I don’t know what it is about the 4-4-2 diamond that’s been so appealing to a succession of Leeds United managers, but it gives no consideration to our players’ best positions.

Rodolph Austin is no more a cultured defensive midfielder capable of spreading the ball about than Stephen Warnock is a pacey full-back who can burst forward and provide width. And those two positions are fundamental to the success of the formation.

What we ended up with instead was a team of players uncomfortable in a narrow formation Brighton found pathetically easy to dominate.

In possession, which in the first half especially was a rare occurrence, Leeds’ central midfielders and defence had no outlet for the ball. Brighton successfully and effortlessly suffocated the centre of the pitch every time Leeds got possession and since we have no outlets in wide positions, the only option for whoever had the ball was to pass it to someone else who was being crowded out or hoof it forward – or, as was more commonly the option we went for, give it back to Brighton.

And the worse thing is, for all David Hockaday’s talk of ball retention (we managed just 30% on home soil in the opening 45 minutes), a place in the starting XI for Matt Smith in such a narrow formation – with no one on the pitch who was likely to put crosses in for our beanstalk of a centre-forward – suggests The Hock had played him as a target man for balls to be hoofed at.

These players in a 4-4-2 diamond are NEVER going to produce possession football. Add a decent defensive midfielder and some attack-minded full-backs then sure, the formation has merit, but we don’t have that luxury so for crying out loud, can we please stop trying it!

On home soil against a team who’d lost their opening two fixtures, it was an incredibly negative approach and we got exactly what we deserved.

That’s not to say the formation was the only issue last night, the selection left much to be desired (David Norris is still alive!?) and the effort many of our players put in fell a long way short of an acceptable standard.

But preparation counts for a lot, and when you send your team out to line-up in a formation they’ve never looked comfortable in, a formation so pathetically easy for a team like Brighton to deal with (crowd the centre when Leeds have the ball, spray it around and stretch us to create gaps when in possession) you’re already losing the battle.

Mercifully, The Hock saw sense in the second half and changed things around, reverting to the 4-3-3/4-5-1 formation we’ve looked more comfortable in for about 3 years now (not that any manager seems to have noticed that) and while I can’t agree with Hockaday’s post-match comments that we “dominated” in the second half, we certainly improved and looked a bit more like the home team.

It wasn’t enough though and Leeds went on to lose the fixture 2-0, embarrassed and totally dominated for long periods by a side who’ve struggled at the start of this campaign and should have been there for the taking.

On and on…

 

I don't know what it is about the 4-4-2 diamond that's been so appealing to a succession of Leeds United managers, but it gives no consideration to our players' best positions. Rodolph Austin is no more a cultured defensive midfielder capable of spreading the ball about than Stephen Warnock is a pacey full-back who can burst forward and provide width. And those two positions are fundamental to the success of the formation. What we ended up with instead was a team of players uncomfortable in a narrow formation Brighton found pathetically easy to dominate. In possession, which in the first half especially was a rare occurrence, Leeds' central midfielders and defence had no outlet for the ball. Brighton successfully and effortlessly suffocated the centre of the pitch every time Leeds got possession and since we have no outlets in wide positions, the only option for whoever had the ball was to pass it to someone else who was being crowded out or hoof it forward - or, as was more commonly the option we went for, give it back to Brighton. And the worse thing is, for all David Hockaday's talk of ball retention (we managed just 30% on home soil in the opening 45 minutes), a place in the starting XI for Matt Smith in such a narrow formation - with no one on the pitch who was likely to put crosses in for our beanstalk of a centre-forward - suggests The Hock had played him as a target man for balls to be hoofed at. These players in a 4-4-2 diamond are NEVER going to produce possession football. Add a decent defensive midfielder and some attack-minded full-backs then sure, the formation has merit, but we don't have that luxury so for crying out loud, can we please stop trying it! On home soil against a team who'd lost their opening two fixtures, it was an incredibly negative approach and we got exactly what we deserved. That's not to say the formation was the only issue last night, the selection left much to be desired (David Norris is still alive!?) and the effort many of our players put in fell a long way short of an acceptable standard. But preparation counts for a lot, and when you send your team out to line-up in a formation they've never looked comfortable in, a formation so pathetically easy for a team like Brighton to deal with (crowd the centre when Leeds have the ball, spray it around and stretch us to create gaps when in possession) you're already losing the battle. Mercifully, The Hock saw sense in the second half and changed things around, reverting to the 4-3-3/4-5-1 formation we've looked more comfortable in for about 3 years now (not that any manager seems to have noticed that) and while I can't agree with Hockaday's post-match comments that we "dominated" in the second half, we certainly improved and looked a bit more like the home team. It wasn't enough though and Leeds went on to lose the fixture 2-0, embarrassed and totally dominated for long periods by…

Leeds United 0-2 Brighton & Hove Albion

Marco Silvestri
Sam Byram
Jason Pearce
Liam Cooper
Stephen Warnock
Rodolph Austin
Michael Tonge
Luke Murphy
Tomasso Bianchi
Matt Smith
Billy Sharp

Dismal

The game was won and lost in midfield, which was dominated effortlessly by Brighton.

User Rating: 2.03 ( 9 votes)
38
  • marc grigg

    Comment about Norris was just uncalled for but the rest I agree with but that’s what we get with an idiot fraudster and a puppet

  • Donal C

    Get behind the team??

    *grabs pitchfork*

    In all seriousness yesterday will hopefully bring some of us back down to earth. As is we’re a mid table team, not the play off contenders some would have you believe.

    That said a couple more good signings (which I’m hopeful might actually happen!) may kickstart our play off push…..

  • henrymouni

    Our start to the season is exactly as expected, apart from the dreamers amongst us.
    Over the years we have got rid of players, and replaced with other players who are no better.
    This is because our managers have had no real budget to work with.
    So they buy a lot of cheap players, and hope they can work a miracle – they couldn’t.
    Massimo has got rid of a lot of players (somewhere between 12 and 19 LOL).
    He has brought 10 in.
    So far the new signings leave a lot to be desired.
    He got them all on the cheap, apart from Billy, who was not too expensive.
    The young midfielders he has bought, are not on show just now, but their clubs let them go rather easily.
    If we had bought 3 top pros, along with Billy, we would be making progress.
    Brighton let players go but they brought top players in.
    So did Middlesborough.
    In fact all the top clubs in our league, have looked for quality, not cheapness.
    If a player will not play for us because of the wages, Massimo does not like their attitude.
    People like Cooper and Ajose are a gamble, as was Murphy, who is still struggling to keep up.
    You might as well play the young midfielders we have, and Charlie Taylor at left back.
    I thought Bianchi would be good, but he is not getting too involved just now.
    The Hock says he is the type of player who seems to be doing nothing – BUT HE IS!!!
    Lets hope this striker signs today and that he is good.
    Sharp needs someone beside him to create chances.
    We need wide men to stop the opposing full-backs from running all over us.
    Ajose will do until we get a proper winger or two.

    • Tyler75

      Henry, you’re assuming that even if we had 3 ‘top quality’ players, the Hock wold know where and how to play them !

  • Jambi

    At this rate I can even see Bradford giving us a good hiding in the cup.

  • PAUL W

    Hockaday said that Leeds lacked pace, but he left Ajose and Poleon on the bench, until it was far too late and should have played them both from the start, along side Billy Sharp, instead of Smith playing.
    Smith is a good impact player, coming off the bench, but when he starts in games, he needs crosses from wide players and the Leeds midfield had no wide players against Brighton.
    Tonge, Bianchi and Murphy are tall players, with no pace and should not all be playing in the midfield, at the same time and Austin is only playing, because Viviani was not signed.
    With Daukara out for a few weeks, Poleon is a very similar player and should finally be given his deserved chance in the team and should not be ignored by Hockaday, who has questioned Poleon’s ability.
    If Poleon isn’t ready now, he will never be ready.

  • theseagullbus

    The last time we heralded the return of two ‘quality wingers’ saw Stewart and Kebe fail miserably at Sheff Weds,and the club wasting resources on a couple of overrated prima donnas.Hock is doing the best he can with the squad he can and a diamond is probably the best option at present,while he also tries and gets the likes of Sharp and Morison fully match fit. I’m reserving judgement until the end of the window where the new players may have had time to gel,but spending big money for big reputations doesn’t necessarily make you any better.
    Theres also the burden of ridding the club of the big earners but we’ve more chance of that by having them in the squad,and where we’ve already paid significant sums in shifting the likes of Kenny.
    Be patient people-I’m reasonably sure Mr Cellino knows what he’s doing.

    • George

      Not having wingers has worked so much better… Some of the stupid comments our fans make are beyond belief. Cant wait till we get a shit goalkeeper and they complain that ‘we had a quality goalkeeper and it failed miserably, why buy another.’ Ken Bates was right we really are morons.

  • tyr

    Hockaday is clueless, I seriously think we’ll be struggling to stay up this season.