Murphy transformation underlines McDermott’s failure TSS April 14, 2014 Match reviews 32 Comments Brian McDermott marked a year in charge at Elland Road with a 2-0 win over relegation strugglers Blackpool, in a match where his biggest signing to date finally showed what he’s capable of. Luke Murphy has formed part of the most pathetic midfield partnership in recent Leeds United history alongside Rodolph Austin this season, constantly overrun by the poor and average alike, but here he was relieved of defensive responsibilities and given license to attack while the experienced Tonge-Brown duo took care of the task he’s failed so badly at. This was an admission of sorts on Brian McDermott’s part, an acknowledgement that Murphy can’t perform the box-to-box duties the Leeds United manager has been asking of him. When given freedom to roam and get forward however, Murphy can provide the missing link between strike-force and midfield Leeds United have been looking for. In an attacking role, Murphy was exceptional, Leeds United’s man of the match without contest. His first goal looked to be an opportunity missed after he neglected to strike first time, but he got a second chance to get the shot right and executed perfectly. Taking the ball under control, Murphy turned, dummied the defender and keeper before firing home to give The Whites a 1-0 lead. Murphy’s second goal came from a long punt down the wing from Tom Lees, headed on by Noel Hunt and into the path of Murphy who casually lifted the ball over an advancing Blackpool goalkeeper from a tight angle to seal victory for Leeds. All of this has to be tempered by how poor Leeds United’s opposition were. The Whites played well and created the better chances, Murphy was a player transformed and we thoroughly deserved the three points, but Blackpool are an incredibly poor side and we’ve plummeted from a play-off position at Christmas to what almost felt like a “six-pointer” relegation battle with only a handful of games remaining for good reason – and Murphy’s situation sums it all up perfectly. Here we had centre-back Scott Wootton on the right-wing (with “mixed” results) while left-back Stephen Warnock was on the opposite side (he did OK, but is still too slow for that role), meaning we fielded four central defenders in a 3-5-2 formation. McCormack returned to his favoured position of centre-forward (one of three positions he’s played this season) and Murphy was shunted forward into the advanced midfield role he prefers (from what could probably be described as a defensive midfield role previous to now). There are four games remaining of this season and McDermott still doesn’t know what his best team is, where his players are best deployed or what line-up he wants to use. Boardroom chaos aside, that’s been the biggest problem in 2014, we haven’t played to our strengths because our manager still seems to be figuring out what they are. Ross McCormack has scored 28 goals this season but was still played as an attacking midfielder last week. Noel Hunt was played as a winger a few weeks ago for reasons I can’t explain. We brought in an exceptionally talented striker in Connor Wickham, then stuck him on the wing to cross balls in for Matt Smith (with McCormack on the opposite flank). The list goes on and on. Our midfield has been overrun by relegation giants like Millwall and the defence doesn’t bear talking about. I don’t wish to be negative following a 2-0 victory, but I don’t want to pretend we’ve suddenly turned a corner either. We corrected a few of the glaringly obvious problems with our line-up, but there are still major issues with this side. The three points puts to bed any lingering fears of a relegation battle and allows us to draw a line under this tragedy of a season, but there’s a lot more areas Brian McDermott needs to address if he’s to start the 2014-15 season as Leeds United manager, starting with the wing-backs he keeps persisting with despite lacking players who can actually play there before moving swiftly on to our hopelessly inadequate defence. But we won, so that’s something. Roll on the summer… Ups and downs – This game kicked off at 15:07 to mark 25 years since the Hillsborough disaster and was preceded by an impeccably observed minute’s silence from both groups of fans. – The negative reaction from fans as Noel Hunt came on was incredibly disappointing. It hasn’t worked out for him at Leeds and he’ll probably be gone in the summer, but we should at least let players kick the ball before booing them. – Brian McDermott claimed he wore a tracksuit because his daughter had advised him too, but it symbolised the changing of his role from club manager to a first team coach working under Massimo Cellino (who’ll act as a Director of Football). – McDermott also stayed on the bench, allowing Nigel Gibbs to shout at players from the technical area. – Good luck to Blackpool in their relegation battle, they’ve also suffered from chaos at the boardroom level this season and of all the teams in the survival scrap, I’d rather they be the one who survives – mostly because I enjoy a night out at the seaside. And they did “give” us Simon Grayson.