A rare mistake from Sam Byram handed league leaders Cardiff City victory at Elland Road, ending Leeds’ recent good run at home. His error, clipping the ball to a visiting player inside the Leeds penalty area, resulted in the only goal of a match which Leeds scarcely deserved to lose. If the recent home win over Bristol City was a good result from a poor performance, today was the exact opposite. Warnock’s men outplayed their high flying guests for large parts of the afternoon. Lee Peltier and Michael Brown were particularly undeserving of the reverse, with both performing admirably throughout. Peltier completely nullified the threat of hate-figure Craig Bellamy, continuously outpacing the Welshman, whilst Brown continued his commanding midfield form which earned him many plaudits during last weekend’s overthrowing of Spurs. Two changes were made to the side which won through in the FA Cup, with on-loan Ross Barkley replacing Paul Green and Paddy Kenny returning between the sticks. That meant places on the substitutes bench for deadline day signings Habib Habibou and the manager’s namesake Stephen Warnock. Steve Morison, who joined Leeds as part of deal which saw the loss of a loved Argentinian, was not fit to experience his first taste of Elland Road action. Cardiff started brightly, but soon faded as Leeds took control. Early corners came to nothing, though pressure was building on the visiting goal as Luke Varney fired over. A back pass gave Leeds the first real chance to break the deadlock, but the indirect free-kick routine inside the area saw Ross McCormack’s low shot blocked by the nine-man Cardiff wall. Whenever the Welsh side did mount an attack, they did so down the right hand side, targeting potential vulnerability in Aidy White. With a newly signed left-back waiting in the wings, it may prove difficult for White to retain his starting place in the coming weeks. For all Leeds’ possession and pressure, chances were few until shortly after the half hour mark when a guilt edged chance went begging. The ball fell to Ross Barkley inside the six yard box, but his side footed effort was fired straight at the goalkeeper. The miss summed up a rather poor afternoon for Barkley, who by far the least effective of the home contingent. Frequently prone to over-elaboration, the Everton man repeatedly tried to do too much and lost the ball in promising positions. As the opening half drew to a close, Bellamy saw an effort ruled out by the linesman’s flag, much to the enjoyment of the goading home support. The second half was a more even encounter to begin with, but the men in white were still edging the balance of play. Paddy Kenny had barely been called upon before Cardiff took the lead against the run of play. Byram’s gaffe under pressure allowed Frazier Campbell to slot the ball into the net barely minutes after his introduction. Falling behind only served to galvanize Warnock’s men, as the remainder of the match was a procession of assaults upon the visitors’ penalty area. Habibou was thrown into the action at the expense of El Hadji Diouf, but the new recruit barely touched the ball and did little to affect the match. As Leeds bravely poured forwards, fortune evaded the brave, as the proverbial ‘lucky break’ failed to materialise. The only whiff of an equaliser came with ten minutes remaining, when the excellent Tom Lees’ point-blank header was well saved inside the six yard box. A number of penalty appeals came and went, as did an absurdly small three minutes of injury time (considering the insolent extent of Cardiff timewasting during the final quarter of the match). No boos were to be heard at full time. Leeds were hugely unlucky to lose this match, and merited all of the points. Many thanks to those who entered my ‘predict the score’ competition of Twitter. There was a lot of optimism in the air before the match, with the winning prediction coming from @RichMay92 who was the sole predictor of an away win. Send your predictions for the next home match to me at @Matt_K_Burton. Tom Put Aidy White on the left wing from now on? Irving08 Don’t think so Tom. He has the necessary pace and talent but appears to lack the composure to deliver the final ball on a regular basis (where Byram is plainly his superior). Whereas, given a chance to settle, he could mature into an outstanding left back. Yesterday, he comfortably held Conway, just as he did the Spurs wide players last week. djedjedje Decent summary, and we can rightfully feel unlucky not to get anything from the match. I partially disagree with your assessment of Barkley though – I thought he had by far a better game than Austin, and Barkley’s touch and control was a league above our squad (bar Diouf). I bet Barkley is baffled why we insist on getting the ball in the air, and what he is supposed to do when we do, especially when he is wasted on the wing. I just can’t understand Warnock’s logic of insisting on playing our game plan through wingers who aren’t wingers, and crossing the ball into the box for two of the smallest centre forwards in the league: Diouf and McCormack. And then when we did bring on a target man in Haribo, Warnock takes Diouf for him, and leaves Varney on? Surely Diouf would have had better chance in the last ten minutes of, first of all, winning half a dozen freekicks (as is his game), and, secondly, swinging in corners, crosses, freekicks for Haribo to try and get on to. Try as he did, Varney added nothing to the last ten minutes, and overall proved once again that whilst he is a trier, he aint a winger and he aint a striker. Let’s hope Morison is back smartish. This said, we tried hard today and the squad deserve credit for that. If there is any silver lining to our defeat, it is that it stops Warnock hiding behind the gloss of six home wins in a row, and we can move forward and focus more on putting in the effort and playing decent football and not just cadging lucky wins as the end of all. http://twitter.com/Matt_K_Burton Matt Burton I agree that Barkley showed a lot of quality with his touch and control. But he frustrated me all afternoon by trying to do too much. Maybe he’s feeling the pressure to shine as there are high expectations of him. You’re right that Austin wasn’t particularly effective either. He doesn’t even get a mention in the match report! djedjedje Possibly there’s expectations of Barkley from Everton; that’ll take some man-management from Warnock to calm him down (to his credit, Warnock is usually pretty good at that part of the game). Although, I bet Barkley would be more comfortable being played in a position he’s accustomed to. I think Austin needs a ‘rest’, and I’d bring Green back in on the right wing (I know he’s not a winger; we don’t do wingers at the moment) and rekindle his good working understanding with Byram. Least that way we only have to work out what to do with the left-hand side! Irving08 I have nothing against Austin, but I find it difficult to take him seriously as a footballer. And I am sorry if this seems mean, but just 20 minutes of Harib suggested to me that, worthy though he may be too, he isn’t a footballer either. Barkley is obviously the real deal, and will be a very good player, but why was he playing today instead of Green ? And what for that matter is he doing here at all, when he could be gone in February ? But as he is here, as you say, at least let us see him in his proper position, and play Green in front of Byram. I wonder if Tongue knows why he is here at all. http://twitter.com/Matt_K_Burton Matt Burton Tonge should be in the team. Odd that he’s not spellz I agree if we ever was going to score a goal tonge would have contributed to it somehow. djedjedje If we are giving the benefit of the doubt to Warnock, then possibly Tonge and Green aren’t quite matchfit. The lad Barkley has youth on his side, and didn’t seem to tire at all. I’m thinking both Tonge and Green, whilst not great footballers, are intelligent lads and should work well together in ways Austin and Brown can only dream off. Austin looks unfit to me. He needs some football basics explaining to him. But if we start him then we need to be subbing him off after the hour mark until he is fit again (and in form). Haribo did look lost, but if he’s got pace, is a target man and has an establish pedigree of scoring goals already, then he is ideally malleable material to make a quality Championship player out of. Unfortunately that’ll probably take longer than he’s on loan with us and the need of a McAlister type of manager, but hey-ho. Irving08 We agree on Green and Tongue. Haven’t done any research on Haribo, but I will take your word on his potential; he may have come to the wrong club, for the reason you state. Why ‘throw him on’, anyway ? : Pearce would have unsettled their defence well enough. Let’s hope Morison is the player he was at Milwall. Clarkie If the new owners are serious about promotion,this season(unlikely) or next they should quickly appoint Nigel Atkins because N Warnock is likely to leave at the end of the season Atkins is a bloody good manager , reminds me of Alex Ferguson (sorry to swear!) Matthew To be fair, this team as a whole has been under achieving the WHOLE season. We only seem to do well in Cup runs this season. Can’t blame Byram for one mistake, where were the goals to make up for it? Anyway looks like Becchio joined Howson on the Norwich bench today against QPR, Howson seems to be a regular bench warmer these days. I guess the grass isn’t always greener? Becchio came on in the 88th minute for Norwich, he could of played a full 90 minutes for us had he not handed in his transfer request. Banksider Watched this as a neutral with 3 mates (one had to go at half time). Tomorrow has my game. Sorry, but you’ve given a very biased report. Leeds did not do neaely enough to win a 50-50 game. Yes Marshall poduced 2 good saves BUT only 2 saves in a match. P**s poor. Cardiff must have been laughing when Doiuf went off. McCormack was never going to do it. Nohing against Leeds but none of us agreed with this report. djedjedje I wouldn’t call it a 50:50 game, although a draw would have been a fair result that reflected both teams lack of ability to carve open two decent defences. Leeds had the edge in midfield, and dominated it for the first hour and last quarter of an hour. Leeds had two clear cut chances on goal, from what I remember Cardiff had one (and scored). I think that makes Cardiff the more fortunate to get anything beyond a worthy point. But, hey, that’s football. http://twitter.com/Matt_K_Burton Matt Burton It’s a match report written by a Leeds supporter for a Leeds blog, it’s always going to be prone to bias. However, I try to tell it how it is, and I do feel that Leeds deserved to win today. Not enough chances were created (as you allude to), but on the overall balance of play we did enough to deserve victory. http://www.facebook.com/duncan.massey.9 Duncan Massey Match stats show Leeds in possession 62% to Cardiff’s 38% – hardly 50/50….. DrD This blog still does not work on Ipad, which is good as you have missed most of my moans.. GFH OUT! no ambition – and selling your top scorer for a value of £1-1,5M – that’s a complete joke. I can’t see any serious team selling their top asset for close to nothing, so GFH have nothing to offer but more asset stripping. Sad, team has some decent players, but if they have real ambition they will leave if nothing changes..and nothing has changed. JDC What’s the point of jumping from “Bates out” to “GFH out” without given them at least a season to see what they’re going to do? The blame for team performances lies fairly and squarely at Neil Warnock’s door, with his team selection, tactics and decisions. Many of the players have proved that they are good capable footballers who with the right guidance would win more games than they lose … Byram (despite the mistake and Kenny should have done better). Lees, Peltier, White, Diouf, McCormack and Barkley; for the life of me, I just don’t understand what message playing a short term loan midfielder sends to some other good, capable midfielders in the shape of Paul Green, Michael Tonge and David Norris who have commited to the club, yet sit watching from the bench. There’s no doubting Barkley’s quality. but not out of position … if he’s to be played it just has to be him OR Diouf creating from centre midfield. http://www.thescratchingshed.com/ TSS Peltier was exceptional today, he looks a completely different player now we’re playing in him in the correct position. As for Brown, he did well defensively and puts plenty of pressure on opposition. However, Paul Green does that too, better than Brown does in my opinion. Green also has better distribution than Brown (and Austin for that matter) which makes his omission truly baffling. He’s been our most consistent player all season and should be the first name on the teamsheet as far as I’m concerned. Leeds didn’t deserve to lose, I think a draw would have been fair but when things are going well for you, decisions seem to go your way (blatant handball denied) and you tend to get that little bit of luck. Cardiff benefited from that today. Ron Green is twice the player Brown has ever been. Warnock must be taking a cut of Brown’s match payments for mine. I can’t explain it. http://twitter.com/Matt_K_Burton Matt Burton Bit harsh. Brown has been very good over the past couple of games. If somebody needs to be dropped, it’s Austin. JDC Both comments are correct … OK, Michael Brown has had a couple of good games but Paul Green has proved to be the most consistent midfielder. At the moment the two central players should be Paul Green and Michael Tonge, at least until Rudy gets his form back. Ron Brown is player you play if you want to niggle and slow down the flow of the game. The fact of the matter is Leeds need to win games from here on out, not grind out a draw. We need to take a risk and the only risk Brown gives you is the risk of 10 men. http://www.facebook.com/paul.askham.7 Paul Askham I agree Austin and Lees are our weak links. PMH Agree with the “neutral” comment that this was a 50/50 game with few chances. One mistake was enough to seal it. Leeds did play decently and matched Cardiff for quality. But, they didn’t score and you don’t get points for a good effort. Matthew Our form is all over the place. We can lose against Barnsley yet beat Spurs, we can beat Crystal Palace but get fucked in the rear end by Hull, we can beat decent teams yet draw against shite like Charlton and Sheff Weds. We can beat Everton yet lose to Millwall. Irving08 Mathew. We are inconsistent for the reasons I have suggested above. Before Xmas we were nicking games due to Becchio. Now he has gone, I genuinely fear for us. Morison, provided he’s fully fit, will partially compensate for the loss of Becchio, and could bring something new to the table new as well. But who is going to provide him and McCormack with the ammunition ? Tongue, presumably, has been bought for a purpose though, like me, he me must be wondering what this is; he should be in the team now. While, I honestly don’t see in him the dynamic, as well as creative force, that we will need to exit this Division upwards, for the moment he is all we have got, and he should be playing. It is just wasteful to have him on the bench whilst doing a favour for David Moyes. But as Warnock showed at QPR there is a certain prodigality to his nature, for the same charge of wastefulness could be raised in connection with Ryan Hall. On the bright side, there is our ‘new’ defence, which is shaping up to be the best we’ve had for a good number of years (until, that is, Warnock disrupts it with his new left back, to whom he has publicly promised a regular place). Oh for a George Graham …… igiveup Watched the game online, it was littered with free kicks and not much quality going forward, everything’s just too slow in the final third. Didn’t see much to tempt the missing 1000s back in the near future Nick S Where did you manage to find it online – i looked but culdn’t find anything? Joe Best league performance in a long while, left elland road every time since november wondering when the bad performances will catch up to us, left today happy with how we played and wondering how bad we may need the points. We looked much more like a promotion contending team, cardiff barely had a sniff and were lucky our most consistent player gifted that scum striker with his goal. Want to see how blatent the handballs were on the tv tonight, anyone unhappy with how we played today are opportunist moaners, flaws are still there but today was a step in the right direction and a sign we may actually make a push for the playoffs. Irving08 Dear Joe, Yes, it is interesting how differently people can see the same match. Many factors doubtless come into play. Vantage point is one. Normally I stand at the back of the Kop; yesterday, I was seated in the family stand, close to the half way line. As we had a lot of possession, I focussed on the use we made of it, trying to discern a pattern. I could not detect one. There was some impressive individual play, and lots of concerted pressing. But I could not see what collectively what we were trying to do. Cardiff were set up to counter attack which, as well as allowing us to show that we do not lack for stamina and effort, exposed our collective shortcoming inr respect of method. The performance may well have seemed better yesterday than it did against the other top teams we beat before Xmas but these, unlike Cardiff, set out to attack us with skill and pace, or in Middlesborough’s case, demonstrated more of both than the team we were playing yesterday. The weaknesses to which I am referring are evident also in other aspects of our play such as corners. On the evidence of this season, we do have many of the players needed for a promotion push; I just doubt we have the right management, that’s all. MOT, Irving 56 Years of Opportunism. spellz I tuned in for the second half online, I had a clear picture and thought Brown was abysmal, I never often criticize a individual unless he really has pissed me off and I thought he had no awareness and every time someone was in a great position he seemed like he was waiting for a train to arrive before he released the ball I could see others getting frustrated with him as well. Peltier had a decent half but tended to lob the ball forward unnecessarily at times and should of being playing the ball to foot a lot more but he did look better defensively but what did I miss from the first half that made us so unlucky? I heard Barklay should have scored but can we as Leeds Supporters be happy with a scoreless defeat at Elland Road? certainly not me.. Matthew Win or lose, I’m happy with a decent performance. Dissapointed when we lose sure, but in general I appreciate the effort made today. Have always said, as long as this team makes an effort I can accept losing, you can’t win em all, on to the next game spellz No I understand your point we were playing the runaway league leaders and any improvement on performance is a move in the right direction. Just like you said in a previous admission though our form is all over the place and to be honest I thought the 2nd half was a bad watch as I missed the first, I just kept seeing us lose possession as we so often do it is like we are playing timidly every game and it frustrates me as a lifelong Whites fan cause we have always been known for wearing our heart on our sleeve. We played better towards the end and started picking up a little momentum but Habib came on and didnt get a sniff. Matthew If anything we need Consistency, matter of opinion if it warrants a new manager, or the current manager receiving backing to ensure we have this, but it’s really killing us this season. One moment we’re winning despite playing poorly, the next we’re losing but doing better than what we did when we were winning performance wise and still lose. Really don’t know what else to say, I completely understand your frustration, I think everyones feeling it. We’re under achieving in a big way this season, no way does a side that beat a decent Spurs + Everton side deserve to be in 12th, we also beat a Southampton side that had most of the players in it that got them promoted from the Championship. Then we go on and lose to fucking Barnsley, Millwall and a huge loss to Watford over this season. It’s a joke. If our home form matched our away, or almost we’d be in the playoffs. spellz Exactly the form is sporadic and that inconsistency really is baffling why dont they go out there and imagine their playing a premier league team every week and they might just end up playing premier league teams every week, all NW needs to do is tell them whatever he told them before Everton and Tottenham as we looked like premier league outfits in each of them games. It is a hard call about the manager I must admit, at this present moment we need to keep him and have faith in the team hes assembled and if he does not do it this season then replace him otherwise, we should of been rid of him pre transfer window, personally it seems like he has lost the same passion and drive that has led him to so much previous promotions then again he looked that relaxed when he was at Q.P.R and won the league, tough call. http://twitter.com/Matt_K_Burton Matt Burton Brown and Peltier were our best players today, though their first half showings were better than their second half. If anyone was ‘abysmal’ today, it was either Barkley or Austin. But in truth, nobody in the team deserves to be called ‘abysmal’ today – a much improved performance compared to recent league outings. spellz I have not been on the Brown hype recently about how bad he is as I have just seen him as mediocre and not shambolic, if you take a look back at that second half though you will see some bad football decisions from him that had me questioning for once is he as bad as everyone is making out, maybe. In all honesty I am only judging him on the one half so apologies if he put in a great shift in the 1st I just felt our team performance from the 2nd half was a little lacklustre we started slowly the game just turned scrappy and I only saw a couple of half chances and I feel as a Leeds fan ER being the fortress it has been in recent games should have been rocking it looked a little empty and I felt our performance from when I watched also felt a little empty. I agree from what I saw from Austin he had a howler even though I thought his double slice was somewhat comical he just looked like he had ate a double slice of Cake he does not seem like he recovered fully yet from that injury, anyway lets hope we can go to out of form Wolves and pick up a result. MOT Nick S Where did you find it online? spellz I always had this problem as I am from London and dont get to see many games, then I stumbled across something called i stream don’t have the link but if you find it online download it. It literally sits on your desktop with all the up and coming games and streams for all matches for the day ahead and gives you a bunch of alternative streams if any are not working its genius, hope this helps. jpmack wiziwig Irving08 The fact that we did more pressing than Cardiff does not mean that we merited a win. They were set up to defend deep, get as many men behind the ball as possible, and nick a win if they could, or at least draw. They were fortunate to win; but we never looked like winning and like them created very little. We appeared to be set up to play 4-3-3: I say ‘appear’ because like the players, I suspect, it is never clear exactly what we are supposed to be playing under Warnock. In short, Cardiff to me looked like a team whereas we, for the most looked like a collection of individuals, most of whom who played as well as they could in the apparent absence of a clear plan or method. Inadequate preparation is particularly noticeable at corners, whether ours or theirs; as for free kicks, we may as well not win any, for all the use we make of them. The players, in my view, deserve better management. Comment on soem again eccentric team selections and substitutions seems superfluous in this light; as for tactical readjustments during the course of the match, if there were any I didn’t notice them. There is a strange atmosphere of aimlessness about the place, a vacuum of power at the top, and an absence of direction, in the middle. Stevie Dee Leeds fan for over 40 years, I watched the game live online yesterday. We weren’t creative enough, we don’t have the killer instinct and generally very average. I agree Cardiff were there for the taking but we weren’t up to the task. Warnock (Senior) seems devoid of ideas and clearly needs someone to explain the concept of substitutions to him. I see no reason for Varney being picked, he offers nothing, and Brown is a liability. I don’t think Austin is all he is cracked up to be either. Nothing thus far will tempt me back to ER for some time to come. At least NW thinks he is doing a great job! spellz Well said Stevie. Chapel A On the evidence of yesterday, we could well end up, in a post-Becchio world, losing more games by the odd goal that hitherto we’ve been nicking courtesy of our departed goal scavenger. So we are going to have to become a lot more creative -McCormack and Morison are going to need more chances than Becchio required to score. On that basis, if we are even to consolidate, never mind progress, I cannot see any justification for including Austin in any future line-up (and Norris should probably feature only as Brown’s understudy). We are probably also going to have to try and bring in a Burke, Boyd or similar on loan to forage on the left, while Green beavers on the right (and let’s hope the developing White continues to perform well enough to keep the even more unwanted, one-paced, Warnock out). In the middle, Tonge, I guess, will have to come in when Barkley departs. Then at the end of the season we’ll need an entirely new, younger and more dynamic central midfield if we are to have a chance next time round! Neil, this adventure has, I’m afraid, been extraordinarily wasteful, badly planned and unthought-through! Chapel A PS First time poster, though been an appreciative reader for some time (particulary enjoying the likes of Irving’s and DJE’s posts -hello!) djedjedje Welcome on board, Chapel A. I’m humbled by your compliment; although, if you are in sympathy with Irving’s or my own mindset towards Leeds United at present, then that probably means you’re a fellow glass-slightly-half-empty type! Chapel A Thanks DJE. Well, Leeds United certainly do a good job of bringing out the pessimist in me! My perception of where the team’s at has remained pretty much unchanged, despite changing personnel and management, over the two and a half years since promotion from League 1. Throughout that period, around half of our team has, in my view, been good enough for promotion, with potential to flourish at a higher level. This is borne out by the number of recent former players now playing at the top level. What both Grayson’s and Warnock’s sides have had in common is that the majority of their leading cohort of players were not signed by themselves (many being youth products, others having been signed by predecessors). And where both Grayson and Warnock have fallen short has been in their ability (even taking into account financial constraints) to recruit effectively to plug the gaps. In Grayson’s case, this resulted in an inadequate defence; in Warnock’s case, in a non-functioning midfield (I cannot think of a single Grayson defensive recruit -besides Kisnorbo in League 1- or a Warnock midfield purchase other than Green who have convinced). So both managers have fallen badly short when it comes to the identification of talent. However -and this is a damning indictment of Warnock- he falls short of Grayson in two crucial respects. Firstly, Grayson devised a playing system that enabled him to get the best out of his most talented players (viz the 4-2-1-3 in 2009-10 that enabled him to bring the best out of Howson in the hole, and Gradel and Snodgrass on the wings). Warnock, on the other hand, has consistently played some of his most capable players in a baffling array of positions to which they are patently unsuited (McCormack, Peltier, White and even, latterly, Barkley, spring quickly to mind). Furthermore, Grayson’s team had a discernible style (even if it was flawed), namely all-out attack; whereas it has been impossible for much of the time to identify, from watching Warnock’s players, how even they have been asked to play (I do not consider what some call ‘hoofball’ to be a tactic -I think it’s something that the players have resorted to simply because whatever it is they’ve been trying to do hasn’t been working). So, by my analysis, that makes Warnock a worse manager than Grayson -a manager who’s been sacked twice within a year! Where does that leave Warnock? Irving56 Excellent summary of where we are (or are not) Chapel A and a fair assessment of the merits of the two managers in question. How much allowance should be made for context though ? NottsWhite A draw would have been a fair result with both teams struggling to create chances. Leeds performance was much improved on previous home outings but despite the two chances “created” I felt that we did not look like scoring. I felt that the substitution of Habibou was lazy from Warnock in that he did a straight swop (striker for striker) and the change should have coincided with a change of tactics i.e. lose a defensive midfielder and keep EHD on the park. I just felt that the change gave the impression that the manager would be happy of keeping it at 1-0 with the hope that we might nick a goal. If we had not opened Cardiff up for 70 mins playing a particular way, why would playing the same way work in the final 20 mins. For me we needed to get something from the game therefore a gamble needed to be taken. Totally agree with other posters that we offer little danger from offensive set plays which suggests why Cardiff were more than happy to give countless free kicks in the final third. Connolly (number 12) could have been booked about 3 times over IMO.