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Some fairly encouraging stuff in the Barcode game.
For a start I liked the balance all over the pitch.
Full Backs: One who is an out & out defender (Matteo) who will cover round behind well if a CB gets dragged out wide. Also his height is useful as our CBs are not THAT big. Kelly on the other side gets forward whenever possible, leaves gaps occasionally, but you can afford that on one side.
Midfield: One attacking player (Sakho) who will not do much defending, but Matteo behind him won't wander much and the other three midfielders fill in nicely to allow this. Having Johnson there means he is quite at home covering the left side. Sakho can then do the Kewell job of getting forward either wide or more centrally to support the attack. The right side player tucks in allowing Kelly to get forward and Johnson to cover the left if needed. It would be better if the right mifielder was a) right footed and b) better than Wilcox is now, but he is just the right profile.
Strikers: Well, Viduka and Smith between them gave us a target man, a striker who was prepared to work the whole width of the field. We got work-rate, skill, attitude, and even a bit of vision. PLUS A GOAL FROM EACH. OK no pace, but a midfield that allows Sakho to get forward and give us some pace and flair sort of compensates.
Now I only saw the game from the barstool, much of the time with some twat standing right in the way, but my view on Wilcox is more in accordance with Nick than Rich. Yes he did get stuck in, yes he did get around the pitch and tuck into the centre when needed. However he looked like he was on a mission to get himself sent off as he was always that bit behind the pace when making his tackles. True he played a couple of good balls with his left foot, but much of the time he also looked awkward on that side, when simple right-footed passes were needed. He is the only change I would consider making, but with whom I am not sure.
Barmby, Milner, Pennant (if we sign him) - None of them tuck in, and it would leave Morris and Johnson overworked.
Batty in the centre moving Morris out to the right, would upset what I thought was an effective partnership in Morris Johnson.
Mills at RB and push Kelly forward, might be the best bet, although it would upset that defensive balance I talked about, and I'm not really convinced Kelly can play the tucked-in role.
Perhaps give Wilcox another game to get used to the position and see how it all works in an away game.
Have to confess to being very scared on arriving to find the midfield was: Jason (my legs have gone) Wilcox, Jody ( i'm smaller than the mascot) Morris, Seth (ow my knee hurts) Johnson and Lamine (where am i) Sakho.
However the team confounded all my expectations and played excellently - we nearly held on for a win though a draw was probably a fair result. But the team worked their socks off, gave Newcastle little time to settle and kept up constant pressure upfront.
I thought we were dead and buried after the first goal but we got back at them quickly too equalise and had them rattled in the second half. Stood off them a bit too much at the end and dropped deep with only a knackered Viduka upfront but nearly held on til a rare defensive slip let Shearer in for a rare Elland Rd goal. Still at least Bowyer didn't score.
A rare moment of praise for ex Leeds players on return, Speed jumped up quickly to save Morris from a potential red card after a wild tackle and also put a good word in with the ref for Smithy after Bernard rolled around on the ground and Woodgate stopped Smith from getting involved with Given and was happy to wear a white shirt at the final whistle.
Now we've just got to keep repeating that performance.
Copy from Football Unlimited of 18/08/2003.
Peter Reid fancied a glass of water; Sir Bobby Robson's first word was "gin". But it was the Leeds United manager who was given a tonic yesterday.
A grim pre-season of defeats by clubs such as Shelbourne, Hull City and Burnley, allied to the sale of Harry Kewell and the training ground arguments with Mark Viduka, had left Reid regretting his annual month off alcohol and perhaps even his decision to succeed Terry Venables five months ago. Leeds were in a mess and Reid could not find solace even in his local.
Then when the August tipping spree started, Leeds were suddenly among those teams regularly being mentioned as candidates for relegation. Reid admitted to being worried himself about yesterday and what the rest of the season might hold.