Becchio brace not enough to sink Hartlepool United TSS February 7, 2010 Match reviews 39 Comments Firstly, sorry for the lack of updates lately, I’ve been a little busy with other things and had little time to spare for TSS. No match review for Tottenham was posted, and nor will it be. Those that weren’t alongside me at Elland Road undoubtedly saw the tie on TV so will know Leeds were by no means shameful in defeat, but bowed out of the FA Cup gracefully and can now concentrate on more pressing matters. Those matters started again at Hartlepool in what was a scrappy affair throughout, with the match ending 2-2 as Hartlepool levelled it deep into injury time. Another set play poorly defended ultimately cost us the three points after a Becchio brace has left us infront going into the dying moments of the match. The most frustrating part of the equaliser was knowing a win would have been vital to our title dreams as both Norwich and Charlton slipped up. Essentially, Hartlepool earnt their point the same way Leeds have snatched so many this season by never giving up and fighting to the death. Whether it was complacency from Leeds that cost us the win is debatable, but the defending of set-plays being brought into question once more won’t surprise anyone. Whilst this wasn’t an epic performance from Leeds, it wasn’t a dismal one either like we’ve witnessed in recent weeks. We’re lacking the bit of flair we’ve played with at times this season, but you can’t expect to see that every game. To say Leeds should have beaten Hartlepool would be discrediting what was a good side who battle hard and overall, deserved their point. As hard as the late equaliser was to swallow, that’s the reality of it. Leeds never really outclassed Hartlepool and a draw is a fair reflection of the game. Whilst it’d have been nice to get a win at Pool and capitalise on Norwich’s slip, I suspect an average of four points from every six will be more than enough to take us up automatically, so a draw away and a win at home in our last two is good form as far as I’m concerned and we’re on the right track once more. The ups Domination: In the first half we dominated almost totally. Becchio’s goal was the only thing that seperated us though at half-time and Pool grew in confidence because of it. Becchio: Luci is on a nice run of form at the minute and thoroughly deserved his brace. Squad rotation: Some of it forced by injury, whilst others were just rested, but it was nice to see a few different faces in the starting XI. We’d all questioned Simon’s motives in fielding the same squad in congested patches, so it’s good to see him utilising the depth and Leeds getting a result with some different faces. The downs Conceding from set-plays: Anyone know how many we’ve conceded from set-plays this season? I suspect it’ll be a large percentage of our total. It seems to have been a constant thorn in our side for a while and shows no signs of letting up. Lack of va-va-voom: It’s that little thing you just can’t put your finger on that one minute you have and the next you don’t. A little flair, some finesse, I don’t quite know, but at times this season we’ve been untouchable and a joy to watch. This wasn’t one of them. TSS man of the match Three goals in the last two for our on/off goalscorer. Let’s hope he can continue to contribute more as the season comes to a close. Failure to capture another striker in the transfer window disappointed me, but if Luci is to start firing them in like this, then who cares. MOT. Damien finnson i tink the only problem we have at the min is too many tired bodys we av played a lot of matchs this season we need a rest then maybe we could produss so old form again the new sigings av been good for us but we need a rest. mot LUFC-mac Right there, need to rest some players, but will SG do that in the JPT? It’s difficult when you are 1 game from Wembley, even though we all know promotion is the only goal. paul Although disappointing to concede so late (from wot shouldn’t have been a free kick anyway)we are 4 points ahead of Charlton and 10 points ahead if we wins games in hand, Charlton drawing with Swindon was not as bad as it seems cos Swindon could become more of a threat than Charlton, looking at the table they have 3 games in hand on them. We are missing paddy at the moment, once he’s back, the loan’s settle in and the team settle back into league matches ( bloody jpt to come)we will pull away, i also wouldn’t worry about the difficult fixtures ie Norwich, S’hampton etc cos we play better against the better teams on proper playing surfaces! TheReaper08 I would agree with that TSS, really good to see Becchio coming to the front, as he is realtively fresh he could be pivotal to our run in. The form of him and the so far impressive McSheffrey could be the key. That said and I don’t mean to contradict myself on the above but the defence needs some work. The component parts seem to be there but the whole doesn’t appear to equal the sum of the parts. Perhaps a rested and recovered Kisnorbo could be the key ? who knows but we have shipped too many goals lately. As a result the opposition will always feel there is a chance. Craig I am really glad Becchio grabbed two goals on Saturday. I think his tireless work on behalf of the team deserves some glory and recognition. Henry V It has to be 2 points dropped here. According to Eddie, Hartlepool were woeful in the first half, and the points were in the bag. Will that boy never learn?! The kiss of death every time. This was a team who should have been ‘put away’ in the first half. The second half was as expected, a disappointment. I would love to hear the half time team talk!! “Right lads – you can ease off in the second half and cruise to victory”. “If they score I’ll eat my hat!” “You’ve already eaten all your hats boss!” “Ok, I’ll eat my socks then!” I agree we are a tired team just now – physical and mental! I still have faith the boys will pull through, and maybe the difficult games to come will inspire us to prevail!! Onward and upward. Simon is the man! Henry. A little flat just now! Craig Sorry Henry V but I think this is unfair. In fact things have so often been the other way around – poor first halves and a much improved second half following a half-time reorganisation. I think second-half performance on saturday was simply tiredness following the match on Wednesday. DC I agree totally with the ups TSS. Becchio is getting back to the player we all know and love. It’s only really a couple of games so far, so let’s hope he can continue and have a great second half of the season. Also, I was very pleased see a few changes and use of the squad as I have previously posted on here that it disappoints me that Larry hasn’t done enough of this in the past. One ‘down’ that I think you’ve missed is the fact that Beckford was taken off injured. Let’s hope that it’s not serious and doesn’t keep him out. The wider issue to that is that we are still a little reliant on Becks for reliable goals. We could still definitely do with another striker in on loan. TSS, I’m afraid that I don’t agree with your assessment of the match. For a team that are favourites for automatic promotion, that performance was nowhere near what’s required. We didn’t try to get hold of the ball and pass it. We didn’t create many chances. The stats show that we had 5 attempts on target to their 7! Let’s not beat about the bush here… Hartlepool put a lot of effort in but quite frankly, they are absolute garbage… only 1 player with any kind of quality! But we were no better! Ok, we were not as dismal as some recent performances, but that kind of performance was a million miles from what we need to get promoted. Another ‘down’ that you’ve missed is the performance of our central midfield pairing. Quite frankly, they were terrible. And they are the reason why as a team, we didn’t get hold of the ball and dominate proceedings. Did Howson even touch the ball in the second half? Make no mistake, we missed a golden opportunity to increase the gap between us and Charlton/Swindon etc. That is the most important thing for us because as far as I am concerned, Norwich will be automatically promoted. So, we have to make sure that we maintain a gap to the chasing pack too. I agree that 4pts from 2 games is overall good. But 5pts from our last 5 games is relegation form! And to drop 2pts to such a poor team is a disgrace really. BUT…. the biggest disappointment for me is the comments of Simon Grayson. I expected him to come out and say that he was unhappy with our retention of the ball, passing etc. But NO! He said that “we had a good shape and it was a professional performance” WHAT!!!!!! Is he for real??? This ‘shape’ he talks about is 2 banks of 4 behind the ball when we are out of possession, making it hard for the opposition to create chances. The problem is that when we get the ball, we don’t have passing options so that we can keep the ball. So we go long and usually end up losing it. This long ball strategy is what you’d expect a struggling team to do, not a team looking to gain automatic promotion. And all it does is encourage the opposition to keep pushing forward. That’s why we didn’t dominate proceedings. Have you noticed that generally, against good teams we look good, and against these garbage teams, we look garbage too. We ‘react’ to what the opposition is doing rather than doing what we should be doing. We should be getting on the ball, passing, trying to keep possession and trying to create chances. Unfortunately, Simon is completely obcessed with stopping the opposition from scoring. Typical Simon quote: “if we can keep clean sheets, we know that we’ve got players who can score goals”. What a ridiculous strategy. When is Simon going to realise that you have to go after these poor teams. They are quite happy to take a point against us. Yesterday Hartlepool celebrated like they won the FA Cup! Hurry up and come back Killa. He’s the only one that wants to try a pass our way to victory against these garbage teams. Simon has done a lot of good things, and by hook or by crook, he should hopefullty be able to get us out of this league. But… I’m sorry, but I have big questions about him for the longer term! Until then, the team obviously have my full support. LUFC-mac Can we afford Killa in the team now, especially with McSheffrey wide laft and Snods wide right? We need a solid base in front of the back 4. Whitesforever I THINK KILLA IS A LUXURY AND IS NOT AS DEFENCEIVLY MINDED IN THE MIDDLE AS HOWSON AND THE WAY WE ARE PLAYING AT THE MOMENT WE CANNOT AFFORD TO PUT HOWSON WIDE ON THE RIGHT WHERE HE IS NOT SUITED AND WASTED. Keith Maybe time to give Johnson a shot in the centre of midfield next to Doyle, and Howson a rest Benjamin Bunny DC I gotta disagree with about Simon Grayson for the long term, we can’t start saying things of that nature just because of a few scrappy performances, jeeze. Give Grayson a chance in the Championship & i’m sure he’ll produce the goods. We’re defo missing Kisnorbo, defo need him & Naylor together, rock wall comes to mind. Snodgrass is the main flair person in my opinion, he feeds and feeds for the forwards, he was surely missed. What formation are we playing the moment? Sorry random question just a little confused. Raph Hi TSS, love reading your stuff, first time writing though. Can’t wait for Paddy to be fit again to partner Naylor as you all agree. Very glad to see Luchi back to his scoring ways, hopefully it will continue…especially if Becks is out for a while (fingers crossed not the case) Whitesforever If Im Not Sure was kisnorbo not the one who allowed Swindon to score with a header i still feel we miss his organisation at the back though. TheReaper08 I live in Swindon and whilst being torn apart about our inept performance that night the locals only had good things to say about Kisnorbo and I agree. Sometimes it’s the things you don’t see that make the difference, I suspect Kisnorbo play’s a big part in the organisation of the back line. Kelly_Holbeck If our players are tired and worn out from our league 1 campaign Heaven help us when we go up to the Champoinship! Hopefully McSheffery and Lowery will regain there match fitness and provide the much needed oomph in the team No excuses of too many games, tired etc next season We could very well be playing 3 teams that were in the prem and have the fitness of such Time to sort the part time players out and get rid . . . Ankergren ring a bell? Benjamin Bunny Dude Ank hasn’t been too shabby in recent performances. I think another club will defo take him off out hands next season for a good price. He made some good saves on live TV and people noticed commented.When Higgs is back I do feel a lot more comfortable watching the ball go towards the goal area though. TheReaper08 McSheffrey could be the key,very clever player that hasn’t played many games. Disagree about Casper though Kelly, remember he is second choice and not many teams have as good a keeper as him to call upon if the No 1 goes down. He does give me the wobbles at times though with crosses and kicking ! Benjamin Bunny Yeh I agree, Once Kisnorbo is back then were amazing at the back, What’s peoples opinions on the new guy, Lowry is it? The guy from Aston Villa. Is he better than what we already have? What does he bring to the squad that wasn’t there before? TheReaper08 He is very highly ratedat Villa,give the lad a couple of games to get match and league 1 fit and then make a judgement, after all we are not overly blessed with left backs. Raph I think casper has improved loads, yes agree its a bit nervy when dealing with crosses. He has saved us from embarrasing defeats many times, i know its largley a diffrent team (and much better) but he was our best player against donny at Wembley. Think he has improved from then. Higgs is certainly good but Ankergren certainly putting enough goods in in his absense DC Guys… of course we miss Kisnorbo. But don’t forget that Kisnorbo was there for some of the other games such as when we were thrashed against Swindon. Benjamin, I am not saying what I’m saying about Larry just because of the last few performances. When you honestly look at it, we haven’t played many matches where we’ve looked good. We’ve had an awful lot of scrappy wins. Lucky last minute goals. Individual brilliance. Now our luck has run out! The problems are deeper than the last few poor performances. If you watched that match and then listened to the interview with Larry, you’d have to question whether he was talking about the same game! We should have enough to go up… I’m hoping anyway. But I repeat that long term, Larry is not what we need. TheReaper08 Absolute pap, we are second for god’s sake. Not all performances have been bad and they say the mark of a great team is the late win/winning when you don’t play well. As for Larry’s comments well how many times did old red nose at Manure come out and defend/big up his team when something is going well, how many times did Arsene not see it ? You don’t know what he is saying to the team behind closed doors and neither do I. If every time they don’t play well or do something wrong do you really want the manager to hang the team in public just to make us feel better ? Craig My thoughts exactly. The most important feature about a manager is that he commands the respect of his players and one of the many ways of doing this is to become a trusted figure. This is exactly where O’Leary blew it after ‘Leeds on Trial.’ Craig I notice that there’s talk about us signing Jay Spearing on loan. To me this exposes the mistaken belief quoted above that SG is a manager who simply packs players behind the ball. Even if the rumour isn’t true, he is the kind of player I’d expect SG to look at since the success of the beginning of the season was built on constantly harrying, running into space, and creating that feeling amongst the opposition that an inventive attack was building – that didn’t give the opposition much chance to play their own game. Choppers Thought Casper and Luciano were very good on Saturday. Caspers save just before the second goal of theirs was fantastic, but I dont think we did enough to ddeserve the win. Once again our midfield was not the same that it has been at the start of the season and without Kilkenny we really do run out of ideas. Gradel, Mcsheffrey, Lowry, were supposed to be the fresh legs in this game, but they were non existant for me. McSheffrey keeps showing glimpses of what he can do and Gradel was given a chance but failed to show his true quality. I was dissapointed on Saturday and hopefully we can rest some players for tuesday night and give a better account of ourselves in the league again. We missed a trick on saturday with everyone around us slipping up! Mikelufc I think if a few more fans started seeing Larrys management for what it really is and offered practical criticism he might just sit up and take notice. I have to agree with DC that Long term he does not crack it. I am also unconvinced we can stem the flow of losses and draws and hold onto an auto promotion place and I am sure there are few fans who have confidence in our making it through another playoff. Larry needs to pull his bloody finger out and start using the squad to the full. TheReaper08 How can you possiblysay that long term he does not crack it, on what possible evidence can you say this. His record for us is exceptional and he has succesfully managed at CCC level. The objective this year is to get out of this league and we are 2nd, two points behind with two games in hand. We have played very well in the cups often excelling against technically far superior opposition, am I missing something or are a few people moaning and nit picking for the sake of it ? What did everyone expect,that we would walk the league and win three cups this year ! Sammy Becchio Re: Reaper08 I totally agree with you mate, If and its a big if, we win both games in hand, i’m sure most people will be changing their minds on Larry, at the end of the day top two is what we want, need and are in a very strong position to achieve. Every team goes through a bad patch, i know its cliche, but its true. Our performances this year against the prem teams have put us back on the radar( yes, we still need to be performing in the league as it is our bread and butter), and we have had rave reviews in all the papers and its made me so proud to me a Leeds fan, and yet us fans between each other have to be negative towards Grayson, why? He is doing a good job. Choppers Graysons record is fantastic. Last year we were judt about no pushing into the play offs after a very bad run under McAllister, so if we push on from here we will get promoted. 9 wins to promotion Choppers I dont think you can knock Grayson, he puts out his best available team where possible. He brought in some good players, but they are taking their time to find their feet in this league. McSheffrey has already come out saying he thought he made a mistake dropping to this league as it took 20 mins before the ball came to his feet. We are best with the ball on the deck. Our midfield has no height and Becchio is the only player outside of the back 4 who can win a header, so why do we play the long ball? Kilkenny does not allow this, he drops in front of the back 4, screams for the ball and passes it forward, without him I am afraid to say, we often lack ideas!! Heard today we had been linked with Spearing from Liverpool. I dont think he did well against us early in the season, but he is similar to Kilkenny and maybe Grayson has realised that we need another ball player Time will tell!! Mikelufc “I dont think you can knock Grayson, he puts out his best available team where possible.” If that’s true then we are crap and lucky to be where we are right now as we are not showing either ambition or CCC quality. The lack of ambition from management and Chairman is appalling. White, Yellow and Blue Lacking ambition? Crap? Liverpool? Manchester United? Spurs? OK we dropped some silly points but SG has been in charge of some of the best games of football Leeds have played for years imho. TheReaper08 Plus we sign most if not all of our players from higher leagues even if they are loans. tim the white The key now is the three home games in the middle of the month together with the Terriers game followed by Brentford. I will be happy with a draw at Orient and if we can win those next five we will be on 77 points and well on coure. Mikelufc We are living on loanees and freebies. Take a look at what Southampton and Norwich are doing. The way we are going we could also be living on borrowed time. But no worries Bates cronie are making heaps. It suits bates to have all this money coming in and none going out. TheReaper08 Southampton have a single rich multi millionare benefactor and Norwich are reportedly approaching 30 million in debt.We are a solvent sustainable business. Now as no one seems to be interested in turning us into there next Arabian play thing that will do for now. Craig I think Grayson is doing just the right thing – saving whatever cash we have to buy the better players who’ll want to join us next summer and taking loanees who want games to fight for a place in their current clubs. Who knows, the ones that fit in may join us and they will already be blooded into the team. Mark Refardt Coaching Leeds is not easy. Big club with very very big expectations from every angle. First time in this environment for SG and given the role through his pure love and desire, thus not really an experience based decision by Batesy old boy. His real key is his ability to engender respect from the players. His ability to perform under the same set of conditions in a new league will be the telling truth.