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If only the ticket office had stuffed it up completely and not sent me any tickets...
Can't remember a more depressing match since we've been in the top flight. Under GG it was dull drivel, but it was organised dull drivel. Will hold my hands up and say Rich W is right re: Bakke. Those who think of him as a 1st Division play are over-estimating his talents. He seems to have done a complete Ribeiro, in having a hugely promising first season, then re-emerging utterly unable to ever reproduce. Flog him to Sunderland, he'll fit in there. From 800 feet above the pitch, you can watch movement very well (if nothing else). Whenever a Leeds player was in possession, Bakke invariably ran into the space that the other player would naturally have run into, leaving that player with nowhere to go, and Bakke marked. When he passed it, he always created more pressure on the guy he was passing to than he was under.
The whole team couldn't be arsed, the movement was all 'going through the motions'. Oh, Harte has got it, we'd better be seen to run into the token position for the impending lump down the line. No variation, no thought, no will to fool or deceive opponents. Particularly disappointed in Keane in this respect, the lad has had a raw deal, but he didn't show the will to prove his manager wrong.
Formation was staggering. Spent most of the match with no-one on the left side of the pitch. The solution to Harte's inability to run has clearly been to tell him to stay back at all times, thus can't get caught out of position. No-one in midfield seemed interested in moving to the right, thus comical gap, as we tried to 'surprise' Fulham by switching play to the right. For the 60th consecutive time. Match situation made for Wilcox. If you don't bring him on in that situation, why not just put a wheely-bin on the bench?
Players may have been confused and disillusioned by system, but didn't excuse attitude of a number of them. Fowler seemed particularly uninterested in being there. We've spent 35 million on strikers, as well as having Smith come through ranks. It isn't acceptable that if 1 of them gets injured you play as if you've lost all attacking options.
Can't agree with some of the gracious 'Fulham played well, they deserved it', as this hides the more brutal fact that they were absolutely god awful too, and a decent Leeds team would have buried them. Van Der Sar was a right so-and-so too, time wasting from 2nd minute and running to half way line to try and create trouble. All their players were moaning at ref for whole match trying to get bookings. That said Mills should have been sent off (again) for booting ball at injured player.
Batts played well. Still wouldn't change manager. Yet.
Can't remember the last time I came away from a Leeds game so despondant. It was difficult to find any redeeming features to this one, from a Leeds angle.
The only winner - apart from Fulham obviously - was Viduka. We got the Fowler/ Keane double act that many wanted and it was closer to Laurel & Hardy - Smith was a strange one as well sometimes he was part of a front 3 and sometimes he was in the middle. The first half we spent watching the ball being played upfield only for it to bounce straight back off anyone of the front 2 or 3. Which I would say is a direct result of Viduka's absence. This gave Fulham a lot more of the ball than they had any right to expect.
As other folk have said the formation was a puzzle that became a farce when nothing was done to correct it by our "manager". Bakke was utterly anonymous - maybe not his fault if he was ill - but if so why was he picked to play? Nevermind why was he asked to play on the left when we have 2 left footers sitting on the bench. For once I have to say I felt sorry for Harte - despite his other failings in the game, and there were quite a few - he had no support and no-one to pass it to, so he was forced into cutting inside onto right foot and looking for someone infield, or hoiking a long one across to the other wing.
I want to know what's wrong with Johnson? Why isn't he played? We paid £7m(?) for this benchwarmer.
The only players I felt came out with any credit were Batty - best player by miles - Rio - solid at the back and we looked lively when he had a 5 min spell on the left wing trying to drive us forward. I bet when we bought him nobody explained that not only would he be CHalf but that we'd expect him to bring ideas and movement to our forward play. - Smith and Bowyer who at least put their backs into it.
It was a shambles.
However, if Keane had been a finisher - 2x through 1-on-1 with the keeper 8 yards out and he never had to make a save. Suffice to say that if Viduka had pulled off these 2 masterstrokes there would be people on this list calling for us to sell him to Scunthorpe - If Fowler hadn't wafted a glorious opportunity over the bar - if that goal hadn't been disallowed... If only ... if only ... if only.
Finally a word on Fulham - bloody dirty cheating diving whinging bastards - deliberately set out to wind up our 3 wise men (Mills, Bowyer & Smith) who thankfully managed to avoid fully engaging.
well and truly p***ed off of Leeds...
Copy from Football Unlimited of 22/04/2002.
With one sweep from left to bottom right corner, like that of a blade across a windscreen, the view front and rear cleared. Fulham all but eliminated the threat of relegation. Leeds fell out of the race for Champions League qualification.
The shot was from the trusty Steed Malbranque, the Fulham midfielder who became their equal top league scorer with eight. It was their second on target, their third and last of the match, and ended a run of nine games that yielded two points. It may have saved Fulham but not Jean Tigana.
Rumour grows that the chairman, Mohamed Al Fayed, is unhappy with the club's recent performance and some of the manager's dealing. He should know but, if this smacks of pots and kettles, he is not alone in his disenchantment. Pizza Hut are declining to renew their shirt sponsorship. If Tigana does survive, Fulham might try Oral-B.
Copy from Football Unlimited of 21/04/2002.
Fulham's first win in 10 Premiership matches should be enough to dispel fears of relegation. That it came in a poor game strewn with errors and horrid finishing will be of no consequence to them whatsoever. The result was all that mattered after such a wretched run and the potential consequences of it.
For Leeds United, it meant they will have to be satisfied with a Uefa Cup place next season. Their Champions League hopes disappeared in a disjointed performance lacking any real passion. There were enough chances created, but no one good enough to take them.
Even allowing for the misses - and the absence of leading scorer Mark Viduka - it was difficult to understand this Leeds performance. Energy and enterprise are normally key components of their play, but here those qualities were missing.
Copy from Yorkshire Evening Post of 22/04/2002.
THE last time Fulham won at Elland Road, just a few months later England went on and proved victorious in the World Cup.
That is one scrap of consolation most Leeds fans can take from the 1-0 defeat against the struggling Cottagers on Saturday.
For United's Irish boss David O'Leary, the fact has little bearing on him and it sums up the season that he has endured.
Fulham hadn't won at Leeds since 1966 but, more importantly, they hadn't won anywhere in their last nine games.
A shocking turnaround in form had seen them lose seven matches and pick up just two draws two points from a possible 27 as they slumped to 16th and the verge of the relegation battle.
But, even though they knew that their slim hopes of a Champions League place rested on it, Leeds still couldn't produce a clinical performance to kill off such out-of-sorts opposition.
Instead Steed Malbranque fired a 52nd-minute winner to ease Fulham's fears of the drop and ensure that Mohamed Fayed's millions aren't wasted just yet.
It was only Leeds' fourth home Premiership defeat of the campaign but, whereas the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United have similar records, they have managed to pick up wins on their travels on a regular basis they are in the Champions League.
United's season has been blighted by problems on and off the park, some of which have been self-inflicted.
Mark Viduka's training ground accident cannot be compared to the woes of the likes of Jonathan Woodgate and Lee Bowyer but O'Leary admitted that the Aussie striker had put in a "silly" tackle on the eve of the game in a meaningless five-a-side and so United were without their top scorer.
Viduka's ankle injury allowed Robbie Fowler to return to Leeds' starting line-up after he was relegated to the bench at Aston Villa last weekend and he joined up with Robbie Keane.
O'Leary also welcomed back Rio Ferdinand after a five-game absence. The England centre half had been out with a knee injury but returned to partner Dominic Matteo in defence. However, there was little the returning captain could do to inspire his troops.
United failed to show the required desire and it looked as if they were already thinking about their summer holidays.
Fulham, on the other hand, demonstrated the endeavour and spirit expected of a side battling to save their skins.
Leeds did have chances, enough to win by three or four goals, but these came about mainly because of poor defending rather than any moments of magic from United.
Keane failed to show that he is worthy of a regular slot in United's front line, squandering two great chances.
United simply couldn't take charge of the encounter and the first half was a painfully dull, scrappy affair.
it wasn't until the 20th minute that an effort of note could be marked; that was Keane's tame curling effort straight at Edwin van der Sar.
Leeds had a goal disallowed two minutes later when Fowler bundled in from close range, but referee Rob Styles ruled that Bowyer had illegally challenged van der Sar as they both went for Ian Harte's left-wing cross.
Fulham had their first chance following a free-kick. A long ball down the middle saw Ferdinand get on the wrong side of Steve Marlet and the striker forced Nigel Martyn to race out and thump clear.
Next Louis Saha showed the threat he posed as he ran Matteo ragged, but his final effort was a weak shot which left Martyn untroubled.
but then Fulham rode their own luck after allowing Keane behind their defence to chase a Fowler pass.
The Irishman held off the challenges of the retreating Fulham defenders as he bore down on goal, but he shot past van der Sar's right post.
Then in first-half injury time, Eirik Bakke's deep cross from the left found Alan Smith who headed back into the centre only for Fowler to nod weakly into the arms of van der Sar from four yards.
The Dutch keeper was booked soon after when Saha was fouled by David Batty on the touchline and Danny Mills kicked the ball at the stricken striker.
Van der Sar raced to the halfway line to remonstrate with Styles and the referee produced the yellow card.
The opening salvos of the second half did not promise much for those waiting for the game to come alive.
However, it did produce the only goal when Leeds failed to clear a corner. Goma had a shot blocked by Matteo but Malbranque picked up the pieces and rifled in an angled drive.
United nearly equalised immediately when Fowler lifted a pass over for Keane but van der Sar came out swiftly to block the shot.
Then Smith rifled a cross over from the right, but it eluded the outstretched legs of Bakke and Keane.
Fowler wasted the next opportunity. Mills' cross found Keane on the left-hand side of the box.
He had an opportunity to shoot, but controlled and laid back for Fowler who struck over from 12 yards