Kris Commons celebrates winner

Had it not been for a controversial penalty decision and an Elland Road crossbar providing more cover than the Derby keeper,  it might have been a much happier opening day for the Whites, but that doesn’t mask the glaringly obvious problems Leeds had with the new 4-5-1 formation.

On paper, the versatile 4-5-1 should mean that the defence is covered well by the extra men in the middle and that going forward, Leeds have plenty of bodies as the formation changes to 4-3-3. The reality however, was that Luciano Becchio found himself alone in the box all too often and the Derby defence hardly had to break a sweat to cover him.

When he wasn’t being outnumbered by the Derby defence, Becchio had the linesman to contend with who had clearly missed waving his flag all summer and hardly put it down all game. Coupled with a referee and his own dubious decisions, the omens were never good for the Whites.

Out wide was probably the strongest area for Leeds as Lloyd Sam had a solid début and Sanchez Watt kept the opposition busy. Centrally, I had to double check a couple of times to make sure Jonny Howson was still on the pitch (and he has arguably the best of the three!), Bradley Johnson was having one of his off days and Killa has put in much better performances.

Even in defeat, you have to look for positives and there definitely were some. The game was played at a good pace throughout which provided much more entertainment than in recent years. The “multi-ball” system (short for, Leeds United bought a second ball) kept things moving along nicely and stopped Derby from kicking the ball out of play to time waste at the end.

Kasper Schmeichel had a great game which was capped by a brilliant double save to prevent Derby running away with the points. The new additions to defence clearly need more time to gel, but you couldn’t fault the efforts of any of them. The dodgy penalty decision was harsh on new boy, Lloyd Sam – I’ve watched the replay twenty times and it still seems iffy – but he didn’t let it get to him and worked hard to try and make amends.

Overall, it was disappointing to see our opening day record lost and there’s definitely things to be improved upon. The attendance at Elland Road was dreadful, clearly not aided by the BBC showing live coverage, and the atmosphere was very subdued. Six hours drinking before kick-off probably didn’t help matters.

Still, there were as many positives as there were negatives and we should be able to build on a disappointing first game. When you consider the key men we’re missing through injury, this Leeds United side will only improve as the season goes on. It was nice to be back at Elland Road and I’m now hungry for another season of ‘ups and downs’.

TSS man of the match

Rob Hulse deserves credit for refusing to celebrate his goal – although, he could have gone one better and just not scored in the first place! I’m going to go for Becchio, not only for the goal he scored, but for his tireless efforts throughout. Quite how he got on the scoresheet and managed to pose such a threat with an entire defence marking him and the linesman doing everything in his power to make things difficult is anyone’s guess?

51 Responses

  1. cossie(LUFC)

    Good comments but MoM for me was Kasper, without him we would have been on the wrong end of a 4-1 scoreline. Although you can argue the case for a striker or mobile centre half to be added to the squad before the window closes for me the essential position that needs filling is a defensive idfielder to give cover to the defense.

  2. yorkwhite

    Sorry Scratching Shed but I have to disagree about the glaringly obvious problems. Though I agree that it was disappointing to see Becchio so isolated with five in midfield to support him, that can be worked on in training and like you I’m sure the central three will have better games. The worrying thing for me was the ease in which the Derby forwards could outpace our defence. Yes on another day we could have scored more but without the heroics of Kasper Derby could have had a hatful. My Leeds MOM Kasper without a doubt.

  3. Ross

    So a new season begins, and it was great to be back at ER on Saturday. The support for the team was fantastic for the whole 90 minutes, I get the impression that everyone senses that we really need to get behind the team this season and that so long as we stay up and consolidate it can be a sucessful season for a young side who could potentially finish anywhere from 5th – 20th!

    On to the game considering how may players Leeds had out I thought we played quite well in patches, there were certainly positives to be taken from the game.

    I am unconvinced by the middle 3 Johnson had one of his worst games in a Leeds shirt and Kilkenny just does not contribute enough for my liking some half decent set peices is not justification for a starting role. Howson made some mistakes, but for me continues to be the player in the middle who stands up to be counted covering the most ground up and down putting in tackles and played some telling passes including setting up Becchio for the goal. Watt and Sam both showed attacking threat and worked exceptionally hard as did Bechhio playing the lone man up front.

    The real concern on Saturday for me was the defence. Connoly the right back did ok and arguably is an improvement on crowe and hughes on this showing. The left back Bessone has been a shambles in all 3 games I have seen him so far, and unless he improves rapidly I would opt for hughes at left back until parkers return as much steadier and reliable fullback. I lost count of how many times Bessone was noweher to be seen as they came down the right wing.

    As for naylor and Collins I am afraid these two look woefully short of what will be required in this division, off the pace, poor distribution, poor positioning and paniced every time Derby attacked. It concerns me that Naylor was made club captain this year as I would not have him even as my fourth choice from centrebacks we have at Leeds. The sooner Paddy gets back the better, and in the meantime I would be tempted to put Bromby or Bruce in, they certainly couldnt do any worse.

    A honorable mention myust go to Kasper Schmeicel who looks like a fantastic signinmg yes hes a little raw and naive on occasion but its clear to see he has bags of talent and the double save was amazing!

    All in all I saw enough to suggest that when players are back and maybe with a couple more signings (if we are lucky!) Leeds should have enough to stay up and maybe even compete for a play off spot should form favour us towards the end of the season!

    On On On!


    • We Beat The Scum One-Nil

      Ah, someone who watched the same game as me! Perfect summary. Gud – lucciano, watt, sam, johnny, bad – collins, naylor, excellent – kasper, awful – bessone! Overall though, very promising. And, lets not forget that last time we lost on day 1 we went on t win t league!!

  4. wombat

    everybody could see at sats game that its urgent we need a beckford replacement or we will struggle. mr bates come on even your not that blind . release the funds for striker immediately .

    • Ryan H

      Short of playing Gradel up front (when he’s back) then we definetly need a pacy striker, Becchio for all his hard work and endeavour was isolated on Saturday and lacks the pace needed. Saturday highlighted just how valuable Beckford was for us, we need an outlet up front where any sort of through ball can be latched on to. Im not sure Becchio/Paynter would work out as there both a similar mould of player. Looks likes Simspons off to Hull now aswell so im not holding my breath!!

  5. les irwin

    says it all when our man of match was your keeper KASPER was fantastic regardless of his father (lol) a true legend in the making better than all others it was no battering as savage said but they just edged it .there was some massive holes in our 4-3-3 at times it was no surprise that they beat us, the lad sat next to me with his kids lives in derby and he says on local radio there they were saying derby were going to get beat easily by leeds as they were a poor side ????
    tss sorry about being top in the prediction league as a pessimist predicting us to loose it gives me no pleasure sadly i have also predicted us to loose against forest but on that one i have been an optimist and said 1-0 to them may be not so much a pesimist but a realist

    there will be more downs than ups this season we will be ok but thats the way it is the only thing i will say is that dont be surprised if we are not so much in a relegation battle but a struggle especially if we continue to play games without changing the system if we need to it was crying out for a change on sat and we did have the personnel to change it but he didn’t

  6. Matt BB

    With so many new signings playing together competitively for the first time its going to be a tough one. I wasnt impressed with how advanced our defence got which just invited in the opposition, we also for some strange reason didnt pass the ball well for the most part.

    I dont think we’re going to see any more permanent signings so I guess we soldier on with what we have for the next month and hope we dont get thumped.

    • Tim Wilsom

      Agreed, watch the 30 mins and see where Connoly was a lot of the time, pushing way up the wing, not a good ploy in your first game with a load of new players, we played a bit deeper in the second half and luckily maybe we didn’t concede. Bechio was battling in the second half, as he does, but needed support up there.

  7. sveifors

    Both goal conceeded yesterday was a result of loosing the ball poorly in the midfield area.

    Howson, Kilkenny and Johnson have their best side forward(offensiv) , but they are lacking defensive quality. We need midfielders with both.

    Our defence is poor both Naylor and Collins, and they were many times rescued by Kasper S who had magic saves.

    Maybe instead of 4-5-1 we should play 4-1-4-1 with Alex Bruce as a defensiv midfielder. It would give us more control and a better chance to get results

    • yorkwhite

      Thats exactly what I was thinking with Bruce playing just in front of the back four. Also have to agree with some of the above about Bessone, still I wont judge after one match hopefully he’ll settle.

  8. les irwin

    kasper was easily leeds M O M that double /treble save was a worldy in second half i don’t want to be the bearer of doom and gloom but that 4-3-3 will not work with our players .no pace in defence or strikers. seems simpson is on his way to hull .now hull are not a bigger team than leeds so that tells me we either had no contact with him or they are offering more wages ,and for all those who say if he is going there only for the money we don’t want him ,well im going where the money is if its me .but it also begs the question about our spending prow -ess clearly we have none thats the disgrace .frees and loans ,now leeds are a football club its in the name that the business is the football so what is the alleged 4 mill in the bank for .thats wher the footabll authorities need top step in and say the football has to be seperate company to the rest of the business .i would bet if we went into admin again there would be more than 1 company at E R

  9. Old Billy White

    I thought Kasper was excellent, positive, strong, good distribution, great attitude. Agree totally about a holding midfield player, we looked open every time they won the ball would like to see Bruce or Hughes in there. Also Collins and Naylor have the same strengths and weaknesses good with the man in front of them but slow to turn and poor distribution. However all that said I enjoyed the game, which certainly wasn’t dull!

  10. steve underwood

    Well did not see that comming after wolves game can someone tell me how bessone is better than sheehan surley he is worh a look at connelly not much better have to try bruce as the holding player vs lincoln if not him then wat about hughes in that position he can run tackle played there before going forwerd becchio is not good enogh at this level so we need snods gradel paynter back soon but im dreading forest with there pace

  11. White to the core

    I know this is a stupid question with Grey beards attitude towards spending (or destinct lack of), but whats happening with jay simpson. I will be very disappointed if he goes to Hull. That will demonstrate once and for all the boards lack of ambition. I know we need a decent central defender and midfielder too. On saturday we looked to be making the same errors as we have since xmas that nearly derailed our promotion to championship. Schmeichel apart the players we have brought in dont seem to add a lot to what we already had! Considering the fact we brought in four defenders we looked all at sea every time Derby broke at pace or had a set piece. These players have added nowt except to our wage bill. We need quality or we are going to struggle. How on earth was Grella ever going to influence the game with 3mins on the pitch. Johnson blasted the ball into the stands every time he got it and hasnt improved at all looking totally out of his depth. We needed to score in the last 20mins so what does Larry do, bring on 2midfielders, and then with 3mins left a striker. Becchio and Schmeichel were our best players… Lets hope we can restore some pride against Lincoln tomorrow.

    • Craig

      To be fair, Grayson tried to solve the problem of an isolated Becchio by bringing on the 2 midfielders. That problem needed solving before adding Grella – although I agree that 3 minutes was never going to change anything.

  12. steve underwood

    Ok looks like we cant get good championship players we have got kasper apart we have bought in players only just ok for league 1 maybe we should look at hungry young league 1 players also carlsley would have been great for one season but he went to coventry shame we did not get eustece looked good for watford

  13. steve underwood

    wat about this for midfield hughes bruce both holding then from either watt sam gradel wide snoddy att mid when fit paynter striker plenty of defensive cover plenty going forwerd

  14. Max

    @ WhiteToTheCore: Simpson is apparently having a medical at Hull this afternoon. I’ve read the other team who had a bid accepted were Rangers, but the wages offered by Hull were better. I’m not sure Leeds were in for him.

    @Ross: Good post, but I prefer Bessone by some distance to Connolly (Bessone looked decent going forward and poor in defence; Connolly looked no good at either) though I think the main problem for the team was in central midfield.

    I agree many of the refereeing and lines decisions were borderline, and if in doubt the decision seemed to go to Derby, but it wasn’t like England v Germany. You could argue either way on most of the calls (including the penalty – as Peter Lorimer said at half time, usually the ref ends up going for the home team on calls like that, but we are Leeds, are we not?).

    Becchio is going to struggle for lack of pace against offside traps, and he’s more likely to score running on as part of a surge from midfield (exactly as Saturday) when the defence is outnumbered. I can’t remember him scoring a goal from a ball played over his shoulder, Beckford style (Beckford’s usual first task was then to try and find it from his first touch, but his pace and finishing tended to compensate). When we have another winger back, I could imagine Watt supplanting Becchio in that position.

    As for the various complaints by Clough, maybe he ought to go see that film (or even better, read the book) after all, and think about what happens to people who obsess too much about imagined slights.

  15. steve underwood

    maybe saturday was an omen last time we lost opening game we got promoted

  16. TSS

    MOM – I see everyone’s come around to Kasper quickly. He probably was the man of the match, but seemed daft to say the keeper when he conceded two.

    Clough – The man’s a clown. He’s spent all week in the press telling how he doesn’t want to live in the past, then he parks the bus 200 yard from Elland Road and makes the players walk (just like Revie used to)

      • les irwin

        thats not funny and i don’t condone that language
        although you are right

    • les irwin

      now that could have backfired badly i was there watching the team come in as they walked down ,the main security guy was fuming he said he was giong to report it we all know why but if he is trying to be his dad he is nowhere near the rumour at derby is he will be an early casualty .that said he came and signed plenty of autographs for leeds and derby fans could i suggest that was more savage than clough ,hope we are gona walk down when we go there next

  17. Matt BB

    Yes but we were also rather petty when it came to letting his son go on the pitch, and then banned clough from the directors box for wearing a tracksuit?

    Unfortunately for all supporters of Debry County the tracksuit is about all he seems to have in common with his dad. Yes we lost on Saturday but I think we’ll put in a better performance against Forest.

    • les irwin

      if we banned clough from going into the directors box on saturday then it’s his own fault as i said i watched the team come in and took photos he went into the coach and took a hold all and a plastic suit bag with a suit in so he could have put that on .my son was mascot once and i wasnt aloowed to go in changing rooms etc they brought him to my seat afterwards so its the normal rule

      • timm

        I broke my ankle playing football years ago & had to have a steel screw in for 6 months.My seat used to be in the East stand upper & it’s a 73 step climb so i contacted the club & they said i could use the lift. When i got there the bloke told me that i when i got out of the lift i had to pass through a dining area which was for people who’d paid for executive boxes. It would take about 15 seconds for me to pass through this area but i was told that i wouldn’t be able to use the lift again unless i wore a suit! Im 43 tomorrow & in my 31st year as a season ticket holder (including being a bond holder at the time!) & the club let me climb those 73 steps on crutches in agony every other week for the next 6 months! They don’t care.

      • les irwin

        they don’t care your right not 1 jot that goes for the stewards .the players ,the directors and the chairman don’t you get mad when you here about the fan base .and how good the fans are and ken bates marching on together .they just do not care at all they quite frankly don’t desreve us we just pay our money to be fair and in all honestly we get nothing

    • Joe Black

      Why would you think that? If we stay without any serious defensive midfield and continue with the same 2 shocking centre backs, Forest will waltz through the middle. They are seriously faster and better than Derby.

  18. Matt BB

    at the risk of coming across like some sort of anrachist those rules are bit pathetic, and particularly when it comes to the opposition manager. I know theres going to be a bit of rivalry and winding people up but its not the Old Bailey its a football ground!

    @timm I think those rules stink mate and i ‘m sure youve already complained, but that is pretty poor for a season ticket holder of over 30 years. I had my left knee done (playing football as it happens) and the seats in the east stand are so blooming close together its agony watching the game.. anyway less about our defence wa wa wa!…

    • timm

      I never bothered complaining Matt, to be honest i just laugh at the silliness of it all! To tell Nigel Clough that his lad can’t go on the pitch is just ridiculous. I have to say that my incident happened when Leslie Silver was chairman so i can’t blame Bates for that one!

      • TSS

        @timm @mattbb

        Me and a few friends once got kicked out of a private box for absolutely nothing! We’d been to Blackpool the night before on a stag-du and not bothered sleeping in between. Needless to say, by kick-off (3pm) the following day, we were a little tipsy. The official reason given for our dismissal was “unnecessary rowdiness” but I’m guessing it had more to do with my mate flashing some old woman with a stick up her rear end. She didn’t have the first clue about football and stuck her noes up at us from the start, so he took exception.

        In fairness to the club, they didn’t ban us like they would today (this was 2002-03 ish). The stewards sent to “deal with us” – how exactly is anyone’s guess as there was an old bloke and a young lass against 15 lads – even offered to phone us some taxi’s, but we refused and went to the Peacock to carry on proceedings.

  19. TheReaper08

    It’s fair to say Kasper was MOM although I would have expected more from the Hulse goal (keeper rule 1.2 Never get beat at near post). Without him it could have been a lot worse and I totally agree that the double save in the second half was world class.

    From a defensive point of view I saw enough in that one game to be seriously concerned, Naylor was way too slow, too many times players caught out of position and not closing down the player coming towards you is a cardinal sin. Always take the player with the ball, don’t back pedal & ball watch for more than a few paces or the oppo will make you pay.

    • TSS


      Infuriating, isn’t he? (Nayls) This is what was happening towards the back of end of last season with Leeds’ back-line desperately in need of a leader and lacking the balls to stick a foot in.

      I echo previous comments about Lloyd Sam and the penalty. Casting aside the fact I still don’t believe it was a penalty, we shouldn’t be relying on a winger to stick a foot in, in the box. Fair play to him for being one of only 2-3 that could make a tackle.

    • Colin

      Schmeichel gets nothing but plaudits from the press, media and even Nigel Clough, yet you manage to find a negative to his game. Reaper – you’re brilliant and so is Shane Higgs – he would never have let that Rob Hulse goal in!! :)

      • TheReaper08

        @colin It’s got nothing to do with Higgs and I note you choose to ignore the fact I said he was MOM and produced in my opinon a world class double save.

        Fact is from my very own early training I was taught it was a cardinal sin to be beaten at the near post. Your probably right on one thing though, Higgs wouldn’t have been beaten at his near post ;)

      • TSS

        @TheReaper08 Doubt he’d have had the flexibility to pull off the double save though.

        The facts remain that it was the defence leaving Kasper exposed that caused the problems. A world-class performance stood between us and total humiliation. Desperately need to drop Naylor – he’s so far past it, it’s getting embarrassing.

      • TheReaper08

        @TSS But we weren’t discussing that, I answered the question I was asked.

        If I must I will repeat again that the double save in the second half was world class.

      • Colin

        Reaper, I’ve developed a machine. It’s called the Reaper 2010. It can be used whenever there’s a discussion about Leeds’ keepers. To work it, you just have enter the password HIGGS and then wind it up, and then you get an instant response from Reaper08 :)

      • TheReaper08

        @colin It’s a real problem of mine, being compelled to deal in fact. I just can’t help myself.

        I do try to gloss over obvious mistakes but then the twitch and the stutter sets in.

  20. TSS

    Chill Reaps, I know what you were discussing. My point is, Kasper is deservedly the number one, but there’s no point comparing when we clearly have much bigger problems in defence. The sooner Kis is back, the sooner we’ll all be smiling again I reckon!

    • TheReaper08

      @TSS I am chilled, Colin and I have regular discussions about the merits of our two goalkeepers and we were merely extending that.

  21. Dje

    Naylor looks to be the same this season as he was at the end of last season. Depressing as this may be, it aint his fault.

    Why as a manager you would pick him – especially as he was late to the party in pre-season – is utterly beyond me. Why you would also name him captain after his inadequacies were so glaringly shown last season, and add pressure on yourself when ultimately you will have to drop him is damn right foolish.

    [I really thought I might survive beyond the first ninety minutes of the season before grumbling about Grayson, but obviously not…]

    • TheReaper08

      @djedjedje I know exactly what you mean. If you know something is knackered you can’t then moan when it doesn’t work properly. I am not a conventional SG knocker but on this one I think he has got it wrong.

      What will be interesting is what happens if Bruce is played there and does well, and the there’s the return of Paddy. Does anyone think Naylor will still play then ?

      • Colin

        @djedjedje @TheReapero8

        Naylor will still play. Always has done under Grayson as long as he’s fit.

        As anyone who knows me, I’m not SG’s greatest fan but I so want to be proved 100% wrong.

        If Naylor was a great captain (and maybe he is but I don’t see it) then fair enough, but I think that Howson can do that job and do it quite easily. I rate Howson, I really rate him a lot. Even Beckford did it and did it well albeit for the one game.

        But as a defender, seriously is he doing a job that Michalik or Marques couldn’t do? And they were both thrown on the scrap heap.

  22. Dje

    @TheReaper08 @colin

    Unfortunately, Reaper, I reckon he’d then drop Collins and play Naylor and Bruce. With Kisnorbo back then he’d no doubt ditch Bruce at the back and rotate him as a defensive midfielder when need dictates – as Colin rightly says, Grayson always plays Naylor when he’s (half) fit. I’d play Michalik over Naylor every time as his distribution is just as bad, his tendency to to make at least one gaff a game is likewise, but at least he has a pair of legs on him and wins the ball in the air.

    Somebody was saying here the other day about how vocal Connolly was during the match in having to shout at the back two to try and get some sense into them. I noticed on the TV highlights on the other night that he gives them some seriously concerned/p****d off stares too. Can’t blame him, even if he didn’t have a perfect match himself.

    I notice Marques is still a free agent…

  23. Dje

    On a more positive note, possibly…

    I take it that when Somma and Gradel miss the Lincoln match tomorrow night, that this counts as one of each of their suspensions, or am I wishful thinking?

    • Colin

      @djedjedje – yes that counts as one of the suspension games – somma ready for next league game and gradel down to 2 more games out after tomorrow.

      Re Connolly – I raised the point on his vocalness – okay he didn’t have the greatest game, but he is seriously committed – you can’t doubt his commitment to Leeds. He was giving some real evils towards his fellow defenders, which is right because they were poor. He never moaned at Watt or Howson, who were both ahead of him. Which is also right as they played pretty good in my book.

      • timm

        I thought Somma had a 3 match ban? I didn’t think he was available for sunday?

  24. Dje


    Ah, I had a suspicion it was you Colin that might have mentioned Connolly – apologies for not giving you due credit on a good observation. [I was actually late to the post-match comments the other day with everyone picking over the pieces of who did well and who was shambolic. It’s always an eye-opener how so-many different folks utterly differ on who they rated from a match. Guess it makes it interesting and all!]

    I agree with you though, I thought Connolly did so-so for a first competitive outing at Elland Road, and his effort was good. I thought he dealt with some tricky balls being floated into the back post from crosses well too – which is reassuring. Actually, I thought he was masterful in comparison to what was happening on the left with Bessone. The sooner Parker is fit again the better!


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