johansson replaces Jason Euell, who has been a disappointment since his move from Wimbledon, Curbishley's team should keep their heads above water. But that has already become their target for the season.
Copy from Yorkshire Evening Post of 17/09/2001.
Goals from Robbie Keane and Danny Mills shot United to the top of the Premiership as they conjured their best display of the season in creating no fewer than 24 chances.
They could easily have come away with a much bigger win but a satisfactory afternoon at The Valley sees them unbeaten in their opening five games with a single goal conceded.
By manager David O'Leary's own admission they have not reached their full potential yet, but he is quick to point out that no side in the Premiership has yet found their feet.
"I don't really care about what Manchester United or Arsenal do at the moment," he said.
"We have got to the top of the league and we are delighted to be there.
"I hear the experts say that we are not playing particularly well, but there are not too many teams who play really well throughout the entire season.
"What we are doing is gathering points up and those points have got us to the top. But we know we can play better.
"We should have scored more goals against Charlton but it was a good performance from the lads and another three vital points for us.
"Defensively I think we are now looking very solid. Ferdinand and Matteo have formed a great partnership, Danny Mills' goal summed up his performance - I thought he was very good - and Ian Harte is steady.
"This was a good, solid three points. The win has put us top of the table and we are not even firing on all cylinders just yet."
They may not be at full throttle but fourth gear was enough to see off a spirited Charlton side who were always going to struggle once Graham Stuart had been shown the red card for his two-footed lunge at Harte.
United, with former Charlton duo Lee Bowyer and Danny Mills back in the side following suspension, were a lot closer to the side everyone enjoyed watching last season and at times the passing was as crisp.
However, too many balls are still going astray and at times the defence put pressure on themselves by not clearing the danger properly.
But that is just nit-picking at a performance and a scoreline which many teams would love to achieve at the notoriously difficult Valley.
The first half started at a lightning pace with Charlton throwing men forward in the hope of picking up an early goal.
But after withstanding the opening flurry of action it was Leeds who started to look the more dangerous side.
Robbie Keane saw a weak header easily pouched by Dean Kiely and the Irish keeper then had to be alert again in the 10th minute, punching away Harte's wicked free-kick as Mark Viduka pressured.
Ian Harte then let fly with a stinging left-foot drive from all of 30 yards which brushed past the left-hand post and Keane again shot over the bar after Mills had played him in down the middle.
It was a lively opening and the home side also enjoyed their moments.
Nigel Martyn pulled off one fantastic save just after the quarter-hour mark when he arched back to palm a glancing Mark Fish header over the bar, and it needed timely interceptions from Rio Ferdinand to deny Shaun Bartlett and Harry Kewell to keep out Scott Parker.
But just when it seemed both keepers would enjoy a charmed afternoon, the opening goal arrived for United in the 21st minute.
Slack defending from South African international Fish let Harte's punt forward run on into the path of Keane and the young Irishman made no mistake by placing his effort past the advancing Kiely and inside the left post.
The delight on his face was clearly visible as he bagged his opening goal of the campaign, although that happiness lasted only eight minutes as Keane was then booked for supposedly diving after clashing with Kiely.
TV replays showed there looked to be contact between the players and United will be hoping referee Mark Halsey will rescind the caution.
Keane was certainly the most dangerous man on the field. His pace was frightening the Charlton defence and his ability to run with the ball often left them unable to touch him.
He almost snatched a second goal in the 32nd minute hooking a volley against the post from a difficult angle after his first attempt at dinking the ball over the advancing Kiely had looped up into air.
Leeds were already well on top when Stuart's 37th-minute tackle resulted in him being shown a straight red card.
With a one-man advantage United simply proved too strong for the home side and created chance after chance to extend their lead.
First Keane picked up on a deflected shot from Olivier Dacourt but fired wide and then Viduka volleyed past the post from a Kewell cross. But the inevitable second goal finally arrived just past the hour mark.
Harte's short corner found Kewell, who played the ball in to David Batty on the edge of the box. He went to run the ball wide but instead back-heeled it into the path of Mills, who sent a blistering strike past Kiely and in off the post from the edge of the penalty area.
It was a stunning strike from Mills, who had to put up with a chorus of boos and abuse from the home fans every time he touched the ball.
It did not effect his game, though, as he put in a man-of-the-match display to help beat his former club.
Bowyer then saw Kiely make a good save away to his right and Viduka shot over after Dacourt's long-range effort was deflected into his path.
It was almost a stroll in the park for the away side as Kewell then ghosted past three or four challenges with a run that looked like the Harry of old, only to see Kiely again pull off a decent block.
Dacourt was replaced by Stephen McPhail after the Frenchman seemingly picked up a knock and Charlton introduced long-term injury victim Mark Kinsella, but the writing was already on the wall.
Keane should have scored with minutes remaining but once again flashed his effort wide and then both Bowyer and Viduka saw efforts fly off target.
It should have been 5-0; it could have been 10-0. There is no way the 2-0 scoreline truly reflected United's dominance. However, after the past week boss O'Leary will just be delighted to have got through the game with all three points.
He revealed how he had been inspired by the strength of character shown by New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.
Admitting that football was simply not important at a time when thousands of people had been killed in the American terrorist atrocities, he could not help but put the victory into perspective. Before the game the two sides laid wreaths of flowers in the centre circle and the crowd held an impeccable minute's silence.
Afterwards O'Leary said: "I think it has been a shocking week for the world and it does not look as though it is going to stop there.
"What is football compared to what has gone on in the world over the past few days?
"I think the world in general is feeling flat because of the sad, sad tragedy that is going on, although I believe football in general and the decent human race has done well.
"You see what the people in New York are doing and the spirit they have.
"I have been glued to the screen when I have had the chance and it has been uplifting to see the Mayor of New York, who I think has been fantastic, and the spirit within the city as well.
"The whole world needs to pull together now and get through this."