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Was this the day most of the crowd realised that going down is a probability not a possibility. A game we had to win, at home to a relegation rival and we never even made their keeper make a decent save. At present we are a dreadful football team, with no impetus or spark, the spell of good form following the change of manager is now a distant memory and it's more likely that we'll lose rather than gain players in the next couple of weeks. We may have better players than some other teams in this division but they're (Leicester etc) better organised and motivated than us. Unless something radical changes quick, we're going down.
A surprising selection with Barmby coming from nowhere to be preferred to Sakho, Milner or Bridges to play behind Viduka. Olembe back in midfield with Bakke, to partner Matteo and Pennant. The first half never really happened, although Olembe was lively to begin with, the lack of options soon led him to hit over ambitious passes to no-one. Barmby also appeared eager to impress and made some intelligent runs which his team-mates didn't see or opted instead to lump it forward in the general vicinity of Viduka. Those three created our only real chance of the half when Viduka played Olembe into space down the left and Barmby just failed to connect with the driven cross at the near post.
Apart from that the only actual save Keller had to make was from a Pennant free-kick that would have hit him on the head if he hadn't have moved. Still that was an improvement on Harte's attempts to decapitate the South Stand upper. Tottenham were little better, a couple of routine saves from Robbo and the first half inevitably finished 0-0 as you'd expect with 2 poor teams low on confidence.
Viduka, who in truth had done OK, didn't reappear for the 2nd half, to be replaced by Bridges. It made no difference. Slowly Spurs realised we were there for the taking and Dalmat (the best player on the pitch) began to exert an influence. It wasn't too much of a surprise when they scored, a free-kick lobbed over Duberry's head for Keane to run onto, and Keane managed to hold off Duberry and rifle past Robbo into the net. Keane, as ever when he scores against us, didn't celebrate. In hindsight it may have been better for Duberry to let Robbie have a clear run on goal, he was always better finishing instinctively than when given time one on one.
Eddie brought on Milner and Sakho in an attempt to change it around, though Barmby didn't deserve the big cheer from the Kop that greeted his departure and Olembe didn't deserve to be taken off. It was so obvious that Harte should have gone to be replaced by Olembe overlapping Milner from full-back that you can't really believe Eddie missed it. These substitutions made little difference and apart from Bridges mis-kicking from a corner, I can't really remember a proper attempt on goal. Spurs might have scored another when Dalmat put Kanoute away, but luckily he chose to shoot from a narrow angle rather than pass to the unmarked Keane.
Near the end Duberry limped off injured and we had to play with ten. We wouldn't have scored anyway and even Robbo couldn't be bothered to come up for a couple of corners near the end, as the fans lured to ER by European football a few years ago, headed for the exits. Spurs were average but deserved to win, the difference today was that they had a couple of players that could make something happen and score a goal, and Keane did. We just don't have the pace and invention to do that. I can't see us scoring another 10 goals this season - let alone getting another 25 points
Next week we are likely to be without Duberry, Sakho, Olembe, Viduka and Matteo from todays squad, with only Smith likely to return - it doesn't look good.
Is there an answer, well if he wasn't about to head off to the African Nations I'd use Sakho upfront (I don't think he's a Premiership quality striker and he is more use as a sub, but we desperately need some pace.) I'd bring Camara back as well, other than that we're pretty much stuck with the players who were so disappointing today, unless Seth suddenly decides to earn his money and Batts gets fit quick. Much more of this and I'll be getting nostalgic for Paul Okon and Roque Jr. Yes it is that bad.
things are desperate my friends things are desperate.
Tottenham are a poor team who deserve to be exactly where they are in the league. We, however, are worse and I think that we will be relegated as a result.
As someone has already pointed out it seems that our small upturn in form pre-Xmas, had more to do with the spine of the team being made up of Lucas, Batty, Matteo, Smith and Viduka - 5 players who have done it at the highest level, who continue to have the ability to perform at that level (when fit), and who show the spirit that's needed to lift us out of this s***hole - yes, even Viduka of recent weeks - than it was to do with EG's taking over the reigns. Saturday's game we only had 1.5 of that 5 available - and that was Matteo playing in midfield, which isn't his position.
Saturday was woeful. I'll start with the two or three plus points. Robinson made some excellent saves in the second half to at least keep us in the game - Kilgallon continues to show promise at CHalf although I'd much prefer him to be alongside Matteo or Radebe than Duberry. With any luck we can hold onto this lad as we're going to need players like him for the forthcoming years. Pennant looked our biggest threat all game - so much so that Davies had to commit 2 bookable fouls in the first 15 minutes to shackle him - sadly he only got booked once. Milner looked lively when he came on.
As a whole the defence was ragged and unmarshalled. I don't know why Kelly is currently being preferred to Richardson who did enough in his one outing to merit more games. Both Kelly and Harte were caught out of position, their distribution was awful, and in Harte's case, his free kicks (the one thing that used to make him worth his place) are now so predictably hopeless that we should just ditch him and let someone else practice them in training. Duberry is a solid plodder of a CHalf - he thumps things into touch, he wins a good share of headers and tackles, and looks s***scared with the ball at his feet - however he is no thinker, no reader of the game like Rio or Woodgate, and you can guarantee that he will lose track of his man at some point or other, leaving the guy with a clear sight of goal - Arsenal's first 2 goals last week, Keane this week. Duberry and Kilgallon are so far apart "you could drive a bus through the gap" - that's just criminal for CHalfs. I think we're going to have to drop Matteo back alongside Kilgallon and let the specialists play in their positions (Matteo CHalf and Smith C Forward) and see if that makes any difference because this system sure as hell aint working.
Given that Olembe is good enough for Cameroon but not good enough for Leeds (!!) and will be off to Africa soon I'd play a back 4 of Richardson, Kilgallon, Matteo and Kelly (Olembe on his return). We have the worst defence in the league - it needs stiffening up.
The midfield was shocking again at the weekend. Without Batty there is no bite. Matteo can win the ball but he hasn't a clue what to do with it after that. My mate said to me as we were watching the Arse game, having watched Vieira step around Matteo once again, that Vieira knows he isn't playing against a midfield player out there - and its true Matteo just doesn't have the instincts to be in there. I know its not his fault, you play where the manager tells you and you do the best you can, but its painfully obvious. Pennant was a threat going forward. Olembe had an awful start to the match with passes going off all over the place but then he settled down and became our best midfield player. Bakke's return was welcome - briefly - as he is a specialist midfield player. He does add an impetous going forward which at least brings the midfield back into contact with Viduka, but his control and passing has not been improved by whatever operation he had. I know its harsh on a guy that's been out a long time but Jesus...
The same can be said of Barmby. Who huffed and puffed a bit - he did make a few good challenges tackling back - but he was nowhere as a threat to Spurs. I'm not sure that he'd ever been introduced to Viduka before. It does say a lot about the coaching staff's view of Bridges and Lennon that Barmby started on Saturday. Barmby ran out of steam after 60 minutes. All that said though, the boos for him were out of order. Viduka played much as he has recently in the first half - as soon as he gets the ball there were 3 men round him. Got to admit I thought we'd lost the game when he didn't come out for the second half. Someday he'll be transfered to another team and he'll find that he has men in the same coloured shirts running all around him trying to help him and he'll think that he's moved sports not just clubs.
Bridges made little impression - he was slow and his control was poor. He fluffed our best (only?) real chance when a corner fell to him on the penalty spot. We did rally for 20 minutes or so when Sakho and Milner came on, got the ball down and ran at the Spurs defence - if we'd have scored then, who knows... but we didn't and it all petered out.
things are desperate - but we must keep on supporting - keep on turning up and keep on cheering... what else are you gonna do?
Copy from Football Unlimited of 12/01/2004.
"The problem is that both the buyer and seller do not know what they are dealing with. Is this a Premiership club or a Division One club?" Those words came last week and were reliably attributed to a source close to the negotiations involving the sale of Leeds United. However, on the evidence of their last home game before the club's January 19 deadline for going into administration, Leeds are best considered a future Nationwide League club. Three defeats in the 13 days preceding this one can be used in support.
It is too bold to say relegation is inevitable. But it is tempting. Had they won on Saturday Leeds would be four points behind 12th-placed Everton. Still in the relegation zone admittedly, but with hope.
But this defeat had the sense of a landmark failure. For potential investors it was a performance that lacked even curiosity. It was bloodless, had neither brain nor brawn.
Copy from Football Unlimited of 11/01/2004.
Leeds United now know exactly how serious a crisis they are in. Their position is much worse than Tottenham Hotspur's, who won this game with something to spare courtesy of a second-half goal from former Elland Road favourite Robbie Keane.
'We are in a terrible position,' a visibly upset Eddie Gray, Leeds' caretaker manager, confirmed. 'This was a big game for us and I didn't think we showed enough confidence and courage to win.
'For the first time since I have been back, the fans had a bit of a go at us too, and I think they were within their rights to do that. They want to see more commitment and so do I.'