Whites go down tamely at The Den Tim Hodge April 10, 2011 Match reviews 25 Comments A poor performance saw the Whites drop vital points as they went down 3-2 to Millwall at The Den. Jake Livermore came in for Barry Bannan to add some muscle to the middle of the park while Paul Connolly came in at right back and Eric Lichaj moved to left back to replace the injured George McCartney. It was a cagey opening to the game with both sides trying to impose themselves but aside from a couple of corners, neither team had any real opportunities to write home about. That was until Jonny Howson fouled Kevin Lisbie and gifted Millwall a free-kick. James Henry stroked the set-piece past Kasper Schmeichel, whose positioning was suspect. Leeds were still finding it difficult to get into the game and were being terrorised by Millwall’s Spurs loanee, Andros Townsend. The young winger was creating all sorts of trouble and it was his corner that made the day worse for Leeds. Millwall’s Liam Trotter was stood on Schmeichel as the corner swung in and was allowed to tap in from three yards completely unchallenged. Grayson would have been furious at the lack of defending. Townsend continued to look threatening for Millwall while Leeds were unable to get on the ball and when they did, seemed completely devoid of ideas or creativity. Having held out until half time, Somma came on for a disappointing Robert Snodgrass as Grayson looked to reshuffle his side to a 4-4-2 formation. United started the second half much better and managed to snatch a goal back after five minutes through Luciano Becchio. Lichaj’s lofted ball into the area was missed by Somma but it fell kindly for Becchio to poke home. There was still hope and we were more involved in the game than we had been but there was a real need to get the ball down and play it to wide positions like Millwall were doing to us. Max Gradel was receiving little service so was dropping deep to get the ball and as commendable as his efforts were it wasn’t really helping us. However, any hope we had died when Millwall grabbed a third. Bizarrely play seemed to almost come to a halt as everyone expected the referee to blow for a handball but when he didn’t only Steve Morison was awake and was able to dink the ball past Schmeichel one on one. After that Millwall were able to take the sting out of the game and, despite further reshuffling as Bannan and McCormack were brought on, Leeds never really looked like getting back into it. We grabbed a late consolation through Andy O’Brien as his flicked header crept in. That was the final action of the game as the referee blew the final whistle soon after. It’s hard to remain philosophical after such a poor performance and result but we must remember that no matter what happens this season we have overachieved. We’ve slumped to sixth place but are no further from second place than we were before kick-off. Focus now shifts to our remaining fixtures starting away to Derby on Tuesday. peter Leeds were unable to get on the ball and when they did, seemed completely devoid of ideas or creativity. That has been the case for too long Shez Same old story – a team get stuck into us and deny us spar and time and we capitulate. Our defence is atrocious. Even if we do get into the play offs can anybody seriously see us keeping clean sheets against the likes of Swansea, Cardiff, Reading, or Forest, Milwall or Burnley?! I don’t think so. In the end I think we all know thy is where we are suspect and other teams know that. Whilst it’s been a very good season considering we all thought mid table at best this season may well go down as a waste of a golden opportunity if we fail to go up. All the teams coming down will be strong next season with Orem money to spend, Leicester, Burnley, Hull, Portsmouth, Ipswich and Boro will all be stronger and challenging. I hope I’m wrong and we go up this season. MOT. Irving08 I didn’t follow the match, but I was disappointed to see Bannan dropped: it is not the first time Simon has changed the team to what he thinks is appropriate to the opposition we are playing. And it is not the first time it has failed (eg Portsmouth). Bannan played well v Forest and has the creativity needed to pass round a team like Milwall. Before the game I was also unimpressed about all the talking up of Milwall as a ‘difficult’ place to go: this works negatively on the psychology of the average footballer at this level. In short, success comes to teams who play their game, not the opposition’s supposed game (Milwall today are not the team of Trevor Hurlock et al). Paddy1992 Why must we start every single game with no tempo and playing stupid long balls for 45 mins. Then at half time suddenly realise were shite at long ball football and start playing? Long ball nearly cost us promotion last season did cost us the year before as well as getting us relegated in the first place. There is no place for this crime against football in the modern game. We ripped millwall apart at ER as well as QPR. Why can lowly fans like us see such basic errors been made but not the people who are paid to see it. Also snoddys performances have been dire of late I would reluctantly drop him and give watt a go might just give him a much needed kick of the arse. I don’t want to get too down about 1 bad result and I agree so far we’ve over achieved and it has been a thoroughly enjoyable season, but it’s the tame performances when we lose that’s doing my head in. mightywhite83 was at the game yesterday and i think one of the big issues yesterday was that the referee was apalling in the 1st half. i thought for the 1st 15 mins leeds were getting stuck in and matching milwalls aggression but it seemed every time we made a tackle it got pulled up for a free kick so leeds started to back off there tackling. there 1st goal was never a free kick like many others they won. 2nd goal kasper should of come and caught/punched the ball away, and the 3rd was yet again slack defending by us switching off. i actually felt sorry for our midfield yesterday every decision went against them and it wouldnt of mattered if we had iniesta xavi and messi in there if all the defence is goingto do is launch the ball as far as they can we never let them get hold of the ball and slow the play down it just bypassed them. hopefully we can go to derby and get a result as i think we may just be getting a bit of the jitters now the pressures on us. SohoWhite I also went to the game yesterday and went through a thoroughly depressing experience on all fronts. Most of the points made about our performance are fair. Particularly the one about distribution from the back, which was woeful. We just give the ball away far too much, and if this form persists, we have no chance of the play offs, let alone winning them. I think we are in the process of being found out at this level. However, we have bounced back before and Derby are ideal opponents for our next game… As for the Millwall fans. They lived up to their reputation as the most unpleasant around. Turkish flags and chants, spitting at players, non stop neanderthal abuse, hopeless stewards, no real interest in the actual game. An utterly pathetic throwback to the 80’s. And sadly, their childish tactic of not throwing the ball back for Leeds throw ins worked in terms of disrupting our rhythm just as we started to get back into it in the second half. Mojoluafc Shocking really, we`re stumbling over the line again, this time its 6th place. Theres nothing to say what hasnt been said already, lets hope we do better at Derby. oldlufc I see, post match, SG is saying “We need to tighten up at the back….” Well, Simon, it is rather late in the day for such comments. The defensive frailties have been there since the opening day of the season. As for overall performances, I have lost count of the number of times the team has failed to “get going” this season, and in fact the 2nd half of last season where we limped into 2nd Place and managed to avoided the dreaded play-offs. I can understand nerves and tension in the run-in but our performances, most recently against the Blunts, the 1st half against Forest and now yesterday, leave a lot to be desired. I believe there must be a serious failing somewhere within the club if the team cannot get motivated to put in a decent shift with the chance of promotion in the offing. However, any team that concedes 60+ goals is not promotion material and would be an embarrassment in the Premiership. At this rate we may even miss out on the Play-Offs, which under the circumstances would be no bad thing because we all know from past experience …Leeds United do not do Play-Offs particularly well! henryv The season is nearly over and we still do not know what our best team line up is! It is not over yet but we (Simon) must decide his best eleven and stick to it! What an opportunity we had to close the gap and grab momentum. Irving08 Spot on. Livermore has a good 15 minutes or so against 10 tired men and he’s on from the start next game. Bannan, now probably the most talented player on our books, shows real signs of giving us creative momentum – and coped well with Notts heavy stuff – gives way next game because someone or other on the managment has a ‘theory’. Top managers at this and perhaps any level dictate the terms of engagement, they don’t try to adapt to fit the side they are playing. When will our likeable and able Manager learn ? Mark (Paris) Anyone else made the mistake of looking at Millwall’s remaining fixtures? Not sure who they had to blow to get that line up but it may be something for KB to think about next year. Will23 It’s not the team that is being found out at this level, rather Grayson. Every week he refers to twists and turns as if he is saying something insightful. He seems to lack intelligence, an ingredient required of all successful managers. He is out of his depth sorry to say. This talented team needs better leadership if it is to fulfil it’s on paper promise. Once the goalscoring stops we will be easily beaten. Revie (Derry) I think you are spot on. Unfortunately SG doesn’t have what it takes to get us up. His line-up yesterday showed more concern about Millwall’s game than playing to our own strengths. This is not the first time we have seen this either. I have always hoped he could deliver for Leeds but he is tactically inept. Pitch him against any of the better managers in this division (Lambert etc) and we’ll always come off second best. Millwall have a very favourable run in and unless he can manage to organise the team and motivate them we have no chance of making the play-offs. Colin I’d put a different slant on it. A manager has to be judged over a whole season. Take last season. We got promoted, Grayson has to take credit for that – a job well done. However, if we hadn’t have been promoted last season (and it was close) he would have been sacked and it would have been a bad performance by Grayson. Judge him on the season: If we drop out of the playoffs, he’s still done a good job. The aim was survival and he’s done that. If we get into the play-offs, he’d done well. If we get promoted then he’s done amazingly well. The next 2 games can seal the play-off spot. If we beat Derby and Watford, that’s 6 points. We’ve got a 4 point advantage over 7th. If we then draw with Reading, then that’s job done. I can’t see the teams below closing that gap. Andy Ball Our defenceive showing this season has been abject at best.If we dont score a bagfull of gaols then well loose every time. Derby is massive for us so is the last 6 games. Can you actually see us overcomming Reading when we play them at ER i for one cant. They are flying and certainly got momentum big time. Colin Yes. Form means nothing in this league. Ask QPR, ask Norwich. They ‘had’ form. If we play like we did against Arsenal, we could beat Reading 6-0. If we play like we did against Sheff Utd, we could get beat 6-0. Hey-ho, that’s the Leeds United rollercoaster. Buy a ticket – it could be the best ride of your life or it could make you feel sick. You just don’t know!! Horsforth White What bothers me is that every time we come up aagainst a team that’s really up for it – got something to play for or an imagined rivalry with us – they really get stuck in & we just can’t handle it. Against Forest until the sending off they chased us round the pitch & we ran away. Not the road to success. The Reaper 08 I don’t think we have ever understood that and I don’t know why. Perhaps succesive managers have always used the it’s juts another game spiel instead of the blood and thunder speech I would personally give. For as far back as I can remember we have never been up for it for any of these types of games unless we are the massive underdog. Gryff Got to agree with the majority posting here. Leeds seem to unable to get stuck in. The same players who embarrassed a relatively strong Man Utd squad by denying them space last year and going for every ball (Bradley Johnson, Johnny Howson, Lucciano Becchio, etc.) are now standing off. Every time it results in the ball being firmly in the opposition’s court. When this happens, the few times that we get possession we’re not formed up for attacking play and we hoof it high or pass it about safely until any chance of a counter attack is gone. It’s a bit mystifying. Can’t help but think it’s partly because Gradel & Snodgrass are played so wide that they come back as traditional wingers if we come under a long attack. They then get the ball in our own 22, wide, and without much experience in playing from the back. It also leaves a lone Becchio with perhaps a Howson in support. Not the sort of role the two excel at. Ron Our defence is shit and unfortunately the team has accepted this. Every time we have a high-pressure outing we seem to be flat and second best. We lost Paddy for the rest of the season and Grayson was unable to fix the omission and alas we leak goals. Our confidence has been impacted by a shit defence and only a miracle can see us going up this year. Goodbye Snodgrass, Gradel and Schmeichel. Thanks for the memories. Matt BB in fairness to the central defence it sounds like kasper made two howlers for their two goals, lets not get on o’briens and brombys backs unnecessarily. I think a settled back four is hard to achieve, almost as much as a functioning pair of strikers who operate well together. I suspect Grayson knows this, and is no longer necessarily looking for his best two centre halves, but the two who play together best. To that end I have to admist the omission of Bruce is hard to understand, though Bromby for me has the edge on him in terms of positional awareness, and that leaves O’Brien to do the tackling. The longer these two play together the better they will get. Remember we have come a long way from Collins and Naylor! Matt BB by the way any manager who can get a team in league one the season prior to the edge of promotion deserves praise, not ridicule, I am fed up with reading about how bad a manager Grayson is. I’m probably as guilty as anyone for moaning about tactics and team picks, but in reality to have spent f**k all and be in 6th in the championship when you were in the 3rd division the season before is progress by anyones standards. Arnie Strikes me that we don’t have the balls for a lot of these games – particularly away from home – where teams overpower us and play a brand of football we don’t like. To lose and play like we did at Sheff Utd was a shocker and I feared a similar performance at Millwall. We also got played off the park at Swansea in a live TV game. Ok we beat Forest, but only after they’d gone down to ten men. The faults are the same that have been there all the season, firstly dreadfully weak at the back. When does O’Brien truly take charge or help marshall our defence? The lack of pace is a problem too. Secondly, we don’t have anyone who can give us that element of control in midfield. Johnson can’t do that “sit in there” job and as for Howson – where do you start? Fantastic when we are on top and bossing teams but goes missing when the going gets tough. He seems to be able to do no wrong in Grayson’s eyes and should be dropped when the game requires it. I’m tired of hearing Grayson’s excuses such as “silly mistakes cost us” etc etc. We’ve also got a massive squad and haven’t utilised it enough, instead being content to rely on loans. Yes, we’ve done really well this season to get where we are. But we are about to blow a golden opportunity to get promoted automatically. Let no-one be in any doubt the teams this year are much of a muchness. Even QPR aren’t that far ahead of everyone else. It will be massively harder next year. The teams that come down from the Prem will be a tougher proposition. Also a number of clubs who had been tipped have failed this year – and they will no doubt come back stronger next year. You can include in that the likes of Middlesbrough and Derby and such as Leicester, Hull and Ipswich. number1inyorkshire this season has brought us probably more than we anticipated at the start , that said we missed the boat in august and January mainly in Jan ,we should have brought players in probably , bought but if not loans in then ,we were doing alright at that point but the lack of quality will prove costly . players had we bought them would have been there at the start of next season as it is we will have to start again . Kasper was poor Saturday he is allowed 1 but snodders was just unfit and that was down to the gaffer again “favorites”?? , he should and could have been left at home it might have been a rest for derby game .he tinkered with the team a little ,livermore !!! .just also to say and i don’t think its been mentioned really by anyone we have been unlucky with injuries over the whole season ,when i say that i mean the whole squad ,paynter ,SAM .mccormack to name but a few ,which has meant ,grayson has had to play some tired players MarkoLUFC Larry simply lacks a bit of man management skills. He constantly gives too much respect to opponents and sounds like he has a pullstring in postmatch interviews. He must be doing something right because when we play well, we play really well, but getting the players into that state of mind seems to be a non-starter, and I think it’s a lack of discipline and too much respect. I’ve heard before he seems like the “one of the lads” kind of managers and as good as that is for getting players on your side it’s no good for giving them a kick up the backside and injecting fire in their veins. He’s lacking something and I hope in time he’ll learn that and improve.