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Understatement to say a great week for us given the last 2 results and it'd be great to build on this.
We were lucky not be one or two down at half time, although Beckham was lucky not to be given his marching orders for an apparent elbow on Bowyer. That said, on another day they could have had a pen too.
We were well under the cosh 1st half and the defence (Woody in particular) were excellent and really apart from 1 good Robinson save from Horse-face in the 2nd half, they didn't really threaten too much.
2nd half and Bakke replaced the fairly (imho) ineffective Barmby and Rads came on for Matteo (presumably due to injury). We looked much better as a result and it gave more presence in the midfield which we needed.
Kewell took his goal well following a good spell of pressure and leeds crept more and more in control despite pockets of Man U pressing without really testing us.
McPhail replaced Viduka with about 15-20 to go and did ok (he's always ok in a side that's got the upper hand) and Leeds played well, confidently and strongly to ease the game out.
Smith got Sky MOM but I'd have probably opted for Dacourt, who was everywhere, closely shaded by Woody/Smithy/Mills.
.. and so the pantomime leaves town for another season.
The booboys weren't as nasty as we'd all been told they would be - and certainly not as nasty as Fleet Street et al would wish - "What's the story now ... erm, Smith got booked again". Rio got his head down and got on with his job in reasonable comfort, although if that header had gone through his own net in the first half... how we'd have laughed. Now we can all hold the debate Rio/Woodgate who's the best in knowledge that our one-eyed view won't be the slightest bit jaundiced can't we?
The football was hurried, untidy and too often both teams betrayed their lack of confidence and assurance, with passes going astray, tackles being mistimed, chances being squandered (particularly by ManU). The fighting spirit was there for sure - there were several wrestling matches in the penalty areas as corners were being taken. Beckham offered Bowyer some much needed facial surgery, which Mr Winter said was OK by him. Woodgate tried to rearrange Ole's clothing in the penalty area, which Mr Winter said was OK too...Although Ole said he'd get Harry back later.
The visitors were superior in the first half with the exceptions of Robinson, Dacourt and Woodgate who were responsible for keeping us in it. Leeds had no shape Barmby being non-existent and Bowyer looking bewildered in the midfield - added to Smith a CENTRE FORWARD playing in midfield again. The change at half time bringing Bakke on was god send even if it was due to injury - If I were TV I would claim it for my own tactical genius. Harte was OK for Harte but by Christ they were still finding a lot of room out there - the invisible Nicky in front of him doesn't help him any either.
Going forward Viduka got bogged down and too often lost the ball, although for him, as for everyone, the passing options up the field were severely limited. Before his goal Kewell was driving folks around us nuts - he wouldn't run, wouldn't tackle, did not get past defenders (even Blanc) when he did have the ball, didn't chase balls rolling out of play that he could easily have caught - his attitude was appalling. It did pick up after his goal and he could easily have scored again, but he was seriously trying my patience. As ever the forward line was best led by Smith - and he was in midfield - he gave Rio more to think about in the last 20 minutes than either Harry or Viduka in the other 70.
It was nice to see McPhail on if only because I think TV was doing it for laughs, as in "You might not have Roy Keane, but we do have this lad...Do you want a goal start too?". That said he did what he does OK for 15 minutes. It proved nothing and it disproved nothing.
The amount of tooled-up police outside was a worry. As was the videoing of folk wandering back to the cars up Elland Road. I've heard contradictory views of Leeds violence to ManU fans and vice-versa. All I can say is that I hope we're not setting back off down that road again because its sickening. There are ways of reclaiming the game from the prawn sarnie brigade that don't involve bricks and choruses of "You're scum and you know are".
4-3-3 don't work with the players we've got. SImple as that. Every game we have tried it and in EVERY game we have been outplayed. Yes , top of the league for a few hours but we were top in January and no one believed it for a minute. I think we have been second best in large periods of all the games so far. First half against a depleted scum team said it all. Let's face it they were playing Phil Neville ! and they still had all the chances in the first half. It wasn't until Viduka wnet off that we actually looked the better team. As soon as that happens , we've got an extra man in midfield , Smith and Kewell lively as f*ck up front , a solid back four and we look like a good team. Second half I really couldn't see them scoring and I can't remember saying that about Scum in recent years. Even when the customary 4 minutes + injury time went up , it didn't really matter, they were never gonna score. So onto the perfomances. Up front we're playing 3 and really this should be 2 and one of them has to be sacrificied. Smith hopefully will be the England CENTRE FORWARD for years to come so it must play there for Leeds. Not on the bleeding right wing. That is a joke and its only cos he's in such good form that he still makes his presence felt in that position but we are losing loads by not playing up front. In fact , give him the number 9 shirt now ! End of story. So then it's Viduka or Kewell. For me it's Kewell. Viduka has got 3 out of 5. That impresses me. It ain't gonna get any better than that though and he really struggles to make an impact on most games. Kewell is lively up front. He makes things happen and will get better in that position. Smith and Kewell is the ideal partnership. Pace, power , skill, FITNESS and the ability to last 90 minutes. Sort it out Tel !
Midfield. Dacourt was man of the match. He was outstanding. He won just about every challenge. As good as he is though , he still struggles with the 3 man midfield. You can now see why Bakke really was out of his depth. When the hapless Barmby went off and Bakke came on he looked a different player. No longer burdened with being the pivotal midfielder he chased and harried and did a bloody good job. I don't have it in for Bakke I just tell it as it is and yesterday he looked much better playing alongside Dacourt. I still maintain that we will not win anything with Bakke in the side. His ball control and passing are just not good enough. Boywer - showed yet again why he is not good enough to play for England in my opinion. Pass after pass went astray. Very poor. Barmby as I've already mentioned was poor. He really hasn't performed at all since his arrival. Mcphail - hope the McpHail fans will come out of the woodwork again. On he trots and plays at least 10 comfortable , short , intelligent passes. He also looks comfortable on the ball. Admittedly he never made a challenge but hey, that's not is job. He's done this sort of thing before - coming on when things are good and making them ever so slightly better but there's not much room for that these days and when we're under the cosh we don't want this lad in our team. I said about a year ago that the only future for Mcphail would be in a 5 man midfield that had Batty and Dacourt in it. He wouldn't have to do much just wander around and look pretty playing a few nice balls. Get rid !
Play Batty and Dacourt in midfield - it's that bloody simple.
Back 4 - outstanding. Mills looks more solid than ever. Woodgate is better than Ferdinand - easily. Matteo although not fit battled hard and when Lucas came on he just slotted in brilliantly. Harte had his best game for a while. He covered well but I'd still say he's put in one too many dodgy corners and free kicks this season to be considered as first choice left back. Just remember though that he has the pace of a snail and sooner rather than later he will be skinned and we will lose a match because of it. We can wait until the UEFA cup final if you want but HArte will cost us dear this season (don't ever forget Newcastle last year).
Robinson - good game. I was beginning to wonder but Newcastle and Scum games have reassured me.
Crowd - scum fans smashed though the stewards and out into the car park apparently and started slapping people. Other events occured around and about the ground. 12 o' clock kick offs don't really work do they ?
p.s Did Viduka asked to be taken off ? Did he f'ck ?
Copy from Football Unlimited of 16/09/2002.
It will require a change of opinion by the referee Jeff Winter if David Beckham is to be punished for allowing his left elbow to stray into the face of Lee Bowyer. The Football Association will become involved only if Winter alters his match report having watched television replays but, given that Winter awarded a foul against Beckham and later described it as "a clumsy challenge" rather than a malicious one, this is not expected to happen.
Bowyer, moreover, went out of his way after the match to defuse the situation saying: "I don't want to say anything negative about David Beckham. He's a great player and I have a lot of respect for him."
But the Manchester United goalkeeper Fabien Barthez may face questioning by West Yorkshire police after tossing away a bottle thrown on to the pitch and hitting a disabled spectator with it. The fan needed four stitches and made a complaint but the incident is likely to be dismissed as an accident.
Copy from Football Unlimited of 15/09/2002.
The final indignity for David O'Leary, the man who claims he had no idea what title his publishers would give his book, was to turn up for Sky summarising duty on the day Terry Venables supervised the first Leeds United victory over Manchester United since George Graham was around in 1997.
Considering this was Venables' first attempt, the achievement was all the more impressive, particularly as the new manager earned extra brownie points for tinkering at half-time with a system that was not working and thus producing a win that had never looked likely.
This was Manchester United's second successive Premiership defeat and perhaps the currency is not what it once was, though the home supporters were pleased enough at the end.
Copy from Yorkshire Evening Post of 16/09/2002.
THIS was a day that will live long in the memory for Leeds United fans.
Leeds victories against Manchester United are a rare commodity and to do it when the club record signing returns wearing the red shirt of the arch-rivals made it all the sweeter.
Ironic taunts of "You were just a stand-in for Woody" were quite prophetic after United youngster Jonathan Woodgate outshone the returning Rio Ferdinand by a country mile.
Woodgate was just one of many fine performers in the United side, his never- say-attitude typified the spirit on display, and the single goal victory was more than deserved.
The win said a lot more about Leeds' character than perhaps the 2-0 success at Newcastle just three days earlier had done.
While Leeds relied on a counter-attacking approach at St James' Park, they opted to take the game to Manchester on Saturday and, aside for a lean spell during the latter stages of the first half, they did it well.
It was fitting that Harry Kewell should score the decisive goal that sent Elland Road into raptures midway through the second half.
Kewell looks a rejuvenated player under Terry Venables and is clearly revelling in playing for a manager who believes he has more to offer than simply patrolling the left flank.
The winning goal was created by another of United's unsung heroes, Ian Harte. The Republic of Ireland defender has had his fair share of critics, but he too is looking an improved player under Venables.
Olivier Dacourt also showed a return to his best, while Alan Smith and Paul Robinson were again in awesome form, and there is an unerring confidence running through the club at the moment.
It would be unfair to single players out, though, because once again it was a great team effort added to Venables' tactical nous rather than individual brilliance that carried Leeds to victory.
Eight months ago they would have capitulated after spending the final 20 minutes of the opening period under the cosh, but they simply re-grouped at half-time, listened wisely to Venables, and returned to dominate the second period.
The critics are already claiming that the Fergie empire is crumbling at Old Trafford, but they still have the squad capable of taking on and beating all- comers.
They did miss the injured Juan Sebastian Veron and Nicky Butt, for all he snarls and snaps, is certainly no Roy Keane in the middle of the park.
Ferdinand, who gained all the headlines ahead of the game, also turned in one of his worst displays at Elland Road and was guilty of three major errors that could have proved costly.
Maybe the barracking did get to him, but the hostilities were nothing like as bad as predicted and by the time the clock ticked past 90 minutes most Leeds fans had even forgotten he was playing.
The England star had a disappointing afternoon by his own high standards, but at least he could walk away safe in the knowledge that he hadn't reacted to the hostile atmosphere.
Sadly the same cannot be said of his international captain, David Beckham. His apparent elbow on Lee Bowyer was a disgraceful incident and the FA should review the clash again.
Referee Jeff Winter, who appeared to revel in the limelight of a live TV game, frequently halted play for the slightest thing yet, unbelievably, only awarded a free-kick and allowed Beckham to escape without a word.
That was the only sour moment in the game, unless you count Butt's bizarre appeal for a penalty when he bounced off United centre-back Woodgate.
Those incidents came at a time when Manchester United were heavily on top. They dominated much of the first half and should have been at least one goal to the good.
Robinson denied Ruud van Nistelrooy with a superb save after the Dutchman weaved his way through the home defence, while Woodgate and Harte both made vital goal-line clearances.
Van Nistelrooy was thwarted again by Robinson at the start of the second half, but that represented Manchester United's last serious effort on goal and for a such a quality side two clear-cut chances was a poor return.
Leeds came out fighting again after the break and were finally rewarded on 66 minutes when Harte's inswinging right-foot cross from the left was met by an unmarked Kewell and Elland Road erupted.
It was a special moment for the Leeds faithful ? they have waited since 1997 to see off the old enemey ? and their response was to roar the side to victory.
The visitors did rally but lacked invention and the closest anyone came to scoring another goal was when Ferdinand generously teed up Kewell, but the Aussie was unable to apply the finishing touch.
Ironically, while Ferdinand's return was the major talking point, another former United favourite was back at Elland Road.
Ex-manager David O'Leary watched from the Sky TV commentary box as Leeds recorded their first win against Manchester United in five years and could have been forgiven for wondering what might have been.
After all, O'Leary tried and failed eight times against United's arch-rivals. Venables had beaten them at the first attempt.