“I don’t get it!”

I hear that with regular monotony in my day job as an English teacher. It’s my job to make sure that, as they leave school that they, do indeed, ‘geddit’.

I have recently vowed that I’d never, ever sink to such a phrase but, today, I have.

The Cellino rivoluzioni gloriosa is in full swing, Leeds are playing, in spurts, much better football and things do seem to be showing the green shoots of improvement. The fans in general seem pretty happy: we have an owner whose name we know as opposed to a ‘shell company’ hidden in tropical climes, an owner who is putting money into the club rather than taking it out and players coming in during the transfer window from teams such as Flamengo and AC Milan rather than ‘solid and dependable’ players who ‘could do a job for us’. Still, that’s seemingly not enough for some of Leeds’ fans on social media.

It seems that a pass only needs to go astray for a player to be called “shit” and this is usually followed by the platitude of “and always has been.” I have read at least 5 posts on Facebook professing that we are doomed after 6 games and that it’s all the fault of the legiona stranieri brought in by Cellino. Antenucci “can’t run for shit,” apparently. Doukara is “always unfit,” so it seems. Bellusci was “dire” today according to Mr Angry. It seems that some of our fans are guilty of what we accuse other fans of being; fickle and fickle beyond belief. It has taken a number of games so few in number that a Norwich fan can count them on the fingers of one hand for a section of Leeds United fans to round on the team as a whole and some players in particular in a very judgmental manner.

It’s not only the foreign players though coming in for some stick from those supposedly meant to back them; the English-born players are in the firing line too. Austin has always been shit, it seems and doesn’t deserve a place in the team because we’ve signed better or got better in the ranks. Mowatt is “good but too slow”, Warnock is “on his last legs” and that untried Charlie Taylor should start over him and Tonge is just “absolute bab” (that one made me chuckle like I was 8 again). So, in the mind’s eye of a section of our esteemed supporter base, probably almost all the current squad are wrong ‘uns barring Lewis Cook, Marco Silvestre and Adryan; Adryan who hasn’t even played a competitive game for the club yet but who did show encouraging glints of his talents in the U21 Development squad game against Ipswich.

Leeds fans on social media groups are lauding Adryan Oliveira Tavares as if he is the second coming and who will single-handedly guide us to the promised land of the Premier League. Adryan, the Messiah of LS11. No pressure there then, eh?

1-0 down to Birmingham at half time and the naysayers were out in force.

“Bring Mowatt off, put Adryan on.” yelled one.

“Get Pearce off, bring Cooper on.” screamed another.

On 62 minutes Neil Redfearn dug into his substitutes and brought on the formidably imposing frames of Rodolph Austin and Souleymane Doukara whose musculature makes them appear more like a WWE Championship tag-team duo as opposed to a Championship outfield duo. This is the same Austin who was derided by some on social media sites as being “shit” and “sell ‘im off” yet was ranked amongst the top midfield players last season, indeed last season he was the #1 ranked Championship midfield player for ‘defensive duels’ such as tackles won, headed duels won and successful take-ons. Admittedly Austin is never going to be a Geremi-esque DM but he more than does the job when called upon.

Anyway, it’s disheartening that this early on in the season there are Leeds fans ready to throw the towel in, cancel the season as a write-off and belittle the players using scatalogical terms and not even to their faeces.

I just want to leave this as my final thought:

united(adj)

  • produced by a combination of two or more people or things,
  • being in harmony and agreement,
  • made into or caused to act as a single entity.

Such sleighting of team and players is the very antithesis of being ‘united’ or brought together.

 

  • Dr Zen

    Yah, it’s superb how we’ve stormed into the top six with our wonderful players from Flamengo and AC Milan. Brilliant complements to our guys who were once youth players from ManUre (not just Wootton, Tonge too) and our star Jamaican. I mean, look at Rudi’s stats, will you? They’re tremendous. Easily leads the league in Being Out of Position, Late Challenges and Overhit Passes. (I mean, come off it bro. Stats can tell any story you want to if we’re honest. We do recognise Austin is a scrapper who had to do a lot of defending in a side that struggled for much of last season and I think people are mostly disappointed he wasn’t replaced by some of the more technical holding midfielders we were linked with. Rudy’s not “English born” btw.)

    Dude, people are nervous. We have no manager and an owner under a cloud. We’ve bought in a big crew of players, mostly from Serie B, and we have no idea whether most of them are any good (and the infusion of players seems to have raised more questions than answers). “Green shoots” aside, we haven’t played particularly well. Yes, it’s early days. Yes, when we have a new manager he should be given time and probably won’t get it. And yes, we will always have fans who seem to want us to fail (which is somewhat understandable because we’ve seen a lot of failure).

    And I’m not seeing anywhere in your definition of “united” that says “get the rosetinted glasses on”. There’s a middle ground between being relentlessly defeatist and pretending that everything is wonderful. It’s the same ground a lot of us were on when people were telling us to get behind Bates, that he would invest money in the team and it would be all good. Hoping for the best but not blind to what we have.

    • Ron

      Basically if Birmingham were a top 10 side it would have been 3 nil at halftime. We still have no width and yet we have more players on the roster than the Denver Broncos. No denying our youth is exciting, but that performance yesterday cost Redfearn the job. Billy Sharp was rightfully filthy as he never saw the ball and the 9 offsides we had by the 60th minute was unacceptable. Our passing improved later on and I think Sloth looks like someone who wants to attack. Bellusci thinks he’s bouncing at a Palermo nightclub and will be sent off often in this league. Glad we got a point, but highlights how far we have to go. No wingers, no winners.

      • Graham

        Agreed, but it was a whole lot better than the Millwall and Watford games! I like Sloth, but we are seriously lacking that killer ball in the final third. It doesn’t have to be wide players; a through ball behind the defence would be enough. I was impressed that austin and Doukara came on and ran at Birmingham. Seeing them stood side-by-side was like watching a WWE tag team getting ready to rumble.

        • henrymouni

          Excellent article Graham!
          I think we need wide players to spread the opponents defences, and not leave our two front players on their own and outnumbered.
          I would be tempted to play Sam Byram wide right.
          Once our midfielders were told to attack we looked a different team.
          The first half we were passing round in circles, ending with a poor final ball.
          They had 2 in midfield, we had 4.
          Apart from their goal, our defenced looked strong.

          • Graham

            Thank you; compliments are always nice. the image on the right is the Leeds passing in the opening 45 minutes – not one midfield player played a ball into the box from the final third of the field; Bianchi played one in from near halfway. We need incision and creativity rather than safety and neat passing.

            I’m not sure ‘width’ is the answer for width’s sake but natural wide players are needed if that is our system. Other than that, I’m hoping that Adryan playing in an advanced midfield position provides that spark.

            It doesn’t bode well when a defensive midfield player comes on and has to start running at defenders to get the game started for us

      • spellz

        I agree with everything here, Belusci is definitely good and apart from getting rolled for the goal too easily he was pretty solid but you are right he will get sent off way to much he does silly things and does not seem to get the concept of yellow and red cards, if you read my post you will see I have pretty much analysed the same as you.

    • Graham

      I used the dictionary definition of ‘united'; my point being that 6 games in you shouldn’t be making snap judgments about players who have played only a few games together. OK, it wasn’t anywhere near perfect and I agree that a lot of Leeds fans think that ‘foreign new players’ automatically are better than ‘current team player in same position’ and that isn’t always the case.

      I’ll make myself unpopular and say that Austin should start over Mowatt and anchor the midfield and give the centre backs a little more protection so that they aren’t pressured into rash challenges; you’d think that the best defensive midfield player should at least get a look in there. Yes his shooting isn’t very accurate and Leeds often have ball boys in the car parks but what he does defensively he tends to do well. This season he’s also outpassing Luke Murphy both in volume and accuracy – which is obviously better for the team. Ausin is limited, I agree with you there, but in the position of a DM – he’s the best we have. Yes, if a more technically proficient DM came up then he should be replaced, that goes without saying. I made a boo-boo with putting “English born”; bad organisation.

      I wasn’t actually advocating the ‘imports over incumbents’ argument; if they are better they should replace what was there before them. Bianchi is an upgrade over Murphy in my eyes; others may disagree.

      Thanks for commenting though – have a great day :-)

  • Dacourt

    Best Leeds related piece I’ve read in ages!!! In my opinion, the shit we’ve been through, it’s a marathon and not a sprint. Encouraging signs today. oh and Cook….. WOW!

  • spellz

    Good piece Graham, well yesterday was a real eye – opener for me in terms of direction, first half we were poor there is no disputing that our midfield diamond shape clearly not working no width whatsoever, we was much to narrow and would need to thread through the eye of a needle to get Antenuccii or Sharp through, Birminghams high line was not helping either at one point we had 9 offsides to thier 0 we just did not adjust.
    First half key performer for me was Beradi he was immense.

    Out for the second half and we looked a different team Redders must have told us to not play so deep due to Citys high line it was definitely working, suddenly our midfield had some prescence and I do not know why people was calling for Mowatt off he was probably the best passer on the pitch and then scored, cook had a solid game, I think Antenucci was poor and looked like he had no pace even know I think he is much better than that, Sharpe needed to come off he was poor but lacked the service in all fairness, Dakoura looked solid when he came on and I think he should start tuesday and Austin who I love for his work rate came on and never dissapointed.

    I was unhappy we never got to see Adryan even for a few minutes but in the late stages they were hanging on and we could have got the win, all in all we played a very poor Birmingham side and did not look better than them, so there is alot of work to be done we need to get rid of the shambolic diamond system and incorporate some width into the play, if we had natural width like Birminghams Grey on our team (maybe Adryan) who I thought was lethal from the second he came on, we can start threatening teams like we used to with Grayson at the helm, as our defence is alot stronger than before.

    M.O.T AA.

    • Graham

      We don’t get the ball into the opposition box in a craftful way; Adryan ‘might’ be the answer if he can thread it in; the rest lump it over the top and say “run Forrest Sharp run”. Poeple like Billy Sharp and Antenucci need to be in the box and being fed the ball. Diego Costa has scored all his Prem goals from inside the box and all with his feet too.

      WE need to decide what system best suits what we’ve got. I like Austin, solid if unspectacular and dependable with work rate if not spectacular with skill. People criticise him for wayward passes despite him having 83% accuracy and that’s pumping out around 60 passes per game.

      I’ve just written an article elsewhere that looks at the midfield ‘improvements’ and last year we had our ‘passing mids’ ranked over 100 for average passes per game with 80% accuracy; now we have Bianchi ranked 10th and Austin ranked 34th. We just need someone to get them to pass through defences, beyond/around defenders and not just lump it over the top…

      • spellz

        Yes we do have natural passers that is for sure and Austin is best suited playing dm in front of the defensive line imo as he is fast, strong and at times impossible to get past alot of people hate on Austin yet do not see him for what he is best at, a solid defensive midfielder, truth is he is always played too far up the pitch and he is not the most creative of players wheras Bianchi, Sloth, Cook e.t,c seem to have that in thier game, like you said get the formation right here and the Strikers will have something to attack because at the moment the football we are playing is not reflecting on thier performances either.

  • spellz

    Also Graham do you know why these Articles are not appearing on the actual website? I usually see them on my google search for TSS but when I enter the site Hervys article is still the latest.

    • Graham

      Dunno – someone else best placed to answer that one.

      • spellz

        If I click under Leeds United tab it appears first, maybe the main page is not updating often enough, Idk.