That’s better Leeds. After the dismay of Saturday’s defeat at the hands of hungry Championship newcomers, Southampton, which resembled the final scenes of a wildlife documentary where the old beast looked too slow and craggy to fight off the ferocity of the young pretender, Leeds United reassembled themselves as a leaner proposition in the 3-2 defeat of local rivals Bradford. But not before making it hard for themselves. So here’s what we’ve learnt.
So that’s why Grayson bought Adam Clayton.
The young lad with the shared name was fantastic last night. A mate who sat down to watch TV after the match finished caught Clayton’s post match interview and summed it up: “He looks f****** he can hardly speak.” And with good reason. Clayton gave Leeds something we haven’t had in an awful long time. Genuine pace in the centre of the park. Not just breaking from midfield attacking pace like Howson has, but more determined and immediate hunger to chase everything down and get to the ball first. I thought he was a real class act who passed the ball well and genuinely gave us the energy we lacked centrally in recent years. By far the best hope for the season ahead, we can build a winning team round that spirit.
OB has lost the force
Andy ‘OB’ O’Brien was looking like OB1Kenobe without the Force. In fact Sir Alex Guinness himself might have looked sharper last night than the man many saw as the saving grace for us last year. It’s a worrying outlook to realize your first choice centre back might have lost something but it happened with Richard Naylor and we can only hope it’s rustiness with OB. It will do everyone watching, and probably playing, a favour if Grayson can settle on two first choice centre backs and try and make them a consistent pairing – whether it’s Bromby and Paddy, Bruce and O’Dea, OB and Luke Skywalker. Whoever it is, we are well covered in that position but no-one’s been able to make both those positions their own for a long time now.
The Young Guns
This might sound like heresy but once we got into the second half I actually thought, “Maybe we should lose Snoddy for £5m if we could buy a decent left back, centre forward and another experienced midfielder”. This was nothing to do with what Snoddy did, he wasn’t playing, but to recognise that actually Sam and Nunez definitely need more game time than Snoddy and Gradel’s form allows them. In the first half we were crying out for some experience and guile, something Snoddy could have offered, but as soon as Grayson had sorted out the defence we looked a different proposition. The energy of Sam, Nunez, Clayton and Howson really gave us a different look as a team. Unafraid to penetrate Bradford’s heavily packed and well marshalled defence, happy to show for and keep the ball, we really did have a different outlook to the cautious probing, long balls and miss-hit passes of recent times.
If Bates gets his bucket of fans cash out and lets Grayson improve the team to the standard he surely wants then there was enough desire there to make a difference
Tom Lees will remember his debut
In the fuss of Ross McCormack getting the second equalizer no-one seemed to notice but the young right back, who had been sent on to replace an experienced pro, put in a fantastic cross for the finish. I’d be happy to see more players like Lees and Aidy White come through the ranks and into the team. It’s a Leeds tradition to cultivate great youngsters and we haven’t done it enough this century. On the subject of full backs…
WE definitely need an improvement at left back
I like Ben Parker, but that’s mainly because I enjoy those weird attacking runs he goes on, they look a bit like lego falling over and knocking other bricks over, you’re not sure what’s going to happen but something will. This style was best typified by his goal at the thrashing of Northampton a few years back. Since then though Grayson and injury have pegged him back and he looks precarious, as seen when he tugged Walcott back to give Arsenal their injury time penalty in the FA Cup last year. Gary Kelly would have managed to haul Theo down and get up smiling and NOT give a pen away. Parker needs more confidence and cockiness, in effect he comes across as too nice. It’s strange that this is a problem for us as Grayson himself was a full back. Whatever happens we need a quality immediate first choice left back, I’m not sure Parker is it anymore but I don’t want another club’s reserve centre back playing there.
McCormack can shoot but he’s not the replacement for Becchio
By the end of last night Ross McCormack was on fire shooting at every opportunity and he looked like he really fancied it. He seemed relieved to be getting the shots way and going close with most of them. Once Becchio is fit again they’ll be an interesting mix. But in the meantime he’s no replacement for the hard-working Argentine. Right upto when McCormack finally scored from an unmarked heading position, cross after cross was repelled by Bradford’s centre backs. During the first half there was just no threat in the penalty area for decent balls in. This is where Grayson and Bates have to find a quality player and buy him. I don’t care whether it’s an old stager like Kevin Phillips or someone not getting a game in the Premiership who has helped clubs get promoted from the Championship but we need someone of Chopra’s caliber. A surefire 20 goals a season man. Ship Paynter out and let’s get a reality check as to what division we are in and what the prize is for promotion. A West Brom fan mentioned Roman Bednar.
It was a relief to see a different generation of Leeds players stepping up to try and win that match. It was the older guard who weren’t at the races and importantly it was key that Grayson made the change to the defence. At times Grayson is either too quick to change the defensive personnel round on the starting team sheet, or two slow to make major changes. After last nights game I still see a two massive glaring holes at left back and centre forward but in Nunez we looked like we might have a player who gets lucky, who creates his own luck and Leeds fans love a talisman. If Bates gets his bucket of fans cash out and lets Grayson improve the team to the standard he surely wants then there was enough desire there to make a difference. Bradford were from a division below but the local rivalry gave them an impressive desire to win the match and they over-ran us in the first half. Their second goal was a corker that did little to help our new keeper cement a reputation. But by the end I felt in Sam and Clayton and co we’d seen a new generation emerging. That will do for now. It will be interesting to see who starts Saturday.
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