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Heady days indeed. 2 wins on the trot and we might even be top half of Sky's form league. The day started bad with a packed, hot and sweaty train to Blackburn. Had everyone been on the piss the night before ? Bleary eyes all over the place. The police weren't keen on Leeds fans drinking in the town so we escaped via a taxi to the Fernhurst. That's when the day started to improve.
The Leeds support yesterday was first class as always. I spoke to a mate who was in the Blackburn end who said that the Blackburn fans were saying that was the best support they'd ever seen and Leeds deserved to stay up because of it. Well, if it was support that won the league then we'd have had the league wrapped up by Christmas. 4,500 pissed up Leeds fans singing their hearts out for 90 minutes. It was a great day out.
On to the footy. Harte, Kelly, Duberry and Caldwell. Is that a premiership defence ? No it isn't and whilst none of them disgraced themselves I think that if Gray decides to go with that line up for the remaining games we will go down. It's says more about Blackburn than us that Robinson only had to make one decent save and the defence were hardly troubled. I've never seen so many misplaced and overhit passes from a team. Cole was lively and was making runs all over the place but his team mates just didn't have the ability to pick him out. Tugay looks like a broken man. He's not the player he was. God knows what Cole must think to his strike partner Stead. I know a couple of Town fans who were gutted when he left. They reckoned he'd do well in the premiership. Well, all I can say on that performance is that I've never seen a striker so obviously out of his depth. No confidence and no ability. Caldwell and Duberry didn't even have to play well to cope with him. And when they put Jansen on to replace him I thought he would cause us trouble but he looks finished does that lad. In short , Blackburn are going down. They are the s****est of a lot of s*** clubs in the relegation battle. So what about Leeds ? Did we play well ? I think we showed spirit but I don't think we played well. Only in very small patches did we show any continuity and flow to our football.
We played on the counter attack , relied heavily on Pennant's pace and it is to our shame that Blackburn actually controlled periods of the game without really threatening. We did deserve it though cos we created the better chances over the 90 minutes. Pennant was our saviour up front and Matteo did a great defensive job both in midfield and defence. As against Leicester he was our best defender today. Pennant scared the hell out of Blackburn. In the first 20 minutes he just got the ball and ran. Their left back got booked and I thought he'd do well to stay on the pitch but second half we didn't get the ball to Pennant enough. Our strikers were off their game today. Viduka looked like his old self. Slow, unfit and surprisingly for him showing a lack of ball control. He had one good moment when he wriggled clear of the defence only to put it wide with his left foot with only Friedel to beat.
Smith had his moments. A good long range shot tipped over by Friedel. He also showed good bits of skill in around the box although he never looked like scoring today. Milner worked his socks but I thought he wasn't effective today. Defence - I wouldn't get too excited by this performance. It was a better performance from Caldwell and Kelly but you've got to remember I could have marked Stead out of the game. He was that bad.
Duberry didn't do a lot wrong (again) but Blackburn should have had a penalty when unexpicably Duberry decided to tackle someone by putting his arm around his neck. A blatant penalty ! Stupid , careless Duberry strikes again. This time he was lucky , next week ... ??? Harte looked like Ian Harte. Slow and unsure. He jumped in early to tackles cos that's what he has to do. He was lucky on a few occassions but it was no coincidence that all Blackburn's decent work came down their right wing. If Gray is going to be so clinical as to drop a player cos of one bad performance (Domi against Leicester) then you have to ask how Kelly, Robinson, Viduka and MCPHAIL to name a few can manage to have long runs in the team. Domi is a better player that Harte and should play left back.
Olembe is also a better left back. Come on Eddie get your thinking cap on. Harte will cost us points and that could send us down. He had one free kick that wasn't on target. No change there then. We got a break away goal late on created by Pennant and tapped in by Viduka. Blackburn then started to pressure us. We sat deep and s*** ourselves. They got one back (who was marking him ???) and in the end we held on.
When our second goal went in it was mad in the Leeds end. Absoulute f'cking delight and pandemonium. The hot, packed , sweaty train back didn't seem half as bad.
Copy from Football Unlimited of 12/04/2004.
A window of opportunity opens for Leeds as Portsmouth and Leicester drop points while Blackburn and Manchester City drift dangerously close to the mire
When Eddie Gray became caretaker manager of Leeds United and began remodelling the team he used Blackburn Rovers as his prototype. No, not Graeme Souness's sorry crew of 2004 but Kenny Dalglish's Championship-winning class of 1995. "They played the high-tempo way I believe the game should be played and we have to play if we are to stay in the Premiership," said Gray.
It explains why his side's triumph here on Saturday seemed studded with little ironies; why the team attacking with real width, using crosses as lethal weapons and ruthlessly squeezing midfield space looked strangely familiar.
Copy from Football Unlimited of 11/04/2004.
Graeme Souness asked his Blackburn Rovers players to use this match to show what they are made of. He should know better than to ask questions to which he does not know the answer. Blackburn duly turned in an impression of a doormat, enabling Leeds United to wipe their feet gratefully before climbing level with them on 31 points.
'We showed belief today, and we have an opportunity now with games at home,' said Eddie Gray, Leeds's caretaker manager. 'Everton on Tuesday is now our biggest game of the season.'
Leeds are not out of trouble yet, but Blackburn are certainly in it. They clearly do not award coaching licences on motivational grounds, as compared to the effort Gray coaxed from his troubled team, the Blackburn response to their manager was anaemic. 'There are no magic words, or I would have used them five months ago,' Souness said. 'Our quality was not up to scratch. It's game on now, we will just have to win a couple of our away matches. We've not treated home fans to any entertainment this year.'