Rodolph AustinThe long forgotten passing game returned to Elland Road last night as Leeds United cruised to a 1-0 victory over Burnley.

The Whites dominated most of the game, playing short measured passes, retaining possession and patiently trying to create openings. It was easy to see the effect new manager Brian McDermott has had. Known for his forward-thinking training regimes, a strong focus on sports nutrition such as BCAAS and healthy diets, the Leeds United team looked in much better shape physically.

A far cry from the hoofball days of Neil Warnock, Burnley manager Sean Dyche summed up the change;

“That group of players weren’t playing like that two weeks ago. I know because I saw them.”

Despite all the changes, Leeds United extended a run of games without scoring in the first half to 19. The Whites best chance had fallen to Luke Varney who somehow managed to head over the bar from 4 yards when it looked easier to score.

Varney missed another good chance at the start of the second half, but his overall performance can’t be faulted. He looks a player transformed in his new centre-forward role, a tirelessly hard-working individual whose aerial dominance is something Leeds United have missed since the departure of Luciano Becchio.

Meanwhile, Rodolph Austin was playing an absolute blinder. While always strong in the tackle, the Jamaican has taken some criticism in recent weeks for his wayward passing and careless pot-shots, but last night, he looked like the Rudy of old.

The strong tackles and surging runs forward remained, but gone were the forty yard potshots and misplaced passes. Austin’s 63rd minute goal, a well-taken volley which came via an exquisite chip from El-Hadji Diouf, was just reward for his man of the match performance and the perfect finish to an excellent passage of play from the Whites.

Rudy wasn’t alone in upping his game, the entire team did. As a unit they looked cohesive and more comfortable playing the style Brian McDermott has adopted. Every player wanted the ball and was working hard to create space for themselves, giving their team-mates options when in possession. There was no moaning when someone lost the ball either, they simply re-organised and fought to get it back.

Joyfully, the absence of moaning on the pitch seemed to transfer to the stands too where the 16,788 who had bothered to turn up were enjoying the new style of football Brian McDermott was directing. “We’re Leeds United, we’re passing the ball” was sang with so much enthusiasm, the players must surely have taken encouragement from it.

The match wasn’t entirely one-way traffic though, Burnley did enjoy brief spells of sustained pressure towards the end of each half, but this was as comfortable a 1-0 victory as Leeds United have produced in some time.

Changes to personnel and the style of play certainly helped matters, but the biggest contributing factor to this win was Leeds United’s togetherness. In five short days, Brian McDermott has replaced hunched shoulders, frustrated sighs and dropped heads with an enthusiasm and self-belief we’ve lacked in recent months. The players looked to be enjoying themselves, and most importantly, the crowd was too.

There’s work to be done of course. We still lack creativity, width and could use a heavy-hitter upfront. But these are areas to be addressed in the summer, for now, you have to applaud Brian McDermott for getting the best out of the players at his disposal.

On and on…

  • you mean those players that only Warnock could get the best out of? He said so himself. The man is absolutely laughable.

    Thank you Brian McDermott, you are an absolute breath of fresh air

  • Shaun

    Need to get Somma involved, best goal scorer at the club on his day, needs to get fit and play alongside McCormack or a new player

  • Darlo white

    I think the biggest priority would be at centre half, Pearce is the only player who doesn’t look comfortable playing this style of football, possibly lees also. Byram gets better each week and warnock looks ten times the player playing a style of football he is probably more accustomed to from his premier league days.

    • JDC

      Bring Charlie Taylor back from Inverness … he’s getting rave reviews. The solution to having little dosh to throw about lies with the Academy boys.

      • Irving08

        Of course, he’s got real hints of class. Who knows ? – had he been given his head this season he could have impressed as much as has Byram. With White – and for another year Warnock – we look to have a winning left side.

        • Flippin-Pop-It-Bruva

          Byram will blatantly get sold lets not forget Papa smurf is still president lol but to be honest i would sell him too if we get anywhere near the reported £10 million it is reported he is worth imagine what a chief scout could do with ten million (especially one that bought Shane Long for £300,000 k?????) I will only be vexed if the transfer funds are not given to George Dawes to invest in the rest of the squad (like has happened with Gradel, Snodgrass, Howson & Becchio) This needs to stop from this summer. If GFH want to win the promotion windfall reportedly Cardiff will make from promotion (100 mill) then we need to invest that ten mill in getting a couple of decent wingers especially left footed ones) and a couple of creative players (eg Austin from Burnley) Just to get Elland road buzzing again i would also try and get a crowd favorite back (eg Gradel, Beckford or even Howson on Loan) However i was rather impressed with Sheffield Wednesdays striker Johnson and think he would fit in well at Leeds. Who would you buy with that ten mill?????

  • craig

    Thank you Uncle Fester I was one of those asking for O’leary back but you Sir are a breathe of fresh air. We can now look forward to next season, it will encourage me to save and fly home to watch a few games :)

    • JDC

      Totally agree craig … Brian McDermott was my second choice behind David O’Leary but I have to admit, I was wrong, Brian McDermott is ticking all the boxes necessary to bring stability and success back to ER. The changes he has made in just five days are remarkable … long may it continue.
      When you read the comments of Sean Dyche you come to realise just how bad things were … even an opponents manager comments that the Leeds players are different to the ones he watched a couple of weeks ago. I only hope somebody sends his, and many others to Neil (Hoofball) Warnock

      • craig

        He’s got a very possitive attitude cant quite put my finger on it even his interviews are enjoyable to watch. Lets hope this is a new era. Mot.

    • kev raunds

      uncle fester,classic

  • spellz

    Mc D right now surely is our best chance of reaching the premier league, it has been an amazing 2 game transformation we are fighting for once and and the optimism is resounding leads to me to the one question though where have all the pessimists gone? haha.

  • VikingTor, Norway

    Pleasing result and reason for optimism. However, we have won two games against rather limited opponents, so no reason to lift off the ground completly. Let’s stick together now, help the players to keep up the momentum no matter what so we can again fill ER with the most passionate fans in the world.

    • gistheman

      We may only played limited opponents as you say fella, but if warnock were still here we would of lost or at best got a draw. The style and calmness is there just after 5 or 6 days with the squad that’s why there is more optimistic fans now than I’ve seen for long time.
      Long may it continue mot……

    • Jd

      You can only beat what’s put in front of you!! Six points from playoff, you never know…

    • TSS

      We’ve been playing “limited opponents” all season, this entire division is incredibly average, that’s why so few points separate it.

      • LUFC-Srbski

        That is true – which side came to ER (apart from Watford) and totally destroyed us. Can’t think of any. On paper Warnock would always use as an excuse, we are better than a lot of teams in this division.

  • markman

    As we have never had anybody who can deliver a deadball in the way Snodgrass could.
    could Ian Harte do another season?

    • Soluble Tablet

      Good question. Wouldn’t be surprised.

  • mrbigwheels

    Knock, knock, knocking on Heaven’s door.

  • LUFC-Srbski

    It’s funny to see those fans who were so negative to this appointment eat their words now. I had faith in the man from day one and was prepared to give him two years to build a team.

    In two games he has completely changed our team spirit, style of play and overall togetherness. I couldn’t believe what I was watching last night (nearly mistook the Whites for Real Madrid or something).

    I can’t believe how quickly he’s had an impact and it just shows you how clueless Warnock was and is as a manager.

    I was listening to his interview yesterday when he said this (note this isn’t a perfect quote) “At Reading I played with two pacey wingers to fit that team, at Leeds we don’t have that so we play a diamond formation to suit the players we’ve got. I always select the system to fit the players I have”

    I was in shocked – I am actually listening to someone speak from the Planet Football and not Planet ‘I don’t give a shit I’m on a Tractor in Cornwall Land’. The difference in attitude and understanding just baffled me. A manager that actually plays square pegs in square holes!

    All I can say now is where has BM been all these years. To think had we got rid of Warnock earlier in the season when he had already ballsed it up, we could have been looking pretty good right now. Hope we get a massive crowd for Brighton send the players off we a bang for next season. On and on! MOT.

    Let’s hope they back BM with the same cash (which was considerable) that they did for Warnock. I hope we sign some decent talent from the lower leagues too!

    • Irving08

      Let’s not start talking about money so soon, please. We need to know more about the capabilities of the players we have before we even contemplate new signings.

      • LUFC-Srbski

        I’m not bothered if we have money or not. I know BM will be a shrewd operator having been a Head Scout for so many years – he has an eye for players. We have plenty of good youth players coming through and you’d think some of them Dawson, Poleon etc. will be given a good chance next season.

    • Flippin-Pop-It-Bruva

      Quality post completely agree. BM knows the psychology and also knows about tactics. we do need pacey wingers and i too would play that diamond role without them. Well observed Brother…….

  • Irving08

    Yes, it was a pleasure watching us play last night. The point about a passing game is that it can create a more durable form of togetherness than the exhortation upon which Warnock seems to have based his game. Building the formation around the players rather than vice-versa – which to be fair SG did too – was the key that liberated the players. But as well as being shrewd, the new manager has a winning modesty too: ‘Gosh’, he said in his post match interview, ‘I am being interviewed by Eddie Gray.’
    Paul Green impressed me greatly last night.

    • LUFC-Srbski

      Paul Green was a completely different player. That was a nice touch with Eddie – shows Brian really respects the clubs legends and fans.

  • Matthew

    16,788 attendance last night was a fucking disgrace, so what if we have nothing to play for, so what if the playoffs are gone, the team is playing for pride, and the fans should equally be showing pride in their side.

    Enough of the plastic shit, get behind the team regardless of where we are in the league. Anyone who is able to get to the Brighton game, our last home game of the season, and is not willing too is a disgrace, let’s make our final home game special. Get behind the fucking team guys.

    • kev raunds

      well said sir lets get behind them

    • Irving08

      Mathew, Were Don Revie still with us he would agree with you. He often expressed his disappointment with our gates. It has been a constant theme through the decades. Don used to say that if Liverpool or Manchester had a team like his 50,000 odd people would be going through the gates instead of the 36,000 maximum he had to live with.

  • Soluble Tablet

    Brian has made a terrific start and I’m delighted too but everyone really must keep their feet on the ground. Many of us (me included I’m afraid) applauded the appointment of Neil Warnock and some hailed him as a genius after we destroyed Everton. But Championship seasons are long, drawn out affairs and even the best teams seem to hit a bad patch or two before reaching May. Forest couldn’t stop winning after they appointed Billy Davies and Watford were unstoppable after Xmas.

    Warnock was right about one thing – you need to be tough to perform at Elland Road. Brian will need to carry the team and the fans through a few dodgy weeks next year and this will be his real test. He’s clearly a decent and very clever bloke but much sterner tests will have to be faced next season than the richly enjoyable honeymoon period of the last few days.

  • Gerald Hobbs

    I agree with Shaun – Somma is special and will be a real asset next season if we are wise enough to resign him in the summer. A full pre-season for him will make all the difference and he’s strong and will run all day. It was lovely to see him get a runout last night – and special thanks to the WHOLE team for the first time this season (other than a few cup matches!) making the 450 mile round trip worth making (especially on a tuesday night! Great crowd for tuesday too – role on next season when we should be transformed and mostly with the players that Warnock brought but failed to encourage to play FOOTBALL!
    Well done lads – and THANK YOU Brian for coming to Leeds! MOT

  • mrbigwheels

    Am not getting carried away here with ‘the blast’ but it is so obvious some of the squad have a level of talent that could have easily gained us a top six finish and it beggars belief as to why Warnock would not let them play football. He played his squad differently at QPR. What has been spinning in that mans weird head?. An awkward devils belligerence that only inhabits those with a desire for personal gain and a tendency to only see their possibly selfish viewpoint rather than embrace the fact that in football… everyone concerned needs to feel like a winner. I’m pleased he’s gone… he is a secret sulker, and actually, quite juvenile. Here’s to a progressive not regressive future.

    • Irving08

      I agree with you MBW, he is essentially juvenile. Only someone with a juveniles’ lack of self awarness would have found himself sharing a studio with the inimitable Garth on last Saturday’s Final Score commenting on the 13 club Championship relegation battle. But as he seems to have convinced himself that he was asked to go when actually he wanted to stay ‘to make us safe’ he probably thought nothing of it.

      • Tyler75

        I’m not sure if you saw Colin’s BBC interview – it was worthy of Stalin in its revisionism – apparently when we had the boy from WBA on -loan we were to quote Colin’ world beaters’ !!!