Leeds wave white flag and surrender play-off hopes Matt Burton March 16, 2013 Leeds United, Match reviews 15 Comments Prior to kick-off before this West Yorkshire derby, Leeds fans were encouraged to ‘Paint it White’ by raising aloft white pieces of card. That turned out to be a very apt gesture as the white flag was well and truly waved on the 2012/13 season. Huddersfield Town jubilantly left Elland Road with all three points as a late James Vaughan strike sealed a 2-1 victory for Leeds’ noisy neighbours. The pre-match atmosphere was one of hope and approval for GFH’s latest customer retention and relationship building schemes. Reduced season ticket prices and the ‘paint it white’ initiative are welcome additions to the ‘watch Leeds for less’ promotion and further strengthen the belief that Leeds’ new owners will restore pride, unity and success to the club. That success will not, however, be arriving this season. How Haigh and Patel must wish that Warnock’s men were more capable of rewarding positive leadership with skill and class. Painting it white was fun, but watching the team was not. So, this report must unfortunately turn to the on-field events, where Leeds failed to produce the goods for the second ‘must-win’ match of the week. Hopes were not aided by injuries to strikers Steve Morison and Ross McCormack. If the manager’s exaggerated claims are to be believed, McCormack can barely remember his own name and where he lives following a bang to the brain he sustained in the second half of the Peterborough match on Tuesday. Replacing the attacking duo in the starting eleven were El-Hadji Diouf and, making his first start in a Leeds shirt, the infamous duck-throwing Habib Habibou. For many weeks fans had been deriding Warnock for not fielding the on-loan striker, with the reckoning being that throwing a duck, being African and having dreadlocks must equate to being as capable as Didier Drogba. The only other change to the starting eleven saw Rodolph Austin replace David Norris in midfield. In their side, Huddersfield named ex-Leeds hero Adam Clayton, who memorably played a handful of good games at the beginning of last season which gained him cult status, before an unremarkable end to the season saw him Warnock’s discarded list. A true hero, Jermaine Beckford, sat on the bench. Credit where it is due, Leeds began the match well. Luke Varney headed a Stephen Warnock corner goalwards on three minutes, only for it to be kept out fortuitously via defender and crossbar. Diouf then saw a low shot well saved by visiting keeper Alex Smithies, before a left-foot smash from Varney comfortably cleared the crossbar. Twenty minutes in, Leeds had nothing to show for their dominance, and almost fell behind as an unmarked James Vaughan headed against Paddy Kenny’s crossbar. The rest of the first half was unremarkable, though Leeds showed the majority of attacking intent. However, without McCormack or Morison, there was even less cutting-edge on display than normal. Habibou was a tireless worker, but failed to muster a shot on goal. An excellent Kenny save late in the half ensured that the tie remained goalless at the break, as Leeds failed to score in the first half of a match yet again (something the team has not managed since 2012). The second half was barely ten minutes old when a near post Neil Danns volley gave the visitors the lead. Peltier and Lees failed to fully clear the ball, resulting in Kenny being exposed and beaten at his near post. With the entire season on a knife-edge, Warnock broke with tradition and made some rather early substitutions. On came Aidy White and Ryan Hall, replacing the non-Drogba-esque centre forward and the quiet Paul Green. One of the substitutions would make an immediate impact, whilst the other produced thirty minutes of completely abject meandering around the right hand side of the field. No sooner had the changes been made, Leeds were level. A deep cross from the right eluded many within the penalty area and bounced nicely for White to head home with his first touch of the ball. Had the match ended differently, the day’s slogan of ‘painting it white’ could have been pertinent for very different reasons. Hope was back in the air. The supporters knew that only a win would suffice and willed the team on, but chances were sparse. The closest the home side would come to taking the lead was a Yeboah-like dipping volley from Rodolph Austin which struck the crossbar. Huddersfield threw the dice and on came Jermaine Beckford to a warm reception all round. The hero of Old Trafford duly reciprocated with a salute to the Revie End. With less than five minutes remaining, the final nail was hammered into the coffin of Leeds’ campaign. A passing move from the visitors allowed Vaughan to run through on goal and slide the ball past the advancing Kenny. Adam Clayton celebrated with gaiety. Beckford, respectfully, did not. And so came to an end the reign of Neil Warnock. With all hope of promotion now vanquished, the manager has effectively ended his significant influence within the club. The last eight matches are now a parade of pride, from which we can hope to maintain a top-half finish. Bring on the summer. henrymouni It is like a big weight has been lifted off our drooped shoulders Matt! A big sigh of relief! mrbigwheels Yep Henry… exactly. igiveup I’ve sat here for 10 mins now and can’t think of a fucking thing to say…says it all really! Barry Callaghan Love this post Matthew To be fair, the playoff hopes were pretty much over a little while ago, wherever or not we won wouldn’t of made much in a way of a difference, Watford and Brighton likely would of beaten us anyway, which would of rendered the 79 possible points, to 73 which wouldn’t of been enough anyway. We’ve drawn too many games, lost too many games even. A top 10 finish(Between 7-10th) would be a respectable way to end this season, and if people need a reason to support the team now, do it for the pride. We can all sit back and look at the situation and lack of investment as the main reason why we’re where we are. mrbigwheels Good one Matthew. I’m thinking… Warnock held things together through the very, very long takeover then…. ran out of ideas when there was no wad in January. I am very happy Bates has moved over, Warnock was the right man through that period alone, but the complexities of new ownership overcame his personal drive and in the make do or mend it environment…. he failed to inspire himself, the team or us. Thanks Neil, hope the next phase of your footballing life is a great experience. . Matthew Well said, and to be honest regarding Warnock, I would of prefered him to be a bit more stubborn about his survival as manager at the club, a statement something along the lines of, we and the team will fight to the bitter end and I’m going nowhere till this seasons over. Inspire some fight, but no, he’s basically saying he doesn’t give a crap if he’s here or not because he’s going at the end of the season, makes me wonder if the white flag was raised a long time ago? I’m just hoping the attendances dont drop below 20k again, which was mostly my point, get behind the team, playoffs or no playoffs(No playoffs now..), just enjoy the games as they come and you know, take things as they come. I would be happy anywhere between 7-10th personally now that the playoffs are gone. Plenty to play for. I personally won’t be happy with any placement beyond 10th. Irving08 Too generous MBW. Personally I think Warnock managed his resources badly. He took too long to sort out the defence; showed an unforgiveable favouritism to certain players (usually ‘his’); and displayed little intelligence in team selection and tactics (yesterday being another example). He’s not a bad man, but he is a tiresome man: it was and is always about him. And am I the only fan who got sick of reading or hearing him praise other teams and their Managers ? Or disdained his patronising comments on the the likes of Varney, or disparagng remarks on Aidy White and Bechhio. In the end, I am left wondering if Warnock is really just a foolish man with a king-size ego. Matthew Perhaps this is why he wants to walk so badly? Would it kill his ego if he retires from managing with a sacking from GFH? What pisses me off most is simply that he’s willing to just abandon ship without a second thought, if we’re a sinking ship, we need a manager who would gladly go down with said ship and not leave till his head was quite literally under the water. Show some fucking passion Warnock. It’s not just about you, the club will always be bigger than you, show some balls and stick with it till your contract expires, or at the very most stop fucking talking about quitting, let GFH replace you and keep quiet, show some damn loyalty. Irving08 Spot on Mathew. philyew Why on earth does anyone think this shower is promotion material? That makes 22 out of a possible 51 points dropped against teams that are now occupying the bottom 10 places in the division. If they can’t do better than that against the worst of a poor collection, they don’t deserve to go up… If you look closely, Warnock has a sell-by date stamped on his neck: Best before September 2011. Been a fan for 50 years and will remain so…but this season has been so disappointing…MOT TSS I think we have to write it off as a transitional season. Ownership has now changed, management will soon follow and new personnel will arrive in the summer. A work in progress, but I’m optimistic for next season. philyew Yup. There’s always next season to look forward to I wonder how much GFH are willing to spend to unravel the mess? Tyler75 It would have been a travesty if we had made the Top 6 – as we’ve been at very best, average all season. In a half-decent Championship we would have been scrabbling around the bottom 6. Nigel Adkins your destiny awaits ! Ev I have no problem with Warnock…..I think under better circumstances he may well have got us promoted but…..for me and for Leeds united I think we need something different at this moment. A good young manager, on a long term contract with a vision to rebuild the team with youth and play good football. That is what the fans need now then the healing will really start….. we need to get some pride back and an excited feeling back on a saturday morning.. Hello Mr Adkins and welcome !