Some of you may have noticed that I didn’t write the match report for this weekend’s game, with Tim stepping in instead. This was in part due to the hangover I spent most of Sunday complaining about – made all the worse as my memory of the previous day’s performance returned – but mainly because I was too busy with work and had no time to put it all together.

I did however manage to honour a previous arrangement with the Sheffield United blog ‘A United View On Football’ to give a retrospective view on the game in a feature he runs that combines the thoughts of both the visiting fans and the home team. You can read the thoughts of myself and Ian here.

Having read that, and with a couple of days to dwell on one of our worst performances this season I think there’s a few good points raised by myself and Ian that could be extended on. We all know Leeds may as well not bother fielding defenders so complaining about them would be pointless, but the ease with which the midfield was overrun was – not for the first time this season – extremely painful viewing.

As Ian points out, Sheffield United have a ‘workmanlike mentality’ to their midfield with former Leeds United player Micky Doyle an obvious example of that. The experience and graft of these individuals was just too much for a young Leeds United midfield to combat. The obvious lack of a defensive midfielder is an easy place to start pinning blame, but we’ve lacked that type of player all season yet still sit in a play-off position.

No, the problem here was composure and experience. Leeds lost heavily in the midfield battle and it wasn’t helped when Simon Grayson raised the white flag and switched to 4-4-2. As Ian points out, there were times when Leeds were quicker to the ball, but gave possession away soon after in their desperation to get on the score sheet.

This wasn’t a midfield battle won and lost on the defensive merits of each team. Leeds could quite easily have dominated the workmanlike midfield of Sheffield United if they’d simply found some patience and cut out the sloppy mistakes. The quicker, more agile Leeds midfield should have been giving Sheffield United the run around, allowing them to tire, then going for the kill. Instead, Simon Grayson’s men were too busy trying to cut out the middle man and go straight for the throat – rather ineffectively too as it turned out.

When the ball did get to Becchio, even with Max Gradel alongside him, he always seemed short of options. When Leeds are playing like this, Becchio may as well go join the defence because he won’t get the link-up play or service from the wings he requires. It’s like having a tiger and not feeding it. Sure, a few thousand pound at the local taxidermist will get you an interesting paperweight, but you’ll have to live with the knowledge that your biggest threat has been totally wasted.

For the record, I’m not suggesting we have Luciano Becchio stuffed. Stuffing our defenders however might not be a bad idea… I’m not sure anyone would notice if four inanimate statues replaced the current option, least of all Kasper Schmeichel who might as well shout at the goalposts for all the good it does. Ken Bates would be delighted too as you don’t have to pay soulless objects – Avram Grant aside – to be placed inside a football stadium for 90 minutes.

Before I get carried away and start fantasising about a stuffed Peter Ridsdale, I’ll wrap things up. Overall, Leeds were dire. They expected it to be a stroll in the park and when Sheffield United came out scrapping they failed to up their game. Sloppy play, a total lack of composure and a rushed approach to attacking were just some of the contributing factors to the failure.

This was amongst the worst performances this season from Leeds. You have to give credit to Sheffield United, who showed the kind of resolve they’ll need to escape relegation, but there’s no escaping how easy a poor Leeds United made it for them.

  • Craig

    Love this report TSS…

    “It’s like having a tiger and not feeding it…. Stuffing our defenders however might not be a bad idea… you don’t have to pay soulless objects – Avram Grant aside… fantasising about a stuffed Peter Ridsdale.” Classic metaphors/similes.

    As one who wasn’t at the game (I was in an Emirates lounge at Dubai airport) I am heartened by the observation that at least we got stuffed by over-playing in an attempt to win the game. These things happen in a game that is so dependent on getting the breaks and having patience for 90 minutes.

    It is also as I predicted on an earlier forum thread – at this stage of the season games that look easy rarely are which is why there will be many more twists to come.

  • EW

    Craig
    We didnt overplay at all. We just lumped it forward at the first attempt with no attempt to play. We just were not up for the fight and getting rid of the ball quickly seemed the general reaction rather than get involvced in any physical activity. The defence (McCartney apart) were pretty resolute if uninspiring but the midfield surrendered at around 5 minutes and never put their heads out of the bunker again.Becchio wasnt isolated he was just dire as were Howson and McCartney. Time to look at options.

  • Craig

    EW – fair comment. I wasn’t there. I guess what I meant was that it sounded to me as if we were losing the ball by being over-ambitious with the passing.

    Maybe McCormack will feature next Saturday after last night’s rout and.

  • Matt BB

    i believe the emergecny loan window closes at midnight tonight – correct? surely we need that old head – well right f**king now..

  • prince

    BUMP! – just shows how small the gap is between teams near the top and those near the bottom. Admittedly the Blades have endured one of their worst seasons in recent times, but we’ve played ok in a lot of games and been unfortunate not to have taken a lot more point. Going back to your place earlier in the season, when we gifted it you 1-0 following a horrendous mistake at the back, there was nothing in it, plus we hit the bar at the death so a draw would’ve been fair – 2 average teams then (and would appear now if we can carry on and pull ourselves out of the sh1t. They got it bang right on Saturday and should’ve beaten you by a bigger scoreline. And for some to have called it an ‘ugly’ approach is laughable

  • S20white

    Prince,

    I must contradict some of what you say…

    Going back to the game at ER, yes we were fortunate to gain the goal in the manner we did and yes you were unfortunate to hit the bar at the death BUT on that particular day Gary Speed set his game plan out for a dull draw, and he very nearly got it!
    SU showed no ambition that day whatsoever…

    Re Saturday, I think Leeds were lucky not to have been thumped (thank God for Kasper!) but it all came about by us putting in our worst performance of the seson and SU putting in their best (according to Keith Edwards anyway!)

    The burning question is, will you perform like that at QPR next week, I know we will certainly be better when we play Forest a couple of days earlier!

    Good luck in your fight but looking at the fixtures, it’s going to be close!

  • Loved them diamond floodlights

    I don’t know why everyone is so surprised and shocked tbh it was a Yorkshire derby, I said on Friday I would take a point it was a no brainer when does form ever count in these?
    would love to see our record over the last 25 years against so called smaller Yorkshire clubs pretty sure it won’t be pleasant reading just because of our name and history doesn’t mean we can just turn up and expect to get a result I actually dread any Yorkshire derby we very rarely turn up on the pitch imo

  • derbyshirewhite

    Re ‘stuffing our defenders’. I think you could give Eric Lichaj some credit for a really good performance which was only weakened by a midfield which couldn’t hold up the ball and one or two of his fellow defenders who didn’t seem to want the ball. Own goal not his fault really.

    • TSS

      Right you are mate, and I’ve mentioned this on the forum. Speaking of the defence as a whole, Lichaj gets dragged into a group he doesn’t belong. The lad has barely set a foot wrong and deserves the acknowledgement.

  • Will23

    A valid point is made above that this division is indeed one where there is not much difference between the top and bottom teams in terms of quality.

    For us, this bodes far from well for next season (in the Championship) should the goals for column dries up.

    Grayson sacked by October would be worth a flutter.

  • Reiver

    Fair go to the Blades, they were psyched-up for this game and we, for some inexplicable reason, weren’t.

    As for the goals, well, even the blind school would get two against our “defence.”

    It’s beggars believe that the top scoring team could only create one worthwhile effort against the worst defence. Surely the manager has to take responsibility for that?

  • lufcboy

    There is one positive from the game – Paynter banned for three matches. With any luck he won’t get back in the team.

  • Matt BB

    I see we have exercised our final loan allowance today, Jake Livermore has signed from Spurs until the end of the season, more of a holding midfielder than Bannan.

  • prince

    S20white

    forget going up if you cant beat local rivals, of which there are many… apart from Bradford and Hudds on their way back and Chessy!

  • prince

    S20white

    also you never know for your s and our next games. i would guess blades will draw and so will you. but more importantly its the manner that bodes well for the futures. ta ra duck