FACup_597970Leeds produced yet another uninspiring display at Elland Road, resulting in a 1-1 draw with Birmingham City and an unwanted FA Cup third round replay. A run of five consecutive home victories was brought to an end in spite of a second half strike from Luciano Becchio, which continues his fine goal scoring streak.

Shortly before kick-off, new director and owner David Haigh tweeted that he was “Looking forward to the match”. Unfortunately, it seems that he was in the minority, as a lowly sum of 11,000 supporters filed into the stadium. Those who had made the effort to attend were hardly vociferous in their encouragement, with one fan stood near me commenting that he could ‘hear a pin drop’.

Dare I suggest that many hoped we would lose the match and get our minds back to the promotion push? So much for the magic of the FA Cup.

The narrative during the days preceding the tie was one of sickness and depletion. ‘Virus decimates camp’ cried the official website, with the most notable sick note being that belonging to Neil Warnock himself who was too ill to attend. On the day, the team were left under the stewardship of Assistant Manager Mick Jones and First Team Coach Ronnie Jepson.

The mediocre performance during the victory over Bolton on New Year’s Day was blamed upon the spreading plague and perhaps the lacklustre nature of this cup draw can be considered in the same terms.

The starting line-up saw Jamie Ashdown replace Paddy Kenny, as per usual for cup matches. Adam Drury and Tom Lees took up the full back positions either side of Jason Pearce and Alan Tate, with regular full backs Lee Peltier and Sam Byram being rested on the bench. Midfield appeared to be the area most affected by illness, with Rodolph Austin and Paul Green both missing from the squad. David Norris and Michael Brown were flanked by Aidy White and Ryan Hall, who was given his first chance to shine since the confirmation of his permanent transfer from Southend United. In attack, a familiar partnership from last season were reunited as Becchio was joined by Ross McCormack, with El Hadji Diouf watching from the dugout.

Since returning from injury, McCormack’s form has been a concern. Yesterday, being played from the start in his favoured position, was a big chance for the Scot to recapture his cutting edge from last season. However, his performance was characterised by being caught in possession frequently, firing over the bar aimlessly and often playing cross-field balls which sailed harmlessly out of play. This is likely a harsh assessment of one player, as the whole team toiled somewhat, but the level of expectation is high with McCormack. Hopefully his quality will soon resurface to match his undoubtedly excellent level of commitment.

Lee Clark’s Birmingham, who won 1-0 at Elland Road earlier in the season, lined up without a recognised striker. Instead, they opted for a side packed with pacey and skilful midfielders such as Ravel Morrison and Nathan Redmond.

The match itself was quite an open one, though a lack of real quality meant that few chances were created over the ninety minutes.

Jason Pearce came closest within the opening twenty minutes as his downward header from a free kick came back off the post. Another good opportunity fell to David Norris, but his shot from close range was well saved. Norris proved to be Leeds’ most creative and effective player of the opening peroid.

At the other end Birmingham were struggling to get men in the penalty area, as you might expect of a side playing without a striker. All of their forays towards the Leeds goal consisted of running at Pearce and Tate before unleashing long range strikes, many of which were repelled efficiently by Ashdown.

However, Birmingham took the lead shortly after the half-hour mark as Wade Elliott’s long-ranger found the top corner.

Losing at half-time, Leeds made a double substitution. The ineffective wide men White and Hall were replaced by Sam Byram and El Hadji Diouf. This change meant McCormack was pushed back into midfield as Diouf was positioned up front.

It would transpire after the match that these substitutions were dictated by Warnock from his sickbed, who delivered his half-time team talk by speakerphone based on his appraisal having listened to commentary on Yorkshire Radio. Perhaps Thom Kirwin and Eddie Gray deserve some credit for the second half fight back that would ensue.

Birmingham continued to threaten from distance, lashing over the bar and narrowly wide of the post. But Leeds managed to snatch the equaliser on the hour. Norris managed to find Luciano Becchio in the penalty area and the Argentine took a touch before planting a right-foot shot across the goalkeeper and into the bottom corner. It was good to see the Leeds top scorer finish with his right foot, as so many of his goals usually spring from his preferred left foot or lethal heading ability.

As the match edged towards a conclusion, Leeds threw the dice in an attempt to avoid an undesirable replay. Davide Somma was thrown on at the expense of Alan Tate, leaving Warnock’s men with four strikers on the pitch at the same time.

However, despite a flurry of late corners, no real chances would emerge and Leeds will travel to Birmingham on Tuesday 15th to decide who will compete in the fourth round.

Based on today’s support, I wouldn’t be surprised if a few are quietly hoping that Leeds make a quiet exit next week and divert attentions back to the play-off push…

Thank you to all who entered my ‘predict the score’ competition on Twitter. Nobody predicted a draw, so no winner this time. Send your predictions for the next home match to me at @Matt_K_Burton.

  • henrymouni

    “Dull and Poor”.

    The new club motto?

  • GeordieMOT

    Does Mick Jones, NW, the media like YEP, and the clubs own press agents, really think us fans are naive enough to swallow the garbage spewed out. When will NW and Jones admit when we play poorly it is not acceptable, or apologise to LUFC fans who pay over inflated prices week in week out to watch hoofball – a standard we used to play as kids in the local park with our mates.
    Yes we might still be in the cup but I would rather talk about it in a manner which reflects we deserve to be in the hat for the next round draw. We were shown up on our own ground by a BCFC youth team, and our squad did not seem so depleted to me, most of our seasoned regulars in the starting line up.
    Please, please NW; just admit we play crap standard of football most of the time, this needs to change and the responsibility for making this change happen is down to you NW as the manager, and you GFH as the owners. The attendance yesterday is a wake up call, it could be like this more regularly if investment in the team does not happen ASAP, and the investment in the team must be quality … we should be aiming higher than Dexter Blackstock. Dorrans and Lambert are an example.

    I was ill in bed yesterday, I tried to contact Mick Jones at half time to tell him to change the system, get Douiffy on and start playing the ball on the floor, pass and move, use the wings and try and put 3-4 passes together, close down the opposition quickly and restrict their movement, break up their play and score some goals. Couldn’t get through, Warnock must have been hogging the line.

    Sorry all for being negative, I think NW and our new owners should constantly be reminded the expectations of fans are very high… because WE ARE LEEDS UNITED !!

  • Tare

    This is results based business and if you ask me then from CS – PL then I will take with hard earned victories rather than 3-4 maulings at ER. NW is our Manager until the new owners says otherwise so be it. Okay those were the days when we controlled the game at will and remember DRs band of Brothers and the mighty Tony Currie at his hey days in the Whites shirt then after that it has been a little bit shady…. Tare

    • henrymouni

      In the days when we controlled the game we were in the top Division.
      Now we are in the 2nd Division, and our results stink!
      Our performances are diabolical.
      We are being outplayed by just about every team in this league.
      Birmingham had kids playing, and they should have beaten us 4-1.
      Do we have a game plan??
      How Luciano has scored 19 goals beggers belief.
      We are dreadful just now and do not deserve promotion.
      Unless we bring 4 good players in we can write this season off.
      I liked NW (I liked Simon) but the proof of the pudding……
      We have too many puddings in our team!!

    • Chareose

      You keep saying that everywhere Tare and you keep saying hoofball is ok if we get the points but………there’s no evidence that it does. Football has moved on….. Howard Wilkinsons commitment to long ball was tempered by a world class midfeild which we seriously do not have right now ! Even teams in the championship are starting to play posesion football perhaps because they appreciate that its better to play the right way now in case you do end up getting promoted !

      • Tare

        The biggest challenge here is to get out this CS BS, can we agree with that mate? Tare

  • Jordan lufc

    I see people saying things about are attendance yesterday and it wasn’t just us most clubs had bad gates yeaterday. For example qpr playing in the prem against west brom they had only just under 10k there. And yes are playing style is bad but we are grinding results out would you rather be 2 points off play offs playing bad football or 2 points off the drop playing good football like shef wed play a nicer style than us but look where they are the team was built with no money give NW and GHF a break and see what we look like come the first of feb. I hate being a Leeds fan some time no matter how well we are doing we will moan about something my god take a look at yourself a minute. MOT

    • GeordieMOT

      Jordan lufc. Yes there were some clubs who had average attendances, yes Sheffield Wed play a nicer level of football and sit two points off the drop. The points I make are; if a product is of poor standard, quality, and is marketed at overly high price to its customer base …. Outcome loss of revenue because customer/ fan base dissatisfied with product and cost.

      I and no doubt many tens of thousands of others are frustrated with our club, the manager, the players, the results and the end of season finish, but I can honestly state I have never in 45 years as a Leeds United supporter hated being a fan. I have always been proud of my allegiance for LUFC. I don’t care what league we play in as long as I feel I am getting Value for money, if we get beat 4, 5,6,7 nil, yes it’s not good, but it softens the result if we play football like we did for the first 45 minutes against Chelski in the Capital one Cup. Am I asking too much ???

      I agree GHF and NW should be judged in Feb and given time and support, Rome not built in a day and all that. However, IMO this transfer window is very important for NW & GFH to take the bull by the horns and start to put in solid foundations within the team. GFH have promised great things, not me ! Time to stop being a selling club, as I said in earlier post WE ARE LEEDS and WE DO deserve better. I took a look at myself, I’m just an ordinary bloke who has chosen as a young boy to follow Leeds United, despite the ups and downs

  • igiveup

    This weekend is the perfect opportunity to seek out players who never appear for their clubs, as they get their annual run out in the FA Cup, and maybe tempted to come to Leeds for a regular game. Simeon Jackson at Norwich & Stephen McPhail at Cardiff spring to mind would bring us a quality striker (at Championship level) & a ball playing midfielder. Anyone else people?

  • Lufc1979ish

    “The midfield appeared to be the area most affected by illness” never a truer word spoken. This mystery illness is likened to the illness Benjamin Button had apparently where players appear decripit, over the hill, lacking in any pace and totally immobile. Except in this case they are unlikely to get any younger and quicker and the only medicine is to get the wallet out and call in a top notch surgeon.

  • Tare

    Henrymouni yep you have points to discuss here that is good for this site as well. All I am saying here that if you remember Wilko’s War Horses after he was appointed? Wilko ordered total “no past no present” black out for the playing outfit. Master blasters like Vinny and Gordon was appointed with some results. My full backing for NW is here until we have a stern vision here where to go? After all this is just LEEDS UNITED FOOTBALL CLUB. Tare

    • henrymouni

      When Wiko joined us he was promised full backing to get us promoted.
      He got full backing, and brought top quality players in all positions.
      He also demanded full commitment from his players.
      When teams came to ER they were bombarded, with all out attack, from the first whistle.
      The players we have now are far below Wiko’s team in quality and commitment.

      • Irving08

        The situation is not good and the outlook is bleak. Our elderly squad and our elderly manager go together. No-one seriously believes that either party is capable of winning us promotion. Yet we do not appear to have the money to evolve from our present basis. Logically the only route is to ditch the ‘oldies and to play the young ones; but this is probably not realistic. So what we are left with is an accumulation of unresolved problems and it will take some sort of explosion to resolve them. The detonator could be an offer for Becchio that the new owners feel they can’t refuse…..

  • TSS

    Maybe the other half of our crowd had also caught the virus…

    Trouble with the FA Cup is that no one outside the PL has a realistic chance of winning it, so no one outside the PL cares. I’d already paid for ticket and was still tempted to give it a miss, I have no enthusiasm for cup draws at all.

  • NottsWhite

    Unfortunately this showing demonstrates that our fringe players are not good enough and that this transfer window should be used to strengthen the squad if “icing on the cake” players cannot be found. White, Hall, Brown, Somma et al are not good enough.

    • Irving08

      The problem is that we do not know who and who is not fringe and who is to blame for that ?

  • DeterminationPersonified

    Warnock either has to fully commit to another season or he has to go, and go now.

    • kev raunds

      he should go now while di matteo is still available,come on bates you must still have his number

  • Matthew

    This club needs investment, or we won’t finish anywhere near the playoffs.

    No excuses GFH Capital, if you want the fans back, invest in the same. Leeds United simply can not achieve success with no money invested in the club, to undo the damage done by Ken Bates over the years, you HAVE to invest. If you can’t invest, kindly sell the club onto someone who will. Unless you enjoy seeing low attendances.

    • Matthew

      If we don’t see any new players by Jan 15th, we won’t win the replay game. I’ll have Zigic down for scoring a few against us, he usually does. We held a weaker Brum team to a draw. When they’re back at full strength, we’re fucked.

  • Kalich

    Been mentioned before but I think GFH needs a statement of intent for their vision of the club , NW needs to sign on for longer or go(by the fact that he is still here(jan 6) dictates to me that he will be here next season) , but it is harder than it has to be LUFC , MOT!

  • Kalich

    but seriously GFH whats up do you have the coin or not , from lufctalk

    http://english.mubasher.info/portal/DFM/getDetailsStory.html?goToHomePageParam=true&storyId=2221516

  • Kalich

    If that display doesn’t show the owners that we need serious investment, then i don’t know what will.
    Defensively awful, no midfield creativity (Except on 1 occasion when we scored) and still lightweight up front

  • Tare

    Henry then after “Sniffer” era we were just lost then??? Yep okay we had this Bill Fotherby in helms and his 100% support for HW. The result was 1st Division Champions and more to come; 2016 UCL Final game in (v Bayern of course) Paris and a result that everybody has been looking for…. Tare

  • Chareose

    My gut feeling is that GFH may have written this season off….

    • Irving08

      Nothing can be excluded, not even a re-sale. From the outside, it looks like we are now owned by a bunch of fellows who wandered into a Sports Bar, and thought ‘I want some of this’ and, well you know the rest, so far…..I hate even to think it, let alone say it, but have you wondered what it might be like when Bates, who does at least know the game, finally cedes power ?

      • Matthew

        I really don’t know, it concerns me to be honest. Why did they buy us if they aren’t going to invest in the side? We need quite a few players, I don’t buy the excuse of every club inflating prices, we can easily put in bids for players, and if we’re the only ones bidding, we’d stand a good chance of landing, especially if they’re nearing the end of their contract, players like George Boyd won’t be allowed to leave on a free, they’l have no choice but to accept the best offer.

        Typically in business you don’t bid the highest price, you put in an offer and let the guys that handle that stuff negotiate the final price. We know it won’t be the same as the opening offer but on or around it.

        Duncan Castles raised a good point about GFH not answering the lingering questions about their buyout of the club and their intentions. They seem to post on Twitter to get the fans attentions but aren’t ready or willing to answer the important questions, will they, or will they not give Neil Warnock the money to invest in the side, and bring the club and the fans the glory it deserves. And if they’re not planning too, why not?

        Performances like we have been seeing lately simply can not be allowed to continue. Warnock has his hands tied, he needs money for players, he should get money for players, if he doesn’t get money for players I honestly worry for this squads prospects, will we lose Byram? And if we do, will ALL the Byram money be invested back in the squad, or will it go back to GFH?

        They want the fans back at Elland Road but any Leeds fan knows the club needs investment to be successful, the fans know that attendances are also being affected by the poor performances on the pitch. If they’re serious about change they would get the chequebook out and sanction some movement in this transfer window. Lots of players out there, all the good ones require money.

        • M lazarou

          Yes and all good players want top championship wages witch we are not offering at leeds , so I can’t see us getting good players another teams will get them first buy offering higher wage

  • Tare

    It is a very healthy place to comment here so to the basics then; The Great Don Revie put some seeds in the ER ground for sure. Wliko’one was 1st one and almost there with DOL’s babies. Discovering new leaf of life well why not for the time being????? tare