Millwall_The_New_Den_680375A pretty forgettable first half gave way to a lacklustre second half Leeds United fans will want to forget quickly. as the Whites fell to a fourth straight defeat against a distinctly average Millwall side.

There’s little to sugar-coat what was a poor showing from Leeds, Millwall found space far too easily in the second 45 and Leeds were perhaps lucky to only lose by two.

Both the goals Leeds conceded were a failure of the team as a whole, particularly the midfield who left far too much space between themselves and the defence which Millwall effortlessly exploited.

The second goal was particularly bad from a Leeds United point of view because of the amount of opportunities we had to close Millwall’s players down. Malone and Trotter played five passes between themselves which went unchallenged as they advanced into Leeds United’s half, Malone ultimately finding himself in acres of space from which he dealt the deciding blow.

Millwall had already struck the post in the first half before Paddy Kenny attempted to head an attempted lob (when it looked easy enough to catch), missing it completely but saved once again by the woodwork. Another chance was crossed between Leeds United’s line of defenders and Kenny, with neither making any contact, but their blushes were spared by Millwall’s failure to connect.

If this game had ended four or five nil, Leeds United could have no complaints. A better team would have walked us off the park, but Millwall are a pretty average Championship side and that’s what makes this particular defeat so difficult to stomach.

Had Leeds United posed any kind of attacking threat themselves, this could have been a different game. Ross McCormack went closest for Leeds, trying to glance Alex Mowatt’s cross into the far corner, only to see his effort go wide. It was the best chance Leeds United had created and a poor miss from eight yards out.

To underline just how average Millwall are, a defensive blunder almost gave Leeds United a goal. I’ve no idea what it was their defender was attempting to do, but he hit the ball towards his own goal, then scrambled back to save the shot he’d taken, desperately hitting the ball against his own woodwork (more luck than judgement) to make the save.

But it doesn’t matter what class of opposition you face when there are so many holes in your formation. The space between midfield and defence was big enough to house Piers Morgan’s ego; Stoke City could look like Barcelona playing with that much space around them.

At times, Millwall looked like they were on the training ground. Cutting through Leeds United’s midfield and defence was far too easy, so easy in fact, they’re probably a little disappointed to have not scored more.

Overall, a dreadful performance from Leeds.

FT Millwall 2-0 Leeds United

All the talk of reinforcements has centred on a striker this last week or so, but I don’t think that’ll solve the problems Leeds United have. For me, it still comes down to wingers. I’ve been repeating that line for so long now that I’m starting to bore myself, but we only created one and a half good chances today (McCormack’s that I mentioned above and Rodolph Austin late on). Millwall were able to pile players forward because they didn’t fear Leeds United’s counter attack, nor should they have.

Furthermore, the addition of wingers allows us to address the cause of all our problems – the easily exploited formation which leaves acres of space for opposition players to dance around in while doing absolutely nothing for us in an attacking sense. I agree with McDermott that you have to play a formation that fits the players, but the one we’re using is so narrow that we’re easily broken down by the opposition congesting the area we’re playing in, then, as soon as they take control of the ball they break away into the acres of space we leave all over the pitch. It’s pretty amateurish at times.

From an attacking sense, the biggest issue is that we can’t stretch teams and drag players out of position. Key to our attacking prowess under Grayson was the unpredictability of Gradel and Snodgrass, who constantly moved around the pitch dragging opposition players with them. Early doors, we were hugely over-reliant on McCormack doing just that, but the opposition have grown wise to that approach and we lack an alternative.

There’s a quality issue too. Take Michael Tonge for example. He’s very good at tying things together and bringing a bit of composure to the centre of midfield, but he offers very little defensively and is nowhere near quick enough to cover the distance required of a central midfielder playing in a box-to-box role. Here we need a Jonny Howson, who was much better in that role than many fans give him credit for.

Another problem is Rodolph Austin who was a bit careless at times today and didn’t do enough to fill the gap between midfield and defence. Paul Green did well at DM early in the season and while I don’t wish to start second-guessing the manager already, I think Austin is better off in Tonge’s position with Green playing behind him.

The only midfielder who came out of this fixture with any credit is Alex Mowatt, who at times, looks a class above those around him. It”ll take time for him to fully command any fixture, but he’s quickly growing into his first team role and should retain his place for the visit of Bournemouth.

On and on…