135 minutes of bliss for upwardly mobile Whites TSS September 21, 2014 Match reviews 38 Comments Suddenly, it all seems so very easy for Leeds United. In the last 135 minutes of football, The Whites have scored six times without reply as Neil Redfearn signed off another spell as caretaker boss with two impressive wins. We’d seen glimpses of a team finding their feet already this season, but the second half at Bournemouth could be the moment we look back on in May as the catalyst for a memorable season. This, a Leeds United squad in which Adryan and Montenegro have yet to feature, is as good a team as we’ve had since Simon Grayson’s squad was dismantled by Ken Bates – potentially much better. Bookmakers are currently offering odds of 16/1 for Leeds to gain promotion through the play-offs, which judging by recent form is worth a punt, or Royal Vegas has mobile Canadian slot games if that’s more your thing. There are still a few kinks to work out. Bellusci for example, Leeds United’s box-to-box centre-back, scored a phenomenal free-kick which made all the headlines against Bournemouth before running the length of the pitch to attempt an audacious lob against Huddersfield (one which bounced off the crossbar and was tucked away by Antenucci), but defensively, he still looks to be getting to grips with the English game at times. The same is true of Berardi who picked up his second red card in just four appearances against Huddersfield for two careless challenges. But for some, the adjustment process looks almost effortless. Souleymane Doukara is a real talent, Mirco Antenucci has genuine quality and Marco Silverstri could well be the best goalkeeper we’ve had since Nigel Martyn (and I really rated Paul Robinson). Alongside our imports is the rejuvenated Rodolph Austin who’s probably been our best outfield player so far this season, no more so than against Huddersfield where he was simply sensational. He, along with Alex Mowatt, Stephen Warnock and Jason Pearce are thriving with better players alongside them and have really stepped their games up to make the starting XI one hell of a selection headache. The diamond formation, a point of great irritation for fans only a few weeks back, suddenly makes sense. It still looks a bit narrow at times, but with Lewis Cook as midfield anchor and a bit of pace added to the team, the system has genuine merit. And speaking of Lewis Cook, the boy marshalls our midfield like he’s been running the show for a decade. He’s incredible. I find myself constantly in awe of his ability and the influence he manages to exert on games at such a young age. It’s only a matter of time before he follows in the footsteps of Fabian Delph and makes his debut for England, of that I have no doubts. This, we’re told, is a ‘crisis club.’ One well-known Sky Sports pundit went as far as to predict relegation for Leeds this season, and in fairness to him, his prediction was perfectly reasonable. David Hockaday was a ludicrous appointment made by an eccentric owner we’re still trying to figure out and we started the campaign on the back of a calamitous pre-season, without anything close to a finalised squad in place. We had all the ingredients for disaster. Yet here we are – our hastily assembled team, madcap owner and caretaker boss providing more reasons to be cheerful than Leeds United fans have had in a long time, all of which begs the question – are we capable of challenging the top six this season? I’m cautiously optimistic personally, the new Head Coach is a big variable to add to the equation, but based on the Neil Redfearn inspired turn-around, all signs point towards the promised land. On and on… Graham Hockaday was the only man to ever prove that you can polish a diamond and get a turd in return. It’s good to be a Leeds United fan again. Irving08 I missed the Hockaday reign, but I suspect that your characterisation is unfair. What appear to have been cautious team selections were perhaps understandable in the context of late signings. To my mind, anyone who is handed the job of managing/coaching Leeds merits understanding and a lot of sympathy, not sneers. Besides sneering is not the Leeds way; I suggest you leave it to our cousins from across the Pennines. Dale Bianchi seems to have been missed off of your report, he is amazing! what a player he is for Leeds TSS Yeah, he’s done well – think it speaks to how well everyone has been playing that there are still others I could have mentioned. Irving08 The great thing about the present team/squad is that attention is no longer focussed on individual players, be it Snoddy, Gradel, Howson, McCormack or whoever. The recruitment policy means that we are just watching good footballers. Amongst other benefits, it will reduce the pressure on, and our expectations of, our own Academy products. There appears to be an intelligence now working at Elland Road that has not been evident for a very long time. spellz Yes, he is starting to come through nicely each game he plays and his passing has been excellent in recent games. Alberto The midfield is where we’ll get even more improvement and that’s what excites me. Massimo has certainly proved that you can get competent players without forking out 1 million for the likes of Wootton…. Or 11 million for Ross McCormack! spellz Listen it is an absolute reform at present, everyone on that pitch in the games Redders has been in charge has in their own way merited a first team place, yes there are kinks to iron out but with so many players tussling for a place and Darko to impress I can only see the standard of play improve from this moment on, can we finish in the top 6?…. I had Fulham down as favorites start of the season, so I sure hope so. M.O.T AA henrymouni One thing that strikes me about the new lads is their attitude and character. Well done Massimo for bringing players who want to play for Leeds. It is a big opportunity for them to be part of this Leeds team. No prima donnas (apart from Massimo!!!! LOL) spellz True, every signing so far has shown a great level of hunger and drive, long may it continue. One player who I have not seen since his purchase is Ajose, anyone know if he still plays for us PMH It is fine to enjoy a couple of solid wins, but let’s not get carried away. Bournemouth and Huddersfield are not exactly Man City and Arsenal are they? I saw the Huddersfield game and the opponents had NO problem getting the ball, keeping it, and moving up field. Stats say that they had more possession and more chances. As Redfearn noted, Leeds were defending much too deep. Fortunately, Huddersfield were a complete joke when they saw the net. The revelation from Leeds is that they sniffed out their chances and were cool as cucumbers slotting them home. The goals were well earned but the clean sheet was a gift from the neighbors. There is still much more work to do. TSS Of course they’re not Man City and Arsenal, we’re in the Championship and every game in the Championship is like the two we’ve just won, those who go up just edge more of them than others. There’s no secret to success in this league, it’s incredibly average. All you need is a tiny bit of quality and you’ll go far, that’s why we got so close with Snoddy and Max, why Cardiff looked leagues apart when Bellamy was on the field and why a pretty average QPR went up on the back of Taarabt. And you’re giving Hudds way too much credit. Possession figures were distorted by end of game when we were down to 10 men (and we still had 49% overall!) and part of the reason they created very little is because we didn’t make it easy for them to do so. Irving08 Burley and Leicester each showed the merits of a team rather than individual focussed approach. TSS True, and I actually think we have quality in enough positions to make it less individually focused, it just takes a couple to step up and take the chances (or perform miracles in Silvestri’s case) each week to keep the points stacking up. Momentum counts for a lot too in this division and I think we have that in our favour at the minute. Irving08 Agreed. PMH As you say, things are very tight in the Championship, and a win against one team can easily be followed by a couple of losses. As soon as you rest on your laurels you are in trouble. So, I am finding your piece rather gushing. The possession figures favored H in the first half and well before the sending off. The sending off had nothing to do with it. Opposing midfield and forwards strolled up to the box because Leeds were defending too deep, as Redders acknowledged. An in form team would have punished that generosity, and we will be facing those teams soon enough.So, Leeds quality of play in the middle 2/3 of the park without the ball was passive. Their play in the opposing half with the ball was tremendous. Yes, it’s a glass half full! TSS Fact is, we have three strikers who can finish chances (often 90% of the battle), a stronger looking defence than in previous years and the midfield is starting to click. There are few teams I’m concerned about in this division and we still haven’t seen Adryan and Montenegro who (according to Cellino) are the cream of the crop. Ron I think what has been really pleasing is the quality of the finishing – something everyone was worried about when Ross was sold. The six unanswered goals you mention were all very well taken and importantly for front men the confidence will continue to build. Imagine what Doukara and Antenucci are feeling when they play, let alone score in front of nearly 30k fans at ER? C’mon boys, keep it up. Irving08 Agreed – Antenucci’s goal in particular showed great technique. I am not sure even McCormack would have scored it. Irving08 Which is to say, TSS, that you are cautiously pessimistic too ! TSS That’s called experience, I think… Irving08 Hmm logic, I think. Mike You mentioned that we haven’t even played two of our potentially best players. To me that concept just fills me with excitement knowing that not only are they there but that we might get better which i think we’re starting to look like the team is pulling together. You can see it in the interview Antenucci did where he kept talking about the team not himself that they’ve had a team mentality instilled in them. R Contini What I think has happened under Redfearn is that he has approached the team like the youth squad he is used to (they are after all a very young squad) and concentrated on getting the basics right and this means that we are just about resilient enough for the quality we have to win the games down the other end. As mentioned below, there is really no magic formula to this division other than having a bit of quality and hopefully all the doubters will see why Cellino has gone for foreign players, because they have that bit extra in their technical ability. Redders mentioned he was working on passing in tight areas in order to accellerate the gelling process of strangers so they get used to each others movements quickly and so they an play out of tight situatons and the results of this were clear over the last 2 games at least. That approach will get us so far, but we will need to be more advanced to beat the best teams in the division and then reach and stay in the premiership. What will happen now is that Darko Milanic, who is a highly trained UEFA pro level coach with multi lingual skills will come in (under Redders crucial guidance on the homegrown talent as well as how the Cship works) and provide the next level of training and if he can get us flowing like Maribor, with these players, we will toast this division mark my words! The difficulty for me now is picking the 1st choice 11 as there are so many promising options! henrymouni Exciting times, to be sure! I think his first task will be to improve our defence. We are still run ragged by players with pace. It is a lot better already since our midfield is more solid now. R Contini True, and this will always be an issue with Italian defenders, as they will have to get used to the (sustained) pace of English football, but once they do their tactical awareness will show through. the bigger problem is Pearce for me as I don’t think he’ll get any better and he’s sorely lacking in some areas, especially pace. PMH No magic formula! Well, it is not magic but given that most of the teams have similar finances and similar level players, the coaching formula is crucially important. There is no evidence that our talent is much different than the many teams above us, and a couple of good wins doesn’t change that. Over the season, the team that gets the most out of their players will be the winner. Excellent coaching means the most in these situations. Redfearn did well, and Darko sounds promising, so I am optimistic, just not as giddy as everyone else on this blog. R Contini No I don’t beleive there is, not at this level, and the fact that the clubs are so similar reinforces this, otherwise tactical neanderthals like Warnock, Redknapp and Allardyce (the list is endless) wouldn’t be the names they are today. The general way to get promoted from this division is to do the basics right, have a good team spirit and above all to have a bit of extra quality in personel and that is more often than not enough. My optimism comes from the fact that we will continue to have the basics right and the spirit due to the continuity of Redfearn and then we will have an extra level provided by our new progressive coach which ought to be an advantage against the normal opposition. More importantly, I am convinced that we have signed some players who are a level above the vast majority of what we will come up against, what they have produced so far without any time to gel should demonstrate that. PMH How good is any given player? For example take Rodolph Austin. I have seen him look utterly worthless and look wonderfully inspired. With all these new recruits we really have no idea of their ultimate value to the club. It is how they are handled and used that makes the difference. You are just guessing at quality. R Contini I’m talking about technically. Character is different I’ll grant you, but you don’t need too long to see whether someone can control a football and these games are evidence enough that we have a vast improvement on last year. That gives us a base to think of playing better football which will give us a better chance if and when we finally get back to the prem. R Contini I should add though that I don’t expect this to happen overnight, the players are still effectively strangers and the new coach will need time to get his ideas across. its possible we could scrape it and go up this year but if not, I expect us to be very strong next season. Mike Can a caretaker manager win Championship manager of the month? I’d say it’d be fair for Redders to have a shout especially with the turnaround he spurred, granted he will have missed next weekends game being at the helm but still. Rebel White I think something fundamental changed in the last 360 minutes of Leeds United football and the hiring of Milanic reflects this change. My theory, and of course it could be wrong, is that Cellino and Salerno have accelerated their plan for Leeds. They have switched from planning for just survival and steadying the ship mode to planning for the Premiership and possibly European football. There are a number of reasons for this. Firstly, the finances have been fixed up quicker than they could have hoped. Lower wage bills, new squad at a lower cost than they could have hoped for, the McCormack lottery win, deals with GFH and Bates on restructuring debts and potential law. Secondly, the new players have settled better than expected. Thirdly, the team has begun to gel more quickly than anticipated. This in turn has led to fans devotion, increased gates, merchandising etc., therefore more income. So now they need a coach that has managed in a couple of countries, has won cups and leagues and has managed a team in European competition, but is still affordable, hence Milanic. This plan has been laid out before him and he has bought into it, otherwise, would he up sticks and come to Leeds now. As fantastic as we know we are, I doubt it. Then again, I could just be delusional after the super football Leeds United have playing over the last 135 minutes! sean have had some funny arguments with thescratchingshed on twitter due to me not being of the same opinion of his some what unfounded ,very harsh at times and insulting criticism of Massimo Cellinio. Also the slating of all these foreign players that were criticized only cause he has never heard of them and apparently that justified the slander thrown at MC and the player he bought in by thescratchingshed o. Twitter. I obviously decided to debate his comments and in turn criticized his low class style of tweeting such unfounded BS. I was then hit with a block to my full amusement as apparently i was the first ever block person. This then amused greatly throughout my whole day as when i quetioned his reasoning to my blocking, i was accused of boaring him. I then mentioned the fact that he obviously cannot accept a difference in of opinion and pointed out the poor form this had shown. I was then however immediately put in my place and informed that he is so accepted by the online community that he has a whopping 2000 plus followers on twitter to my very disappointing 20 at the time, now it is 19 so i am in a poorer position. This impressed me so greatly i made it one of my lifetime goals to try and replicate this tweeting warriors success and obtain so many followers. As this the way to measure how absolute ones life is by tweet followers i have succumb to this great person and am trying to archive this so important life goal. However i still do not agree to most of his opinion in his hate of MC and his direction of were he is taking LEEDS UNITED,but Mr Scratchingshed i do believe it is difficult to preach against his current success. henrymouni Hi Sean. I am not a tweeter or face booker. By “Mr Scratchingshed” I assume you mean TSS? I have never read TSS saying he does not like Massimo, or our new recruits. On the contrary, he and us are very excited about the new boys, and Massimo’s effort and commitment to Leeds United. seanludwig2003 Hi , yes you are correct my previous comment does refer to TSS. I can only comment on comments i have read and intially i am referring to when MC first came and within the first couple of months of his reign. Including the slating of the foreign players on grounds that they were unknown he in England. This is when i first cane across TSS and disagreed with a number of tweets made in regards to a number of issue’s happening at the time. I cant remember exact comments made by TSS or myself just remember having a number of disagreements with TSS. I have been a full backer of MC and his tough decisions made ranging from sacking staff to even sacking the greats from paid positions in members area to a range of others. I was also a fan of the type of players he was bringing and the direction he was taking Lufc. I also backed his Hockaday decision which turned out to be a mistake which was soon rectified and acknowledgement of mistake being made public. However i disagreed with a number of comments TSS made and it just made me laugh that by me openly criticizing TSS and his comments that he in turn blocked me which i found hilarious as i assumed bloggers are open to discussion and disagreement not then to block and insult my spelling or how many followers i have?. That you have not read any comments from TSS criticizing MC and CO is a bit strange because in one of his very recent articles what does the new coach bring to the table is not exactly supporting this coaches appointment and sounds like they cant really wait till he fails and the article hints that again MC has made a bad decision that is obvious to see?? Well i am 100% behind the new coach and am of the opinion that he actually has a lot to bring to the table due the the exact reason he is foreign and has experience in the technical style of play including his man man management skills required to deal with a range of nationalities that will need a certain mentality, which i believe he brings. This article is just one example there are a range of tweets that cleary state his dislike of MC and direction. I only came across this blogging website by TSS today and actually find some of it very interesting reading but in turn disagree some other parts but am always open to debates. I just pointed out it is difficult to slate or criticize MC while the success currently plain to see. This success and the clear open for all to see the style and skill of play that the past few performances have shown have actually shocked a number of people that at beginning of MC reign would have never believed these additions and changes could play in this very technical style of play. It shocked a few people!!! henrymouni Some threads are deliberately provocative to get a response and discussion going. Massimo is a character, and has made mistakes and had successes. The best thing about him is that he is actually trying to bring success to Leeds United, and has shown more in a few months than Bates & GFH in 12 years. Hockaday was a mistake. The new coach shows Massimo’s realisation that a coach needs more than just a coaching badge. Let’s hope the new coach does not disrupt the good run we are on. He could be the missing ingredient. Fingers crossed. These are exciting times for us!! spellz Spot on !