Another one of those games ear-marked as an easy three points looks set to be a lot harder than anticipated as we head to Tranmere tomorrow night who will be high in confidence after a 2-1 win over free-scoring Southampton.

Prior to the game, it was a no-brainer for the betting man amongst us. Southampton had just knocked ten past their previous two opponents, including a 5-0 demolition job on play-off chasing Huddersfield Town. In stark contrast, the fortunes of Tranmere couldn’t have been much different, who themselves had fallen to a 2-0 defeat at the hands of the same Huddersfield side just days before.

This being League One, shock results don’t really tend to shock. What a team does one week rarely gives much indication of what they’ll do the next, but even by League One standards, the change in fortnnes for Tranmere was quite simply, unbelievable.

It stands to reason then that Leeds United would be their next opponents. We always seem to time things just right for an epic fail. Much like Tranmere’s fortunes seem to be changing, so too do that of Leeds. From having the title almost tied up just a couple of months ago, to desperately trying to avoid slipping into the play-off places, Leeds United are upto the same old tricks and insisting on doing things the hard way. Quite frankly, Tranmere couldn’t have timed this encounter much better.

If that wasn’t enough, Leeds United also seem to have another injury crisis brewing with Richard Naylor, Andrew Hughes, Shane Lowry and Mike Grella all doubts.

This weekend saw Leeds United drop another valuable two points to mid-table Brentford, who came and pretty much parked the bus. Perhaps unlucky when you take Michalik’s effort (which came back off the woodwork) into account, it still wasn’t the most inspired performance we’ve seen at Elland Road this season and there was a lot of room for improvement, not least in terms of applying pressure and urgency.

Even without that sense of urgency, Leeds dominated throughout and missed more chances than I care to recall. Earlier in the season, it’d have probably been quite a comfortable win, but things aren’t going for us at the minute and expecting the results to just come for us, won’t work.

The goal that put us behind was a bit of a sucker punch after we’d dominated the entire fixture and we did respond well to get the equaliser. Still, no matter how much Simon Grayson insists otherwise, it was by no means a great performance and the players know it was two points lost. Their confidence levels after recent performances and results must be a concern for the boss.

So what we have tomorrow night is a Leeds United team struggling for form, probably low on confidence, with nothing going for them at the minute and with injuries starting to pile-up, against a much improved and more confident Tranmere side determined to raise their game for the visit of the Whites and grab a surprise three points in their bid to stave off relegation. In my mind, we’re the underdogs!

Perhaps underdogs isn’t a bad thing though? With Leeds United I often worry more when we’re expected to win with ease. The three consecutive home games we had recently which the official site was dubbing “Operation Nine” inevitably turned into catastrophe as the players reached a whole new level of complacency and played the most dismal football of the season so far.

Manchester United meanwhile, no one expected us to win so that’s exactly what we did. Leeds have been doing the same thing for as long as I can remember. Cup finals that should have been all too easy (Sunderland) and League Championships with unsurpassable leads were blown, solely because we got overly confident (and the fixture pile-ups never helped). Then you look at the Champions League a few years back where everyone expected us to be out in the first match. We shocked Europe, because stubbornly and definatly, that’s what Leeds do.

In a roundabout way, by beating Southampton and raising the stakes of this game, Tranmere may have done us the ultimate favour. The players and management will have taken note, that this is a team capable of beating the big boys on their day and with that in mind, they’ll hopefully settle in quickly and focus on obtaining what has somehow become an unlikely three points.

Defiantly and stubbornly optimisic! On and on…

  • Choppers

    Its a shame you havent done a rating system today, as although he only had 11 mins I thought Dickovs efforts should have been better. He tried spraying two balls out wide to Mcsheffrey one went behind him and another over his head.

    I thought McSheffrey looked a lot better, which I was pleased to see, but like you say, its easy to do when everything is going forward and your not having to track back. Another positive performace from White. I hope we dont sell him before we see his true value to this club.

    Its hard to get annoyed but I would have preferred to see White come off and put Kandol on as opposed to Johnson, as it was clear Brentford wouldnt be attacking us and 3 at the back would have covered the rest of the game for us, except Johnson slipped into left back.

    I hope Larry can sort us out.

    • tim the white

      We were flying at the start of the season. Larry said he would only bring in players to improve the squad and then we got Vokes, Capaldi and Ephraim to name but three who all took places from contracted players!! For me he got it wrong on Saturday. Brentford ran out of legs with 20 minutes to go, so where was Gradel to take advantage of that? He should have brought on Kandol as well and we got Dickov and more long balls. Back in August we would have pasted them at least 4-0 When was the last time we did that? Unless things improve Larry is running out of excuses. There has been so much tinkering it seems to me the team can’t seem to play to a winning formula like we had last year. I watched Grayson and Miller on the touch line on Saturday and they looked to be floundering. Maybe the lack of confidence starts there?

      • LUFC-mac

        I have really supported SG, he has done great things.
        However, got to agree that pressure has got to him.
        Gradel was needed on Saturday for the last 20 mins.
        Dickov?? Little prickly shite!!
        Even give Tres a go.
        Agree we should have gone for it and played 3 at the back

  • Keep This Shed White

    You’re beginning to sound like the manic depressive and ultra negative clarkeonenil! Come on you’re better than that. And so are Leeds.

    Your account of the last game was still tarred with massive disappointment which to be fair we all felt. However, you are right, we dominated the game and created loads of chances. On another day we would have won by a bucketful. The ball didn’t run for us and Grayson’s only mistake was his substitutions which he has usually gets right. It was another huge improvement on the Walsall and Brighton games.

    If we play that well tomorrow we will win. We can do it but the club and fans must stick together and stop picking away at morale. Let’s save that for the close season. Everyone has a right to an opinion but with these blogs comes a responsibility too. Lets keep marching on together eh?

    KTSW.

    • TSS

      I thought I’d finished quite optimistically too? :(

      • LUFC-mac

        And so says your last line!!

  • DN

    Thankfully we’re away tomorrow evening – the Home “support” causes me to verge on the suicidal – God knows what it does to the team!

  • Choppers

    I have often said taht we do better at smaller crowds. Those groans when we miss and boos at the end of the game wound me up. Those filter onto the pitch and they help nothing, yet you only hear them with crowds of 24000+

    • tim the white

      I think there is a reason for this. What we have is a hard core following of about 18,000. The other six or seven thousand are offcumdens of which there are probably 25,000 plus out there. They revolve and all come to the occasional game and generally go away disappointed and then don’t return for a while.

      • Dje

        I like you theory, theoretically so, but my experience is that it’s frequently season ticket holders who are the first on their feet berating the team (especially in the J.C. Stand). That and the kids, but kids will always be kids.

        I’ve no idea why? Maybe they’ve paid more over the course of the season and have the biggest grudge because of it; maybe they are just sick of the same old shit.

        • Dje

          *you = your

    • Dje

      I understand the groans – if we’ve missed a sitter, then we’ve missed a sitter afterall – but booing after the teams put in the effort, just not delivered the goods, is a different matter.

      If we could boo our way to the top of the league then we’d already be there;
      And would probably still be booing.

      • tim the white

        Yes, but we were top of the league – maybe that’s the comparison people make now!

  • derbyshirewhite

    According to a Saints supporting work mate who was at the Tranmere game on Saturday, Southampton had plenty of chances against fairly average opposition but didn’t take them. We just need one of our forward line to run into some form and we should be OK. Been thinking this every week since Christmas mind you.

    • TSS

      Was saying the same at the weekend. Thought Becchio had stepped up, but that seems to have been a false dawn. Hopefully, Becks’ goal will spark him back into life. He does tend to be a confidence player and it could have been low lately.

  • Matt bb

    There’s definitely positives to be had from saturday, but now it’s time for us all to go a bit uri geller and think positive ourselves.. Those poor buggers flogged their guts out on saturday, yes he should have brought on gradel and pushed snodgrass up alongside beckford, but we all make mistakes.. Tranmere are there for the thwacking, their win over southampton proves no team is invincible, including us, once we get over that delusion we will be back to our best.

  • Leeds Loyal

    Its not over yet, I feel very afraid at the nightmarish prospect of another season in the 3rd division. On saturday I was despondent, probably as I’d just got the season ticket renewal form in the post….

  • Paul South Wales

    An early goal is what we need tomorrow night, something tells me we’re gonna bang a few in. Kandol must be knocking on the door by now (never thought i’d find myself saying that). Everyone is all doom and gloom but i think we’ll finish strongly. MOT

  • Will S

    I do not like to pick on any particular player, but Howson’s level of performances this season, if not last, certainly fall a long way short of what is required of a centre midfielder in any legaue.

    What does he have on Grayson that he continues to feature in the squad?

    • Matt

      You are a man after my own heart. It seems that me and you are the only two Leeds supporters that atually think that Johnny Howson has been poor all season (Possibly barring the very beggining). He’s too light-weight and lacks any sort of creativity to be any good at the moment and i reckon a lot of the fans liek him in the team because he is a “leeds-lad”. We seriously needed another central midfielder in January, and providing we stay up, that better be sorted out in June or they can screw their season ticket renewal and shove it up their arse.

  • Matt bb

    Howson is an excellent player but he isnt consistent, bring him on as a sub and he is desperate to prove a point, personally for consistency’s sake i would leave him alongside doyle but tell him to get forward more, if he doesnt then we’ve got gradel and mcsheffrey to cover.

  • TheReaper08

    I don’t like to pick on particular players either but as it appears to be the norm round hear (Beckford/McSheffrey et al)the facts are Howson is supposed to be a box to box midfielder. 3 league goals so far this season isn’t good enough.

  • Raph

    Much more pleasing to read the guys being positive! A good, well played win tomorrow and we’re back on track i think. Hopefully becks will get a boost from his goal…maybe its just me but his celebration didnt look like someone who has had enough and doesnt care if we succeed or not, he was chuffed to get scoring again

  • LUFC-mac

    Wasn’t at the game on Saturday, but I know a lot of season ticket holders who moan constantly and criticise the team quite openly!! I just don’t understand them??
    I fully understand if certain players look as they don’t care, and we have had a few of those this season.
    But at least the last few games have been different, how can you moan if the players are well on top but just not getting that little bit of luck necessary to get the ball in the onion bag??
    We need an early goal to boost the confidence and push on.
    Roll on Tranmere, MOT.

  • Choppers

    Personally I have been saying for a while our best midfield partnership is kilkenny and doyle. They cant win headers but you have a ball winner and a ball player.

    Johnson was the midfielder tasked with winning the aerial battle now Everything goes through Becchio and were becoming predictable.

    • timm

      Totally agree Choppers & Reaper.Howson’s a great lad but he’s no box to box player & he’s too frightened of the big tackles to be a ball winner so it should be Doyle & Kilkenny in there for me too with Johnson on the left so we’ve got a bit of presence in the air. Im not sure about Howson, i hope there’s a player in him somewhere but im not convinced he’s a midfielder?

  • Choppers

    I think he is good dont get me wrong, but apart from Huddersfield second half, he hasnt impressed me for 10 games or so. Maybe he is tired, because he is capable, the ball to set up Beckford at Scum was world class, but on Saturday he couldnt pass a ball 10 yards without it going to the wrong man.

    Kilkenny is more vocal in the middle as well, but then again his performance at Orient and Walsall was woeful and maybe Grayson has that in mind and this is why he is on the bench

  • mikelufc

    Did we not do very well when Naylor was injured and Howson was Captain?
    Did he not play very well himself?

    • Colin

      Yep & Yep.

      100% agreed

    • TheReaper08

      Did the whole team not look good pre 2010 ?

  • Colin

    I rate Howson very highly. He’s been one of the players recently during the low times who has always put a shift in. I don’t think he was helped by being in and out of the team. He was the last Leeds midfielder to score a goal and he sets up some brilliant passes.

    As for Doyle, well if you need to find a space for someone like Kilkenny in midfield – he’s the one to drop right there.

    I reckon it’ll be the same team line up tonight (unless Naylor is fit again) and I think we’ll absolutely batter Tranmere. It’s only a matter of time before someone gets a good hiding from Leeds. If Leeds get a goal in the first 20 minutes, you watch those floodgates open. I’ve just got a good feeling about this game.

    • Craig

      Looks like the good feeling was justified.

      Where are we going to finish O wise sage?

  • Choppers

    We tried accomodating Kilkenny by dropping Doyle and we realised we didnt have a ball winner and the midfield was losing battles everywhere. As a result they tried putting in Johnson, but he was too advanced and Kilkenny was sitting too deep.

    This is what I mean about over complicating things. Put it back to how we were at the start of the season. Ironically I think this is what he is now trying to do and the preformances are picking up again and so will the results (fingers crossed)

    • Colin

      If you’re leaking goals even if you have a midfield enforcer supporting the defence like Doyle, then i think you might as well go for broke and put a more attacking option on like Kilkenny instead and ask Howson to go deeper.

  • mikelufc

    and if Naylor is injured Howson should be Captain as well as going deeper.

    • Matt bb

      Thank f**k for that, a lot of my friends are tranmere fans.. I said tranmere were there for a ‘thwacking’ and it looks like they were well and truly walloped, well done lads!

  • Matt BB

    A lot of my mates are tranmere supporters and I have seen them a few times. They asre not to be taken lightly we need strong organised midfield to deal with them, I wouldnt drop doyle, I would definitely drop johnson though, his passing is terrible, perhaps bring him on as a sub at the end with gradel as they are both fast and will give the home defence a hard time.

    Tranmere have a small swquad so our best option is to tire them out as there isnt anything on the benc. my vote would be to play Doyle and Kilkenny in the centre, with howson sat out on the right, combine with Snodgrass on the left. Becchio and Beckford continue as strikers, but as mentioned bring on Gradel, McSheffrey and Johnson to frighten the living daylights out of them on about 75 minutes. Defence should be as Saturday.

  • Steve Horsman

    I have said it many times before Kilkenny is a luxury when we play well but in games like tonight with a lot at stake he’s not defensivly minded keep with Howson and doyle who are more likely to track back

  • Colin

    I reckon Leeds are going to go on the attack for this one. I think it’s going to be a strategy of we’re going to score more than you.

    This is a big game, and there’s going to be so much pressure on Beckford to get his shooting boots on. And Howson, Snodders and McSheffrey (YES MCSHEFFREY!!) are starting to look on form.

    SG knows this is a big one and I hope that Leeds put the effort in from the first minute rather than having to get a rollocking at half time to decide to start playing.

    My prediction is 3-0 to Leeds.

    • Colin

      Tranmere confident, as Leeds start to look like underdogs…

      Err… yeah right. Sorry to sound like a big head but to all those doubting SG, Becks, Becchio, McSheffrey & Howson, I think someone predicted that Tranmere would get battered…Oh yeah that was me :)

      “I think we’ll absolutely batter Tranmere. It’s only a matter of time before someone gets a good hiding from Leeds. If Leeds get a goal in the first 20 minutes, you watch those floodgates open. I’ve just got a good feeling about this game.”

      If I see one more post this season having a pop at Beckford I’ll seriously do my nut.

  • Craig

    Just check out the stats from the game tonight.

    Final score 1-4
    Shots on target: 5-5
    Shots off target 2-3
    Corners 5-2

    Sounds like some clinical finishing was in evidence?

    • Colin

      Just looking at the stats and if you look at Leeds’ position then you wouldn’t bet against auto promotion.

      We have 11 games left – let’s say we score 1 point away and 3 at home. That would get us 21 points.

      Okay, we may have some slip ups, but i’ve put Leeds down as getting 1 point against both Yeovil and Gillingham. I’d expect us to get more than 2 points from those 2 games, so that should cover us if we have any shocks.

      Let’s forget Norwich and concentrate on Charlton – our nearest rivals.
      They would have to get 26 points from 11 games to finish on equal points. They are -10 on goal diff, so would really need to get 27 points. And when I was putting the Leeds points together I counted Charlton as getting 3 points against us. If Leeds could keep a clean sheet against Charlton, then they would need 29 points from a possible 33 points.

      If Colchester won their game in hand, then they’d need 27 from 33 as well and Millwall would need 31 from 33.

      Fair enough, Leeds might not get 21 points from a possible 33, but I really can’t see Charlton getting 27 from 33 either.

      If you’re a betting man you wouldn’t put any money on Leeds not getting promoted.

      For example, if Leeds got a win against Southampton, then Charlton would need 29 from 33 by my reckoning and that’s just not going to happen.

      Bookies have made us 2/5 to get promoted. So you have to put down £5 to win £2.