View from both ends: Sheffield United (A) TSS March 23, 2011 Leeds United 15 Comments 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.