Robert Snodgrass is taking all the plaudits after Leeds recorded their first consecutive wins since August. After missing the start of the season through injury, it’s taken Snoddy a few games to get back to his former self, but everything came together for him at the Ricoh as he led Leeds to an important three points against high-flying Coventry.

Kasper Schmeichel was given leave to attend the birth of his son, so Jason Brown was in goal. The only other change from the team that beat Scunthorpe last week was Neill Collins, who played in place of Alex Bruce.

Over six thousand Leeds fans had helped to give Coventry their biggest attendance of the season so far, and it took less than four minutes until the travelling army had something to shout about when Jonny Howson put Leeds in front with his fourth goal in two. Robert Snodgrass got the assist, pulling the ball back to set Howson up for a headed goal.

A couple of chances fell at either end, but it was Jonny Howson who came closest, once again provided for by Robest Snodgrass, but this time the captain couldn’t get his header on target.

Leeds doubled their advantage five minutes before the break in spectacular style as Robert Snodgrass picked the ball at the edge of the area and cut inside his man to create space before firing a beautifully curled shot beyond Coventry’s keeper.

Leeds were deservedly in front at half time and Coventry could have no complaints about the scoreline. Both teams had their chances in the first period, but Leeds always looked more threatening going forward and it was clear from the body language of former Leeds loanee Gary McSheffrey that he wasn’t impressed with the service he’d received so far.

Seven minutes into the second half and Coventry were back in the game as Jutkiewicz headed home to lessen Leeds’ lead – I guess a clean sheet was beyond the realms of possibility?

Gary McSheffrey thought he’d levelled it for City, but was clearly offside and the linesman was quick to react. The frustration was clearly building for McSheffrey who had spent the week leading up to the match whining about Leeds not signing him permanently in the summer – the fact he impressed no one whilst on loan at Elland Road seems to have escaped him!

Leeds restored their two goal advantage courtesy of Richard Keogh who brought Max Gradel down in the box. Some dispute over who would take the penalty followed as it became apparent Leeds still didn’t have a first choice option, but it was Gradel who eventually stepped up and converted his second goal in two games.

The two goal cushion was short-lived though with Ben Turner making it 3-2 just minutes later. Leeds’ woeful defensive record continues, making us the only team in the top half of the Championship with a negative goal difference.

Just over 25 minutes remained and both teams were still going for it. Luciano Becchio thought he’d finished it after beating the home keeper, only to see his shot scuppered off the line by a defender. McSheffrey was a particular nuisance in the closing stages, but neither team could add another and Leeds left the Ricoh with all three points.

Ups and downs v Coventry City

Once again deployed as a lone striker, Luciano Becchio never posed much of a threat. Ultimately, he was unlucky not to be on the scoresheet after his shot was cleared from the line at 3-2, but that’s the only shot I can recall him having in the last two games – and he really should have scored!

Davide Somma must be considering his options after Grayson left our top goalscorer on the bench for the second game running? Minute for minute on the pitch, Somma has a vastly superior record to Becchio’s but Grayson keeps him out of the team for what I can only assume is the poor display v Cardiff – A game no one left with any real creditability!

Captain fantastic, Jonny Howson is a player transformed in this 4-5-1 formation. Simon Grayson finally took the captain off his leash before Scunthorpe and the result has been incredible.

The defence perhaps suffered from the absence of Kasper Schmeichel and yet another change from Simon Grayson, but the amount of goals we’re leaking continues to worry. Only two teams have conceded more than Leeds so far this season – one of  them are at the bottom of the table and the other not far off. It’s a good job we’re scoring for fun.

Despite the inconsistencies and lousy defensive record so far this season, the win takes Leeds up to eighth in the table with Hull City the visitors to Elland Road on Tuesday. Hull are really struggling at the minute and have managed just 10 goals in 15, so even our defence has a chance

TSS man of the match

Has to be Snodgrass. Gradel was once again lively and Howson had another good game, but Snoddy stole the show. A goal and an assist for the Scotsman signals a welcomed return to top form.

  • Tim Wilsom

    Glad to listen to a nailbiter where we ended up on top. If it was Kaspers second kid he prolly would have played.

  • Dje

    Great result and great to see Snodgrass close to back to his best. Surprised to see Gradel take the penalty but fair play to the lad, he scored so can’t ask more.

    I think Somma will get used more in our next two games, both at home to Hull and bristol City.

  • Gryff

    Didn’t get to see the match but between listening on radio & watching the goals it seems an encouraging sign that Howson is getting into the sort of position for crosses that strikers should be, but that our current strikers tend not to.

    I like Brown in goal, he seems perfectly capable as a lesser competitor for Schmeichel. One for the January/Summer market?

  • Tim Campbell

    I wish we could translate this great form away from home into equally convincing performances at elland road. Admitedly snoddy’s performances have improved week by week as he regains full fitness, and jonny’s performances have been so impressive since he’s been allowed to roam; the only downside, and its only a slight gripe, is as TSS has alluded to the inclusion of becchio above somma. I have to say our defence is looking a lot better since O’Brien has come, but a player who has helped a lot lately, and has been largely overlooked when the plaudits have been handed out is McCartney,

  • Mike

    Great report as usual, thanks TSS.
    No mention of the failure to see what Nunez is capable of (as I expected!)
    Exactly what he expected of Somma with 5 minutes to play is beyond me, miracle maybe?

    I am assuming he doesn’t want Somma in the shop window until he has signed up for 3 years on the cheap ( I am just a old cynic) but it could backfire if Somma is approached

    • Dje

      @mikelufc

      I doubt not starting will persuade Somma to want to sign a new contract.

      I think he will be off in the summer, after using his match time to showcase his skills to lower Premiership teams.

      Presumably we never had the professional expertise and insight at hand to realise what the lad can do so offered him the wrong signal of a one year contract last summer.

  • Max.

    Grayson’s away games plan seems to be broadly 4-5-1 with the lone striker expected to win the ball and either hold it up or get it back to a relatively strong (if there are 5 of them) midfield. That’s not Somma’s strength. More Becchio or Paynter.

    Only thing is, given the discrepancy in home and away form, he may start using the system for home games as well.

    • TSS

      @Max

      I’ve heard this argument a few times now and just don’t buy it. Somma is just as strong as Becchio, highly capable of holding the ball up, has a much better first touch (and much better control all round for that matter) but he can also take players on and score goals which Becchio will not do alone.

      • Colin

        @TSS
        We all know Grayson – If Leeds have scored 4 & 3 in the last two games with Becchio as the lone striker, it doesn’t matter whether Somma is the new Maradona – he’s not going to change the current striker.

    • Colin

      @Max – spot on, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head.

  • Colin

    @mikelufc @djedjedje

    I’m not concerned about Somma not playing – I think it’s the right decision by Grayson – here’s why I think that. SG is trying to get some consistency into this team – and I think he’s going for 2 different setups – one for home, one for away and I think he’s got his away tactics just about right. 4-5-1 is the right formation for Leeds away.

    Coventry were on better form, have a better squad, and had the home advantage. We were the underdogs. So why did Leeds win the game?

    Coventry just couldn’t cope with Leeds’ 5 in midfield. It gave freedom to the wide players, Gradel and Snodgrass, and a licence for Howson to attack, and it’s no surprise that they all scored. Boothroyd obviously changed things at half time and Coventry came back, but it was too little too late.

    With 5 in midfield, there’s no place for Somma right now. SG, rightly, cannot be sentimental about his players – he has to do what he needs to do to get goals. Leeds have scored 26 in 15 games and the goals are starting to come from all over the pitch, which is something that we criticised Leeds about last season, as we relied too much on one player – Beckford – for all the goals. That’s no longer the case and SG has to be commended for sorting that out.

    If Leeds are winning and showing signs of consistency then, SG won’t change a thing. It’s very easy to get all sentimental about one player, but the team comes before any one individual.

    As for players leaving Leeds to join another club – Leeds United hold all the aces and again, here’s why I think this:
    Somma and Becchio DO NOT want to leave Leeds. Leeds United are the BIGGEST club in the Championship. 25,000 attendance, 3,000 higher than the next team (Cardiff City). They have not proved that they are PL quality yet, so for now they are Championship players. Name me one team that they would prefer to be at, rather than Leeds? Becchio has started a family here, the club is on the up, the facilities are great, the fans are great and the potential, should Leeds get promoted, is that they would become millionaires over night. But only if they stay at Leeds.

    Leeds have Paynter, McCormack on the books long term, Howson starting to score goals, Snodgrass looking better and better all the time and the likes of Gradel and Sam (when fit) to chip in with goals as well.

    If Somma is offered £10,000 a week but wants £20,000 – if I was Leeds, I’d just say no and end negotiations – Leeds could probably keep him on for £12,000 and everyone’s happy. I don’t care how great Somma or Becchio are, but they cannot hold the club to ransom over a new contract. And like him or loathe him, Bates won’t accept that either.

    High wages on long term contracts kill Championship teams, and we’ve got enough of those already. The club comes first and if a player doesn’t want to accept a new contract from Leeds, then I’d say fill your boots, go and find a better club to be at (because you won’t find one) and then they either sign the contract offer or leave. If they want to leave Leeds, then let them leave. Because I don’t want them here.

    Delph and Beckford left Leeds but they were offered an opportunity that Leeds could never match and they wanted to better themselves and I say fair play to them. They left with my blessing. But Somma, Becchio, Johnson etc. are not in the same boat. Leeds are the best thing going for them. If they don’t realise that, than let them go and find something better. Fact is, they won’t.

    They’ll both re-sign – I’d put good money on it.

    • Dje

      @colin.

      Great points and I entirely agree about the changing formations that we are likely to play for home and away matches.

      Personally I’d stick with Becchio as the lone striker rather than Somma in the 4-5-1 format when away. It’s two wins in two, so you can’t drop Becchio until it all goes caput. It’ll be curious to see if 4-4-2 works at home, and if not will Somma get blamed for it? Hmm.

      I can see Becchio signing a new contract. He seems a down to earth guy, family sprouting and all that, plus the upper end of the Championship is probably his level of football.

      Somma is a different matter though. Anyone who arrives on the back of a one way air ticket is all about ambition and ego. He is here, in English football to succeed, not here in England for Leeds United. Playing every other match because of team formation accommodations is probably not enough as he only plays to score (ego in a forward is a wonderful thing at times, a problem at other times).

      Like Becchio, Somma is at that stage in his career (he’ll be 26 by next summer) when it is now or probably never to cash in on a big wage deal. A free transfer to Birmingham, Rangers, Newcastle, West Ham (if they stay up) would easily pay more than Leeds would and he would instantly be playing in the highest echelon of English football (no idea what attracts players to Rangers and Ibrox, but there must be something there too).

      The one thing that would see him re-sign for us for sure is if we were to get promoted this season – as it would tick all the boxes. Therefore, IMHO, the likelihood regarding Somma is that his contract talks will stall over Christmas and it will be a ‘wait and see what division we will be in next season’ situation once more. Currently, aside from luck, we aren’t likely to win promotion via the playoffs and that is why I think Somma will move on.

      I don’t blame Somma for wanting more money. I don’t blame us for being reluctant to offer him big money on a long term contract either – for as you said, it is a lousy deal for Championship clubs – even if Somma is one of few players we could probably move on with a transfer fee.

      The annoyance is that we didn’t sign him up for a three year contract last summer on modest wages (modest as it would have been based on only League Two loan performances and looking good in training). We did for Grella, but we should have put Grella on a one year contract and Somma on the three year deal. Ah regrets…. Hence this situation would have been entirely avoidable and LUFC would have been the winner.

      You could argue that it was Somma who only wanted a one year deal, and was suspicious that Grayson was not going to play him much this season. If true then that would only go to suggest that Somma is looking beyond and above Leeds in his near future, and for every other (away) game that he doesn’t play in only confirms his fears about him, his football and Leeds United.

      We cant win them all, but I do see Somma’s contract being a hell of a battle to pull off now.

      • Colin

        @djedjedje
        Brilliant points – the only thing I would add is injuries. Paynter’s been injured and so has McCormack. Becchio/Somma will pick up injuries too and then it’s down to a fight to take your chance and prove yourself. I’m pretty sure they will all get games because other players will get injured.

      • timm

        @djedje If you’ve no idea what attracts players to Ibrox, then i’d recommend you go & see for yourself. The atmosphere at Ibrox, even v clubs such as Inverness is unbelievable, & in Walter Smith, they have one of the most respected managers in the game.

  • Bill Fox

    For me Connolly now proving himself at right back. Kasper I assume back in for Hull game but perhaps no other change..

  • Hugh Fox

    Very good performance yet the defence still looks vunerable. I thourght O’Brien was ok but not much of an improvement to what we already have. I wouldn’t change a winning team but maybe Somma will get a game at home to make it a more attacking system but who do you drop? I think we will sign Brown in january since SG prefers him to higgs.

  • Tim Campbell

    If theres one lesson we should have learned from bitter experience its being tied down with players who are not of sufficient quality, and are on big bucks and long contracts. God willing within the next few years we will be back in the big time, and when that happens we do not want to be paying guys who are not quite up to the task

  • steve underwood

    Some intersting comments i agree becchio will stay has for somma if he goes so be it he has not convinced me.Grayson has plenty of options up front just glad that we are getting goal from all players.One wrorry for me is when we loose obrien and mcartney hope we can try and get them for the rest of the season

  • Mikelufc

    A lot of good reading there Colin and I will get back when I have time but in my opinion Somma will be bigger than Beckford and I do believe we have a gem in Nunez.
    I dont think Becchio is going anywhere.

  • Colin

    @mikelufc
    Agreed, Nunez could be fantastic, and I’ll throw one other out there as well – I don’t think we’ve seen even a glimpse of what Adam Clayton is about. I think Leeds are working on him. It’s suspiciously quiet when it comes to Clayton. We occasionally hear little things coming from the Leeds management that he could be very very good, but now is not the time to play him. He’s young, he’s a defensive midfielder. Shoot me down in flames everybody, but perhaps, just perhaps, does Simon Grayson think he’s found the next David Batty??

    Okay, we know the defence needs work, but the attack seems just fine. Now as to the midfield – is SG plotting to create another Batty, MacAllister, Strachan, Speed combo?

    Batty = Clayton
    Strachan (captain) = Howson (captain)
    Speed = Snodgrass
    MacAllister = Yet to be bought

    Am I a million miles off here or have we underestimated Grayson here??? Hmmm.

    • TSS

      @colin

      I’m trying to compose myself after that one mate. Clayton the new Batty? Based on what?

      And again with Nunez. We still have absolutely nothing to base such opinions on, yet Ramon is a new god?

      Finally, anyone that thinks Becchio is better than Somma is watching a different team. We’ve won the last two in spite of Becchio – not because of him. He’s added nothing to the team. I’d let Becchio leave on a free. He’s the weakest of our four strikers by a mile.

  • Colin

    And we’ve got our goalkeeper in Schmeichel, so that’s sorted.

  • Anthony Lewis

    first half was one of the best 45s we have had this season! 2 goals and none conceded we looked red hot and we could have battered them! But we like making things difficult (last week was an exception) and that penalty really came at a crucial time considering how quickly they got a second! All in all a welcome three points and we’re going on a bit of a good run now after the slump! Snoddy is quality and what more can you say about jonny?! MOT! Bring on the Hull scum!

  • paulg

    Becchio and Somma are completely different types of players ….. from what I’ve seen of him, Somma is a great finisher, but a lazy b******* – this was particularly noticeable against Cardiff, where if the ball was played more than 2 feet away from him he made no effort to go chase it. ThHere’s absolutely no point at all in playing a player like that in a 4-5-1. Contrast Becchio, who even at 0-4 continued to chase everything.

    I’m certainly not suggesting that I’d like to see Somma go, but until (or unless) he develops a bit then I he’ll only be played when the time is right. And quite right too.

    • TSS

      @paulg

      I can’t believe people are calling Somma lazy? He’s chased plenty and created more chances than Becchio every will through sheer persistence. Just because he doesn’t chase lost causes, doesn’t make him lazy. It makes those that do stupid.

      Quite what use people think Becchio is in a 4-5-1 is beyond me. The 4-5-1 requires Becchio to play as a striker, which he tried and got completely cut out of the game. He chased his own tail a bit granted, but it had no effect.

  • Mike

    @Colin
    “Am I a million miles off here or have we underestimated Grayson here??? Hmmm.”
    Ha! Ha! I dont think even TSShas done that, if something like that happened it would be pure chance, just the waty the cards fell, Clayton is a loanee we might not get to keep and number 4 is still absent.
    Jonny =Strachan ???
    Clayton = Batty???

    and it was Macca that made Jonny Captain was it not?

    • Colin

      @mikelufc Clayton has been signed permanently by Leeds. And it makes no difference who made Howson captain. SG prefers (or preferred) Naylor as captain, but since he isn’t playing then it’s Howson, quite rightly, as captain.

  • Bill Fox

    We have to move on (especially for TSS’s sanity I sense!!) from this Luc vs Somma debate soon but let me point out something I think is key.

    Becchio: Strong, wins headers, decent/good scoring record and can play the lone front man. Work ethic is supreme. Talisman. Paynter similar I think.

    Somma: Great turn, confident to the brink of arrogance, scores for fun when clean thru, quick. Lone front man? Nope, Nope, Nope. He simply doesn’t win enough ball, in fact he often goes the wrong side as if expecting the defender to miss it! (from league 2 days perhaps…?) His nearest competition for a place is McCormack surely.

    They are both prone to the odd ‘Alice band’! Very ‘un Leeds’!!

    Meanwhile…….will be fascinating to see if Grayson sticks with the ‘4-2-3-1′ Tuesday night (if that is what is has been last 2 weeks). If we can get 4 from 6 points coming up I for one will be delighted.

  • paulg

    @mikelufc
    We signed Clayton permanently on (I think) deadline day ……

  • Mike

    @paulg
    Shit! I forgot,(missed) that one! there’s a price to pay for growing old(er) :-)
    Maybe Colin has a point about Larry’s craftiness :-)

  • timm

    What happened to all the ‘Grayson must go’ mob on here?

  • Dje

    @timm

    They are in the ‘observation wing’.

    You know how fickle Leeds fans can be?!

  • Gryff

    @timm I think most of the ‘Grayson must go’ guys were first-time posters.

    I was in the ‘Grayson-must-learn-to-stop-teams-nosediving-unlike-last-season-or-else-we’ll-be-relegated’ group if that helps? :-)

    @colin I don’t like direct references to old players as everyone’s an individual. That said for me Howson does look like if he plays much more attacking football than any other manager until now has given him, he could make it in the Premiership (albeit possibly not a top-6 team or anything). Snodgrass as much as his lack of ideas when things were going wrong last season (read Exeter & Kettering, especially) annoyed me, he does look very good on his day. Still, i’m not sure he’s premiership standard until he performs as well as Saturday every match. As for Clayton, i’m not really sure we’ve had any evidence of his skill. He’s come for City, and the manager thinks he has potential, but (and genuinely with nothing against the lad) he hasn’t actually showed us any glimpse of that potential in the matches i’ve seen.

    Still, the midfield is looking rosier than at the start of the season. Snodgrass and ‘the new’ Howson are like new additions to the squad!

  • Mike

    @Timm
    I am still around -:)

    • timm

      @mikelufc…..Good lad Mike! I admire your honesty!!

  • Ross

    I find it surprising that some are calling for somma ahead of becchio, both players are very different. Becchio is stronger in the air and can hold the ball up better than somma so is the obvious, if not only choice for the lone striker (until paynter is fit). I am not a a becchio fan but surely no one can think Somma would do better in that role. Somma is a natural finisher and is great inside the area and at shooting but his overall game so far based on his displays is very poor, he cannot head at all, his movement is very naive and his hold up play / passing poor. I fint talk of him getting a move to the premiership ridiculous to be frank has only one of beckfords two assets (instinctive finisher and pace) and look how jermaine is struggling.

    Also similarly confused by shouts for Nunez and Clayton neither has done enough or even suggested they are worth a starting place.

    On Saturday I felt there were some very encouraging signs, the defence is improving O’Brien is better at the basics than anyone else who has played at CB this season and I agree that Mcartney is improving week by week.

    I even thought Faye had a better game and is possibly retruning to some sort of match fitness, Howsons movement and touch / lay offs to the wide men are dramatically improving our abiity to get forward. Snodgrass had his best game this season, although could sometimes do with delivering the early cross.

    Gradel easily had the beating of his fullback but unfortunately the quality of his delivery failed to match his dribbling! Becchio didn’t have a particularly good game and was dominated in the air by the Cov defence but I do not see a viable alternative currently, again those calling for McCormack can’t have watched the same games I did, he looks unfit and his touch / tracking and work rate were awful.

    Similarly I would not keep Brown he is too small and is scared of coming for crosses, with Kasper back we may be able to steady the defence a little bit more!

    Overall a great day out 6,000 strong and that doesnt count the section of Leeds in the cov end who were aloowed to stream across the barriers and fill an empty section!

  • steve underwood

    the formation we are playing now is nothing new rember pre season when we played some great football ie wolves millwall we must stick with it even at home,as for becchio or somma i dont think it will be either when paynter is fully fit.Onto the debate on clayton being the new batty well im sure he ia a attacking midfield like howson and will people stop raving about nunez we have not really seen him and as far as i know his contract only goes to jan same as faye

  • OwenG

    Why can’t Larry leave the defence alone for at least a few games? It was clear to me that O’Brien and Bruce were forming a good understanding against Scunthorpe after a bit of a shaky start. (Hardly surpisring as O’Brien only came the day before!) Collins has been a liabilitiy since day one when Cousins ran him ragged for Derby and I don’t rate him at all!! Larry says “he’s a talker” I would prefer it if he said “he’s a defender”!