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Give us a spine and we'll show you some backbone. Reid put Matteo, Batty and Smith down the middle of the park for and suddenly Leeds were a different proposition. We're not world beaters but by God we're not a soft touch.
Matteo marshalled the defence - up against decent forward players Cole, Yorke, Emerton etc - and we looked solid. Makes the case for Roque Jnr not to start another game in defence - ever. Maybe in midfield, but I reckon we've got Matteo, Camara, Radebe and Duberry (even Kelly) who can do a better job than Roque at CHalf. The tackling was firm, we won a lot in the air and closed down quickly. Having Batty in front of the back 4 was obviously a help but I think Camara looks a different player when he's alongside someone half decent. Kelly had a much better game - including a goal line clearance at the end - if B'Burn had nicked a point then it would have been an injustice. Olembe looks good and bad a left back - he's fast and gets tackles in - he's great at overlapping - but his defensive positional play is dubious, at least that can be worked on, but I would certainly give him a go there for a while.
Robinson helped the defence by commanding his box, coming for - and getting to - crosses. I think it makes a big difference to defenders when their keeper can do this.
The midfield was vastly improved by having Batty there - MOTM deservedly so. Fierce tackling to win the ball back - getting goalside if we lost - short passes to team mates and always available to receive a pass from a colleague. He will run out of steam and I doubt he can play all season - but he sure as hell gives us a much better fighting chance this year than we had two weeks ago. "Finished ?" "Never play football again" - bunch of fucking jokers who know nothing about football.
Pennant had some electric runs interspersed with periods of complete invisibility, but when he was good he was very very good. Morris - I still don't think he's good enough. Boy amongst men. Ran around a lot and got a few decent tackles, but he doesn't have it in him to dictate a game. Johnson has as good a game as he ever has done for Leeds. Two nicely taken goals - popping up last man at the back post - but if I were Souness I'd be wanting words with my right back. Looked like he combined better with Olembe the more the match went on. Was guilty of some pretty hopeless punts down the line in the first half.
Smith ran and ran as always - but missed 2 good chances and 2 sitters - he needs to get that sorted - but as Lineker always says, the time to worry when you're a forward is when the chances stop coming not when you're just missing them. He linked well with both Viduka and Bridges. Viduka had an excellent first half - setting up 2 or 3 for Smith - and then disappeared. He was rightly subbed. What happened then was telling - Viduka ran straight down the tunnel never making eye contact with Bridges or Reid (who turned his back - in marked contrast to the congratulations he gave Pennant when he came off). I'm sorry to say it but I think Viduka's time is gone now. I've supported him over the years and think he is a fantastic talent but I think that it won't be too long before he's off. If Leeds can keep Smith, Bridges, Lennon and Sakho fit then we should be OK.
So we could have been 6-0 up after 46 minutes but the 3 points are what counts. I just hope that Reid doesn't say "fuck it" and leave anyway - which is a possibility at the moment given the way he's been treated by the board.
Of the 4 home games so far we've been unlucky not to win against N'castle & Soton and cheated out of at least one point against Brum. Just need that bit of luck to stay with us - like when Cole hit the post.
I hear Michael Owen might be injured on Saturday - come on down Alan Smith.
I came away from this match feeling angry. Why ? Well, first let me say that this performance was everything I want from a Leeds team and was worth the price of my season ticket alone but two things really got to me today.
1) Mark Viduka - got subbed after 60 minutes , head went down , trotted off , refused to shake hands with Bridges who clapped him and gestured to shake hands in his direction and then ran straight down the tunnel. This, for me says it all about Viduka and is the reason why I hate the bloke with a passion. All you Aussies and Viduka lovers out there - can you now understand why we don't like him ? F'cking disgraceful behaviour and I never want to see the fat c*nt put on a white shirt again. Bridges and Smith are the future. As for his performance , I thought this was his best game of the season but that doesn't matter when you've got Viduka's attitude. Makes my blood boil.
2) David Batty - I've been waiting for this game for 18 months. The game that we can finally say that David Batty still has what it takes to play at in the premier league. Terry Venables should be never allowed anywhere near Leeds again. What a disgrace. I just wish he'd have said that he wasn't a Batty fan and that he didn't figure in his plans instead of hiding behind the LIES which told us that Batty no longer had the legs for the job. I'm so bitter about this I feel like smacking Tel. He has deprived us of seeing Batty turn out for Leeds for a year and half and also put his career in jepardy. At 35 , a spell of 18 months on the sidelines cannot be good for you but it is to Batty's credit that he can still come back and put in a performance like that. Against good players like Tugay and Thompson (probably most underrated midfielder in the country) he dominated. David Batty still is a class act and we need him to pull us through this season. With 3 minutes to go , who was still doing all the chasing, passing and controlling of the pitch ? Yes , David Batty - OUTSTANDING !
Anyway, enough of that , what about the game. We nearly scored after 20 seconds and that set us up for a really good performance. Yes we were hanging on at the end but when you've played like we have recently you can probably understand it. So what was the big difference between this and Leicester and Everton ? I'd say 2 main reasons. First , the defence. You don't f*ck about with your defence. Not at this level. Matteo is our captain and our best central defender. He deserves to play in that role and when he does we look fairly solid at the back. Camara looks a different player when playing alongside Matteo. With the clown (Junior) he is all at sea. Olembe moved to left back and someone said near me that we've finally found a left back - first decent one since Dorigo. Well, I wouldn't go that far but he certainly did well in defence and coming forward he also provided a new attacking option. Kelly also did well today and instead of pumping the ball down the line he suddenly had another option today - little 5 yard ball inside to Batty. Football really is an easy game at times. Secondly, David Batty - I've said it already but he really made a difference and it was no coincidence that Johnson and Morris turned in their best performances of the season. Morris yet again didn't influence the game but he managed to find a bit more time to play and when he did he was effective. He also covered a hell of a lot of ground. Maybe there is a future for him playing alongside Batty but I would like to see Milner play in that role. Johnson finally weighed in with a performance that matched is ability. He scored two, had 2 other good chances, passed and battled well and controlled the left side of the pitch. It was good to see and I think he may have found a role more suited to his game. With Olembe at left back he was able to provide cover and also they were able to swap roles as Olembe foraged down the left. The whole midfield battled hard and at times we actually played some bloody good stuff on the ground. Short pass and move football usually with Batty at the heart of things. It really looked easy at times. The two forwards played their part and for the first time this season Smith and Viduka actually played like they were strike partners with Smith running through onto a brilliant overhead pass from the fat man. In fact, it's ironic that this was Viduka's best performance of the season. Still under achieving but actually putting in some work and really working hard with the ball at his feet. Shame he ruined it all by acting like a spoilt kid. By the time he was subbed his contribution was down to zero so he has no complaints. Smith was fantastic today. He really was the leader today. He won loads in the air and really unsettled their defence. He made himself 4 good chances and fluffed the lot. Those who say Smith is not a natural goal scorer would have loved this but he got into the positions and created the chances. He'll put one away soon and hopefully that will open the floodgates. Pennant at times is top class. He gets the ball down and then runs at the opposition and just glides past them. I don't think I've seen that sort of ability in a young lad ever ! He just needs to improve his final pass/cross. He also works very hard. I can see this lad being an England regular in years to come. Blackburn are a good team and with Cole and Yorke up front they're always going to be lively and cause you problems. Robinson was commanding today at times - first time I've seen that this season. We should have won this 5 or 6-1. This was a Peter Reid team performance. If he keeps his defence like this, brings Milner into midfield for Morris and puts Bridges on for Viduka I think we are definitely a mid table team (at least).
The crowd were excellent again and I felt proud of the players (except Viduka) and also proud of the manager. Peter Reid will do for me.
Robinson 8 - Commanding. Some very good saves also.
Copy from Football Unlimited of 06/10/2003.
Peter Reid is not a quitter by nature but, in the case of Leeds United, he very nearly made an exception. A useful win against Blackburn may have elevated him to a new position of strength but he is painfully aware he may be on "borrowed time", his relationship with Professor John McKenzie has suffered irreparable damage and even his coaching staff left Elland Road uncertain whether he was planning to break the habit of a lifetime and give up his job.
Today he is expected to announce that he has no intention of resigning - not yet, anyway - but it has become apparent that the idea has figured prominently in his mind, and may do so again in the near future.
It is not paranoia which leads him to suspect last week's reprieve was merely a stay of execution. He knows it is more than likely he will be out of a job anyway before Hallowe'en. So if he is being set up for a fall, as he strongly suspects, why delay the inevitable when he could manufacture a departure guaranteed to cause minimal damage to his own reputation and maximum discomfort to McKenzie?
Copy from Football Unlimited of 05/10/2003.
Peter Reid's traumatic week ended on a brighter note when two first-half goals from Seth Johnson gave his side a comfortable victory that could have been much greater had Alan Smith not wasted four good chances.
Rovers, a disappointment, pulled a goal back in the closing stages and a frantic last four minutes saw the Leeds defence scrambling to maintain a lead that should never have been in doubt. David Batty making a rare start in the Premiership had an eye-catching game for United while Rovers' best player was the industrious Brett Emerton.
After last week's 4-0 humiliation by Everton it might have been expected that Reid would make a few changes. Two were forced on him with the suspension of the Brazilian Roque Junior and Ian Harte. Salomon Olembe filled the left-back berth allowing Batty an unexpected chance in the Premiership.