It’s been a day of reflection at Elland Road with Andy O’Brien apologising to fans, Eddie Gray demanding that Saturday’s performance be used as a wake-up call and Simon Grayson begging fans not to write Leeds off.

Starting with Andy O’Brien, the Leeds centre-back says Leeds didn’t make it ugly enough for Swansea City, making it all too easy for them to play their own game;

“We weren’t at the races and I think we made them look better than they are. There’s no doubt they knock the ball about well but we didn’t make it into an ugly enough game.”

O’Brien goes on to apologise to the 3,000 fans that made the trip for the abject performance, accepting that a lot of money was paid for them to travel so far and that Leeds United simply weren’t good enough. I wonder if he fancies refunding us?

O’Brien’s observation that ‘we didn’t make it ugly enough’ is bang on the money for me. I’m not talking dangerous challenges and downright cheating, but the difference between the two sides was that Swansea closed Leeds United down whenever we had the ball and allowed us no time or space. Leeds meanwhile held off the Welsh side allowing them to pass around freely and look like Arsenal.

Meanwhile, Eddie Gray offers Swansea City some well deserved praise for the manner in which they beat Leeds United, but also reiterates the words of most fans by adding that the game must to be used as a wake-up call.

Eddie Gray’s column in the YEP concentrates more on the performance by Swansea than it does the mistakes made by Leeds, but his wake-up call comments are ones Leeds United’s players and staff must take on-board.

Finally, Simon Grayson seems to be in a slightly petulant mood with this interview for the Official Leeds United site;

“There’s twelve games to go and there’s still an awful lot of points to play for.

“If people want to write us off that’s up to them, but we’ve lost two in twenty-one and we’re now challenging our players to maintain that.

“We’re capable of going on a run. Just because we’ve lost we can’t be ruled out. If people want to, so be it.”

What concerns me about this interview is that recent form is used to disguise our dismal defensive record. His comment that we’ve lost just twice in 21 games is wearing thin and is also repeated by club captain Jonny Howson.

I’ve picked up on our poor defending after most games, but it’s difficult to be too critical of the team when our form guide shows so few defeats. But Swansea was the hammering we all knew we were capable of taking, and should have dealt a few home truths to the management. After dropping seven points in three games, conceding eight goals in the process, it’s a huge concern that neither our captain or our manager are talking of changes.

  • Gryff

    O’Brien thinks the performance let the fans down. Funnily enough, what I saw really let down a spirited and capable centre-back pair!

    Has anybody else noticed each time we lose that the Bates regime takes the least bad performer and gets him to issue a rallying cry in the YEP or official site? :)

  • Mark R

    Yep.

    SG is in a corner on this.

    Perhaps would have been better for him to say he shares the fans concerns and they are working hard on the training ground to eradicate the shipping of almost 2 goals per match; working hard to recruit players to strengthen the team by Friday, and working hard to get a steely winning mentality onto the pitch.

    Expressions of honest endevour and not
    a head in the sand – hopefully no one has noticed – quote for the press.

    Come on SG – give the fans some credit.

    I hope you turn it around SG.

    MOT

  • trueyorxman

    The wake-up call has got to go in Graysons direction, does he not realise he has a squad of 20+ players some of which should have been given a game v Barnsley midweek to allow the likes of Snoddy, Becchio, Howson a well earned breather. 3 games in 7 days, 2 v play-off rivals, 3/4s of the way into the season and Larrys expecting the same 11 to perform to 100% capabilities each game

    • Matt BB

      agree totally, players need a rest – not all at once – but Becchio especially needs a rest, he looked jaded on Saturday.

      • TSS

        I’d say he’s looked off the pace in the last three consecutive matches, not just Saturday.

      • Mark R

        I need a rest mate..

  • Matt BB

    We were awful as a unit, and i find it counter productive to say that such and such a player had a good game.. thats all very well but who was out there on the pitch leading the team to raise their game?

    I think Howson can sometimes be too inexperienced as a captain, and relaies on leading by example, someone needed to grab that game by the scruff of its neck and re-organise the team.

    Kilkenny, as i said after the Norwich Game has walked back into the side and unsettled it, he shouts too much, and a good captain would put him in his place.

    Why isnt O’Brien the captain? or Bruce? If naylor really has kicked his last ball for Leeds we need someone out there with experience to lead us through what is in fact – a poor spell, 3 atrocious performances on the run is just that.

    I happen to agree with Grayson that our squad is good enough, man for man, as good if not better than Swansea – and where is there tough tackling hard a*sed defender and central midfielder – the answer is that you dont need one if you pass the ball well, create chances, and have strategy.

    I remember years ago when England always harked back to having a `hard man’ in defence or midfield, usually terry butcher, i just think you dont need that.

    Where we do have exposure however is in midfield, and I want an organiser – not some sort of nutcase. If youre telling me that Watt, Gradel, Snodgrass, Howson, Kilkenny, Nunez, Clayton, are only capable of running quickly forwards and shooting at goal, then i think youre talking b*llocks.

    They are all capable of being disciplined, passing the ball well, and sticking to instructions.

  • Glen

    let them play like arsenal, appen we should have played like we did against arsenal

  • Mark R

    Good post Matt and a fair point on the passing nature of the midfield – & if good enough and disciplined enough would negate the hardman requirement.

    It works to some extent for Arsenal, but I do think the midfield of any team in the English League needs a physical presence, though not a hatchetman type.

    Most importantly as you say leadership, an experienced organiser in the centre of the park is a must.

    MOT

    • TSS

      I think the hard-men people have referred to, do organise quite well usually though so fill both roles. You look at the likes of Vinnie Jones and Roy Keane, their reputation proceeded them, but they were also very good football players capable of controlling play.

      Vinnie did start to enjoy his image a little too much mind and became a thug first, footballer second.

  • Chris from Wakey

    We were dreadful. Bechhio was tired and should have come off earlier than he did. Billy Paynter can’t seem to find his first goal but would have been better suited to start Saturdays game with his hard work and strength. The mid field were woeful – do we really miss Bradley Johnson that much? and if we do why haven’t we given him a few quid more to keep him. Killkenny and Howson showed no spirit at all and as so many have already commented we just didn’t close Swansea down at all – never mind quickly enough.

    Not closing the opposition down has been our major weakness all season – our back four aren’t brilliant but our weak mid field simply didn’t give them time to get any sort of composure. In truth only Mad Max had a go and he wasn’t at his best – how could he be when the rest of the team were so dismal.

    We need, and have needed for some time, a good holding midfielder. We need other players as well of course, but by and large, three top class players in the middle of the park and our defence would make us into a very good team.

    I could go on but the truth is that some more money invested into the team would bring its’ own rewards. Mr Bates talks a good talk about money being available for SG but it doesn’t seem to happen quite as it sounds. Whilst I have no complaint about the Mr Bates financial prudence the clubs around us have brought in presumabl, more expensive players to give them a competitive edge – and it shows.

    Maybe we are trying too hard to get quarts out of pint pots.

  • Shez

    Blame Bates. Hull, Leicester, QPR and Cardiff have all stregthened in Jan. What did we do? Brought McCArtney back for another loan and got some random Villa reserve on loan. Great. If we fail to go up, the 2010/2011 Championship season will go down as a totally wasted opportunity. All it would have required was a bit more ambition, a couple of decent midfielders and another centre back. Cheers Ken.

  • Gryff

    Very interesting MattBB.

    I do think we need a defensive midfielder. Often people hear ‘ball winner’ or ‘midfield leader’ and think that means the bastard test-tube son of Vinnie Jones and David Batty; it doesn’t.

    What I think half of the people in the ball-winner camp want is somebody who knows how to hold back behind the rest of the line and therefore cut out any obvious options through the middle of the midfield – slowing down counter attacks.

    The problem last match was that nobody got stuck in. We all backed off. If the whole team can follow instructions and those instructons are to get stuck in, I think we could cope without one, but even then Kilkenny is too lightweight and lighthearted for me!

    • Mark R

      The test tube son of Vinne Jones & David Batty … That’s pretty leftfield Gryff but perhaps the kind of ‘Out of the Box’ thinking we need in our current midfield crisis.I like it.

      I think that’s exactly what we need mate….the VINBAT Monster Midfielder !

      MOT

  • Matt BB

    i think one person we really are missing is Paul Connolly, not getting many mentiones, but he was a hardworking and unspectacular performer for us, he gave the centre backs breathing space and made up for the gaps on the right wing. Ben Parker had a torrd time at Arsenal and the answer appeared to be to bring in George Mccartney, however, we dont face opposition like Arsenal every week, so binning Parker seemd a little harsh.

  • Yorkiebar

    The team looked and is jaded we have a big squad but do not pick from them the result is tired players and those left on the bench lacking confidence come on Simon have confidence in the full squad lets see the likes of Parker Nunez and Watt starting games

  • saltburnwhite

    The squad needs rotating if simon is going to play his first team no matter whether we lose , why not just completely give them a break and see how the reserves do for a couple of games, The regulars need to know they are not garuanteed a spot in the team especially the likes of scmeichel obrien etc …my team for the next game would be:4-5-1

    GK GONZALES
    WBR LICHAJ
    WBL PARKER
    CB OBRIEN
    CB BROMBY
    CM JOHNSON
    CM CLAYTON
    ATM NUNEZ
    RM SAM
    LM WATT
    ST SOMMA/MCCORMACK/PAYNTER

  • Leeds fan

    Gutted they made us look like a pub team

  • trueyorxman

    @MattBB Parker had a torrid time v Arsenal (after 9 months out injured!!) but if he put 1 tackle in during those games it would be 1 more than McCartneys made in the last fews games. I am totally with you on Paul Connolly though, if we could get a left back of a similar ilk I’d be more than happy, let’s PLEASE see if Parker is that man

  • Paul South Wales

    Saltburn white, that’s practically a entire new team from Saturday’s a bit extreme

  • Paul South Wales

    A decent team, but not used to playing together. Some of them definitely, but not all of them

  • Mike

    @paulSW
    Extreme it maybe but what’s wrong with that?
    It was extreme when DOL first let loose the young uns and that shook the prem.
    Do it Larry you spineless pillock.

  • saltburnwhite

    my thoughts exactly paulsw!
    its like the england team , they worry so much about playing one bad pass they all end up playing shit.. if thats whats going to happen you may aswell go out and enjoy the match and not be scared of trying things …..fortune favours the brave!

  • number1inyorkshire

    as some one said on another post we are not stupid ,alright i have never played as a pro footballer myself ,but i did play at a high level without being semi professional ,i have been to over 30 years many a leeds match .as well as England .and any other match i could fit in inc ,many in Spain, Portugal France and the UK ,into the thousands of games and one of my mates played for Charlton in prem league one is a manger in ENGLISH football and one currently plays for Bradford city This isn’t name dropping as i know reaper has footy connections at a very high level ,the point is i know my way round a footy team as do many of us who post on here now we know whats wrong and i am sure Larry knows whats wrong now whether he can sort it is another matter. Because of his own abilities or lack of opportunity Bates affords him ,with funds etc .
    Either way round one thing everyone agrees on there are problems we can pretty much identify what they are ,everyone more or less says the same things on here .
    We didn’t expect to be in this position but as we are WE HAVE MISSED THE BOAT ,now is that lack of funds ,lack of ambition ,lack of ability or a combination of all the above . answers on a post card to
    Kenneth William Bates
    c/o leeds united
    leeds

  • Mightywhite83

    I thought howson and gradel were the only ones who played ok on Saturday neither of them stopped running and gave their all for the team… Unlike Kilkenny who can’t tackle and just walks about the pitch throwing tantrums. For me grayson was to blame, the fans have been begging him to play 4-4-2 at home and he’s refused but then plays it away at swansea who play with 5 man midfield and pass the ball very well playing this formation never gave us a chance… Bruce should of Been pushed into the dm role bringing bromby in at the back would of at least given us s chance to compete in mf.

  • captaincrash

    Over the whole season Snoddy, Max and Becchio have done enough to warrant faith and retention …IF they are all of full battery power of course.

    McCartney for me does not defend and has had a number of shockers – come in Parker, the stage is yours carp diem(or whatever) etc.

    The centre halfs actually did okay on Saturday and are the best we have pre any loan action. For me I prefer Connolly at right back once he has recovered.

    Midfield sees Bradders back I think for Donny which should see a morale boosting win (!…).

    Usual argeuments abound re 442 vs 451 but 2/3 changes as above, a home win with room to spare against a wobbling town full of Leeds fans and the world will look better Saturday night.

  • reiver

    The team, especially certain key individuals, look jaded! We’re still shipping in soft goals. It looks like a repeat of last season when we fell off the pace in the second half of the season.

    Simon should have injected fresh blood into the side in January – we’ve been desperately needing a holding mid-fielder and a commanding central defender for some considerable
    time – Simon has failed to address our deficiencies.

    We also need a leader. Howson leads by example, when he’s not on his game, he’s not leading.

    Maybe we can still make the play-offs, I doubt it.

  • minus15

    Just read that Lee Bowyer’s contract won’t be renewed by Birmingham. We do miss his kind of bite in the middle of the park, combined with creativity and goals.??????

  • Canadian Leeds

    What really baffles me is how we are hiding behind our 2 losses in 21 games as if it is an accomplishment! The reality of it is that if we were just a slightly better team we would be running away from the pack. We should be appalled at the fact that we have had more draws than wins during those 21 games (10 draws 9 wins and 2 losses)that equates to 20 lost points not 10 gained points.
    I’m a big fan of SG, but how ridculous was it that we played 4-4-2 against a team who has let in just 6 goals at home and a point there would have been a good result!
    Then to compound it all SG is too stubborn (cause I can’t believe he is that stupid) to not remove McCartney after he gets a yellow card for mauling his opponent. The only time he actually attempted a tackle.
    What was SG point at 1-0 was he trying to save McCartney’s face by not subbing him when everyone in the ground was already laughing at him?
    If he subbed him then Max would not have been back there trying to play LB and LM and given away the penalty.
    SG was the cause of our defeat from the opening whistle to the substitutions and he is now going on about not writing this team off??? Gimme a break with this squad of misfits SG needs realize their limitations or we will be fighting for survival next year not challenging for promotion.

  • WillS

    The 2 defeats in 20 (or whatever it is) is a run of games that must be the most unconvincing run by any team in the division when compared to the good runs of QPR, Leicester, Hull, Forest & Swansea.

    Given the disfunctional nature of our defensive tactics as a team, it is hard to believe that the next 12 games will be better than the last 20, and a drop to mid-table can be and should be expected.

    The team needs to be developed so it is not split in two; that it is not reliant on individual brilliance (Somma, Gradel, Snodgrass)to win or draw games, but rather is a team that wins games through being highly effective as a unit from front to back; that goes on to the pitch not having to score three goals to win games.

    There is a vital ingredient missing from the strategy, with the team built on quicksand, missing a solid spine, and if this is not addressed in the summer, then next season could see a dramatic reversal of results.

    It must be very stressful on the strikers knowing each game they need to score three to win a game and that stress cannot be a healthy basis for building a long term successful team as much as Grayson keeps claiming we are entertaining.

    Something is not working and fundamentally so and papering over cracks is not a good long term strategy for the good of the club.

  • Matt BB

    Reading the press today and indeed TSS article on this lad from villa you can almost feel the wave of desperation concerning the acquisition onf a new midfielder.

    Its just so disappointing that we have taken so long to get some experienced ocver in midfield, we lucked out when Johnson grew into that role, but like so many things at Leeds that papered over the cracks.

    If you look at Norwich, Leicester, QPR ita all in the preparation. We do spend fees on players, Mccormack, Gradel, Bruce come to mind, but this bizarre aversion to actually challenging our rivals, and buying a player other people are interested in seems to be something of a downfall.

    We have to be run prudently, but even in the loan market we can get trumped by the likes of Norwich, and it was Lansbury who caused us big problems Vs them. We backed off on his wages by all accounts, we had no one to compete with him in the centre of the park, and he dominated it.

    I think we need to start taking a few more – calculated – risks. If a club like Swansea can splash the cash on people like Scott Sinclair then so should we.

    Look at them as a club, a beautiful stadium, low wage bill, and consistently performing. We should probably take their lead in some respects.

    Like so many other clubs they dont have the weight of expectation on them that we do, but we need to start thinking long term when we sign players, and have targets as a football club, not just bring in players ad hoc.

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