Ross McCormackRoss McCormack scored his second goal of the week as Leeds secured yet another fortunate home league victory. The win by a solitary goal does little to paper over the cracks of another lacklustre display, but a slightly improved penchant for passing football raises hopes marginally for the future.

For the second time in as many league games, Warnock’s men were faced with a side at the very foot of the Championship table. The defeat at Barnsley last Saturday led many to call for the manager’s head, and the hard core of that vitriolic band were not fooled by today’s showing. Chants of “Warnock, time to go” could be heard at full time.

En route to Elland Road, I pondered what I believed to be quite a selection dilemma. With McCormack and El Hadji Diouf both having scored at Birmingham midweek, how would Warnock deal with the return to the squad of top scorer Luciano Becchio and Everton ‘wonderkid’ Ross Barkley? Surely all four couldn’t play in the same team?

However, I should have known better. Neil’s capacity to place square pegs in round holes (i.e. Peltier at left-back) knows no bounds. All four attacking players were squeezed into the starting eleven, with McCormack forced onto the left hand side of midfield and Barkley on the right (which, I am informed by a Toffee supporting friend, is definitely not his preferred position).

How McCormack must long for the Grayson days when he was allowed to form a deadly strike partnership with Becchio. Stuck out on the left, the Scotsman rarely prospers.

With a plethora of attackers, Rodolph Austin and Michael Brown completed the midfield to add a touch of defensive intent. For a manager recently maligned for his abuse of the beautiful game, it seemed an odd move to leave all Leeds’ creative midfielders (Tonge, Green, Norris et al) on the bench. Perhaps I am too harsh on Mr Warnock, but a strange team selection followed by another tedious exhibition does little to incur acclaim.

Lowly Bristol could have taken an early lead when a defensive mix up was finally cleared away by Sam Byram.

In spite of dominating possession, Leeds created little of note in the first half. Barkley could have done better with a free header in the penalty area, Diouf blazed over from the edge of the box and McCormack had the best effort of the half when he forced a save from the visiting goalkeeper. That shot on target drew ironic cheers from the crowd.

Boos greeted the half time whistle, shortly after Paddy Kenny did well to divert a rare Bristol shot.

The second period seemed to bring with it a slight tactical change. McCormack was no longer gravitating to the left, but instead appeared to have a more unrestricted role to move central at will. This enabled some more promising and incisive play, though the team were being let down by Becchio who frankly had an atrocious game. Warnock suggested last week that the Argentinian’s head had been turned by transfer speculation – today, it looked as though his head was on backwards.

Kenny did well again to stop Bristol taking the lead early in the second half, and that was the last time that the visitors would pose any real threat. A positive to come from the match was a clean sheet, engineered by a solid looking back-line of Byram, Peltier, Tom Lees and Aidy White (a square peg in a square hole!).

The only goal of the game came from the head of McCormack with a quarter of the match remaining. Barkley, who showed small glimpses of his quality over the ninety minutes, floated over a cross for the Scot to head in at the back post.

From then on Leeds improved slightly and saw the remainder of the match out comfortably. Lest it be forgotten, let me remind everyone that Bristol City are currently the worst team in the division. This victory was less of a plus point, and more of a sheer necessity.

After the match, Warnock bemoaned some of the Elland Road faithful, suggesting that we should be satisfied and glowing in our appreciation of a side which has won six straight home league matches. Alas, dear manager, we are a mid-table side who play unattractive football and are incapable of winning away from home.

Many thanks to those of you who entered my ‘predict the score’ competition on Twitter. The best guess came from @1unitedleeds who was spot on with his forecast. Send me your predictions for the Spurs match to @Matt_K_Burton.

  • Jezza

    NW’s motto is any peg in any hole at the moment> reckon not giving him a 2 srason crack at the wip will cost us as he is desperate with no long term plan or strategy – hence his comments about we always need 2 new players. He is hoping to find the right mix almost by pot luck – he may not be a good manager but a lucky one hopefully

  • KP

    That’s the 6th game that has been disgraceful. I do not think some of the players are that poor. We are playing with no shape, tactics, and very much lacking confidence. On this form no chance of going up We need new blood now including the manager. And the big ? have we got any money its looking like we went from the frying pan into the fire.

  • Benny

    BCFC have a new manager & went for a more solid formation today which was always going to make things more difficult for us. Still, a clean sheet and three points at the end of the day. Please remember this is a squad literally thrown together over the summer with little money. The net spend is in the negative so open those eyes and see. Yes , football not pretty at times and some apparent baffling tactical decisions but hey, are you a football manager and if so what are you’re credentials? We have constantly sold off the the Crown Jewels and when did we last pay a million plus for a player? Has NW really been backed sufficiently to procure a Taraabt and or a Faurlin ? Where is our special play maker (s) and how do we expect NW to compete with Cardiff & Leicester let alone the relegated sides ? Perhaps, NW should become an alchemist and the fact that he cannot is obviously his fault so let’s sack him. Forgive me, I genuinely like TSS but please, do not turn into another Michael Green from CON because else, you might as well give up and no longer bother.

    • spellz

      I am a manager,

      My credentials : Champions League and premiership double with CrawleyTown.

      Source : championship/football manager,

      Can I give an opinion on NW’S bizarre tactics now? :)

    • http://twitter.com/Matt_K_Burton Matt Burton

      Warnock has a group of players at his disposal who are capable of playing better than that. His tactical decisions recently are simply peculiar.

      Has he been backed financially? Well, he was enabled to buy Ryan Hall and Michael Tonge, but oddly he opted to play neither of them. Instead he played both Ross’s out of position where neither of them could play to their true ability.

      Winning home matches is pleasing, but let’s be honest- we’ve been extremely fortunate to beat Bristol, Bolton and Boro. Away from home, the team is constantly found out.

      • Jamie

        I didn’t find his tactics that bizarre yesterday. The only thing I would have changed was Brown for Green. After all we have no real natural width (Ryan Hall has a question mark over him still). The back four is what I would have gone with and I like to see McCormack and Diouf and its difficult to leave out top scorer Becchio.

        We did try to pass it more. The early stages of the game showed quick passing and good promise. Chances however were minimal and thats where i think a decent winger or 2 would have made the difference. final ball (and penultimate ball even) could have been better.

        Definitely an improvement and slightly more optimism, but still room for more improvement. As NW says “2 or 3 bodies” could make the difference. Im looking for decent wingers Gradel/Snodgrass never replaced…

        I have worries but my glass is still half full. maybe the end of january will lay some of them to rest, but the signings need to be right, and Becchio needs to stay.

    • http://twitter.com/Matt_K_Burton Matt Burton

      It’s a very strange argument to suggest that we can’t criticise the manager because we don’t have football managing credentials ourselves.

      That’s a bit like saying we’re not allowed to vote in a general election unless we’re a fully qualified politician.

      • Matthew

        Not to mention we have a side that is CAPABLE of finishing in the top 6 with whats available. Our home form, though very lucky to have is proof of this. Then again we haven’t obtained 9 wins by playing good football, infact a decent manager, that has this team playing proper football on the floor, passing properly etc could achieve a whole lot more.

        Pity that some fans are willing to turn the other cheek when we win games, there are players in this side starting that really shouldn’t, and the quality of football being displayed is just plain poor. We have been found out this season more times than I can count and poor performance after poor performance is just unacceptable.

        People saying Yay we’re winning games don’t criticise the manager is as Tinpot as you can get.

    • Irving08

      It is not quite true to say this squad was ‘thrown together’ in the summer. Many of the players were ones Warnock says he had previously tracked. The problem is that so many of the players – particularly in midfield – resemble one another. My sense is that these are the kinds of players Warnock likes; it is not down soley to resources. Moreover, the players he has chosen to bring in subsequently do not seem to enrich significantly the mix. As to managerial credentials, I take your point, but there are some aspects of managment that are generic: never discuss individual players in public and never criticise fans. Latterly Warnock has violated both rules. He gives every impression of wanting out but, commendably or not, refuses to walk.

      • mrbigwheels

        ”never discuss individual players in public and never criticise fans”. I am appalled by his carelessness. Your view that he gives every impression of him wanting out Irving is not far off the mark, imo too.

        He does hold the ace of win, win by doing a Sparky. Warnocks future is well covered elsewhere so the payoff or p45 could be held by him as his just reward for the sufferance and falsehood that has existed within his tenure without tarnishing his prospects or reputation ongoing. I certainly do not believe he’s craving a fish pond or tractor seat and a long walk in the snow at the moment.

        Whatever happens here, we must not lose sight of GHFC, possibly quite happy to remain silent for the period, take everything in and certainly have an interim position that enables the troops to fight amongst themselves, the sergeant taking all the flack, while their commanding officers are enjoying their cocktails before the inevitable battle….. Been here before, me thinks.

        .

        • Irving08

          MBW you are right to remind us of the GHFC context: I suspect the final verdict on NW’s time will be kinder than the provisional one. Like you, I think he will try to stick it out. Pondering his options, he must be thinking of what he might be able to do with money he could get for Becchio…….

  • http://www.facebook.com/CraigSweaton Craig Sweaton

    Stop fecking moaning! 2 wins in a row and 6 at home and now you moan cos it’s boring? Just piss off because you’d certainly be moaning if we’d played well and lost!
    3 points is welcome and I’d like to see Warnock given time, cash and a bit of appreciation when we win! MOT.

    • Matthew

      You clearly haven’t seen this side play football recently. People aren’t saying Warnock out because we’re losing, no. People are saying Warnock out because the quality of Football, cough hoofball is borderline shite.

    • http://twitter.com/Matt_K_Burton Matt Burton

      He’s been given some cash. He bought Hall and Tonge, but chooses not to play them. He loaned Barkley, but played him out of position.

      He has been very fortunate to win recent home matches.

      • Matthew

        Indeed, not to mention the quality of football on display is killing attendances at Elland Road. Today pretty much said all that needs to be said in that regard, 18k on a Saturday, for a league game is pretty dire, but then again people just don’t want to pay good money to watch Warnocks anti football.

        Btw, I wonder which Warnock fanboy is down marking me? Whoever it is, obviously doesn’t attend games.

    • WARNOCK OUT

      And I would like to see the back of halfwits like you, mthis is the entertainment business and we have a bunch of second rate players having their strings pulled by somebody who has never kjnown what football is about.

    • ASKY

      BOB ON PAL. MOT.

  • spellz

    We seriously have got to play better football, some of NW’s staff really need to have a word in his ear and tell him at the moment we are just not good enough use your experience to muster some kind of fluidity in our game or we won’t make the playoffs or even close this year.

  • Matthew

    Very concerning that we can’t score more than 1 goal against a side like Bristol City, considering we have Spurs and Cardiff next. What do we do when either of these sides score 2 goals past us, which they will?

    Happy we won. but can see 2 ‘L’s on our fixture list for our next 2 games, hopefully by this point GFH C will wake up and realize what’s going on here isn’t good enough and appoint someone new. I hear Adkins is available.

    • thelaughingllama

      We scored the one goal we needed to win by. It doesnt matter who you play, a win is a win.

      • http://twitter.com/Matt_K_Burton Matt Burton

        That’s a very short-term philosophy.

        • Matthew

          Indeed. A win is meaningless when the underlining problem isn’t resolved.

          • mikelufc

            UNDERLYING even.

        • mrbigwheels

          Unfortunately it is but that is the mindset and indoctrination we have been inflicted to for many, many years. The new owners silence may be a blessing in disguise revealing a new dawn for the Club, a complete clear out in June ’13?. Who knows but only a long term philosophy and clean slate will instill a more positive approach in our comment and belief at the Elland Road church.

      • Jd

        Not to mention ambitious…

  • thelaughingllama

    Leeds fans are pretty hard to please. 6 home wins in a row and still we complain. For a squad assembled on a shoestring budget i dont think Warnocks done that bad a job. We are not a top Championship side! Anyone expecting better football should watch a better side.

    • Jumblatts

      you obviously haven’t been watching or listening to the games. The way we have played since the game at hull has been dire. yes we won today, but only just, and against (statistically) the worst team in the league. Barnsley were last week the worst team in the league, but then they played us, the fact is we arent good enough. us fans are right to expect better football because the way we have been playing, the local under 7’s have been playing better football than leeds, and for a proffessional football club that isnt good enough. For Leeds united that is not good enough.

  • Tare

    This is results based business and so be it. Yep I have seen Hull and Barnsley and BR games so a short analysis is that in beautiful game -class first two were total crap but BR win is a win anyway you turn it around. Because nobody has presented any other option here so we must stick to the basics here; 150% support for NW. And yes I have seen DRs band of brothers, Wilko’s War Horses and DOL’s babies playing so I have a pretty good picture how this football should be played.

    If there is volunteers and willing to take challenge NW then hey boys an open application for the LUFC manager job. UEFA Pro Licence badge is needed at least but maybe it is not a problem here…. Tare

  • saltburnwhite

    Well the only positives are that the fans have made warnock accidently stumble upon his best back four , played in the right positions these young 4 players can grow together and really have the potential to be a premiership defence , as long as he plays them in their right positions and doesnt sell any of them they can all flourish and improve TOGETHER ! We also have a promising young cb in pearce to call upon , so the defence isnt looking bad as long as warnock doesnt cock it up with his tinkering again !

    • http://twitter.com/Matt_K_Burton Matt Burton

      Agreed.

      Shame that Drury is injured though.

    • Irving08

      Good points SW. Pearce can count himself a bit unlucky though to find himself behind Peltier to whom good luck nevertheless in his new position.

  • Dave101

    3 points…end of story. Stop moaning Matt Burton, i’d like to hear your tune if NW keeps us playing direct and we finish in the play offs. There is a long way to go.

    • http://twitter.com/Matt_K_Burton Matt Burton

      3 points may be the end of the story, but the full story is one of another fortunate victory via a poor performance.

      If things don’t change, then it’ll be a case of “mid-table, end of story” in May.

      If we finish in the play-offs with this style of football then I’ll eat humble pie. But how likely is it? Does a poor win over the bottom team in the division mean we immediately forget the Barnsley, Hull and Forest matches?

      Believe it or not, I don’t think Warnock should go. But I do think he should adapt his tactics/team selection.

  • Butterworth Scores

    We are not playing the best football at the moment and part of that has to be the fault of the new owners and NW, NW knew for months that the takover was going to happen and should have had three or four decent players who want to play for Leeds lined up. The new owners owe the fans a statement of intent, they need to dig deep to bring a couple of better quality players to the club to put a spark back into our season. No statement of intent by the new owners means fewer season tickets sales, including mine, for next season. We need to see the cavalry riding over the hill to put us back in the playoff hunt.

  • KEV RAUNDS

    anyone heard anything from gfh lately,do they have any money,are they going to invest…….BATES PUPPETS???

    • mikelufc

      The only explanation that comes to my mind is that GFH have borrowed all the money in the clubs name to pay bastard bates and have nothing now to put in the club. Lets wait and see as the club will be in dire straits shortly with the rapidly diminishing gates. The good news is that bastard bates wins again…..

  • ……..

    Misery that makes me embarrassed to be likened to fellow leeds fans. It’s as if you know all the ins and outs of Elland road! How do you know who trains well? Who has the right attitude? What agents are saying? Has the boards heads been turned by offers for our top players (Becchio and Byram)? Etc……,All this information will be what warnock has to deal with to pick his teams. You don’t get his record by fluke. Lets wait and see if this board is as good as their word! How do we know who is actually fit and willing to play what positions? All this chat about crap tactical decisions is laughable, I must agree some feel bizarre, but again we do not have full details! The new board is what’s concerning me more

    • stevewrg

      we know what shit is no matter how they try to disguise it.

  • Dave221982

    Love winning hate losing that’s football for you, we need cash and new tactics we aren’t playing with any real confidence at the moment and the transfer window is drawing ever closer to bring in a few new faces. NW knows the score but he frustrates fans by not acting on what needs to be done. NEW owners are full of promises but are yet to deliver on one of them think even a statement from them would be a start!

    • RoystonLufc

      Love winning? Are you serious? That’s the sixth home game we’ve won on the trot and these morons are whinging. A year ago this would have been “grounding out a result” but now that the “Bates out” misfits have lost their cause they’re having a go at the team. If we get promoted the knuckle-draggers will still be moaning; maybe we should get relegated – that’s what seems to keep them going. I’m with “mister ……..” regarding the embarrassment of being lumped with such a bunch of groaning gits. Support your f*****g team, you Ridsdale-era glory-grabbers, stop behaving like the scum from across The Penninnes. City of Leeds United, anyone?

      • MikeLUFC

        I think this DINGBAT just needs to be ignored. perhaps he will switch to milwall which will suit his obnoxious manner.

  • Peter

    I was not at the game but Warnock’s post match comments indicated that Brown had a tremendous game collecting the ball from defence and launching attacks. Eddie Gray appeared bemused.
    For those of you at the game you can draw your own conclusion on our Manager’s comments.

    • denholme chris

      I was at the game unfortunately
      I took my 11 year old daughter her first football match and how sad she had watch that
      More excitement in the club shop
      Brown sorry not for me just a running machine with a brain that’s been left in the changing room
      By just dropping prices it won’t bring back the fans we need to excite the young fans they are the future of the club
      The club needs a real overall let’s hope 2014 it will happen

  • Peter McGonzie

    Neil Warnock definitely needs to bring in fresh blood during the January trans-window. Leeds problem in the past few seasons has been their defence, they concede far too many goals like confetti. Also, they cannot afford to start selling off their best players like Becchio as rumoured. In doing this, will prolong their stay in the Championship all the more.

    If they want to get back in the Premier League, they must learn to hold on to their best players and start buying some good young players to add to the squad. There are better players in Leagues One and Two as well as the Non-League who would love to put on the white shirt.

    Leeds needs hungry players to get them back to where they belong. They also need a squad with strength and depth that would make a big difference in a long and arduous season. In my opinion, Mr. Warnock needs at least 8 new faces to give Leeds at least a fighting chance of promotion. If not this season, then the next.

    • mIKELUFC

      Stop stating the obvious and face the fact that this is warnocks team, he has fucked it up either through incompetence or he is following instructions from bastard bates to destroy the club.
      Question. would you GIVE WARNOCK ANY OF YOUR MONEY TO FUCK AROUND WITH???????

    • stevewrg

      Learn to pass and hold a ball will do for a start.

  • Ron

    Lackluster, but at least we won. On paper we should be able to score more goals against poor opposition, so I agree with the bemused tacticians. It is always hard to play a team with a new manager however, so it was a banana skin avoided. More alarming than anything I saw yesterday is this growing belief that Becchio is a goner this transfer window. Warnock has thrown out a little warning about his head being turned and I fancy he’s on the way out. If he joins a Premier league side, then although disappointing (especially a battling minnow such as Wigan), we can’t blame him. However, if he joins Hull for example, all you GFH supporters should realise that supposed new owners or not – we are not spending! If Becchio can’t see the investment, then neither should we.

  • henrymouni

    It does not matter whose fault it is.
    Whether it is NW or the board is not our concern as we are not consulted.
    The teams performance is poor and moral seems low.
    A few fans say ‘a win is a win’ but, if you are playing badly, you get found out and promotion is impossible.
    We are in a better position than we deserve, and are probably the worst ‘football’ team in the league.
    The squad we have can do so much better.
    NW is still saying he hopes to bring 2 or 3 players in before the end of Jan.
    Can this be true?? We have heard this for 8 years!
    He is relying on ‘sockless’ Harvey to do the business – some hope.
    We still have Bates, Harvey and Williams (what does he do all day?)
    In truth nothing has really changed.
    The fans are drifting away and will NOT come back until they have a team to be proud of.
    “3 points is 3 points” will not do it!
    NW has lost his way with the team and the fans.
    His interviews show this.
    He said some of us see the glass as half empty.
    More like 3/4’s empty.
    It is about time the new owners came forward with their plans, if they have any?

    • http://twitter.com/Matt_K_Burton Matt Burton

      Spot on

  • stevewrg

    Nothing will ever change until we get rid of Bates.I for one think he is the one pulling the strings behind GFH.It was probably a way to get his money back into his hands ,Remember all the millions that have gone out of ER.One tax haven to another.As for the football on display I have never experienced such rubbish in 39 yrs of watching the whites.Even in the years we were in the old second division at least we had a game plan and played for the shirt.Utter drivel im afraid but like a mug I will support them for eternity and beyond.

  • http://twitter.com/AndyGnorwood Andrew

    Adkins in!!!!

  • PMH

    I’ll agree that the short term problem is finding the right selection of players and the tactics to suit them. NW obviously hasn’t cracked it, but he is trying different combinations. But, that has almost nothing to do with the long term need to find Premiership level players and compete in the top half of the top division: where we belong. Putting the team together is more important really than what happens against Bristol, Meanwhile, Leeds just need to assess who they have who is worth keeping, and who to move on come Summer. Let’s face it. Promotion this year is a very long shot, and unless there is a miracle transformation this team is not ready for prime time.