Actions Speak Louder Than Words Matt BB February 29, 2012 Leeds United 13 Comments Whilst Neil Warnock has said little of his predecessor’s approach, tactics and squad rotation (or lack of it) in the short space of time he’s been at Elland Road some of his decisions on all of these counts have spoken volumes concerning the differing approaches of the two men. Captaincy and Leadership The clichéd view of Warnock held by a good deal of Leeds supporters, enhanced by a number of years of loathing him, is that he is very much a `my way or the highway’ type manager, to that end why have anyone other than a `yes man’ in the captains role? Many of us though were disabused of this notion in the last week or so as we saw him call for more leadership on the pitch. But nothing spoke more of his view of the previous manager’s choice of captain, than his stripping of the captaincy from Andy Lonergan. Some managers might have diplomatically appointed a new `vice-captain’ or a defensive captain a la Capello. Not Warnock. Lonergan was stripped of the captaincy, and that awarded to Snodgrass. There wasn’t a pre-warning on the website; it seems he just got on with it. Warnock is following the Spiderman principle – with great Power (Talent) comes great responsibility, and while Grayson (according to Snodgrass) didn’t want to add to his Burden as it might have stifled his creativity and enthusiasm Warnock has chosen to give him the chance to prove himself right. Most strikingly of all Snodgrass has come out and said he disagreed with not being made captain! Showing distinctly `populist’ attributes too Warnock has gone for a Captain that most fans wanted to be in that position. Did we all give a fig that Lonergan was captain when Howson was flogged to Norwich? Of Course not – Are we all pretty chuffed that Snodders is our leader.. You bet, and even Andy Lonergan has relinquished his captaincy with ne’er more than a whimper – doesn’t that speak volumes too? A Blend of Youth & Experience Good Riddance to Wet behind the ears whining Tottenham winger Townsend who appears to be intent on p*ssing off every Leeds fan he can on Twitter. Not off for the money at all are we Andros? Birmingham is a `massive’ club – Yawn, Yawn, see you next season when they tank in the play offs, and when Zigic has moved on to Wigan or someone else prepared to pay his wages. Warnock seemed to engage in some sour grapes on Townsend, but he has been equally quick to play Brown in a much more pivotal role, and equally dispense with the burgeoning talents of Tottenham’s 12 year old Loanee Adam Smith (I exaggerate of course, hes what 20?) Preferring to play Bruce and Bromby there, and if he had to Thompson. And what of the rest of the line-up versus Pompey? Well of the outfield players White & Lees were the only ones on the pitch under 22, and Thompson the only one on the bench. Perhaps that has got more to do with the paucity of choice in the squad, but he seemed more apt to pick players with miles on the clock, than a specialist right back per se, the result? An uninspiring but potentially important draw at Portsmouth. Still no Connolly and one would have to say that his days now seem numbered, and curiously no O’Brien. But is anyone really surprised that Brown and Bromby are already benefiting from their former boss being in charge? Well I’m not. Warnock doesn’t seem as preoccupied as Grayson was with ‘Premier League quality’ in the form of his loanees, he’s signed Danny Webber and if the national rags are to be believed he’s also after Paul Robinson, Carlos Edwards and Matt Mills in defence. Had Grayson still been with us no doubt it would have been a Wigan trainee drafted in. Certainly Smith wouldn’t have been on his way back to Spurs – a missed opportunity by Warnock? Only time will tell. But the signs point to Sanatogen tablets rather than ecstasy in terms of the squad make up under him. Steady As She Goes After 3 years of Grayson’s roller coaster many of us are now in counselling. The ecstatic highs brought on by a marauding front 6, often countered by the despondency of the meek challenge of our back 4, the word “shambolic” doesn’t do them justice.. Whilst Rome wasn’t built in a day, it’s certainly encouraging that we kept a clean sheet against Portsmouth even if the performance was dire to watch. I recall some of George Graham’s first XI’s – in particular one windswept day at Elland Road versus West Ham where we won 1-0 and the crisp packets cavorting in the wind were quite frankly more entertaining than Carlton Palmer. I suspect we may have signed up for more `solid’ displays. Now if that gains us promotion I don’t care, but it will be a change for us all. Players Speaking Their Minds As per point one, Snodgrass as captain praised Brown in the press, how often did Howson actually say anything as captain? In fairness to him it seemed under Grayson that player opinion was not too welcome, a ban on Twitter and the odd interview, with nothing too controversial coming out of the team was sometimes counter-productive. It was telling that Snodgrass was so vocal in recalling how he had clearly fought for the captaincy under Grayson, also that he felt the players were prepared to listen to the new manager as he was so experienced and has an excellent track record in this league – a little swipe at his former manager? Now there’s plenty more to come here from Warnock who is good value if you’re a tabloid editor, or even if you’re an accountant at the FA reviewing fines extracted from managers for outbursts on the BBC about referees performance. I had to smile when I saw Warnock’s compliments towards Saturday’s referee who managed to miss a certain handball against us and a ball “a metre” across the line. How he then managed to give him a verbal pat on the back for a job well done is anyone’s guess? My view was that it was done with a tongue firmly in cheek. But there is of course the possibility that Grayson’s way was the right way? And please put down your rotten fruit and veg here. I’ll qualify that by saying that any managers `way’ is only as effective as how far it is backed by those above him. Had Grayson been allowed to pay off Paynter, Connolly, Bruce, Bromby et al (and that is a financial commitment) and then replace them – and I believe he would have if he had been allowed to – we might have seen better replacements, and the current situation with loanees leaving us as they are not fit for purpose may never have then come to pass.. Warnock will need backing – fully – or we will see him in a similar hands-tied/mouth-gaffer-taped situation to that which Grayson was in, punished by the chairman for his player choices in an unproductive vicious circle. We all know that wouldn’t last long. Will we all be prepared to remain silent if we see Clayton benched in favour of a Pugh-Brown central midfield combo? We might if we get promoted, but if we miss out on the play-offs this season (which i think we will), would we stomach it next season? Will we also be happy to patiently sit through 1-0 wins and 0-0 draws as we grind out a promotion – as QPR had to? My prediction is that we’ll be whingeing about tactics this time next season but slowly climbing the table into the play-offs then automatic spots, and that this will be off the back of Warnock standing his ground with Ken Bates, Williams and Harvey in terms of player contracts – because quite frankly he enjoys arguing almost as much as they do. And that may sadly include re-investment of a large Snodgrass transfer fee, because he will care little for the bottom line, and more about the league table and the standard of player in the squad, We’ll have someone with the know how when it comes to convincing a stubborn board, and he will be able to turn round and always argue that his methods work – whilst theirs have not. That his methods have a £48m upside gained from Premier League football, while theirs have a £1m upside gained from selling their best players and staying in the Championship won’t hurt. I predict a dour first XI, that will do the job of getting us promoted. A future worth looking forward to then – all this off the back of one game!