So now the dust has settled…what on earth WAS that?

Having personally never witnessed such a swift descent from dominance to capitulation, albeit with a slight spoonful of sugar spiking the bitter medicine at the death, I don’t reckon I can find rational ways to explain our beloved side’s magnetic relationship with disaster anymore. So I’m leaning heavily towards conspiracy.

Something strange is happening, largely to our defensive stock, but we have to move on from the gypsy curse in search of ridiculous yet plausible-within-the-field-of-football-irrationality explanations. Since this here internet is the home of wild speculation that stretches the realms of plausibility, I’m going to throw some theories out there:

Players’ Bates protest

Have the Bates Out protests finally seeped into the mentality of our playing squad? Are working conditions so arduous under the bearded one that the only way the players’ plight can be driven home to those witnessing is through hopeless tracking of forwards and needless hacks down in the penalty box?

Bates’ protest against Bates protests

In our frustration, it’s very easy to be tempted to start believing that Bates runs the club like an iron-fisted all-powerful evil overlord. If this is indeed the case, you could make a leap of faith and conclude that Bates has ordered the players, under pain of death and threats of having to attend even more events at the offices of low-grade corporate sponsors, that they must punish the revolting morons with kamikaze defensive antics.

Saboteurs

It’s fair to say that the majority of the football-following population hold strong antipathy to the Leeds cause. It’s therefore feasible that there are Leeds-hating moles in our playing and coaching staff. Life-long Leeds fan are you Leigh? A watertight cover indeed…

Asian betting syndicates

With our oft-cited rigid wage structure, it’s maybe time to consider the possibility that our squad may be vulnerable to greed-driven purposeful capitulation. Maybe I’m being unkind and not a little racist to Asians, too – corruption finds a warm reception all over the shop these days, not least in football’s official governing bodies. To clarify: I’m not suggesting we’re throwing away leads for Sepp Blatter’s entertainment and enrichment, what I’m saying is what’s your basic before tax, Leigh?

Gandhian coaching strategy

“Right lads – new approach we’re trying for tomorrow’s game: passive resistance. It’s a bit like zonal marking.”

Unfortunately, those forces of repression, the Mackail-Smiths and Marvin Emnes’ of the world, refuse olive branches and take more of a cosh and tear gas approach. Our considered philosophy is out of step with a brutal division.

‘The Poyet Effect’

Like some kind of South American Charles Manson figure, perhaps we’re dealing with defenders remaining from the League One era who remain in the thrall of the much-hyped Uruguayan coaching maestro, willing to destroy themselves and others for him. This theory is clearly undermined by the fact we’ve been defending (almost) as badly as that all season, but hey.

Conceptual art piece

From a neutral’s perspective, it’s certainly more interesting a spectacle than that Zidane film or anything by Tracey Emin.

The gypsy curse

Ok, I know I said we should move on from this in search of explanations for calamity. But thought I’d stick it in for those older and wiser fans than I, for whom such a theory may hold long-burning romance and credibility.

None of the above

Maybe you’re not a fan of relentless singling out one player with various slurs against character. Maybe you just think we’ve simply got an extremely tin-pot coaching set up for such a proud club or that we just haven’t brought in or brought through any competent defenders. Maybe you despise repeated, lazy use of the rhetorical question and the word maybe.

But whatever we’re dealing with here, be it corruption, confusion, crap coaching or an even more elaborate conspiracy, there is only one cleaner-than-clean, defensive superhero that can tackle all of the above: enter, Coach Radebe.

  • Stuartk.downunder

    15 goals conceded already, nothing changed from last year. While we look like consolidating into a championship middle table club, clean sheets is the only waywe will push and stay in the top 6. I believe this is going to be one of the most even seasons in this league so sorting out the back four…again…is the priority. Is Grayson the answer, not so sure.

  • Mattk

    Next 3 games are Pompey, Donny and Coventry, which is a good opportunity to get a bit of a run going (in terms of good performances as well as results).

    Unlike so far where arguably we’ve been playing the better sides in the division (and had more than our fair share of bad luck/refs perhaps), these 3 are more middling sides so we need to get one or two clean sheets, especially with some tougher games at the end of the month. If we’re still shipping an average of 2 goals per game after Coventry then I think any further defence of our defence (sorry) will be next to impossible.

    And I was at the Brighton game too and frankly Bromby had a shocker, especially the 3rd goal which was unbelievable, particularly as we’d been 2 up. The whole team forgot how to get tight in the second half though, and all of a sudden Brighton were the faster, brighter and more aggressive team winning loads of second balls and the inevitable freekicks. We’re STILL sorely lacking a ‘generallisimo’ type player (i.e. a proper captain), either at CB or CM, so take a game by it’s balls, settle everyone’s nerves and break things up. Howson it ain’t- too attacking and lightweight, and probably too young to have the real authority needed. Kisnorbo (before his injury) is as close as we’ve got and it’s debatable whether he’ll get his best back.

  • Oliver

    I would LOVE it if we got Lucas in, but it won’t happen.

    Nice article, keep ‘em coming Gary.

    Now, where’s my joojoo bag….

  • TSS

    There are no conspiracies it is simple, clueless management and inept coaching.

    • Anonymous

      snodin and miller out
      aidy boothroyd, Lucas the legend radebe in simples

  • derbyshirewhite

    We desperately need to stop the merry-go-round with the back line. Even if he doesn’t know his best centre back pairing – and as he said himself their 5 CVs are pretty good – Simon must stick with the same defence for a decent run of games. I can still remember watching Charlton, Hunter, Reaney and Cooper start every damn game through those long campaigns with Madeley to stand-in very occasionally and only if one of them couldn’t actually walk. They knew each others games backwards. Trust, confidence and a sixth sense builds with practice and doing the same thing week in and week out, not being given 90 minutes to prove yourself or get to the back of the queue.

  • Bubionwhite

    Some vivid imagination you have there TSS … entertaining though. However, we can discount the gipsy curse theory as a number of the current crop of players are well practiced in the gypsy tradition of travelling around so would have a known antidote. One possibility you seem to have overlooked is hidden under the saboteur heading … the defence and their coaches have all been trained by Al Queada in the art of suicide … the only description for the “Leeds United approach” to defending. At the moment however, we could do with a couple of the current crop signing up to be martyrs for the cause … maybe Bruce? 

    The defensive coaching set up just has to be changed … 6 x CB’s on the books, five of who have played at Championship level or better and including 2 x full internationals, one who was included in his national side against Russia and managed to keep a clean sheet … SG is right to criticise them for basic errors. Several times over many months I have suggested that SG should be on the next plane to Johannesburg to recruit Lucas Radebe, following an interview where he stated that he would only coach at Leeds, or for Bafana, Bafana  

    SG continues to have my support, though I have to admit that I’m totally baffled by some of his decisions … we have been trying to find a defensive CM for some time, Simon unearths another full internationalMika Vayrynen and keeps him on the bench while he plays Jonny Howson in his worst role … does common sense not say that his CM’s should be Adam Clayton and Vayrynen, possibly with Howson out wide right and Snodgrass wide left? It’s time to have the courage to move the Leeds lad Simon. 

  • Anonymous

    no conspiracy just a shite defence

  • Paddy1992

    Very few are picking up on the fact that EVERY single time were up against super Jonny goes missing. He’s a spineless bottler with undoubted talent but when do u ever see the idle shite take a game by the scruff of the neck? He is one of the underlying problems with Grayson we all know he can’t play in a 4 4 2 so drop him. And if u can’t see that he needs dropping Grayson then I’m afraid u should do what he does in 90 percent of games and pack your bags and fuck off!!!

  • Sailfin

    Its simples.we have 6 cb at the club and non of them r good enough ! I bet Gus said at half time ” just run at them they r useless ” Imo, grayson new C  MS would have run Paddy senseless. Whata player by the way.

    • Anonymous

      Wouldn’t swop him for Super Ross though or Becchio come to that – might consider a swop deal with Billy P though ! 

  • oldschoolbaby

    Loved Lucas and would like to see his homecoming BUT let`s be serious.  It would be SG doing his own legs.  Any improvement in team performance and there would be immediate calls for Lucas as manager.  Any deterioration and there is a fans favourite luking in the shadows waiting to take SG`s place.  Not that exceptional ability and performance guarantee you can coach / manage.

    You can`t formulate an argument to suggest the CBs we have can propel us into the Premiership and stabilise us up there.  They are however ALL capable of better than we have been seeing.  They are definitely feeling the pressure and not handling it well.   Given the curiousity of human beings and the down / travel time available to professional footballers, perhaps fans forums simply add to that pressure ?

  • Mark

    Grayson clearly thinks the defenders he has available to him are good enough for the job, our results and more importantly performances and 20 games without a clean sheet suggest otherwise. If the players are good enough then the problem has to be in the coaching or tactics, both Graysons responsibility to resolve. If the players are not good enough then it leaves Graysons judgement on player recruitment open to question, if he hasn’t been able to spot the right defensive players over the past 3 years is that likely to change in the future. Who trusts Grayson to invest Leeds transfer fund wisely, however small the pot may be? Do Leeds just end up spending more money on players that simply are not good enough for a team with premiership ambitions (bruce, bromby, connolly, o’brien etc etc etc) if Grayson is given the cash? 
     Leeds also have a large playing squad (quantity rather than quality in some cases) however not sure this is reflected in the coaching department. Only Miller and Snodin to support Grayson, whether it is a specialist defensive coach or not I suspect there is a strong case for improving the coaching staff, question is has Grayson got the mettle to make that call. A new injection of ideas and challenge from a refreshed coaching set up could work wonders, however given Graysons average record on buying players would his choice of coaching staff be any better, there would be no point in bringing in another coach just to say “yes simon”. I am also not convinced Howson is a captain or leader on the pitch, another error of judgement Grayson needs to rectify, however not sure there is an obvious alternative at the moment. Again it begs more questions regarding player recruitment and whether Grayson has a recruitment and team development strategy in place, a summer of false promises, the recent signing of Vayrynen and the lack of defensive reinforcements suggest not. Grayson promised his summer recruitment would be concentrating on improving the defence, thats one objective there can be no argument about that has not been delivered. He also recognised the need to improve his central midfield options yet despite all summer to sort the problem out salvation came in the form of a player Leeds new nothing about until his finnish mate on trial at the club put in a good word for him. He may turn out to be a good signing however it hardly suggests Grayson has any sort of medium or long term plan or strategy in place. Over the years many a football club will have had a player join the club who has never been quite good enough however through sheer hard word, 100% effort and commitment, unswerving loyalty and above all a real affinity with the soul of the club and its supporters  have proved to be and probably still remain a real fans favourite. I suspect Grayson as a manager falls into this category too. I dont doubt his love and commitment to Leeds United, I dont doubt his determination to succeed in bringing premiership football back to Elland Road. The question is does Grayson have the ability to deliver on those ambitions, personally I dont think he does. 

    • TSS

      How is it 20 games? 

      Our last clean sheet was against Burnley, which was the penultimate fixture of last season, so that’s 9 league games without a clean sheet. 

      In those 9 games, he’s amassed 14 points, 3 of which came from beating the league champions on their own turf. Had it not been for a couple of bad refereeing decisions/poor tackles, we’d have had 18 points from said fixtures. That’s 2 points per game – anything above 1.5 per game is good in my book. 

      My point is, it doesn’t matter how we get the points so long as we do. Fans moaned when we won/lost 1-0 every week, or drew 0-0 under George Graham. Grayson has improved Leeds United’s league position year on year, everything else is trivial. 

      • irving08

        The comparison with Gorgeous George is not valid. With him we knew 1-0 would be enough. With SG no amount of goals is ever enough. 14 points from 9 games is no more than an adequate return. Hypothetical points don’t count.
        As for improvements, SG inherited enough good class players (Snoddy, Howson, Johnson, Killkenny, Beckford, Bechio) that anything short of promotion in two seasons would have amounted to a dereliction of duty. As for last year, our failure to get us into the play-offs, from a great position around Xmas, counts as his failure, in my book. Can you or anyone else say, hand-on-heart, that they think Simon – for all his admirable personal qualities – has enough footballing know-how to to get us into the Premiership ? When I watch us play, I see some very talented players (as well as a some ordinary ones) making it up as they go along. I never feel there is a guiding hand at work or that they are playing to a strategy……least of all do I feel that a first class coach has been working with any of them individually. So, good try, editor, but
        ‘everything else is NOT trivial’.  

        • Bubionwhite

          In answer to your question irving08… yes I can, with hand on heart and brain in gear. Furthermore, I don’t believe that either Johnson or Kilkenny were good enough last year and believe that SG was right to let them go … now I would like to see his CM midfield be Vayrynen and Clayton. Jonny Howson is not a CM … play him out wide, he has enough pace and his cross for McCormack’s equaliser on Friday is something forwards like Keogh, Becchio and McCormack would thrive on. Have the courage to do it Simon. 

        • TSS

          Of course it is. Points are all that matter. Everything else, therefore, is trivial. 

          Fair enough, hypothetical points count for nothing. I actually agree with that, bad and good luck is all swings and roundabouts, but Grayson’s record overall is exceptional. Yet the moaning continues.

          • Mark

            If points are all that matter (i still disagree) then Leeds start to the season isnt good enough unless you consider mid table acceptable, yet the defence of grayson continues unquestioned.
             Questions for you:Do you think the current crop of defenders at Leeds are good enough for a team chasing automatic promotion (see SH interview in YEP)?Answer Yes: Why is our defensive record so poor compared to all our championship rivals, both last season and this?Answer No: as Leeds have now stated the signing of Pugh is the end of their transfer activity, see same interview above (so much for reinvesting the Gradel money in the playing staff) how, and when do you see Leeds defensive record improve (it cant get any worse).What is your “acceptable” points total and League finish this season and do you “believe” the current management and playing squad will deliver on those ambitions?Why is anybody that questions Grayson a “moaner”. I guess we will always be polar opposites on Grayson and his management of Leeds United. You think he is doing an “exceptional job”, fair enough. I don’t, not moaning i just disagree with that assessment. I think he inherited a very good squad in League 1 from whom anything other than promotion would have been a dismal failure. I know as fact he has failed to solve Leeds defensive frailty over the past 18 months. Along with many other Leeds supporters I suffered watching Grayson preside over a quite shambolic summer transfer window where supporters were constantly over promised only to see Leeds under deliver. I now see a manager who two months into the season doesn’t know what his best back 4 is or appears quite openly to concede he doesn’t know what to do about it other than to blame the players that he brought to the club.  

            In Grayson, you see exceptional, I see journeyman punching above his weight. I want you to be right, unfortunately I think I am! Time will tell I guess!!!!

            Don’t agree with everything you say but do admire and appreciate the articles you publish, keep up the good work. 

      • Mark

        Your quite right, my comment should have read 20 games since a clean sheet away from home (Bristol City Away last season), not sure it really makes much of a difference to the point i was making though.

        We have the second worst defensive record in the championship after Ipswich Town, my point is that simply isn’t good enough and Leeds have no chance whatsoever of challenging for promotion unless that changes very quickly. 

        I dont agree that points are all that matter, its a fair comment in the face of the odd poor performance, it definitely isn’t a strategy for long term success. If Leeds continue to leak goals at the current rate the teams overall performance will not matter because we simply wont pick up enough points over the course of a long season to trouble the top 6 places.

        It is a fact that Grayson has improved Leeds league position year on year however it is unlikely that will be repeated this season. It is also a fact that Leeds had the worst defensive record in the championship last season apart from the clubs relegated to League 1. It is also a fact that Leeds have a large defensive squad at their disposal, all Grayson signings and yet the teams defensive frailty remains evident in every game. That isnt trivial to me.

        We are a championship team, paying championship wages the same as most of the teams in the division (albeit there are a few exceptions). The fact is Leeds have the second poorest defensive record in the league, that cannot simply be down to Grayson not having money to spend, if it was all about money and nothing else then how do you explain the 23 championship teams with better defensive records this season and the 20 championship teams with better defensive records last season. Its not investment in players, its more the players Grayson has invested in.

        I admit I am not a Grayson fan, never have been, however i am not waiting for him to fail, if he does so does “my club”. I want him to succeed, i genuinely just dont believe he is quite good enough to get Leeds over the line and back to the Premiership. 

        Either the coaching isnt good enough, the tactics and team selection are’nt good enough or the players arent good enough, either way these are all Graysons responsibility, and there is no evidence at the moment that he has the faintest idea (i.e. the capability) to sort the problem out.

        I think we are terrific going forward and all credit to Grayson for that, unfortunately its only half a job, the team has to stop them going in at the other end too, attacking verve and defensive incontinence will not make for a successful season for any club. 

        Its far too simplistic to start totting up the points we could have should have won etc You could equally argue we were lucky to get 6 points against palace and Bristol City, the performance against palace was as poor as anything i have seen at Leeds for a few seasons. Coulda, shoulda, woulda had 18 points could just as easily be 6 points.

        Two points a game is definitely promotion form, Leeds have accumulated 1.375 points per game so far and that isn’t going to win anything, its bog standard mid table form. Of course we have only played 8 games, plenty of points to play for. Problem is I just don’t see where the transformation in our defensive performance is coming from that is going to turn 1.375 into 2. It didn’t happen last season and there is nothing in our performances so far this season to suggest anything other than more of the same. Entertainers, agreed. Championship contenders, No!    

        As Ross rightly pointed out last Friday, to have to score 3 goals away from home just to save a point is ridiculous. Quite right. 

        Question is what you going to do about it Simon???????????    

                 

  • barneywhite

    Kenneth said “you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear” when justifying why he was not spending any money the Wast Stand. The fact is the West Stand is perfectly capable of performing well in the Championship, Premiership and any European competition. It does not need any money spending on it.
    Our centerbacks on the other hand are not capable of Championship football. The majority are now league 1 players well past their best. We have had 18 months of this and it is well past the embarassing stage. Coaching cannot solve the problem – Better CB’s are needed to take us forward.

  • Mike

    Win against Portsmouth and we are in the top 10 and more than likely no more than 6 points behind the top two. Considering all the new faces its a reasonable and steady start and one that can be improved upon (based on what I have seen). Lets look at the positives, we score goals, we have a team that does not give up, we have a midfield thats starting to lok the part. Clayton – at last a player that tackles like Batty.

    We just need the 4000-5000 fans who keep thinking about turning up – to get of there arses and actually turn up – and further increase the volume in ER.

    Defense – I agree with the issue of coaching, far too many players have been brought in to supposedly solve the issue for it not to be acoaching issue.

    Lets face it – its not exactly the end of the world just an issue that needs sorting – time to stop critising, shouting anti Bates retoric (whatever you think) and winging about whats missing – time to get behind the team and push them on.

    The first half against Brighton  should be sufficient to realise that we are not too far away from mounting a serious challenge for promotion.

    Lets get on with it  

  • Anonymous

    seems the defensive issues are affecting the players it must have mutated from us the fans !!!

    now joking apart it might be psychological thing either way the players are talking about it aswell as us …

  • Henry V L

    I think I would go with O’B & O’Dea at CB.
    They will need extra cover and I would play Vayrynen as soon as possible – fitness permitting.
    I have a good feeling about Vayrynen. He seems a strong character who will shout the odds as required.
    Adam and Jonny further up, with Jonny supporting the attack.
    The three attackers I would select would be Ross, Luciano (fitness permitting) & Andy.
    This will allow Aidy & Tom to overlap, supporting the attack.
    Ross can drop back into midfield as required, and this should tighten things up nicely.
    I am annoyed with Simon and KB, promising us 2/3 signings every week.
    Pugh will be a good addition when get gets fit, to cover midfield or left back.
    The two Finns were an accident of fate and were NOT in Simon’s target plans – if plans ever existed???

    • Anonymous

      1st names henry impressive lol

    • irving08

      I hope Snoddy isn’t reading this and similar contributions: he might begin to feel he’s not wanted.

  • Banditsteve123

    It has to be a mental thing players thinking about making a mistake will make them they loose concentration bang another goal goes in,one thing that does get me with the coaching at leeds we have brought in good defenders bessone was the championships best LB 2 months at leeds it looks like his legs have been swapped round the same goes for obrien looked good for a couple of months then its all down hill you can say the same about all the defenders at the club all looked good to start with then something happens within a few months so maybe its time to look at grayson and his staff 

    • irving08

      Spot on.

  • lufc79

    Parnaby is still on a free,might be worth having a look at him…..?

    i also think we should try and loan stirling from liverpool to help the void left by gradel.he is a very good young talent that could be great for us….

    i know the defence is the problem,but to get a good CB will cost money we just dont seem to have.so we are going to have to put up with the crap that is on offer that dont cost KB anything..

  • Mouser106

    Think it could be to do with the club being penalised financially if we go up to the Premiership……creditors?