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Crossing the M621 footbridge back into the loving arms of Holbeck yesterday we spotted one huge metaphor just begging to be used. A huge black cloud hanging low over Elland Road while the rest of the sky bathed in a silvery Autumnal early evening glow. Now is truly the winter of our discontent as all the clouds loured over this house of York...
We have decent forwards and decent defenders and a bloody promising goalie - who was MOTM yesterday by a mile - and absolutely sod all in between. It is so obvious why can our management not address it. It is an embarrassment. In every game I have seen this season we have lost the midfield. Even when we've won the game we have done it despite, not because of, the midfield.
The individual players that we lambast each week - Bakke, McPhail, Barmby and Bowyer (who really was god awful yesterday) - would each manage in a midfield where they had 2 or 3 competent players around them, to support, cover and guide through games, but when they are all thrown in the mire together - we are mincemeat. I do feel sorry for each of these in some measure (apart from Bowyer who's "exclusive" in the programme yesterday said "I might stay or I might go" - he's beyond a joke now) its not their fault that they are being put through this mixer every week and I'm sure its doing their long term career/confidence no good whatsoever, its bloody Venables' fault.
Things were fairly even for a good part of the match - they did have a few chances on goal and Robinson was the busier keeper, while we had a shot cleared off the line and a few that flew across the face of the goal - Barmby might have had a penalty, I was too far away to see if he dived or not and I haven't watched the highlights. But Everton had more organisation and more determination. Our midfield - as a "unit" - does not know who is supposed to be where and doing what. Frequently Everton got the ball and began to move forward only to find that there was only our back 4 between them and goal, even when play was in the Everton half. The midfield all being caught up field.
We were unfortunate to lose Lucic at half time, who despite a couple of rash tackles was doing OK, although Harte didn't do too badly when he came on. Lucas and Woodgate had good battles against Campbell and Radzinski with honours about even there. And Mills was OK until he rather bizzarely was given the play maker role after Everton scored. There are only so many times a defence can keep the ball out when there is nowhere for a cleared ball to go but the opposition.
The forwards had a go and in spells looked likely to score - not after the Rooney goal though - a few unlucky bounces in the box kept stuff going against us. But pressure needs to be made to count if not, you eventually get punished. Wingnut came on - took the ball 40 yards out - dumped Bakke on his arse (he would not have got away from Batty or Dacourt like that) moved forward and shot through Lucas' legs - this was Rooney's bit of good fortune sometimes the defender blocks these sometimes not - and the ball slid in the far post. Fair play to the kid he chanced his arm and got his reward.
Smith, Kewell, Viduka and Barmby all had chances/half chances but nothing came off. Smith not only gets booked for challenges that others players wouldn't get booked for, but he is also seen as fair game for defenders to manhandle and generally kick about the place - Stubbs should have walked yesterday for his persistant fouling of Smith.
I think that the club sent out the message over the summer in letting Ferdinand and then Keane go that we were not aiming to be amongst the big boys this year, but I'm sure they weren't banking on being below Fulham, B'ham etc. We are in danger of seeing a potentially brilliant young team being dismantled or battered into a situation where there confidence is never the same again. Responsibility for this lies squarely with the board. Lack of progress on the field, lack of spirit, lack of invention, inability to realise and respond to failings in the course of games all comes down to TV.
Tel has already admitted that Bakke was asked to play as the holding player earlier in the season and wasn't up to it. So what does Tel do today ? Plays Bakke on his own in the middle in the holding role. He was so painfully isolated and out of his depth and this was actually one of his better games. The crowd ironically cheered a successful pass and you could feel the tension as he received the ball deep in his own half. Would he give it away ? With Boywer playing on the right wing and Barmby playing all over the place Bakke was on his own. Now you know what I think of Bakke and Leeds will not win anything with this guy in our team but Tel seems adamant on ruining the poor bloke by exposing all his weaknesses week in week out. Our midfield was non existent today. It's ok playing 3 strikers but if there's no c*nt winning the ball and creating things in midfield then you're onto a loser from the start. So for me it's pointless talking about Kewell's lack of effort and Viduka's lack of movement because they haven't got a chance with the current midfield. I know Dacourt was injured today (he might not have played him anyway - he hasn't recently except Thursday) but surely we know Bakke can't hack it at this level so let's try someone else even if it's a youngster but more importantly let's get Batty fit and back in the side. I've heard so much shit about Batty being finished etc but with our current plight I don't think we've got any choice. People say that he didn't have a good season last season. Well , who did ? I thought in a very poor season he was one of our most consistent performers.
Tel is committing suicide by picking Bakke every week.
Leeds had a good deal of possession in this game but hardly created anything. Everton could have hammered us , they had 3 one on ones and a few other chances. If it wasn't for the man of the match Robinson it could have been embarrassing. Everton are nothing special (Rooney looks like he is though) but they are organised and work well for each other which I'm afraid is good enough to beat us these days cos we are tactically a shambles at the moment. Towards the end we were literally playing with 5 strikers Mcmaster, Bridges, Smith , Barmby and Kewell. It was up to Mills to try and play some decent balls. He wasn't really up to it and all we could muster were a few long hit and hope balls. Bridges hardly touched the bleeding ball in the 20 minutes he was on the pitch.
It was a real sickener today. I've never seen us get beat by the scousers at Elland Road and I've also never seen us get beat by the Wearside Maggots at ER but I've seen it all this season. Tel is breaking all the records this season. It's a bit early but I think he's finished at Leeds. Writing paper articles and doind his double act with Des on ITV - it just makes you sick. How much money are we paying him. Do you think he is taking the piss out of us ? I'm beginning to wonder.
Scousers on the pitch , scousers singing all around the game. Leeds is a great place to come these days. 3 points and a real fun day out. F***ing great !
Copy from Football Unlimited of 04/11/2002.
Wayne Rooney's immediate propulsion towards celebrity status will continue its breakneck progress today, after a wondrous goal brought Everton a victory that shook Leeds United's season to the core.
Four home defeats in six Premiership games adds up to a troubled return to management for Terry Venables, but even a home crowd in increasingly churlish voice could not be blind to the quality of Rooney's latest try for stardom.
First there was a winning goal against Arsenal, a goal so potent that the Gunners went from supposed invincibility to imagined crisis within a week. Yesterday there was another magical rise from the substitutes' bench, with only 16 minutes remaining. Two touches and six minutes later, he was engulfed by dancing Everton supporters unable to believe that they had won a league game on the ground for the first time in 51 years.