Leeds_United_Santa_Hat_u25hstld_0All things considered, 2013 was a good year for Leeds United. Heading into the congested Christmas calendar, Brian McDermott and the new owners had somehow made Leeds genuine promotion contenders, a feat most fans – myself included – thought impossible at the start of the season.

But Christmas is a merciless time when things start to come unstuck for you in football. In a run of fixtures where Leeds stood to contend 12 points in 11 days, the Whites escaped with just two. A disappointing haul that leaves us outside the play-off positions and under no illusions as to the strengthening this squad requires during the January transfer window.

In saying that however, I don’t wish to take away from the efforts of the team we currently have and the brilliant work Brian McDermott et al did throughout 2013. That Leeds United are sitting 8th in this league, just one point outside the play-off places, despite a difficult summer and continuing boardroom upheaval shows how far we’ve come from the Bates and Warnock era (with what is largely the same team).

I don’t wish to dwell on the disappointment of 10 dropped points over Christmas, but I think a bit of bad luck played it’s part in our poor form. 0-0 against Barnsley is to be expected, they’re a hopelessly inadequate team for 44 games per season, but when Leeds United are the opposition, they seem to up their performance to a level which must truly irritate their fans – if they performed week in, week out as well as they always do against Leeds, they’d not be sat bottom of the table right now.

But it’s the away trip to Blackpool where I feel Christmas was lost for The Whites. All told, it was a pretty poor game. Leeds took a 1-0 lead then seemed to take their foot off the gas a bit, but Blackpool never really looked like scoring. Tom Ince however, had other ideas. After the abuse he’d received from the Leeds United faithful (because his Dad played for Manchester United) it seemed somewhat inevitable that he’d score and silence us, despite the poor run of form he’s been in lately.

Ince’s equalising goal shouldn’t have mattered too much though. Just minutes after he’d scored it, Ross McCormack left Kirk Broadfoot flat footed and was through one-on-one with Blackpool’s keeper, absolutely guaranteed to score with the form he’s been in lately. Knowing what was about to happen, Broadfoot did the only thing he could do and “took one for the team,” fouling Ross McCormack and sacrificing himself to prevent a certain goal. I don’t blame Broadfoot for the foul, I’d have done exactly the same thing, but it was unquestionably a red card. Broadfoot was the last man and McCormack was through. Yet the referee somehow saw it differently and only gave a yellow.

To make matters worse, Kirk Broadfoot went on to perform a horror lunge on Marius Zaliukas in added time, which could have done some serious damage to the Leeds defender. Broadfoot did see red this time, but with only added time remaining, it was too little, too late for Leeds.

From there, a bit of fatigue played it’s part and when you’re out-of-form, it’s harder to grind out results with a tired squad whose confidence has taken a dent. Had we beaten Blackpool and carried a bit more confidence into the games against Forest and Blackburn, we’d probably have one eye on the automatic spots right now, but that’s just how Christmas goes. You hit the ground running and you can climb a few places in a week and half, but when you falter early on, you can drop places just as quickly.

Mercifully, Leeds United now have chance to regroup. A trip to Rochdale in the FA Cup tomorrow gives McDermott a chance to rest key players and then there’s a week before our league campaign resumes at Hillsborough. By that point, McDermott will be hoping to have a couple of new signings through the door after receiving assurances that the Football League imposed delay on the club’s latest takeover won’t effect his ability to spend.

2013 was an important year for Leeds United. Elland Road is once again an enjoyable place to watch football, McDermott has provided the fans with a confidence long lost and the whole club seems to be pulling in the right direction. 2014 has a tough act to follow then, but if McDermott can secure the signings he needs and the players we currently have continue to perform well, a promotion party in May should certainly do the trick.

Happy New Year everyone, let’s hope it’s the classic we’re dreaming of. Marching on together.

  • Tare

    Luke Murphy/Rudi Austin has been the tired couple lately in

    MF battles. Why not EHD/Chris Dawson instead? Ball possession instead of avoiding risks? But reality is here that CD is in the doghouse as well as EHD so player market here we come. What comes to FA Cup we will progress to the far end, my bets are on it.

    Tare

  • RoystonLUFC

    fantastic! Good to see an article praising our progress rather than whinging about how bad it all is and we’re going to get relegated, etc…

    These are indeed exciting times for Leeds, but I’m still not raising my hopes for promotion this season. I said at the beginning of the season that this will be a gradual progress, maybe one more season where we are, then next season a big push for automatic. We have to be patient and build the squad the way BMac wants it. We should all know that throwing money at a football team doesn’t necessarilly bring the expected rewards.

    So even when the investment comes, it will still take time for it to filter through to success on the pitch. But one thing we can all do – investment or not – is make Elland Road a cauldron again. Support the team and stop booing them if they have a bad game. Believe it or not, booing doesn’t actually help!

    So let’s get in there!

    MOT

    • henrymouni

      “Support the team and stop booing them if they have a bad game. Believe it or not, booing doesn’t actually help!”

      Maybe booing does help?
      You cannot cheer a bad performance – that would be silly!
      The team are paid big money to give a performance worthy of Leeds United.
      The fans are exhausted trying to lift the team for 90 minutes.
      In the end you just have to respond.
      Twas ever thus!
      We are not paid to entertain the team. They are paid to entertain us.

    • PMH

      You get beat by 2-0 by Rochdale and there is only one thing coming from the fans! Don’t blame them. If high expectations are too much for some players they should get themselves transferred to a little team in some lower division.

  • henrymouni

    Brian has got the best he can from the squad, and with reinforcements, we may make the play-offs.
    We have clawed our way up the league, but our performances have been poor, in the main.
    This is always a worry as 100% effort will only take us so far.
    Midfield is still our weak point, with teams strolling through too easily.
    Rudi is getting worse, and his shooting is abysmal.
    The manager is well aware of our weaknesses, so I am content to see him sort it out.
    Onward and upward!

  • Tare

    It is hard to make comment here but let us move on; I am the Tony Currie generation fan where LEEDS UNITED had this midfield GENERAL approach for the game. AS much as I respect DRs Band of Brothers and John Giles/Billy Bremner well Tony Currie is my choice of them all. So why this Chris Dawson is totally out of picture? I have seen in my footballing life some players from Ference Puskas-Pele-Gunther Netzer-with some number 10 qualities. CD has it believe me and what is the reason not to play him? We can’t afford to lose this player for sure.

    Tare

    • henrymouni

      I am confident Chris will feature next season.
      He has been very unlucky with injuries since his debut, and Brian wants to make sure he is physically ready for the fray.
      After a good pre-season he will be ready.
      We need a strong/mobile midfield leader, to allow Alex and maybe Murphy, to play, and pass the ball.
      Chris is a smashing player and will be a star for us.

      • Irving08

        We need a younger Michael Brown playing with Dawson and Mowatt. Murphy lacks what we need.

    • Irving08

      Great minds Tare….

  • Paul Mcknockiter

    They aren’t the new owners yet as surprise surprise yep reported that their could be a hitch into Jan but won’t affect transfers yeah right. Merry go round again b m will be told to sell to buy as it turns out no money it’s all hype to shut fans up as half of am where rose tinted specs one springs to mind Rob the gob Atkinson is chief of employment and chief of all things leeds

    • henrymouni

      I am not to worried Paul.
      David Haigh has a foot in each camp, so he will have his finger on the pulse.
      We will not be selling our best players anymore, as this would undo everything the Chairman has achieved so far.
      I fully expect 2 or 3 players to arrive this month.
      Keep the faith. Bates has gone!! Almost!!

      • Irving08

        Bates, according to Warnock, is a good story teller. He says not many people would believe it. Unravel.
        Interesting isn’t it to compare our curiosity over Bates’ business arrangements with an apparent indifference to those of the present owners ?
        No less interesting is whose sums will be shown to have added up best – his or theirs ? We must be wary of succumbing to the ‘Ridsdale effect’.
        And when is Brian going to show his ruthless side by dropping Austin and his risk-taking side by playing Dawson alongside Mowatt ?
        Advising Mr Putin meant that I missed most of Pugh’s ‘second coming’. On the evidence of Blackburn, it seems that nothing has changed.

  • Matthew

    In fairness I was spot on with everything I said on the article below this one, though afterwards people stopped commenting lol

    • Matthew

      Also I would like to throw my support behind the vocal fans who said what was on their minds at the Rochdale game. The shit standard of football one way or another has to stop, there are players who need not be named that need dropping, we are in dire need of reinforcements(Said this ages ago), the owners need to put their money where there mouth is, or the unrest among fans will just grow. This in turn will affect attendances, I generally can’t see 30,000 people willing to turn up week in week out at Home to watch well this. Though I would like to say please don’t call for McDermotts head regardless of how potentially shit this season may turn out, judge him on the quality of next seasons games when he has more of a chance to build a squad when a large majority of the deadwood is removed at the end of the season.

  • PMH

    Came all the way from USA to Elland Road to see Leeds versus Blackburn. I had fun and bought some scarves on sale, but have to say that the team looked very fragile. The midfield did not assert itself and the set piece defending was dire. Signs of a team off form and lacking organization and confidence. That responsibility rests with McD I am afraid. Pugh operating on the wing had tons of room and looked good. Austin, i have to say, was pathetic and if he is your captain you are in big trouble. So, I am not too surprised by the horrible Rochdale result. You can’t win any FA Cup match without a 100% effort. (Don’t we know that from many decades of upsets.)

    Sorry to tell you this, but no January transfers are going to make a promotable team out of this lot. And never mind a winger, we need midfield players with a backbone. And why oh why is Diouf not even on the bench? Either he is unfit or McD is annoyed with him. He may be a jerk but he is also one of the very few with real football talent in the team. It’s crisis time. Either there is a major shake up or this season is over, except the inevitable scramble to avoid relegation.

    • Matthew

      Been saying this all along. Without McCormacks goals we’d be with our good friends Millwall in the table lol. We’re a mid table quality team with some exceptional players that win us games, even if we were in league 1 I doubt we would be in the top 2 with this team. Austin needs dropping, his shooting has been awful, infact his all round skill lately has been lacking severely, I would take him out the team for a while and dump him in the reserves or rest him and hope he comes back better. It’s a shame that some fans were refusing to accept that we’re not a playoff/auto quality side, they simply took one look at the table and thought pfft we’re 5th who cares. I would swap the entire midfield for Gradel, Howson, Clayton and Snoddy if I had a choice, and put Byram in defense lol. A hugely superior midfield.