Hat-trick hero!

55 miles down the M62 to North Lincolnshire was the destination for Leeds United’s travelling army to take on a Scunthorpe side that were having little joy at home so far this season.

Built in 1988, Glanford Park is relatively new for football but despite it’s relative youth and small capacity (just over 9,000) the builders still couldn’t manage to stick a roof on without the aid of supporting beams. A minor detail usually, but when you’re stuck behind one I can assure you it can be quite irritating!

My moaning did prove quite productive however, as a fellow Leeds fan overheard and informed me that the roof wasn’t the only area in which the architect failed. The Mr. Bean of architecture also forgot to leave room for the run-off area (where throws are taken from and the dugouts are situated) which left Scunthorpe with one of the smallest pitches in the Football League, but does leave a more intimitate atmosphere with the spectators literally inches away from the action.

Once I’d stopped grumbling about the poor seats (not for the first time this season) the game got under way. Leeds lined up in a 4-5-1 formation with Becchio alone upfront and Somma dropped from the starting XI. Snodgrass, Gradel, Faye and Kilkenny made up the midfield with Jonny Howson playing an advanced role in support of our lone front man. In defence, Collins was surprisingly dropped to the bench with Bruce and the on-loan O’Brien playing central. Connolly and McCartney completed the line-up with Schmeichel between the sticks.

The line-up was clearly designed with defence in mind and considering the amount of goals Leeds United have conceded lately you can hardly blame the gaffer. Early indications were that it was going to be another tough day for Leeds when a poor goal-kick came back at Leeds and O’Brien was immediately called into action to clear off the line and save Schmeichel’s blushes.

Leeds reacted positively though, and Jonny Howson played a great ball forward to Max Gradel who struck confidently beyond Tony Warner to give Leeds United the lead within eight minutes. A good ball from Howson, great finish from Gradel and fantastic start from Leeds.

From there on, Leeds failed to seize the initiative and whilst Scunthorpe were undoubtedly on top, Schmeichel was never really threatened. It was a corner that eventually gave Scunthorpe’s fans something to cheer about when Cliff Byrne rose high at the the back post to level the game and leave Kasper pointing fingers at the defence.

For the rest of the first half neither side were in danger of adding a second and as we went to the break level at 1-1, it was clear that someone had to turn it up in the second half if they wanted to win this one.

Leeds started the second half much brighter than they’d ended the first. Max Gradel made a half-hearted appeal for a penalty before Neil Kilkenny had a Johnson-esque type shot from range. Speaking of our chubby midfielder, he was brought on in place of Amdy Faye just in time to see the Jonny Howson show…

The Leeds-born skipper’s first goal came from a Paul Connolly cross that evaded the Scunthorpe defence, leaving Jonny in prime position to smash home his first. As I looked around for a chubby bloke that had spent the entire first half slagging Jonny off without any real reason, Howson was already looking for a second, this time being denied by Warner.

Chubby bloke clearly silenced, Scunny rode out a good spell of pressure from Leeds and started to forge a few attacks of their own, most of which were built around the impressive on-loan youngster, Sears. A shot from him was tipped over the bar, resulting in consecutive corners but Scunthorpe failed to find an equaliser and Leeds were back on the attack.

Jonny Howson was again in prime position when the lively Max Gradel sent a well-weighted cross towards the back post where Jonny headed home his second to give Leeds some welcomed breathing space.

Pretty much straight from the restart, Leeds attacked again with Luciano Becchio teeing Howson up for the hat-trick. Howson gratefully fired home from the edge of the area to complete his first ever professional hat-trick and give Simon Grayson something to think about in the weeks ahead.

The win secured, the 4-5-1 system proving effective (at last) and Jonny Howson’s critics answered in spectacular style, Billy Paynter was finally handed his Leeds United début receiving a great reception for the Leeds United faithful.

Another attacking substitution came soon after with Ramon Nunez replacing Robert Snodgrass as Simon Grayson ruthlessly attempted to rub salt into Scunthorpe’s wounds and lessen Leeds United’s tragic goal difference. The subs proved largely irrelevant though as the game ended without further incident leaving the 2,000+ Leeds fans to celebrate a first win in three.

Overall, and to use an old football cliché – it was a game of two halves. Scunthorpe had the edge in the first half, but Leeds stepped it up a gear in the second with Scunthorpe unable to respond.

Ups and downs v Scunthorpe

Becchio alone up front makes absolutely no sense to me – he was a spare part throughout, and aside from setting up Jonny Howson’s third, I can’t remember him posing any threat to the opposition – I honestly don’t think he had a shot! To drop Somma – our top goalscorer – for one poor game (Cardiff) is extremely harsh from Larry!

Max Gradel was a breathe of fresh air to the side, as he so often can be. He provides a spark that seems to wake the rest of the team up when very little is happening. Delighted he got on the score sheet today, and also got himself an assist.

Schmeichel – I’m not convinced Kasper is 100% fit yet. He doesn’t look quite as assured as he did before the injury and a few little mistakes are creeping in here and there which better teams will punish us for – like Cardiff did.

O’Brien – Shame he isn’t here to stay. His Premier League experience really showed and he took nothing for granted today, always ensuring the basics were covered. Great performance from him.

Nunez & Paynter – Nunez looks very comfortable on the ball, but we’ve only seen him in matches were there is nothing left to play for so far so I’m reluctant to pass judgement on him. Paynter likewise had little to do as the match was already won. He did have half an attempt, but whilst it didn’t really threaten it was great to see him finally in a Leeds shirt.

TSS man of the match

Bit of a no-brainer today. A fifteen minute hat-trick and an assist from the captain silenced his critics in style. Jonny has taken an awful lot of unfair stick over recent weeks and I’ve been one of the few people fighting his corner, so this was a nice ‘told you so’ moment for me.

What we saw today was Jonny taken off the leash and given a license to attack, and when he’s given this kind of freedom he always performs well. Too often over recent years he’s been held back to accommodate others and forced to play in a role unsuited to a player that started his career as a striker. He’s one of the few players in the team whose commitment I could never question. He always gives 110%, even when things aren’t going well for him and today he got his reward.

  • Dirty Leeds Blog

    Strange, I thought Becchio was superb today. He Sid everything you’d expect from a lone frontman. True, I can’t remember any efforts on goal from him but he played an integral role. That said, Paynter looked a real handful in the few short minutes we saw of him.

  • saltburnwhite

    Totally agree about howson , hes a class act when deployed in his preffered role . like you say maybe larry has some thinking to do now.
    Also i think becchio was underatted , i think he occupies alot of defenders minds leaving howson and co with space to run into …..i must say i love becchio , hes a true leeds united player , gutsy , gives 110% and gets the odd goal here and there …..reminds me of a certain mr a.smith!

    • stotty

      Howson is a natural goalscorer when coming forward and he has an excellant eye for a killer long pass. We all know this and have done for ages. Jonny gets lost when propping up in the midfield. Therefore why can’t Grayson just recognise where the true talent and strengths of his players lie? He has far too many players at the club which must add to the problems.
      Stick to a plan Simon and we can go up this season.

  • TSS

    @dirtyleeds @saltburnwhite

    I may have been a little too harsh on Becchio, but he poses no threat as a lone striker and will never contribute enough goals when deployed in such a system. I also fail to see what justification anyway can offer for Somma being dropped in Luci’s place – of the two, Davide is a far better striker and much more suited to playing on his own.

    Enough moaning from me anyway. We won, and that’s all that really matters. It’s going to be one of those seasons where you have to enjoy the ‘ups’ while you can get them because the next kick in the teeth won’t be far away! MOT.

  • saltburnwhite

    somma does have some exellent potential and he does look the part but i think for simon today it was a case of ‘the better the devil you know’ somma hasnt done much wrong and im sure when we get our next tonking hell be back in the side . Anyway yup your right a win is a win and i can sleep well tonight ……feels good being on the right end of a thrashing for once …like you say many ups n downs to come …………couple more wins and were back up there …..same can be said about a couple of defeats though , i think we are at a defining point in our season about which way its gonna go.
    If we can kick on from here and show a bit of consistency ithink we may just be suprised .(fingers crossed)

  • Mike

    Was it 4-5-1 ? Or by accident 4-4-1-1 ?

  • Henry V

    Excellent!
    It’s funny how a win does change so much.
    Jonny needs to perform most every game. He is the skipper and can go all the way with Leeds.
    We know he has the ability and I did say he would prove to be a star before the season is out.
    Simon must be breathing a sigh of relief.
    It is, however, a win that needs to be backed up in future matches.
    It should not paper over any cracks, and more class players are needed.
    With one up front it has to be Lucciano.
    Somma cannot hold the ball and gives it up far too easily. I would play Paynter in that role before Somma.
    Indeed, if we revert to 2 up front it could well be Beccio & Paynter. Time will tell but I am sure Somma will get his chance again soon.
    Eddie Gray said he thought Kasper had put weight on while he has been away!! Sweat him Simon!!

  • les irwin

    oh my god what a footballing god grayson is lol!!!!
    fantastic win and it is amazing as someone has said already what a win does but we need to play consistently like that all the time ,to be fair when was the last time howson had a game like that ???? its a while but a perfect hatrick the only one in the league yesterday is a good starting point .also to be fair to him he likes to score a goal he has the ability clearly but he is being played every week in the wrong position he need to play behind a front 2 becchio would be massive for us at holding the ball up for more people running on he has absolutely no pace

    credit where its due fanastic win yesterday lets have more of it but grayson needs to remeber what he has learned
    as for obrien if he stays fit i may well suggest he will say til end of the season and beyond if he is playing it will be wage thing though as it usually is with us

  • Paul South Wales

    Let’s hope we hang onto O’brien, which shouldn’t be too hard as he isn’t getting games at Bolton. Once we stop leaking goals I think we’ve got enough in the rest of the team to cause problems. Coventry is a winnable game with relatively the same team (Clayton in for Faye). I think when we get a run of wins we’ll start to fly. It’s a confidence thing. The shock of stepping up a league has been an eye opener, but let’s hope it’s starting to sink in. Although we’re 12th in the table, we’re still only 2 points off the play-offs, so not all doom and gloom. Next Saturday will be another test but hopefully we’ll nail it. Great to see Paynter back yesterday, looking forward to seeing more of him. MOT

  • Dje

    It goes without saying that it is a great result and Grayson and the team deserve all the credit for bouncing back and stopping the rot!

    I thought MacCarthy had another good game and has brought some certainty to the troubling left back position. No Parker on the bench sadly, but hopefully he’s back in action soon.

    Connolly looks to do about enough – especially if O’Brien is going to bring a head full of maturity to an otherwise previously leaderless and indecisive back four. Long may that last.

    I’ve always thought that the problem is not so much with our defense (which was a problem), as with the distance between them and our midfield or – when our midfield has in the past evaporated – with our forwards.

    I found it amazing how many times against Cardiff – especially in the second half – we would belt it along the deck from within our own half for Becchio to grapple with their defense to keep possession of the ball on the edge of their box. He did phenomenally well to do so, but this should really be seen as an asset and not our one and sole tactic for a match.

    Whether it was the shorter pitch at Glandford Park, or our five in midfield, it brought about greater cohesion across the team with the defense no longer bypassing our walkabout midfield, and our midfield no longer essentially playing against our defense. So yes I imagine it’ll be the same formation – and the same first XI – against Coventry away.

    I just wonder what Grayson will do as way of formation for our home games as 4-5-1 seems a bit conservative and susceptable to the sucker-punch of us going behind at home to a team who will likewise block out the midfield with a 4-5-1 formation.

    Another curiousity is who does Grayson has the perfect one in the 4-5-1: Becchio is probably going to nudge out Somma, but where does Payntor fit in? Is he supposed to be the perfect one? Personally I cant remember enough of seeing Payntor play for Swindon to argue his case, and it would be hard on Becchio to be dropped for scoring fewer goals when played as a loan striker.

    _______

    As to Somma, a striker, presumably he was dropped for being unspectacular as a left-winger. ‘Tis a hard life! Lol

  • timm

    @TSS Not so sure he’s taken a lot of ‘unfair’ stick TSS? No one (no matter how much they’re blinded by the fact that he’s a Leeds lad!) can deny that Howson has a tendency to both go missing in games, & also get caught in possession in midfield too often. These things frustrate fans because we can all see the potential that he’s got, & which he proved with yesterdays performance. Let’s hope yesterday was the start of him finally realising that potential? He’s an experienced pro now, & he needs to be more consistent.

    • TheReaper08

      @timm Apparently I have just learnt over on Clarkeonenil that if you dare to question Howson’s ability you are a ‘hater’. A modern day Americanism used by the limited of mind against those who don’t whole heartedly buy in to something or dare to question it.

      I prefer to go with your excellent summary above particularly in reference to being from Leeds.

      • TSS

        @Timm @TheReaper08

        It’s was totally unfair criticism because the likes of Kilkenny (who offers nothing to the defence and very little to the attack, but can pass) and Johnson (wasteful) have been much, much worse! Jonny and Snods are the only two players in the team whose commitment I can never fault. No matter how bad we’re playing, they always try and create something, always keep their heads up and always give 110%. Jonny only loses the ball trying to create things. He could easily take the easy option and pass it back to the defence like Killa does, but if all the team did that we’d never score again!

        • timm

          @TSS. Oh no, not the old 110% chessnut! Re Kilkenny & Johnson, yes they have been worse than Howson, but you talk like neither of those 2 have had any criticism! Both of them are slaughtered on here on a regular basis. To say ‘Jonny only loses the ball trying to create things’ is exactly the same as saying ‘Naylor only heads it into his own net when he tries to head it out’, or ‘Naylor only mis-kicks it when he’s trying to clear it’. I can give you a 3rd player who’s commitment can never be faulted, his name’s Andrew Hughes. But for some reason that’s not enough for most on here?

  • Gryff

    I agree with @TSS’s sentiments on Howson and Becchio. Howson had a stormer yesterday and he always looks good going forward, even if he struggles sometimes in a slow-tempo match.

    If it weren’t for Grayson’s use of inside-forwards the right wing might be a good place for Howson at times because of his passing skill and comfort at a high-tempo. When he has the ball and a formed-up defence in front of him I think he struggles, as he’s not really a playmaker so much as attacking midfielder or inside-forward. Because he was played there yesterday I think it cut out some of the negatives of his play.

    With Becchio, he is simply too short to be effective as a lone striker. The whole point in that sort of striker is that they are a tall, strong, athletic and commanding presence who can hold their own and lead the line while bringing in two wide inside-forwards. Becchio is not that tall, he’s chubby rather than strong, and he’s certainly not athletic. He gets stuck in well but I honestly don’t think we can expect to see goals from him as a loan striker. He plays best with a central forward to play off.

    For me dropping Collins was a good call. Collins was just as much to blame (prior to the final flick through casper’s legs) as Bruce against Cardiff and while few of his mistakes have been such howlers as Naylor’s, Bruce has overall been a better defender. Collins’ mistakes are more subtle but just as dangerous and i’m glad Grayson is picking Bruce above him.

    Nunez also looks handy. But I think, again, he looks more comfortable using wide players with the same foot as the side they’re playing on. Playing wrong-footed wingers (and calling them inside forwards) doesn’t seem to gel with Nunez & Howson’s strengths for me.

  • Dje

    I was under the impression that Nunez was your traditional central attacking midfielder-cum-forward. Lots of one-two’s, insightful dinky through balls, shots from the edge of the box, crafty unguarded runs to the far post etc. On which basis, you would have imagined him to be (and have been yesterday) the prefect substitute cover for the role that Howson played. Which is handy.

    I am not sure sticking him out on the wing is really playing to his strengths – although granted yesterday there was no one else, besides Somma (who isn’t a winger) on thew bench to replace the knackered and under-performing Snodgrass.

    • Gryff

      @djedjedje you misunderstand me. I mean that Nunez is playing superb balls to the wingers trying to get them involved in high-tempo attacks. Yet our “inside forwards” have to cut in and slow play down again.

      Howson, now he can do a decent job on the wing (as proved vs. Man Utd).

  • Henry V

    Hey gryff.
    Becchio is 6ft 1.5ins tall and must be a nightmare for any center half to mark.
    He is one of a small few of our players who has slotted seamlessly into the Championship.
    No matter how crap our service to him (most games) he makes the best of it , without complaint.
    Do not underestimate his value to the team.
    Other players play off him and he is as strong as a bull (from Argentina).
    It will be interesting to see Billy Paynter play a few games but, from his Swindon days, he seemed to play off a striker.

  • Dje

    @Henry V

    Good points. You have to wonder why we haven’t tied up a new deal for Becchio yet. Only two months away from Beckford-saga territory. He is clearly good enough for the Championship so a new contract is a no-brainer to me. Let’s face it, he is one of few players who would actually command a transfer fee if we sold him ie. in the unlikely situation that we got promoted this season – and we’ll make use of him next season for a more ambitious promotion push.

  • Bill Fox

    @ Henry V

    and others…..

    You are spot on re Becchio. Somma does not have the holding ability and does not compete physically enough to be the lone striker. Of all our League 1 players Becchio has made the transition the best I feel.

    During the 2nd half yesterday once Johnson had come on the whole midfield/strikeforce was from last season whilst the back four and keeper are new. Interesting?

    • TSS

      @captaincrash @henryv @others…

      Nonsense. I’m bored of this excuse that Becchio deserves his place because he can hold the ball up. It’s the most negative attribute any striker can have and absolutely useless in a lone-striker role. Somma is physically strong, can hold players off and can hold the ball up – but, he chooses not to because he can also run at players and is capable of scoring goals.

      I know which I prefer.

  • Dje

    @captaincrash

    Interesting observation about our midfield and strikers being old school and the defense and keeper being new blood. Sort of explains why we are still scoring freely but letting in every game too. There’s hope then.

  • Will S

    Whilst it was good to see SG go with my tactical suggestion at last was it by luck or by judgement?

    The problems still to be addressed is that of our lamentable home form and what happens when O’Brien returns back to the PL.

    Only had local radio humberside to listen to the game and got the impression this was their worst performance of the season, by some margin, not just due to the scoreline.

    So, we cannot be convinced in any shape or form that one win turns the tide as (very) welcome as it is as we look over our shoulder.

    On the subject of Howson I am convinced he has earned the criticism that has being coming his way this season due to his lack of leadership – I am not certain he is captain material. To say criticism is “unfair” just because he scores a hat-trick is a case of rose-tinted spectacles. The pressure is on him to perofrm week in week out, not just when he feels like it and more is expected of him.

    @CapitainCrash: I would say Somma is good at holding the ball up – his control has impressed me, despite the obvious failure last week against Cardiff which led to the 2nd goal.

  • Colin

    @TSS Great report as always. Completely agree with you on Captain Fantastic Howson.

    I can’t understand those who say that Howson goes missing. Okay I haven’t been to the games but when I’ve seen them live on Sky or on LUTV’s highlights, Howson is always near the action and running around. I think Howson is one of the players who least goes missing. And a quick shout out to Bradley Johnson, who for all his faults, whenever he is on the pitch, he is trying hard and is the one player who never goes missing in my book.

    How can Howson go ‘missing’ when the independent stats for the NPower league – Actim index, clearly show Howson as one of the most productive players in the Championship. Leeds have 3 players in the Top 100 – Becchio, Somma and the ‘missing’ Howson. No other Leeds player makes it in.

    http://actimindex.files.wordpress.com/2008/08/champ_index_top10062.gif

    If you want missing players, try Snodgrass and the infuriating Kilkenny – who for me is an absolute passenger in this Leeds team. What does he do?

    If Howson gets into the Top 100 players list when he’s ‘missing’ then imagine what he can do when he reappears. Hold on a minute, we found that out in the last game – he gets a hat trick and turns a game that could have been a draw or even a loss into a comfortable win.

    • TheReaper08

      @colin I would say that is down to how poor the rest of our midfield is not how good Howson is. Look at your index another way, how much dross from other teams is rated higher than him, quite a bit I would say.

      Did you watch goals on Sunday on Sky earlier ? Kamara and the panel were totally salivating over the hat-trick (you would have loved that part) but also pointed out that it was needed due to a number of poor performances from him this season.

      I like Howson but I want to see consistency addded to his game, I don’t want to see the ball being given away next week and I don’t want to wait 6-8 weeks for the next goal.

      • Colin

        @TheReaper08
        i don’t have Sky Sports :(

      • TSS

        @TheReaper08

        Bit of a stretch quoting goals on Sunday, Reaps. Do you really think the presenters of this show see Howson week in, week out and have any real basis to make such a decision.

        • timm

          @TSS Come on TSS, Howson can be our talisman & we both know it. The Sky pundits don’t just make ill-informed random comments about players. Can you seriously sit there & say that he’s a consistent player? Nobody’s saying he’s crap & nobody’s saying he’s lazy, but those of us who watch him week in week out all know that he drops out of games for periods. I can’t understand those on here who respond by saying ‘so does Snodgrass’ etc..! That’s a whole other debate.I’m not talking about Snoddy, Im talking about Howson. I want to see Howson lift every trophy there is while he wears a Leeds shirt, but for gods sake let’s stop with all this bollocks about him being immune from criticism! They say you’re as good as your last game, & Howson was outstanding yesterday, so that’ll do for me, & let’s hope he’s outstanding next week too.

          • TSS

            @Timm I’m not saying he should be immune from criticism, I’m saying there’s plenty of others that it deserve it more than Howson. We both know the problem has been his position in the Xi, which has largely been to accommodate Killa who can’t tackle for toffee but poses no threat going forwards either. Howson’s worked hard in a position that doesn’t suit him and should be praised for that.

        • TheReaper08

          @TSS Why not ? All sorts of other crap gets quoted round here, why should they get left out.

          • TSS

            @theReaper08 Fair enough. Can’t say I ever watch it to be honest with you. The problem with programs like that is they only see the highlights so Bradley Johnson could look like Ronaldinho if he scored a few.

      • timm

        @Colin. Yes Colin, i’d certainly be interested to see who’s above him in that ‘Top 100’?

  • Gryff

    @Henry V Becchio is indeed tall for a normal man, but just check out central defenders he goes against:

    Scunthorpe:
    Raynes 6ft2
    Byrne 6ft0

    Cardiff:
    Hudson 6ft1
    Gyepes 6ft3

    Leicester:
    Hobbs 6ft3
    Davies 6ft2

    Middlesborough:
    McManus 6ft2
    Weather 6ft5

    Ipswich:
    McAuley 6ft3
    Smith 6ft2

    There’s not a single team in the last five we have faced that cannot put a man-marker on him who is taller and should win every Schmeichel clearance with the exception perhaps of Scunthorpe, while all except Cardiff & Scunthorpe have both central defenders taller than him.

    He’s not strong (like a Drogba or Viduka) to bully them, and nor is he particularly quick. I think Becchio brings a lot to the team, don’t get me wrong, but as a lone striker I think he’s virtually ineffectual.

    • Colin

      @gryff good stats – i like that!

  • Gryff

    P.S. @Colin good spot on the championship stats on Howson! I agree on his ‘going missing’. It’s his getting caught on the ball that annoys me and that wouldn’t happen if he was played closer to the front than the back.

  • Dje

    @gryff

    I think he’ll still occasionally lose possession – and no crime in itself if you are trying to run at the defense etc – but if he plays more upfront and attacking in the midfield element of the 4-5-1 then when he does lose it there is, hypothetically Johnson/Faye and Kilkenny to stop the opposition to counter through the middle of the park. It is exactly what happened when Somma got caught dancing on the ball against Cardiff last week. There is no point in being high ranking in creating assists for you own team when your own loss of possession gifts goals at the other end.

    Hopefully it is a win-win situation for all then if Howson plays further forward as you say, regardless of losing possession from time to time.

  • henry vincent lewis

    The nonsense is all yours TSS!!
    “Somma could hold the ball up but he chooses not to!”
    If he is the main striker and does not hold the ball up but just turns and runs he will lose the ball 90% of the time like Beckford.
    “useless in a lone striker”. There is nothing more important in a lone striker than holding up the ball. Remember a lone striker usually has 3 people marking him.
    The ball will coming flying back before other players can join in.
    Somma has only played a few games and has done OK. How you could suggest he is better than Becchio is crazy.
    He may just fade from the scene? Nobody knows yet.

    • TSS

      @henryv

      I think you should review the goals Somma has scored so far this season and I think you’ll find he’s passed players for several of them – something Becchio is incapable of doing. Holding the ball up is the most negative tactic a striker can use and one that utterly destroys any momentum we have going forwards – what’s the point attacking with pace if Luci is going to stop and do nothing with the ball? He’s a pointless addition to the squad without someone alongside him.

      The funny thing is, that if any other player spent all the game “holding the ball up” the Leeds fans would be furious with them and demand they have a go. Why is Becchio so vigorously defended? He’s our fourth choice striker in my mind because he’ll never score as many as the rest (which is the point of a striker)

  • henry vincent lewis

    It will not take too long to review his goals.
    I agree that in an ideal world someone playing alongside would be great, but if Simon plays him up on his own what can he do.
    Holding the ball up i.e not giving it away to the opposition is how Arsenal play and how Man U play and indeed all the good teams.
    Gryff has listed many defenders and Lucciano is a match for them.
    But height does not make a good defender or attacker.
    Alan Shearer is 6ft.
    Davies at Bolton is 6ft.
    Rooney 5ft 10 – He used to be good.
    Lionel Messi 5ft 7
    Lubo is tall Gryff!!
    Lucciano is an excellent header of a ball and not many defenders get the better of him over 90 minutes.

    • TSS

      @Henryv Bit of a stretch claiming that Arsenal play to hold the ball up. Arsenal do anything but – it’s all one touch, two touch quick passes waiting for an opening. That’s pretty much the opposite of ‘holding the ball’ up. Becchio literally stands still! Another difference with Arsenal is that their players always do something with the ball. Luci pretty much stands with it at his feet, then rolls around when he gets tackled.

      • Dje

        @TSS

        Lol. Yep, Ian Harte and his freekicks would be Becchio’s best strike partner.

  • Colin

    Now this is getting interesting – a bit of juicy Becchio banter and Howson hyperbole.

    Oh how I’ve missed this since the Beckford discussion days, and it sure beats the sack Grayson discussion last week.

    It seems like the general consensus is that you can’t say a bad word against Becchio and that you can’t say good words about Howson. It’s like dodging bullets out here. @TSS take cover!! They’re coming at you from all sides!!

    But could we all take a bit of quiet time out to discuss how we all feel sorry for Naylor losing his place in the defence?? No, thought not. Okay, let the arguments re-commence.

    Good times, good times.

  • les irwin

    said it once and will again somma has no future at leeds in the long term ,as for howson he has had many a fantastic game for us in fact our best run of form last season was when he was captain that is indeed a fact but that was in league 1 in case noone noticed he hasn’t been that good this year in champs ,he is not on his own our midfield has been any bit as bad as the back four .now our little jonny is a leeds lad playing for the team he supports will he be a 1 team player i doubt it which tells me that as a footballer he will leave and maybe come back one day and try his hardest to play against us and score so in my opinion this leeds through and through means JACK ive heard it said it about naylor this week don’t forget bromby is a leeds fan too then there was mr smith and countless others david seaman at arsenal was a leeds fan all his life did it stop him saving a pen nahh .now that said it doesnt mean jonny don’t want to score etc and do well because he will its the number of the beast for him well donr to him yesterday he was fantastic lets have more

    • Colin

      @number1inyorkshire

      Very harsh on Somma in my opinion.

      Re, Howson – the stats show he has been our best midfielder, and our midfield is nowhere near as bad as our defence.

      I couldn’t care if Howson is from Morley or Moscow, it’s all about wanting to play for Leeds and playing well for Leeds. Eddie Gray is Leeds through and through and he’s from Glasgow – when he got the offer to come to Leeds he admitted he didn’t know where it was.

      As for Seaman, he started out as a Leeds player – but Eddie Gray decided that he would never make it as a decent player and released him!!

      • les irwin

        the back four is a bad place to be at leeds thats for sure but before it gets to that stage they have come through a very bad midfield part of which is jonny howson and not only that he is captain reaper said it right this is no second coming yet as it remains to be seen wether ,with grayson at the moment if he even plays in the next game

  • TheReaper08

    @colin Personally I am disgusted that Naylor isn’t playing, oh wait a sec no I’m not.

    And I am not included in your general consensus, you can both criticise Becchio & glorify Howson when it’s desereved. What I won’t do is hang one and praise the other off the back of just one game.

    You remarked yesterday that there had been too much Grayson out overreaction around here and yet you prophicise about the second coming of the messiah in Jonathan Howson. He could be very good but he certainly isn’t right now.

    • Colin

      @TheReaper08
      Do not fear! I am not leaving you out – i was going on the feelings from the majority of comments on here. I think that both you and I haven’t even mentioned Becchio.

      I don’t apologise for bigging up Jonny Howson, because I feel I have to. The reason for this is that (whether rightly or wrongly – and I’ve absolutely no problem in getting stick or criticism) I want to stick Howson’s hat trick down the throat of all those who have had an unfair (in my opinion) pop at him over the last few weeks.

      I’ll make a prophecy right now – Howson will be Leeds’ top scoring midfielder this season. Could this prophecy be right? Maybe so, maybe not, just like the prophecy you made when you said that Beckford’s goal tally in the Premier League would be in double figures. Sorry to raise that again. Reaper, how is Jermaine getting on with his 10+ goal tally at the moment :)

      • TheReaper08

        @colin Hmmm not much of a bet considering the rest of our chop & change midfield. I only hope now that he has equalled his whopping league total of 4 goals from last season we don’t have to wait forever for the next one. After all before yesterday he had scored once in 13 league games which is poor and backs up my argument, but that will probably be someone else’s fault.

        As for Beckford I think I lost that bet 2 weeks ago when Moyes said he had no intention of starting him. He stated he had been forced to play him at the start of the season due to lack of strikers.

  • Colin

    @number1inyorkshire
    I think Grayson will play the same team (if fit) against Coventry – i can see a trend developing here – i think he’ll play 4-5-1 away from home and 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 at home.

    But i’m a bit concerned – that Coventry team is in form, good form. I would be very very happy with a point and then come back to ER and destroy Hull City.

  • Hugh Fox

    i dont think you can change a winning team.

  • Mark R

    @ Timm & The Reaper
    Agree 100% with your assessment of Howson. I’d like to see him perform consistently over a number of matches.

    All in all a good victory – well done SG.

    MOT

  • Gryff

    @foxy101 I agree in principle, but given we were matching a 4-5-1 with a 4-5-1 and were playing on one of the smallest pitches in the League and against a team with the same problems in front of their own supporters as us, there’s a lot that could play out differently against Coventry.

    I’d keep Howers where he played vs. Scunthorpe and Faye (for lack of a fitter option) where he played, but i’d be inclined to use Nunez in place of Kilkenny as he’s quicker and has a better ball-skill. Him & Howson going forwards behind Becchio would have an outside chance of terrorising their centre-halfs if one has to mark-up Becchio.

  • Dirty Leeds Blog

    Holding the ball up is essential when playing with a line front man. The major difference yesterday after Faye went off was that we finally got players running beyond Becchio (see last goal) far too often the midfield play too deep and make Becchio’s hold up play look like he loses possession everytime he touches it after being crowded out.

    The only criticism of Becchio would be his first touch.

  • Tim Campbell

    Firstly great to see us bounce back so convincingly at Scunny. Jonny does seem to relish the more advanced role does’nt he? Brought back memories of his performance in that play-off semi-final against Carlisle a few years back that got us through to the final. Encouraged by the signing of O’Brien – I wonder how much we would have to stump up to get him permanently? Lastly I just have to say that if the neutral is wanting entertainment then the Championship must surely be the place to be – defences are generally crap but loadsa goals lol

  • Gryff

    @Henryv how often was Rooney played as a lone striker? Again with Messi he is more of a forward than striker as he likes to score from the edge of the area and run at opponents (like Villa). I see your point on height, and certainly if a player is world class that more than makes up for it (as does a lack of class going the other way in re: Lubo) but Becchio isn’t world class. Nor is he hopeless. But he’s an average-sized (for a striker), not particularly athletic young man.

    Howson played off Becchio a bit more than the midfield often does yesterday, but even then I honestly can’t remember him actually doing his striker’s job.

    BTW, just in case anyone wonders i’m not arguing for Somma or Paynter to take his place. What I would prefer is for Becchio to be played as someone to bother the defensive lines (as he does) and free up space for the main striker (a role which until now was taken by somma and vs Scunthorpe seemed to be Howson’s). But this punting it to his head every goal kick really hasn’t worked at all, while his ability to run at the defence and cause them problems is virtually nil. In terms of attacking moves he’s good for tap-ins (though doesn’t have the instinct of a Beckford) and very simple passing play to keep us ticking over. Neither of those roles are particularly specialist.

  • GRAYSONSBARMYARMY

    @TSS I usually completely agree with you but I can’t understand at all were you are coming from Becchio is the most important player for Leeds United first on the team sheet for me, he get his head to every ball, like you say Snoddy and Howson 110% Becchio must give 111%, and he hasn’t done bad with the scoring tbh.

  • Mark R

    Howson was a revelation playing further forward, and if he can be given a run in that position and bring some consistency to his game, he has an opportunity to fulfill his potential.

    Becchio as a sole striker in the formation – tricky. Understand all the concerns experssed above. For me from a striker you want a goal threat, and not just link play. Somma was unlucky to be dropped, and I think we may all be pleasantly surprised by Paynter once match fit.

    Defence needs sorting and 1 week of getting O’Brien bedded in and Kasper one more week of fitness will help.

    Midfield mix is still under review for me – need an experienced commander at the centre of it.

    Otherwise – another start – let’s hope we can confidently build on it.

    Aidy Boothroyd’s Coventry will be organised, strong and direct – so I think our defence will come severe pressure.

    Anyway, for now well done SG,Howson & the team.

    MOT

  • henry vincent lewis

    Becchio has scored 6 times this season and created many more.
    He had a hand (head & leg) in two on Saturday.
    He could have scored a few more if he had some decent service.
    Lucciano will always play second fiddle to a striker, like Mick Jones did with Alan Clarke.
    Mick took the knocks and Clarkey popped them in!
    Mick like Lucciano got his share but if you are the one laying the ball off by foot or head, it is your teammates who get the glory.
    The reason the fans love Lucciano is that he NEVER hides, and he NEVER gives up!!
    Other team members please note.
    He needs a Somma or Paynter to combine with, but he will be taking the strain.
    He is happy to turn and run at the defense (see Jonny’s excellent third goal), but up front on your own you must keep the ball, and lay it off to a team member.

  • Bill Fox

    @henryv

    Well said.

  • dess

    To say that Becchio never hides is to miss the games where he spends lots of time on the floor when he is failing against his markers.
    I like Becchio but there is no need to put him on some false pedestal. His goal scoring record is fairly good this season and I do admire his effort in most games.

  • henry vincent lewis

    dess.
    Every player, even the best, struggle in some games but Lucciano never gives up,
    whether on his feet or on the floor.
    I am pointing out his value not lionizing him.
    If we put him on a pedestal he would be 7ft 3 ins, which would please Gryff!!
    Our midfield would then start passing to him on the ground!
    Just kidding.
    We need some smily faces on here.

  • Des

    My point is there are games he resorts to falling to the ground to easily and gesturing at the referee too easily and this is when he is giving up. Maybe he is the hardest working player and he gets tired. He is after all often best after a rest. I await to see the sort of season he has to judge if he really has the skill level of a championship player. I hope so.
    I do have to agree with Gryff that Becchio alone up front is of little value to us. We need someone like Howson to play off him if we insist on playing 4-5-1 or 4-4-1-1.
    I almost look forward to team selections as much as I do to the games.
    Cant wait for Saturday as I’m one of the 6200

  • Henryv

    OK boys.
    You’re ganging up on me and Lucciano now!
    We will have to agree to disagree!
    Time will tell.
    If he as bad as you suggest it does not say much for the rest of the squad.
    I must be in the minority here, and I must be watching a different player to you?
    .

    • Gryff

      @HenryV I will agree to disagree in terms of his being a lone-striker! :)

      But that said, i’ve never said he needs to be tall to work as a linkup-forward or a second-fiddle. Both are roles I think he’s our best player for, but as a lone-striker (and purely as a lone-striker) I don’t think he’s anywhere near tall enough. A big strength would compensate, but he doesn’t have that either. For me Becchio should usually be in the team – playing with a second striker who is more mobile.

      Some of his shots recently have shown he can be a danger without being treated as our main goal-threat, and as you’ve pointed out he’s been scoring regularly so you’ll certainly get no arguments from me that he needs to be dropped!

  • Joey

    @dess
    i wish becchio had have being falling on the floor against bothroyds tackle dont you? wudda only been 2-0 :)

  • Charlie Big Potatoes

    Can’t quite understand the Becchio bashing.

    Our defence has been utter pap most of the season so we need to play the five man midfield to compensate for it and stop haemorrhaging goals.

    Therefore we only have one slot for a striker / forward or whatever. That man (or woman?!) needs to be able to hold up the ball for the midfield to get up and support, work off scraps and have the work ethic to run all day, draw fouls and not complain! (Essentially a martyr for the team). Correct me if I’m wrong but I’m pretty sure Becchio does all that as well as knocking in a few goals himself. So can’t understand the criticism myself.

    Somma looses the ball far too often trying to do too much to trust as a sole striker, McCormack isn’t big enough to compete with centre halfs on his own; Grella’s too light weight while Paynter’s been shootin the breeze with the physio all season. As such Becchio plays up front for me all day long given our current set up. Paynter’s impact remains to be seen though.

    The current system and style of play is the price you pay to protect your defence when your chairman’s not prepared to pay the price for decent defenders.

  • Des

    This is my point lol
    I am discussing this pedestal you like to put him on (and I bet players soon fall from these lofty heights you put them on) yet you say I’m bashing him.
    I think he has done well this season but not best used in a 4-5-1 and sometimes he falls to the floor too easily. If this is bashing then I’m guilty as accused.
    I’m just a feet on the ground Leeds fan who can like a player without having to think he is the worlds best.
    Now my views on Howson………………………….

  • Des

    I love Becchio but now i’m a basher

    I think I will go cry on clarkeonenil

    cue smiley face :-)

  • Tim Campbell

    Stick nunez in the hole behind the striker(s) and watch him fly, his pace, trickery and great footwork would create merry hell for the opposition!!

  • Craig

    If the Mail is to be believed, Bradley Johnson has refused to sign a new contract. Do you suppose that is a result of what Grayson has told him following his recent demotion to the bench?

  • henry vincent lewis

    It is a funny one Craig.
    Perhaps he has only been offered a 12 month contract and would like a longer deal?

  • Craig

    Either way, methinks he’s shot himself in the foot.

    Of course until it announced we still have the “if the Mail is to be believed” conundrum to negotiate.

  • Joey

    Leeds win by 3 goals yet theres always these pesimistic fans, either support leeds or dont, that is all.

  • Des

    to GBA

    we win by 3 goals so thats the end of all discussions?
    A forum is for discussion or so I thought.
    Guess Leeds mean more to me and others than just one result.

  • colin johnson

    to blindly follow leeds without giving critisicm when it is due is to beleive that all the players can do no wrong i have supported leeds and gone to elland road for 45 years i have seen great players and dross critisicing a player does not in any way stop me supporting my beloved leeds

  • henry vincent lewis

    I think we all agree with you Colin.
    Opinions are the lifeblood of the fan.
    Every player (even Lucciano) could be a lot better, but that is life.
    The banter between us is good fun while waiting for the next game.
    You can see from our predictions of the score and scorer how much we know.
    The manager sees what we see and more, but he cannot say so.
    He has to get the best out of what he has, until he can get someone better.

  • Joey

    I jsut can’t belive the people who slate becchio, he’s the last player I’d want to get rid of, and also the “fans” callin for Larrys head, he’s a young maneger growing with the club just like alot of the players, tbh 2points off the play-offs is something I could settle for in our first season in this division, but its seems alot of you think we should be playing like arsenal each week ha, mid table finish this season or stay up and then kick on for it next season I’d be happy with that.

  • henry vincent lewis

    Hi graysonsbarmyarmy

    You won’t get any argument from me about Lucciano.
    I don’t think the fans are unhappy about our league position just now.
    We (and Simon and the Chairman) are worried about the manner of some of our defeats.
    If we had lost by the odd goal it would be a different picture I’m sure.