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Difficult to know where we go from here. Bolton were very ordinary and we couldn't beat them. True when their two goals came it was the first threat that they had posed and up to that point most of the game had been in and around the Bolton box but we hadn't made it count and then they came down the Leeds end and scored twice. The first goal was a gift - a soft cross and a soft header from Duberry straight to the unmarked forward standing on the penalty spot.
You thought - fleetingly - that we still should be OK here, we should be able to pull it round with a bit of spirit, but then 60 seconds later the ball inched down the left hand side of our penalty area with several defenders failing to make a real tackle, the winger squeezes a low cross in to a forward who was first to the ball in the 6 yard box. 2-0.
Basic bloody defending. The whole stadium and the team just slumped. From then on Bolton settled back 9 men defence and although we huffed and puffed - Viduka, Sakho & Chapuis all had half chances - we never really looked threatening. And Christ knows what Batty was thinking of when he was 8 yards out in the centre of the goal, ball at his right foot and instead of shooting he chose to try to back heel it to a much worse placed Viduka.
The one and only bright spot in this game for me (aside from seeing Jay-Jay stroll through his easiest ever game) was Milner's performance. He was a constant threat on either wing - running at and beating defenders - slinging crosses in - and his work rate was exemplary. The other 3 variously used up front Viduka, Sakho and Chapuis all had so-so games - each had a couple of decent moments - and all of them looked lost running around on their own upfront. It was fairly hopeless.
After the second goal we were making the comparison with the back 5 of two years ago - Martyn, Mills, Rio, Woodgate and Harte - neither of those goals would have been scored - and even if one of our CHalfs had nodded that ball out to the forward for the first goal, Batty or Dacourt would have been covering the back 4. We have fallen a long way since then and we don't seem to have hit bottom yet.
Its difficult to know what to say when Camara - who has been our most consistent CHalf is played at right back - and when the majority of our midfield - Batty, Johnson and Morris (who to my mind should not be picked at the moment) are subbed in favour of Barmby, Chapuis and Olembe come on. Was Batty injured?
I do think that we have given them more of a game if Smith and Matteo had been available - but hey who's to know. I am very depressed this morning about Leeds because Charlton and Chelsea are not going to do us any favours and can any give a serious footballing reason as to why Strachan would take the job?
Someone on 606 said that if Gordon did come it would be his heart ruling his head - I think that's dead right - even though I'd love to see him here.
At least Roque Jr is injured.
2 poor sides, 2 bad defensive mistakes, another defeat. Was this any better than Portsmouth ? Well, yes it was cos the effort was there and we did have the better of large sections of the game but we were playing a very average team in Bolton and to be honest their keeper only had to make one decent save. First 20 minutes we passed it around nicely without threatening too much and in general we were the better team. The problem being that the midfield sat deep and just fired balls into the feet of Viduka and Sakho.
Only Batty and Duberry (yes !! - he must have miskicked it) found decent balls over the top for Sakoh to run on to. Then all of sudden we were 2 down. Two terrible defensive errors by Duberry. First one he cleared straight to the feet of a Bolton attacker and then he just gave his man too much room and here lies Duberry's main fault. He let's players turn , he gives them time , he runs by the side of them without making a challenge. A bit like Rio did but Rio had the ability and know how to recover and make a challenge should things go wrong. Duberry hasn't. In my opinion this is a bloke who has never had a good game for Leeds but yet managers keep sticking him in for crucial games. Peter Reid thought he would be a better bet than Matteo and Camara, we lost 6-1 and with Gary Kelly injured Eddie Gray thought he could get away with pushing Camara to right back and putting Dubes alongside Radebe. Well, Radebe was superb from start to finish but with Duberry in tow we were f'cked.Duberry quite simply is not a top flight defender. Why not go with Richardson at right back or even play Duberry there cos he would be less destructive in this position ? Camara has shown that he is more than capable playing alongside someone who knows what he is doing.
So , 2-0 down we were always struggling and Bolton coasted to half time comfortably. Second half Eddie decided to go for it and all credit to him for trying. He took off Batty (more of that later) and replaced him with Chapuis going for 3 at the back with 4 in midfield with Milner and Harte pushing on and Johnson and Morris in centrally with Sakho (dropping deeper) , Viduka and Chapuis up front. It sort of worked for two reasons. Bolton decided that they would sit on their lead. Stupid decision ! I reckon if they'd have taken to us they'd have won comfortably. Secondly, Milner pushing up the right had a good game and created all sorts of problems for them. I like this lad, he gives it his all and he's got a bit of skill and a bit of pace and is not afraid to have a go.
Milner together with the lively Chapuis provided some much needed movement up front and all of sudden Bolton looked rocky. That's all it takes , someone like Chapuis to make runs all over the shop and you can see defenders looking at each other and beginning to worry. This is a big factor in Leeds's downfall. No pace up front. Fowler and Viduka never had it, Viduka and Smith don't have it. Chapuis did enough for me to say he should start with Smith against Charlton.
We created lots of half chances , Viduka won a few headers and made the keeper make a decent save but I reckon we could have played all day and still not have scored. On the break Bolton looked a lot more threatening especially with Duberry prancing around at the back.
On to the players.
Robinson - 6 .Opts to punch when he should catch. His defence don't have much confidence in him and vice-versa. A couple of decent saves .
Duberry - 3. Said it all.
Camara - 4. Like a fish out of water at right back.
Harte - 5. Bolton exposed him in the first half. All their attacks came down the right wing and you can just imagine Sam Alladyce getting the Leeds team sheet and saying -Right lads, every time just get the ball down the right. Harte is finished if we didn't already know.
Radebe - 7. Without him in that first half it could have been another Portsmouth. Let's hope he can stay fit and partner Matteo to keep us solid at the back. We really need this to happen.
Johnson - 4. Poor distribution combined with another game where he really did nothing. I'm beginning to lose patience with this lad.
Morris - 4. Terrible again. A few early challenges were his only contribution until he was dragged off second half. Poor ball distribution. Not quick enough and not good enough.
Batty - 6. I thought Batty was doing well in the first 20 minutes. Say what you want about Batty these days but you can't deny that he controls the game, always finds a white shirt and never goes missing like Johnson and Morris. He always wants the ball. Batty had the two best chances in the first half, unmarked in the box. Both times he chose to pass (effectively with the first chance). He should have scored BUT the fact is he was there. He made the run and chanced his look. How many times do you see Morris get into these positions ? Never and in a central midfield pairing of Batty and Morris I'm sure it is Morris who is asked to make the runs forward. To take Batty off before Morris was a crime unless Batty was injured.
Milner -7 . Top effort and was the only player to give the crowd (those that could be bothered staying) a clap.
Sakho - 5. His touch let him down on more than one occasion in that first half. Second half , dropping slightly deeper he came into it a bit more but rarely threatened.
Viduka - 5. Tried hard but wasn't this the game where he was going to show us what he can do ? Give something back to the fans ? Well, yes he tried but the plain , simple truth is that this guy is not fit enough or fast enough to be considered a top premiership striker. Actually, that should read premiership striker - drop the 'top'. And for all his ball holding up skills and close control when the ball is played to his feet I'd say that makes him NOT GOOD ENOUGH ! He shouldn't be playing for Leeds now and if the reaction of the crowd is anything to go by his days are numbered. No Mark Viduka chants and a fair amount of stick. 2 goals this season says it all. Drop him and sell him. This bloke is poison.
Chapuis - 6. He was very lively. He's got pace and he makes runs. He was a breath of fresh air. Ok, when he got the ball he played a coule of very dodgy looking left foot crosses but he was direct and troubled the Bolton defence more so than Viduka or Sakho. He looks promising to me.
Olembe - 6 . Looked lively enough to me. Should have started at left book. There's no room for sentiment Eddie ! Barmby - 6 Didn't really figure but did make some good runs forward and put in one or two meaty challenges.
Eddie - 4 brave decisions made second half but a poor team selection let him down.
Crowd - 36,000 and it was bring a pal week too. Be down to the hardcore soon. Maybe we'll get the family stand back when they all f'ck off ?
Copy from Football Unlimited of 24/11/2003.
A memory-tugging edition of the Leeds match programme, featuring Eddie Gray and Peter Lorimer, pleaded on one page: "If only we had an Abramovich." It was a painful reminder of Leeds' financial plight to accompany a vivid demonstration of the poverty of the current team.
On this disturbing evidence not even the Bahrain billionaire and long-time Leeds supporter Sheikh Abdul din Mubarak Al-Khalifa, said to be ready to inject £65m, and the insertion of the canniest new manager will guarantee Leeds' safety from the horrors of relegation. Gray, however brief his caretakership, deserves every sympathy and backing for his latest loyal gesture.
There was no sympathy from Bolton, pursuing their own anti-relegation agenda, who were happy to shut up shop early on after the gift of two goals in a minute, as Sam Allardyce candidly admitted. It was only his team's third win and they will not have an easier one all season. Jay-Jay Okocha and Ivan Campo looked bored.
Copy from Football Unlimited of 23/11/2003.
It gets worse for Leeds. If caretaker manager Eddie Gray was hoping to put pressure on the new chief executive Trevor Birch to appoint him on a permanent basis and herald the dawn of a new era, he could not have made a worse start.
The new dawn fast turned into false dawn as Bolton snuffed out Leeds's early quick tempo with two goals within a minute midway through the first half. And that was just about that as far as significant action went, it was that bad for Leeds.
The Elland Road faithful chanted Gray's name before the kick off, but what atmosphere there soon evaporated as Wanderers strolled to a far easier victory then they would have expected.