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First and foremost - can the muppets who spent most of the match getting on the back of Ricketts just shut up. He didn't play well, granted, but he is clearly a confidence player. Goals and games and he will come good. Moronically getting on his back within 2 games will only make him worse. There were enough touches, albeit too few and too infrequent, in the second half to show he has got it. We just need to get him playing. If anyone is stupid enough to think that over the course of the next 2 seasons Deane constitutes the future of Leeds more than Ricketts then gawd help us.
Now to the match...
Read the post yesterday about the picture in the dressing room with "Earn the right to play" on it. Yes, good point. And I thought we did with some very hefty challenges (the ref was very lenient, and Butler and one or two others got away with some challenges ploughing through the back of players). But once you've earnt that right, then play. Lumping the ball forward is not playing the longest pass first. It's lumping the ball. For all that has happened we are capable of playing better football than Gillingham, but we seemed preoccupied with showing how we have 'learnt' that this division is all about hard tackles and long balls. This is over-simplistic. If you're going to hit the ball up the Ricketts, get it into his chest / feet and use him in the play, not just smack it in his general direction.
Sully - solid enough, though kicking was a bit hit and miss.
Kelly - this is his level. Played pretty well I thought. Good at sweeping up potential counter attacks. Our crosses (not just Kelly but everyone) are still a bit too much 'generally into the box' rather than directed at any players.
Killer - worked hard, caught out occasionally positionally, but then he is a centre back. Need a specialist in this spot though.
Butler - like him as an organiser and leader and takes no prisoners.
Duberry - fills me with utter despair. No positional strength. Doesn't understand staying goalside. Doesn't understand if you are marking a man you stay with him and not look to see if there's anything interesting happening elsewhere. Terrible for second goal. Charged away from his man towards player on byline but then inexplicably held off, giving him time to pick out the man he'd run away from. What was he doing?
Walton - can't pass. He tries, and massive credit to him, because even though struggling I never felt he hid and he kept trying passing. But he can't. Spring in, or if not fit, Pugh into centre and Guppy in - we immediately looked better when this happened, as we could pass the ball across the pitch. I think his inability to pass worsened out habit of hitting in long as we lost confidence in going through this area.
J Wright - Will settle. Wants to get the ball down and play, which means he isn't best suited to alot of our play at the moment. Decent enough at this level, but needs a solid, experienced destroyer alongside him. Should have closed man down quicker for first goal.
Richardson - ok. Works hard. A good player for this level. Committed too many petty fouls that let them relieve pressure.
Pugh - best player. Good all-round footballer who seems really up for it.
Joachim - enthusiastic in a kind of puppy dog way. Runs around pretty fast, though with limited result. Jumps for everything and wins more than his height suggests he should. Missed the one fantastic chance he had. No point on getting on his back about it. If he was a great finisher we wouldn't have got him on a free from Coventry. Wild enthusiasm without end product always seems to appeal to Leeds fans though, so he'll be popular.
Ricketts - I really want him to come good to shut the morons up. Given time I think he will. Will say no more.
Overall, it's a predictable result in a period of adjustment. Blackwell is learning too. Hopefully fans frustrated at us not charging straight back up aren't going to start looking for scapegoat players, as this will only drive us back down.
After the cautious optimism of Saturday, we came down to earth with a bump tonight.
To do well in this division we basically need 2 extra things;
A big solid centre-midfielder who can win the ball and give it to the more skilful players (Pugh, Richardson, Wright) to play around him. I can see why KB is after Gregan, Walton was largely anonymous tonight. Ricketts to get his (huge) arse in gear. A couple of nice touches but he should have enough class to dominate an average team like Gillingham and he didn't. Maybe Gillingham weren't really good enough to deserve to win tonight but then neither were we. After a fluky deflection gave them the lead, we largely controlled the game with some promising runs from Richardson on the right, but the only clear chance was when Byfield broke clear and bounced one off the bar.
A flurry of excitement before half-time, a desperate goal-mouth scramble from which we nearly scored, followed by a soft goal when Agyemang got to the line and was allowed to cross for Roberts, the only man in the middle, to sweep in from the near post. A good finish, but poor marking.
So half-time 2-0 down, Gillingham probably didn't deserve 2, our score was about right though.
Not much change second half, indeed the best 2 early chances both fell to Gillingham, as our central midfield vanished from site. We were reduced to chanting for Deano to come on, who'd have thought that 5 years ago or even three. Joachim missed our best chance after being put through by Ricketts, but it was still a bit of a surprise when we scored a nice goal. Deane linking up the play well in the middle, played wide for Guppy to drill in a low cross that Pugh, now playing centre mid, tapped in.
Ten minutes left to salvage something, we never really managed a clear shot, and much of the play was at the other end. Not a pretty game but we better get used to visiting dumps like Gillingham - we could be doing it for a while yet.
Sullivan 6 - Kicking dreadful first half, came well for a few crosses.
Kelly 7 - Solid, dependable, should cruise through this division, needs to give us a bit more going forward.
Kilgallon 7 - Out of position, got booked, but looks composed.
Butler 7 - What Big Ron would call a solid citizen.
Duberry 5 - I dread to think what Big Ron would call him !
Pugh 7.5 - Looks lively, got some tackles and had a decent 15 minutes centre-mid - too lightweight to run game on his own.
Wright 6 - Nice touches but needs an imposing presence to play with.
Walton 5 - Tries hard but looks like what he is, a 16 year old out of his depth.
Richardson 7 - Looked a threat but little end product
Joachim 6.5 - Why do we play all the long balls to him, still won more than..
Ricketts 5 - Who was hopeless again. If Ricketts played for England so did i..
Copy from Football Unlimited of 12/08/2004.
Having experienced such footballing theatres as Camp Nou, San Siro and Bernabiu in recent years, Leeds were always likely to find a visit to the humble environs of Gillingham a stern test of character. And goals by Darren Byfield and Iwan Roberts last night did little to dispel fears that Kevin Blackwell's new-look side will face difficulties in acclimatising to less inspiring surroundings.
But the wholesale changes at Elland Road mean it is the Leeds supporters, not the players, who must forget for now those halcyon days of Champions League football.
When Leeds last visited Priestfield, in an FA Cup tie 18 months ago, Harry Kewell, Alan Smith and Mark Viduka spearheaded their attack. Last night that task was given to Julian Joachim and Michael Ricketts, two of the 11 players to arrive since Blackwell took over as manager in the summer.