The ups and downs v Hull City TSS November 11, 2010 Leeds United 6 Comments A little later than promised because I spent yesterday ‘sticking it to the man’ in London, but here’s a look back at the ups and downs v Hull City. Luciano Becchio Massive improvement after two dismal away games where he had very little effect at all. My criticism of Becchio over the last week or so has sparked the usual arguments that invariably follow when you comment on the shortcomings of a player that “tries hard.” I stand by my previous comments and would argue that there are a lot of people out there incapable of finding fault with the Argentinian, regardless of how ineffective he can be. Against Hull City, we quickly reverted to 4-4-2 and that’s where Becchio’s strength once again improved the team. I’ve heard a lot of fans point to Becchio’s strength in the air and ball-holding skills as the reason for him being selected in this lone role but I fail to see the point when there’s no one to play off him and he can’t take players on himself. As part of the 4-4-2 with Gradel alongside, Becchio was ten times the player he is in the 4-5-1 formation. Captain not so fantastic? Jonny Howson gets a lot of stick for his inconsistencies and there were plenty of people questioning his impact against Hull. Sadly, I have to agree with them. Boothroyd clearly knew what he was up against and had Howson manned and restricted throughout. Relegation form defensive record Two more goals conceded takes our tally for the season to an impressive 30 in 16 games, meaning Leeds United have the third worst defensive record in the Championship so far. Only the bottom two, Preston North End and Crystal Palace have conceded more goals this season. Leeds also have the unenviable honour of being the only top half team with a negative goal difference. Despite another two goals conceded, the defence was massively improved on recent weeks and the form should come in time. There was absolutely nothing the defence could have done to stop the free-kick or Bradley Johnson’s own goal. It’s like watching Brazil The only positive aspect of our goal difference is the amount of goals scored. For the 30 conceded so far, we’ve also replied with 28 of our own which puts us amongst the top goalscoring teams in the league. If nothing else, at least we aren’t boring, and maybe the two statistics go hand in hand? We commit a lot of players forward when we attack, often leaving just the two centre backs to cover any counter which is a bit of a double edged sword. Whilst it definitely helps us going forward, it also leaves huge gaps for the opposition to break into. The games have been much more interesting though – you really have no idea what will happen next! Arise, Sir Robert Snodgrass Maybe a knighthood isn’t enough? Maybe we could start our own religion and have the Scotsman as our God? Of course, we’ll probably need a few Gods like they had in Ancient Greece so Billy Bremner, Lucas Radebe et al. can be honoured too, with Don Revie our almighty Zeus-like leader! Anyway, enough of my dreams for a better world. It’s easy to forget how important certain players are when they’ve been out injured for a while, but Robert Snodgrass wasted no time reminding us of his importance to our future. Snoddy had another excellent game, making Hull defenders look like traffic cones as he weaved in and out of them to deliver dangerous crosses into the box. Almost every time he touched the ball we looked capable of scoring. The tactical approach I’d managed to convince myself before this game that Simon Grayson would go with a much more attacking 4-4-2 formation at Elland Road, instead of the 4-5-1 we’d seen at Scunthorpe and Coventry. He didn’t though, instead choosing to stick with the 4-5-1 that had won the previous two games, only to change it to 4-4-2 after going 1-0 down. It wasn’t just the negative formation I found odd, but the timing of the substitutions was a little strange too as he brought Lloyd Sam and Billy Paynter on in the dying minutes giving them almost no chance of contributing to the scoreline. Blind luck keeps home form intact The 28th of September was the last time we recorded a win at Elland Road which is a worrying statistic, but it was only blind luck that earned Hull an ultimately undeserved point and overall, we aren’t doing too badly. Undefeated in three and within goal difference of the play-offs. Not bad to say Fort Elland Road has a defence system weaker than that of Millbank Tower. Bradley, Bradley, Bradley… I’ve never hidden my feelings that Bradley Johnson is massively overrated, wasteful and out of his depth, but there’s time when even I’m surprised by just how useless he can be. A reckless challenge on a Hull City player gave the visitors a freekick and led to them taking the lead. In a position where Hull were causing Leeds no real threat, the tackle was not only reckless, but also unnecessary. Being the enigma he is, Bradley went and levelled things for Leeds United with a powerful shot from the edge of the area (one of those that usually ends up in row Z). Leeds then went in front, but Johnson clearly had money on the game ending level so had no choice but to score again – this time, for Hull. I think one of our regular commentators, Timm summed it up best when he said ‘Bradley’s left foot is a mystery wrapped in an enigma’ Overall… Before kick-off I’d have actually taken the point because I’m always worried about games like this when the opposition consider it a much bigger match than we do. It usually means their players are much more fired up than we are and gives them an edge. What we saw however, was a game we should have won with ease. Hull were as weak as their position suggests and it has to be considered two points needlessly given away.