If Barnsley faded into insignificance after the act due to Sunday’s galling turn of events, there was a sharpened focus on this one, as the eyes of the nation were upon us.

The planned Speed commemorations made national news before kick-off and undoubtedly were the focus, but it couldn’t be denied that we were looking for a response on the field, regardless of outside circumstance. And boy, did we get it.

In a tactical about-face, Grayson reverted to the 4-5-1/4-3-3 that served us so well for long periods last term: Becchio the lone target, with Aidy White pushed onto the left wing to offer us more attacking thrust, and Danny Pugh slotting in the space White has made his own up to now.

There can be little doubt that the opener came more or less on the 22nd minute mark. Even the most sentimental and/or superstitious surely wouldn’t seriously have had us scoring right at the end of ‘eleven minutes for Gary’, but occasionally truth has the strange knack of ticking all the right boxes.

A nice interchange of passes saw Snodgrass some distance out, with a singularity of purpose – hitting a class left-footer past the despairing Lee Camp. Jubilation from the now slightly hoarse-throated following, tinged with more than a little disbelief at how literally the boys had interpreted the script.

It didn’t take too long to get even better. Leeds were well on top now, and in a clear act of wonder-goal one-upmanship, Jonny Howson, once again proving to be twice the player as the advanced midfielder in a central three, takes an even more improbable first-time ping from even further out that arrowed into the top corner. Two-nil, for Gary Speed (or the Gary Speed, depending on taste), we sang. And the number was only going to climb.

It would be fair to admit that not all sides are going to be as accommodating as Forest. They looked devoid of threat, belief, and in particular were completely unable to get a handle on Leeds down the flanks. Their performance befitted their precarious league position, and frankly, I don’t imagine the complaints of injustice would have been too vocal if it had ended with eight in Leeds’ column.

As it was, we had to ‘settle’ for four; the result left in no doubt after two somewhat more prosaic second half finishes: a stooping header getting Becchio back into the scoring habit from a delightful Brown delivery, and Clayton taking a touch before smashing home just before the 70-minute mark following the induction of yet more scrambled panic in the Forest backline.

It was pleasing to see Luciano seemingly nearing full fitness again; his work-rate phenomenally improved from some recent worrying showings. Honourable mention also to Michael Brown: recalled to the side, he also looked sharp and willing, putting in some telling grind and dominating his midfield opposition with a range of neat passes.

It remains to be seen how Grayson’s going to keep our wealth of striking options happy if he does revert to this formation with greater permanence – not least our top scorer. But these things are for another day.

Another word about the fans. One of the fullest repertoires in recent times rang out all game (you know the full song book is being called upon when Calypso gets a fair run-out), with only minimal social security-related responses from our fellow ‘Fallen Giants.’ The minute’s appreciation before the game and the eleven minutes during were well-received by the Home supporters, though, to their credit.

For me, it was the best Away in recent memory, and couldn’t even be spoiled by realising I’d cack-handedly put my stake on 0-4 at 80/1 in the 0-3 box… Well, as a Leeds fan, you know you’re not going to have it all your own way, right? I chose to laugh my head off. This was an occasion that a simple cash-related cock-up was never going to marr.

With a midfield performance of craft, commitment and more flashes of dynamism than we’d seen of late, it was certainly a fitting tribute to Speedo. Let’s hope it’s not too much of a leap of faith to imagine home form is rediscovered against Millwall, to seal a perfect week in honour of a fallen hero.

Poor, albeit watchable, highlights are now available on The Revie Way.

  • TSS

    Good report Gary.

    Arrived a little late (combination of the M1 carpark and the traffic light capital of England) but my own thoughts are that we had more options available to play the short passing game we’ve all been demanding.

    Luci looked a million times better than he has in recent weeks, Howson was once again in good form (his alleged anonymity this season is an absolute myth), Robert Snodgrass and Aidy White always looked threatening and whilst tested very few times, our back line looked solid enough when they were.

    Very few complaints, aside from Ramon Nunez and his rapist like first touch. No idea what he was trying to do with the ball when he came on, but it clearly wasn’t working.

    The fact is, the result was massively overshadowed by the fans who were sensational. A fitting tribute to a club legend and a night those in attendance will never forget. MOT

    • Dje

      @TSS I’ve no idea where Nunez is supposed to fit into our 4-5-1, 4-3-3, 4-2-3-1 formation. I presumed he’d come on and take-over the Howson role when Clayton went off, with Howson allowed to drop back to partner Brown, but instead Nunez is played over on the wing? Not sure about that. Then again, I’m not sure how we’ll accommodate Keogh or Forssell, or, and more worrying, McCormack, other than as a bit-part player. That said, great to have that headache!

      ps. Don’t complain about Nottingham and their traffic lights, I was just reading the other day how it was Leeds where the first permanent traffic lights in Britain were used.

      • TSS

        @Dje That’s as maybe, but Nottingham have taken it to an entirely new level – there’s a set every ten metres! We drove down the ridiculous bus lane through most of the city, so no doubt got a few fines to come too.

        • Dje

          @TSS I’m surprised Nottingham has bus-lanes, at least any going INTO the city. An abundance getting the f**k out of the s**thole would make absolute sense.

        • TSS

          @Dje The strange thing was, it was easier getting out than in!

        • Dje

          @TSS Lol. Again, that’s because on the way out you were traveling a well-worn path!

        • derbyshire white

          @TSS@Dje Apparently there were another 8000 heading to a Bryan Adams concert in Nottingham last night. Nice to think they were singing along to the summer of ’69 which is when Speedo was born.

      • Gryff

        @Dje@TSS I’ve never been one of those people who assumed Nunez was a winger. I watched him in highlights of the WC when we signed him, and watched him in that tin-pot tourno he was ‘most valuable player’ in and he was 100% forward/attacking midfielder. Not a striker, but also not a central midfielder. He reminds me a bit of Howson in that sense.

        Compared to many who slate Howson I agree with TSS, he’s not done badly this season. Some lads were criticising him last year when Actim showed him one of our best players. But playing a more defensive role in 4-4-2 has stifled him IMO. He’s not 5* in that role, but he’s given it his best shot.

        I reckon 4-2-3-1 would solve our problems with fitting Nunez in. Howson and Nunez could alternate in the attacking midfield role (i.e. Howson taken off later in matches and Nunez gets a half-hour runout until the time when Howson is injured or Nunez deserves his own start).

  • number1inyorkshire

    to be fair in this formation he does well ,and for it to be so succesful it needs to be kept with ,i know you do not agree tss but he does go missing howson ,due to what is roll is i suppose in a 4-4-2 .

    WHAT IS A RAPIST LIKE 1ST TOUCH lol

    looks like a good all round performance on and off the pitch

  • number1inyorkshire

    start again .WHAT IS A RAPIST LIKE 1ST TOUCH LOL

    this formation has served us well , i am starting to warm to it myself a good win .

    i know you don,t think howson goes missing tss but he does in a 4-4-2 but his role is different in a 4-5-1

    it works for him

    well done the fans too

    • Dje

      @number1inyorkshire And there was I thinking just how well were all doing by taking the moral high-ground and NOT mentioning how our club is currently being tainted by that on-going rape court case with the headline ‘Leeds United fan’. Shame!

      • number1inyorkshire

        @Dje been thrown out that but i bet he won’t be wearing his usual gear at E R this weekend lol ive seen him loads as i am sure loads have not this week ..

        going back to retrial (maybe) jury couldn,t decide .ahh well innocent til otherwise proven .

        • Dje

          @number1inyorkshire Yep. Sadly in those kind of one person’s word against another’s there is never a line of innocent – as either one of them has committed a heinous betrayal and abuse of trust, or the other has made a heinous and life-altering accusation against the other. You can never go back to how things were ‘before’ after that kind of inter-family trial and animosity. I bet he swiftly finds a newfound love of rugby league rather than football. Still, a brave decision for the lass to take it to court.

    • TSS

      @number1inyorkshire You must have heard the phrase “he’s got the touch of a rapist?” I use that all the time – not so much in match reports mind lol.

      Howson goes missing only in an attacking sense. He’s been playing the DM role, and has played it well. Can’t understand how people have been missing that. Still, nice to see him back at AM where he is definitely more suited.

    • number1inyorkshire

      just thought i would add i personally feel leeds would be better in the situation we had last night with pugh left back and white left mid ,to use his speed .

      thats regardless of formation and have been hoping for that a while now

  • number1inyorkshire

    well done to leeds for naming the new suite after speed, its up there with radebe suite so is fitting .

    just seen highlights of last nights game looked pretty easy as the 4-0 would suggest ,to be fair we could do with that size of win at home the natives are getting restless at E R .

    a big win will do wonders on the run to christmas

  • Irving08

    If Grayson does not now stick with this formation – which makes best use of Howson – then he will have learnt nothing from his previous errors. If he was a more ‘pro-active’,as opposed to reactive manger, he would have begun the season with Howson playing off a front man. I am still not convinced tht he really understands what he is doing, since last night after the match he described the Howson position as ‘strengthening midfield’. Surely this is not the main purpose of playing him behind the front man. It is, incidentally, striking how the strength of the side still revolves around players whom he has not brought in.

    • TSS

      @Irving08 Couldn’t start the season like that, we didn’t have Becchio so was therefore missing a frontman. We tried the 4-5-1 with other players and it didn’t work, Luci is crucial to it’s successful execution.

      • Irving08

        @TSS

        Fair point but I do not think Becchio’s injury is the reason why we have not tried it: it has more to do with trying to accommodate McCormack. Besides Keogh is arguably at least as good at the role as Bechhio – his control is better and he can go past people, for example, even if he is less physically imposing. Anyhow the important thing is now to stick with the system – at home as well as away. The biggest problem is perhaps that, with Killa’s departure, we do not really have anyone who can put his foot on the ball and create a pattern of play from deep midfield. Clayton – a smashing player – has other virtues.

        • TSS

          @Irving08 I disagree, Keogh wouldn’t get you the goal return Becchio did and I’m sure Larry was wary of that. Ross meanwhile was scoring for fun in the 4-4-2, so you can’t really argue with the logic.

          Either way, we should be capable of playing more than one formation for when we need to match-up against certain teams. The way we tend to play 4-5-1 is to hoof the ball toward Becchio who flicks on for the midfield – it’s an extremely negative system that doesn’t work at home. That said, we did play it differently v Forest so who knows…

  • Matthew

    To be fair, we were always going to win this game. Nottingham Forest are like the titanic at the moment, you know at the end of the movie before it goes under, we just helped them along. The way fans were leaving the ground would make that analogy work lol

    For the above reason I’m not going to through my weight behind 4 – 5 – 1, clearly it worked, but then again we were playing against a team that is self destructing at the moment, if Nottingham Forest were a Starfleet vessel, their warpcore was going critical last night!

    • Matthew

      Forest really needed Chris Cohen, he was solid the last two times we played them, when he was sent off the game before, they pretty much folded against us. Had he been playing they likely would of put up more of a fight. Good for us he’s out for the whole season anyways lol

      I would like to see Grayson signing him if possible.

    • Irving08

      Logically last night’s formation should work even better against a stronger team than Forest and it is flexible, as Colin points out. What would probably not work is playing both Kisnorbo and Brown against a stronger side. I presume O’Dea was injured for it is otherwise difficult to see how what was our best central defensive formation ceases to be so due to an injury and a dismissal. As for Brown, if we needed someone to replace Johnson (who is missed – please note KB), then I would take some convincing that he has more to offer in this position than Bruce. I know football is a just a matter of opinions, but there is more than a whiff of weak management in such decisions.

      • Matthew

        @Irving08

        I would like to see someone brought in that can hold the midfield and allow Howson and Clayton to push forward more in games, Unsure if Brown is the answer but certainly 4 – 5 – 1 allows Howson to play better

  • Colin

    I’ve said my bit on Gary Speed on various other sites and posted my condolences on his online rememberance book, so I’m going to leave that there. The ’11 minutes’ was amazing. Very proud indeed.

    As for the game, credit where credit’s due, Grayson might just have hit a massive nail on it’s massive head. Not been the biggest fan of Grayson of late, but that lineup squeezed out every ounce of skill from this Leeds team and used it to full effect.

    The picture above tells a story – they are all dangerous players who threaten opposition defences. Leeds have the players to do well in this division, they just need to be used correctly. Becchio wants to start every game and be the front man. Howson needs to be in an attacking central position. Aidy White has serious pace and should be LW rather than LB, and Snodgrass is just Snodgrass – we all know what he does.

    4-4-2 – i think that’s a dead formation. As for 4-5-1, I think we played a 4-2-3-1 with Brown and Clayton as the 2 and White, Howson, Snodgrass as the 3. It worked. And it’s adjustable dependable on the nature of the game. With a 4-4-2, it’s difficult to change mid game and we all know it doesn’t accommodate Howson upfront.

    I think we should persevere with the current setup. I enjoyed the Forest game. For many reasons. MOT.