Former Leeds player Harding secures win for Saints TSS March 14, 2010 Match reviews 50 Comments I’m thinking it may be time to stop selling players. Just let the ones that have become no use to us wither away and be forgotten about in our reserves, rather than allowing them to come back and haunt us at their new club! Obviously I’m joking. On paper, Harding’s goal was the difference, but in reality, it fails to show the reasons why theres such a difference in current form between these two sides. The statistic that really tells it all about this game is that Leeds United had one shot on target throughout and very few chances besides. Southampton meanwhile were creating chances almost at will in the first half and were unlucky not to get the second when they had a goal ruled out by the ref. Simon Grayson’s clearly irritated reaction after the match shows how frustrating it was for everyone that made the long journey south; “The majority of the players didn’t turn up today and we didn’t play well, our passing was poor, as was our decision making.” Southampton’s defence had no problems nullifying any Leeds attacking threat in the first half, which led to the increased use of the long ball, which was even less affective as the Saints two centre-backs cleared everything with ease. Becchio and Beckford failed to cause any threat at all with the ball pumped long and high, rarely challenging for the headers and never winning them. No matter how much trouble we’re having getting through when the balls on the floor, it’s the only way Leeds should be using when we have two strikers with very little aerial presence. For the reasons why Leeds’ defence started pumping the ball long and high, you have to look at the midfield. Time and time again possession was lost and given away cheaply by misplaced passes or poor control. There were very few similarities between the team that destroyed Tranmere and the one that turned up here and Southampton thoroughly deserved the three points. As bad as Leeds were, you can’t fail to acknowledge how well organised, hard-working and fluent in attack the Saints were. Alan Pardew is a very good manager that gets the basics right and leaves very little to chance. The strengthening he did in January should give Southampton an outside chance at the playoff positions, but if they fail to make the top six, they’ll walk this league with absolute ease next season. You only have to look at the top goal-scorers list to see why Southampton are cruising and Leeds United are stuttering to the finishing line. Leeds have one player capable of 20+ a season, whilst Southampton have the top two in the league and plenty of others able to contribute. I’ve said time and again that January was a massive failure for Leeds. I took some criticism at the time as people pointed towards McSheffrey and the permanent signing of Gradel, but the first was never likely to contribute many goals and the second we all knew would be an inconsistent bit-part player, capable of changing games one week, but having no influence the next. Neither were the second proven goalscorer we’ve missed all season that the best clubs in this league (including Southampton) have. The clubs that did do well in January are now reaping the rewards, whilst those of us that didn’t do enough are struggling to match them. I don’t think it’s season over, and still believe we’ll go up automatically, but it could have been much, much easier and it’s games like these that show us what we could have achieved given one or two more astute signings. Overall, what we witnessed was a well-oiled Saints side that could give every team in this league a good game. Pardew has built and developed an unstoppable force that will win this league outright next season if their dreams are shattered this time round and it won’t be long before they’re back in the hunt for a Premier League place. Despite the result I’m quietly confident about the next few weeks. You take Norwich out of the list of upcoming fixtures and there’s a lot of winable games coming up starting on Monday when we host Millwall. The Southerners did destroy Charlton yesterday and are the form team at the minute so we’ll have to raise our game, but spurred on by a good crowd at Elland Road, I fancy we’ll take all three points. Keep fighting! Matt bb I though dont feel quite so positive given what i’ve heard and read, which is that had certain players tried harder and the tactics different on paper we could have won yesterday. Extrapolate that point and tell me what fixtures are winnable? Ones where our players get their fingers out and where the oppo dont have any tactics? Back to basics. Defend as a unit, attack meaningfully and dont give away the ball. Gradel and mcsheffrey are good additions, but neither is used effectively, why dont we play mcsheffrey as a striker and give gradel a start? Will In contrast to your closing paragraph, I would argue, given this (and most recent) results/performances, all Leeds fans should be bloody anxious about the next few weeks. Our run-in is, but for two games, all against top-half teams, against whom our record is not so impressive (for a team seeking automatic promotion). Grayson continues to look like he cannot quite believe his eyes and is struggling to deal with the reality of this rapidly deteriorating situation. You do hit the nail on the head with Grayson’s January trading being far from impressive. You get the impression he bought “names” rather than players who would actually *consistently* add a different dimension to the team and he must be as dissapointed as the fans are with his acquisitions lack of impact. While Pardew is so obviously building a team that will compete in the Championship, it is now easy to be unconvinced with Grayson’s ability to build a similar team. We appear to have the players on paper, but how Grayson has got them actually playing is a reason to be pessimistic about us if, and it is becoming a big if, we are promoted. When all you are relying on is a combination of “hope” and “faith” that we will cross the line in 2nd place, then you know the team is in trouble and will not achieve its target. Play-offs, and another season in League One, here we come. TSS The ever-pessimistic Leeds fans commeth. I know how you feel lads, but for me, we need about 15 points and still aren’t losing many games so I think we’ll go up in second. It’ll be a stutter, rather than a flourish to the finish, but I think we’ll grind enough results out to make it. Will When realism is confused for pessimism then you know you are speaking with someone suffering a bad case of delusion! When the message from inside the camp is that the players are confident, then how come they served up yesterday’s cold dish of a performance? There is no hiding from the fact that we are in serious trouble. Six points ahead of four teams (assuming others win their games in hand) plus two defeats against Millwall and Swindon means we’ll be in the midst of a play-off frenzy. The pressure now on the players is huge. Psycologically, to go from a seemingly unassailable lead, to this, does not tally with a squad who are confident in what they are doing. And Grayson’s interview on TV yesterday brought no confidence that he can arrest this decline. TSS I actually preferred his reaction to the dellusional ones he’s served of late. It’s the public kick up the arse the players needed. Maybe that’s whats given me confidence. Even though we’ve only won 3 of the last thirteen, we’ve also lost very few all season. Five defeats all season is the reason I think we’ll make it. Charlton are all over the place still and the rest of the teams have a lot of ground to make up in two games, all the while, Leeds are still picking up a few points here and there. Yes, the forms not great, but all the early season work means it’s ours to lose and I just don’t see us failing as it stands. Will TSS, big respect, but as you say, “It is ours to lose!” We are doing are level best to lose it! Craig, against the top half, over the season to date we have won 50% of those games. http://stats.football365.com/dom/ENG/D2/vtophalf.html Now consider how we are *now* playing…if you seriously think a 50% win rate is likely then I beg to differ. And taking that form in to the play-offs, with the “frozen in the headlights” Grayson, there is little room for optimism, despite the 6 point lead that is looking like being lost over the next three games. . On our current form, Craig Whenever I read posts like yours which contain lines like “We are doing are level best to lose it!” a mental image of Corporal Jones in Dad’s Army comes straight to mind. Sorry to be blunt but it is utter rubbish. The fact is that in a game of football you come across opposing teams who want/need to win that match as well – the hint is in the word “opposing”. Even the best team in the world faces days when tactics turn out not to work, the opposing team are on a run of form, or the players are out of sorts. Telling that group of players they are “doing are level best to lose a game” is hardly going to help matters – as does booing from the terraces and mentally dismissing a 6-point advantage. When we play teams from the top half they tend to play more open football which, on our day suits us fine. A 50% win rate against the remaining top teams will see us fine. It will be a fight to the end but I choose to believe it is one we can win. Craig Over-confidence is just as much a failing as playing like scared rabbits. Will Craig, You confuse Simon Grayson’s job – being the manager of Leeds, responsible for motivating the team, tactics etc – with my role, being a fan observing the fact that we are doing our best to do a League One version of a “Newcastle”. Craig What utter rubbish. The facts are that we generally play better against top half teams, ‘names’ are only well-known because they have a consistent track record of success and other teams at the top are also struggling to find/keep form. OK, so things aren’t gelling at the minute but the team we have currently who ‘look good on paper’ aren’t the work-shy types of seasons gone by but (generally) honest grafters who showed in the early part of the season what they could do – and Grayson was the manager back then if you recall. That’s not ‘Faith’ or ‘Hope’ but Belief. Craig Oh, and one more thing, judging by the radio coverage of the first half it was Aidy White – a player myself and many others have been calling Grayson to give a run in the side – who was the weak link yesterday. OK he was up against Puncheon who always scares us and was playing in a Southampton side who really have their tails up but this reminds me how much easier it is to be a fan than a manager. timm He’ll come up against a lot better than Puncheon in the CCC. Craig And your point? We aren’t currently playing in the CCC! Who says he will still be in the squad – matches like Saturday will either add to his education or lead to him being shipped out. timm I wasn’t really making a point Craig, it was merely an observation which was in agreement with your comment about White not being up to it on saturday. Sorry Craig, i’ll be sure to make sure that their’s a ‘point’ to my comments before i post again. This site’s about opinions & the fact that you write things like ‘& your point’ & ‘utter rubbish’ every time you suspect someone disagrees with you leads me to believe that you don’t like anyone having a different opinion to you. Craig OK, fair comment on my response to you. More generally, of course this site is about opinions – and also a fair amount of gut reaction. Both have a different kind of validity and it is when the two become wrapped up in one bundle that there can be so many different interpretations of a single set of data. My personal policy is to be gentle with people and logical with facts. It was not my intention to break my rule. Craig Who would you rather play in the final games of a season – teams at the bottom scrapping to avoid relegation or those with nothing left to play for? David N.I. I agree with your last statement Will, we will be in the play offs and if Southampton get there [which they deserve] they are going up and not us. When I posted this in the past on this site I was shot down. I’m a LU fan through and through but we have got to get our heads out of the sand and see we are in real diffs. I’ve been to all the play off finals with our fans turning up and not the players. I will not stop repeating myself Pappa is happy Premier League crowds, at Premier League prices, League One wages. Sorry to be so down on all things Leeds but Saturdays arn’t fun anymore 4.45pm just gets you depressed for another week. Marching on together is hard when your only marking time. David N.I. Craig But we’ve only lost 5 matches this season – the third best record in the whole Premiership + Football league! Maybe you should stick to playing chess with 5-year olds if you can’t cope with inevitable dips in form. David N.I. How many points ahead, how many games in hand, NOW!!Have you ever been to a play off final?? Craig We are as good as 6 points ahead with teams below us faltering as well as us. I’m not saying all is rosy but trying to put things into perspective whilst you have already consigned us to a losing berth in the play-offs! timm If i was Grayson i’d be asking Bates to get on the blower to NetFlights & sort a nice 4 or 5 day break to Spain or Portugal. You can’t beat a bit of sun on your back after a long hard winter & it would do wonders for morale Matt bb Pains me to say the above, but though i rate grayson i dont think hes got to the bottom of our problems… Yet. When, he does, is the key, we were excellent at tranmere and a similar approach yesterday’d have paid off, but we retreated, seems like the players have much to answer for there, but simon has to take charge more, perhaps that’s the key. timm I thought we signed a perfectly good striker in Mcsheffrey but the only problem is he doesn’t play up front. I would’ve at least liked to have seen him get a fair crack up front before people start criticising him. Gradel is a huge dasappointment so far, his attitude at Carlisle & again yesterday are worrying, he was a wasted substitution yesterday & Grayson must have been fuming. All of you who scream for White to start every week found out why he doesn’t yesterday, the lad’s miles off & it took Hughesy to step in & sort it out. Our midfield gets overrun by the opposition far too much & Howson went missing again yesterday. I’ve said many times, i like Howson but the fact is he only shows flashes & it’s not enough. We need midfielders who get the ball down & play football instead of the head tennis which we currently play. Grayson obviously doesn’t fancy Andy Robinson but at least he always tried to get the ball down & play. The Millwall game is MASSIVE & we all have to turn up & support them & sing & NOT let our anxiety transfer onto the pitch. craig coulson winnable games? like wycombe, exeter, swindon, hartlepool, leyton orient, walsall, brighton, brentford. The only thing in our favour is that games are running out! Since we left old trafford the season as been a disaster simple as! You were truthfull as allways january was a disaster we needed at least another striker and what do we get a 37 year old has been. Yet southampton sign young proven goalscorers who will if not this year will next get them promoted from this division. I personally do think we will fall over the line and get promoted but what hope does that give in a highly competitive league? And with a reagime that hasn’t put it’s hand in i’ts pocket since 2005? If the reagime had any ambition they would buy there way out of this division aka leicester? Norwich? Southampton? Free transfers are free transfers for a reason because they’re not good enough jason crowe? And finally the most worrying thing of all is that the football has gone to be replaced by the wonderfull stuff played under blackwell and wise! Again not encourging at a higher level! that’s what put us here in the first place. TSS That’s pretty much sums up where I stand. Yes, there’s a lot of faults but we’ll scrape enough points that the games will run out before we’re caught. As for next season… Who knows. Mark R We out performed Man Utd. with a team minus McSheffrey & Gradel , and with Grayson’s motivation and strategy out-thinking an experienced and successful Ferguson. I can’t see how Barnard or any other player available in the January transfer window would have improved this performance. We then performed well away at Spurs . No doubt the League performances have been inconsistent but we still have this same squad plus the 2 additions above & Dickov . We have have continued to pick up points during the inconsistent period which is a plus. I think mental and physical fatigue amongst the squad has led to lapses in concentration and this has clearly affected recent results. Players will lose form throughout a season – you just hope they don’t all lose form at the same time. However we have a good squad and those players who are called on need to step up and perform. The team hopefully will now replicate the fight,determination & skill we saw at Old Trafford & Spurs. We didn’t become a bad team overnight so keep the faith. Grayson is still the Manager that out thought Alex Ferguson and Man Utd. Marching on together ! Craig Thanks for injecting some balance onto this page. Exactly the way I see it – to have gone out and splashed the cash after the present squad beats Man U away and holds Spurs to a draw is nothing short of madness. OK, so those exertions have been our downfall but WHO COULD HAVE PREDICTED THE DEMISE at the time when other clubs were snapping up the players we might have gone for had we been out of the cup and struggling? As it is, if/when we get promoted we have a war chest to spend in the summer on players who want to play for an up-and-coming Championship team. oldhamwhite i still dont see why we dont play killkenny, one of the best passers of the ball we have, yet we still play this awful central midfield pairing who in my eyes are giving the ball away every match, everyone around them knows this and are distracted into helping them out taking focus of there own game, give killer a shot and the long ball will disappear. MOT TheReaper08 It’s the Championship cash that I am interested in. I think Bates et al thought they could get out of L1 on the cheap, if they achieve this I am expecting some decent signings next year. Craig We tried signing Barnard but he wanted to go South – be fair. TheReaper08 But we don’t have a rich billionare individual owner like the Saints so we have to make do. As much as it might upset you none of them were queing up to take us over. As for free transfers well they are not ideal, but let’s not forget we also benefited from Paddy K through the free transfer system. Saints also signed David Connolly on a free having spent almost two years injured. timm In my opinion Ken Bates saved this club. That doesn’t mean i like Ken Bates but answer me this, Who else stepped up to the plate & said they wanted to buy us? I don’t mean self promoters like Don Revies son & RedBus, i mean people who actually had the funds? Ken Bates is all we’ve got & the truth is we can’t compete with the likes of Southampton who have gone out & spent £1m + on individual players. Regarding Barnard, we were never in the running when Southampton entered the race, they can pay higher wages, it’s a great stadium, they’ve got billionaire owners & Hampshire’s a fantastic part of the world. We just don’t have the same pull we used to have. TheReaper08 Totally agree with your first point timm but your wrong about Barnard. Everything was matched between us and the Saints but for family reasons he just didn’t want to move north, that’s fair enough I think because he could have played the two teams against each other. timm Yes, fair play to him & i doubt he’ll be regretting it. I do think if we get promoted we’ll be looking at proven CCC/Premiership players though? Note i say ‘IF’ & not ‘WHEN’ we get promoted! Jonny It strikes me that this team struggles when the pressure is on. It’s happened in the last few years (specifically play-offs) and as based on that I suppose its not much of a surprise that we are struggling now. The pressure is intense as ever to get promotion, particuarly when it looked ridiculous to think that we would stutter at any point during the first part of the season. I sense the players are feeling this pressure and its showing in some nervous performances. However I agree with TSS. We have five home games remaining. They will be tough but if we can win the majority of those and pick up some results away from home we will be there. Clearly easier said than done though. Regarding Southampton, lets just be grateful that they had a 9 point deduction at the start of the season, because Id be looking over my shoulder even more worryingly. As it is, I don’t believe any of the teams (apart from Millwall) below us are showing the consitency to threaten our second place… baring us not picking up 15 points from the next 30 available that is. Millwall will be key game. If we win then maybe that will nullify their challenge, if we lose then its seriously going to the wire. Come on Leeds! Marching on Together timm I,ve just been checking the remaining fixtures & Millwall will be quietly confident as they look to have a pretty easy (on paper) run in. I definately agree regarding us always cracking under pressure & it’s been the same for years. Is it the fault of successive managers? or the players? or even us the fans? When i look at Norwich this year & Leicester & Swansea previously i wonder why we can’t do it. You get used to it being a Leeds fan though! Not one of my mates expected us to win when we went to penaltys with Carlisle! TheReaper08 I think we will do it but not because of anything we achieve, more through the incompetence of those around is. In any other league and at any other time our recent run would and should have been enough to see us slip to about 6th. I think we have a lot of tough games coming up so I really don’t see this as a formality. To say our winnable games start with Millwall who smashed Charlton and have a great record against us is wrong. timm I agree. Millwall have been here before & they know what it’s all about.We’ve been very very lucky with the teams around us slipping up so far but if we lose against Millwall we’ll have no more room for mistakes. That game is huge & it will tell us an awful lot about the mentality of the team. Craig Fair point about Southampton but don’t forget that they lost 2-1 against the same Tranmere side we thumped 4-1. It is the nature of a worried football fan to get things out of perspective. Henry V This is the run-in. No time for recriminations and ‘if only’s’. We MUST back the whole squad, the manager and the Chairman!! No booing!! We have been through so much in recent years and we DESERVE a break!! Let us make sure we play our part! That is the ONLY thing WE can control. We cannot pick the team or buy players, and I am sure we would be dreadful at it anyway!! Let us concentrate on OUR role in the run-in! Leave the rest to Simon! Come on the boys!!! Henry. James Morris Lets just beat Millwall Norwich and Swindon next 3 games and we’re back on track… Keep the faith.. It is a fact that teams will raise their games against us because of who we are and where we are in the league. We have played more games than anyone in the league as well which looks like it is taking its toll. M.O.T timm If only it were that simple!I’d take 6 points from those 3 games but i’m thinking we may end up with 4 at best. I hope to god i’m wrong but the fact is team’s don’t really have to raise their game against us anymore. Most league 1 teams have huge defenders & they can deal with us hoofing it up all day long. We need to get it on the floor & pass it & players like Becchio need to calm down & make sure instead of giving it away too cheaply. You don’t win games if you haven’t got the ball. It’s all about the midfield for me. If Casper kicks that ball up the pitch & by-passes the midfield it just gives posession back to our opponents. if our midfielders drop deep & want it & get it out wide to feet then we’ll win games. Like i said earlier,no room for anxiety from the terraces next monday, we need fortress Elland Rd. TheReaper08 Very very important point that timm and I couldn’t agree with you more. Vitally important we are all positive in the remaining games and don’t let our own anxieties transfer to the team. Herbman Took my 8 year old son to the match on Saturday as we live in Southampton and we are both mad keen whites. Sat behind the Saints goal in the 1st half, and apart from Becks and Beccio, didnt see a Leeds player for most of the half. Becks kept diving to get free kicks just to get some support. Snods and Beccio were also arguing with each other, not a good sign. Midfield was just overun, thye didnt support each other at all. Not sure how it stayed 1-0, could have been 4 or 5. Kisnorbo was everywhere in defence, gave 200%, Naylor did okay beside him. Our lack of experienced fullbacks was obvious, Hughes got skinned everytime they attacked in the 2nd half. All the above comments are saying the same thing, the team arent playing well, lots of reasons, including lack of 3 or 4 quality players, no confidence, team are knackered. Time for Grayson and the players to earn their money, start playing the ball on the ground and stop hoofing it upfield, if we were playing well and losing we probably wouldnt be quite so concerned. Saints played it on the ground and made us look second rate. All we can do is get behind the team and try and lift them as much as we can and hope all the other teams keep dropping points. And on a positive note, win the next 10 games and we are up!!!!!! Timmo On the superstitious side. Every time I’ve listened to the game on LUTV over here in the States we’ve lost or drawn this year. I’ve missed the wins. I’m givin the next two a miss… Colin I’m sure we’ll be fine and get auto promotion. There’s no crisis at the club. SG hasn’t lost the dressing room and the players haven’t turned bad overnight. The cause of Leeds’ loss of form is simple – they’re tired. Leeds have played 58 games so far this season (inc. friendlies) and some of those have been massive games – big physical battles against top teams. That’s a tough ask for any team, especially a third division side. SG has to keep playing his best players even though they’re not 100%. Not ideal, but you’d rather have a 90% fit Beckford than another striker. Kisnorbo for example should have had an operation to fix his head a long time ago, but this would have taken him out of action for too long. SG’s doing the right thing and the only thing he can do – soldier on with his top players. If the competition were above us in the league, then I’d be more concerned, but we’re ahead and we can afford to lose games and we have better goal diff. on Charlton as well. Remember, they are struggling also and that will allow us to cross the finish line in 2nd place which is all that we need. We’ve played 58 games so far. Norwich have played 46. They are 12 games fresher than us and that’s the difference. It’s not a fair comparison to judge our form against Norwich’s. We’ve had a run of sat then tues games for a month now and it’s just not long enough for our players to recouperate. Mark R Good points Colin , especially about Norwich having played 12 less matches this season , and I think they did keep a significant number of their’Championship’ squad. Keep the White Flag flying high ! Choppers Well for the first time on a long time we have over a week to freshen up, get things right again on the training ground and move forward. I am a little nervous I must say but confident all the same. Come on Leeds!!! tim the white It’s Grayson’s team and selection, and if he can’t get them up for a match in front of 30,000 at Southampton, then I have to say questions need to be asked. Three wins in the last thirteen is relegation form. Playing a week on Monday will put the pressure on if the Saturday results have gone against us. If we fail to take three points from Millwall and lose at Norwich I think it may be curtains for automatic promotion. It makes me sick to think that ‘minor’ teams in the division sitting in the play off places maintain the enthusiasm and success on the field which we seem incapable of achieving consistently. You know, at the end of last year finishing the season as anything but champions was unthinkable. Now we are hoping to settle for second place and maybe in April we will be hoping for the playoffs. I’m telling you, I feel there is something just not right in the dressing room and if we don’t get up this season the club is not sustainable for another season in League 1 in it’s present form. I was really confident that we would have been cruising by now – Come on Leeds and give us a fantastic run in to the end of the season. Benjamin Bunny all I have to say is…oh shit! This end of season is gonna be majorly intense. MAJORLY!!!