The scene in Monty Python’s ‘Quest for the Holy Grail’ that has me in stitches is the scene with the witch and the peasants wanting to burn her for her sins. Thing is, she isn’t a witch; the peasant villagers have stitched her up a good ‘un. The gallant Sir Bedevere uses some twisted and warped logic in order to ‘prove’ that she’s a witch and therefore the peasants can “burn her”.

Similar to the logic that is applied to players like Stephen Warnock, Jason Pearce, Alex Mowatt and Rodolph Austin.

Depending on ‘who’ we but/loan/loan-to-buy or which way the wind is blowing it seems that these players become instant upgrades over incumbents. Liam Cooper means that Jason Pearce becomes instantly rubbish and needs replacing. Charlie Taylor shows good touches when replacing the injured Stephen Warnock and therefore Warnock needs dropping as he’s “not got the legs” anymore. Mowatt is too fat and needs to be dropped to make way for Sloth. Rodolph Austin is too inconsistent and therefore a liability etc etc ad nauseum

It might just be me being sentimental or nostalgic or even plain cynical but why is it open season on EVERY Leeds player’s tiniest mistake?

Stephen Warnock’s contribution 2014/15

Stephen Warnock seems to come in for stick on social media for being ‘past it’ and on his ‘last legs'; yet he’s been Leeds’ most consistent defender thus far this season. Why should the inexperienced and untried Charlie Taylor be drafted in as a ready-made replacement?

tackles int. clearance key pass avg. pass pass succ. long ball long ball acc.
12 23 24 3 41 86.90% 22 59.50%

Rodolph Austin’s contribution 2014/15

What about Rodolph Austin? Slagged off by some as “too slow” or “too inconsistent”; yet he was the Championship’s top-ranked midfielder in certain defensive contributions last season and he’s not had a bad start this season. Why does Austin have to drop to the bench or even sod off out of the club as some have said?

tackles int. clr. key pass avg. pass pass succ. long ball long ball acc.
20 10 14 1 50 83.20% 38 59.36%

Jason Pearce’s contribution 2014/15

Jason Pearce comes in for some particularly venemous barbs from probably almost all facets of social media that I encounter. It’s quite disconcerting some of the abuse aimed at Pearce; I’d certainly not like to type it here. Who’s to say that young Italian import, Dario del Fabro is the answer and a cure for all supposed ills.

tackles int. clr. key pass avg. pass pass succ. long ball long ball acc.
5 12 50 n/a 36 79.40% 19 38.00%

Look, I’m not saying that Warnock is a Paulo Maldini, Austin isn’t a Geremi and Pearce isn’t Lucas Radebe but, and here’s the rub, they’re ALL Leeds United players and we really should be behind the WHOLE team. We shouldn’t be baying for blood like the villagers in ‘The Quest for the Holy Grail’ as we aim to burn these ‘Leeds remnants’ at the football stake.

  • NottsWhite

    I agree these players are not poor but unlike last year they are surrounded with a higher calibre of player and have genuine competition for their position therefore performances should be improved. For Austin the belief from BMcD that he is an attacking midfielder was his downfall last year, although he provides hustle and bustle the guile is not there

    • Graham

      Agreed, the guile will never really be there and Austin in particular will struggle to be measured favourably in the new-look Leeds midfield. Bellusci does look class but who else is there at centreback that Leeds fans would laud to partner him? but I guess that my main moan is that a large number of Leeds United fans are quick to call the players sh*t and much worse and then think that recently arrived Player X is an automatic upgrade.

      • Ev

        Personally I think Pearce has stepped up

        • Graham

          I do too. There’s loads of Leeds fans on Facebook groups that want him dropped and replaced by del Fabro or Cooper though

          • angsta

            And these people in general are morons.

          • Graham

            Normally professing to be “true fans” and “in the know”

        • Thommohawk

          In all fairness he HAS stepped up! That’s why he’s been practically an ever present this season and last season pretty much….credit where it’s due. He was bloody awful before that though constantly out of position and nowhere to be found and constantly forcing himself on a corner and missing when better off leavin it for someone else.

  • Gerry Dwyer

    Maybe its because the fans have been hurting and hitting out, as the song goes you always hurt the one you love. To be honest though in my opinion Rudi Austin in distribution has been consistently poor and as Notts put it rightly is not an attacking Mid, the heart of a lion but the touch of an elephant. But he wants it bad so will and has raised his game, and sometimes thats all fans want..

    • Graham

      Gerry, he has raised his game and I stand by the fact that he’s the strongest DM we have. In front of Pearce/Bellusci he provides a layer of support that we might need against certain teams. His distribution isn’t massively poor though at 83% but I think we remember him more for passes like the one against Bournemouth in the 37th minute that blasted Sharp’s legs from under him…

  • Rebel White

    I’m a bit disappointed in the article to be honest. Anyone can see that the squad from last year needed a total overhaul and all incumbents from last year had a serious doubt about them, so why wouldn’t fans have a doubt about Pearce, Austin and Warnock? They contributed to a disastrous campaign and with the new signings fans want to move on. I do think Pearce will be involved with the new team – the new signings are giving him confidence. Austin will find a role in the defensive midfield role, when the occasion suits. But I have a serious doubt about Warnock. As much as he has given a huge effort over the last couple of games he just doesn’t have the passing ability in particular. Against Bournemouth he regularly gave hospital passes across the park which put Pearce and Bellusci under ridiculous pressure.
    The challenge on Saturday, for the first time this season, is how do we break down a team that are ultra defensive under Powell and will settle for a point in Elland Road? Austin and Warnock may not fit into such a team. This is where we need really aggressive full backs and very creative midfielders. Sloth and Adryan have to be starters and it’s a game that could be tailor made for Sharp with those guys behind him. As for not burning guys at the stake because they are Leeds players, I don’t buy it and us Leeds supporting peasants would willingly gather and cheer to see Leeds players such as Hunt, Murphy et al metaphorically going up in smoke!

    • Graham

      I wasn’t calling Leeds’ fans peasants, not at all before the ‘pitchfork squad’ are out. I was trying to link the way certain sections of Leeds fans on social media tend to have a pack mentality in damning certain players much like the peasants in damning the witch.

      Thanks for the honesty in the disappointment at the article. I’m not sure that Warnock is the long-term answer at left back but what other options are there? I’m pretty much in agreement with a lot of what you say but I can’t agree on what you say about Warnock’s passing – well not entirely anyway. He’s pretty tidy with his passing and, to be fair, there were more than him supplying hospital passes.

      I don’t mind fans having doubts; I certainly have them about Murphy.

      I agree with you 100% that a defensively-set midfield will not be any cop against a Chris Powell-marshalled team and aree that speed and creativity should be the norm and that Adryan and Sloth should start and Bianchi too. I’d say stick with Doukara too.

      Saturday will be fun for sure – can’t wait.

      • Rebel White

        To be fair to you I was referring to “us Leeds supporting peasants” in a light hearted manner, following on from your Monty Python sketch reference, when it would come to seeing off some of the unredeemable squad from last year. I didn’t think that you were calling us peasants – we’re used to being called worse!
        You’re right about our limited options at left back and I have admired Warnock’s passion and work rate over recent games. Maybe it’s a lack of confidence, or options, that slows our passing from the likes of Warnock at times. When we pass forward and support we really put teams on the back foot and I want to see that happening over ninety minutes.
        Totally agree with you on some of the behaviour on social media. I keep thinking of Gordon Strachan’s reference to “keyboard cowboys”. That kind of hounding of players is not on, and it’s usually not close to being accurate. I think players should be kept clear of twitter in particular as it gives ignorance and viciousness a free shot much too easily.

        • Graham

          And it’s often from ‘fans’ who suddenly think because they can play Football Manager that they can talk tactics and dismiss players. Sheep, a lot of them simply sheep.

  • Archangel

    One thing to add to this too is that we are playing a more enjoyable brand of football. We have to remember that footballers like to play….football! The change in style and the confidence placed in the players to do so may be allowing them to enjoy themselves more and hence, perform better. In my limited footballing experience, I always enjoyed playing more with the ball and less defensively. At Leeds we are not geared up to be under the cosh and to win games with sheer grit any more. Granted, we need the grit to win as seen on Tuesday but the players are allowed more flair and perhaps opportunity even when a mistake is made but I do feel the new attitude we have seen under Cellino, Redfearn and even Hockaday is conducive to an upturn in performance this season. The way we handed Bournemouths backside back to them is testament to this in my opinion.

  • Rosehead

    The peasant analogy is perfect, even more so with regards to the craven attitude of our fans towards this Cellino character. The author is not the first to point out the hysterical atmosphere emanating from our fans regarding team selection and the scapegoating of certain individuals. Monty Python? More like an overwrought “Soap” psychodrama!

  • angsta

    There is a Leeds United group on Facebook where a little bit of knowledge is quite clearly a very dangerous thing. If this isn’t aimed at those ‘intellectuals’ then it should be.

    • Graham

      Ooooh a Facebook group where knowledge is dangerous…no it’s not aimed at any group or individual at all.

  • Counte of monte fisto

    The reason I wanted Austin dropped along with Murphy and Tonge is because every game they play in ends with our midfield being dominated. So believing that the midfield is the most important element if any team I want it improved.

    In terms of this season Austin started poorly however his performances in the second half at brum and away at Bournemouth were both excellent and on that basis he deserves a place in the team. In terms of stats they were hockadays downfall and can be used to prove anything, 99% possession in your own half with 99% pass accuracy and zero shots doesn’t prove you dominated but just that you kept the ball well in places where your opponent was happy to have it. Austin was utterly abysmal last year so any stats that ‘prove’ differently should be treated with contempt

    There are 3 distinct groups at leeds the hysterical twitterati, the mot don’t complain or your not a fan brigade and the majority.

    I would like to think I belong in the latter and that means I can still have an opinion even if that means I think Austin needs to improve to be able to keep his place

    • Gerry Dwyer

      Any chance you have a blog Conte? I have come across your replays on a couple of articles and enjoy your tempered view of Leeds.

      • Counte Of Monte Fisto

        No sorry I don’t have the time to do it justice & thats the first time ive ever been called tempered, without the word bad in front!
        Thanks though nice comment, i just think too many people take too short term a view & often react just to the score rather than the content of a game. Of course the score ultimately is the be all and end all, but too many people react just to that & nothing else.
        MOT hopefully 3 points tomorrow

    • Graham

      I agree, I hope I fit into the latter ‘majority’ too. My point is that all the players may have weaknesses, deficiencies etc but it’s the rabid way other Leeds fans pounce on players, say 3 games in, and then hound one mistakes or deficient trait as ‘consistent and all-damning’ and that a recently-arrived player should start in their place. Austin needs to continue to improve to keep his place, agreed, and so do others.

      Mind you Counte, they’ll come in the 4th category of Social Media Twatterati.

  • henrymouni

    We have watched a struggling team for many years.
    Even the top teams have players their fans do not like.
    Pearce gives everything, but because he is slow he grabs anyone
    trying to go past him, and gets away with murder sometimes.
    Rudi seems better coming off the bench, but there is no doubt if he is up for the game he can shake things up a bit.
    I’d love him to get a goal, but it does not seem likely at the moment.
    The competition for places has made a big difference.
    Everyone has to perform or they slip out of contention.
    No favourites!!!
    When will we see Murphy again?? If ever?

    • Graham

      Murhpy? Never hopefully; unless it is in a pint glass.

  • nyge

    I just unfollow those who Slag and abuse players. It’s not on and unjust. When you look closer, you see they’re all mates too, so I get your point.

    • Graham

      Me too – it’s mainly on Facebook though – there’s a sheep mentality at times.

  • henrymouni

    Our performances and results have improved dramatically under Redders.
    He changed the midfield playing Mowett, Cook and Bellusi.
    The players the fans ‘slag off’ – Tongue, Murphy and Austin have been dropped either to the bench or out of the first team.
    The team is now battling and playing football – Redders again, and his team selection.
    Fans do not ‘slag off’ good players – they love good players.
    The new signings look better than the old so far, and can only improve with fitness and adjustment to our league.
    Eddie says the only statistic that matters is goals scored and goals against.
    Our defence is still shaky but that will soon be sorted by Massimo.
    Come on the boys!!!
    Some witches are very nice!!

    • Graham

      henrymouni, in one of the groups on Facebook that I am in and probably one that angsta mentions too the “slagging” goes beyond the performance and is directly aimed at the player. I mean there’s even some who aim particular slurs at Redders for favouring his old Academy boys.

      The new signings do look good, granted and I hope they do improve and bring the team along with them. for the greater good as they say, for the greater good.

      Eddie is right in way but misguided in others. Passing accuracy is also important as a re through balls. If you can’t get those right then you have no chances from which to get the goals for he talks about.

      Some witches are nice – I’m thinking Michelle Pfeiffer in Stardust…

      • henrymouni

        Ah!
        I am not on Facebook or twitter, but I have seen enough nasty mails on Youtube. Evil.
        It is the cowards way to attack people like that.
        Lies on lies.

        When Eddie says “the only statistic that matters is goals scored and goals against”, he is saying without an end product everything else is irrelevant.

        He says that to get goals you have to work the ball forward and get shots on goal, and until we can do this regularly, we will not get to the only thing that matters – goals for.
        The statistics that show who has passed the most, and the most accurately mean nothing.
        Remember ‘the crab’ Ray Wilkins!
        Who can play the ‘killer ball’ is the man we should be praising.

        This one’s for you Graham:-

        • Graham

          Thank you – she’s even pointing at me. I get your point about the passing – think I wrote about that on here in an article called something like ‘Forget the length, it’s all about the width’ – we rectified that against Bournemouth and provided those ‘killer balls’ you mention. My point is that in order to get to chances/shots/goals then you need possession opportunity/accurate passing; starved of possession leads to no passes and no anything. In essence, I agree with Eddie but with a little more elaboration.

          Talking of ‘killer balls’ henri; this is for you.

          • henrymouni

            Overkill!!!
            On his way to the Doctor’s??

  • henrymouni

    Looks like Darko Milanic is our new coach!
    It is always Darko before the dawn!

    • Graham

      As long as it’s Darko Milanic and not Donnie Darko…