Leeds United: Michael Brown, We All Hail Thee
For cometh the hour of 2, our all action midfielder provided the absolute highlight of the season, thus far; yes, you read that correctly, the very same ‘”too slow” and “past it” Michael Brown of months gone by, now every inch a magnificent phoenix, risen from the modest flames of a limp season, here to stick a whole loada petrol on the play-off bonfire!
The moment in question arrived with the game tailing off towards its inevitable conclusion; Danny Webber was played clean through down the left and as he surged onward in the direction of the goal, he looked infield for options and there he was…Michael Brown! Moments earlier, looking out on his feet, now he was suddenly sprinting forward from inside his own half with all the enthusiasm you’d expect of a child - the type who's not typically regarded good enough for the school team, but gets awarded a token 5 minute run out - zealously grasping at an opportunity to fulfil his dreams of glory in front of his proud parents as they scream passionate encouragement - a beautiful moment.
Webber had time, he could see Brown… all he had to do was lay the ball into his path and that was it, Brown would smash it into the corner, pandemonium would ensue, it was written, the perfect finale… Danny Webber, you b**tard!!! How could you misplace that pass? Consider yourself a tainted man; redemption is going to be hard earned after that!
He’s come to personify Leeds United’s season under Warnock; a lifeless carcass only weeks ago, now totally re-energised
It was such a shame to see Brown denied. Over the last few weeks he’s come to personify Leeds United’s season under Warnock; a lifeless carcass only weeks ago, now totally re-energised. From a crunching tackling inside the second minute, Brown never relented, as did nobody else in a white shirt – a great day, finally!!
Typically, the words ‘Middlesbrough’ and ‘great day’ are not too often muttered in conjunction with each other. In truth, even with the sun shining, presenting the town in its best light, the utter bleakness of the area is inescapable. The first signs of proximity to Middlesbrough were provided by the belching cloud of fumes visible from the A19, about 8 miles away from the ground.
In this case, first impressions didn’t mislead; the approach to the stadium dominated by a skyline of cooling towers and chemical plants, a grim panorama guaranteed to undermine any notions of civic pride and yet lacking the Blade Runner-esque dystopian future world aura of Ellesmere Port. It appears that Middlesbrough even manages to be nondescript in its awfulness.
As Morrissey sang…
This is the coastal town,
That they forgot to close down,
Come Armageddon, come Armageddon, come…
The Riverside Stadium itself is probably one of the newest things in Middlesbrough; unremarkable in any way itself, yet its immediate surroundings elevate it so that it has the appearance of a diamond in a dog turd; the stadium’s gleaming white paint and its red seats in the stands, locking out the morbid horror of the chemical works that flank the approach. It does seem the oddest of locations for a football ground though; one of the few venues to attract outsiders into the town and its the planners located it there! As a marketing ploy, comparable with opening up a vegan superstore opposite an abattoir.
On the ball the team looked very effective, the passing was good, slick and accurate
Thankfully, the dubious pleasures of the outside world were cast to one side once the game got underway. Leeds starting strongly, with Michael Brown’s (him again) early crunching tackle, setting the tone; like Southampton previously, the opposition were not given a moment to settle. Whereas a few weeks ago, supporters ago shouting themselves hoarse, demanding “someone f**king shut him down”, now we often had three or even four players hunting down the man in possession. On the ball the team looked very effective, the passing was good, slick and accurate, and seldom were Leeds hesitant in getting the ball forward quickly; not the aimless hoofs evident at the KC Stadium, but quick incisive passes.
By the time the opening goal arrived, there was an inevitability about it, Aidy White making up for not connecting his head with an earlier McCormack cross by looking up and laying the ball off to Snoddy to stroke the ball under the keeper from 15 yards. Within 10 minutes the advantaged was doubled, Becchio finishing off a series of one-twos with McCormack (an honourable mention should also be given to Justin Hoyte) by slotting into an empty goal.
In truth, after that, Leeds never looked for a second like surrendering the advantage. The only real moment of concern in the first half was a dangerous inswinging corner that Paul Robinson dealt with, his stooping header, diverting it from its goalward path. It formed part of a very sound debut by Robinson; I have the feeling he’s a player whose philosophy the fans will quickly warm to: if there’s a ball to be won he’ll win it, if there’s a man to be completely wiped out in the process, then that’s a just a bonus!
The second half was a similarly comfortable experience, an injury time fumble by Lonergan the closest the home side came. In contrast Leeds remained a constant threat breaking forward, only poor decision making at times denying us a larger winning margin. Throughout the half, McCormack was a joy to watch, his movement and ability to turn defenders inside out a promising sign with the run in upon us.
This first appeared on Fear and Loathing in LS11
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