Northern team suffers identity crisis, requires chip for shoulder TSS November 6, 2014 Leeds United 26 Comments A 3-1 loss away to Cardiff City and 2-2 draw at home to Charlton mean Neil Redfearn is still looking for his first win as permanent Leeds United boss, but results alone disguise the progress made and the promising signs of a Whites side built around homegrown youngsters. Redfearn has already shown absolute faith in Leeds United’s academy and is delivering on the promise to play a side built around it. Sam Byram, Lewis Cook, Chris Dawson and Alex Mowatt have all featured in the last two games while Charlie Taylor, another homegrown youngster, has been on the bench. Other youngsters have made the cut too, Adryan getting his first Leeds United start against Charlton and Montenegro coming on from the bench. With so many youngsters in the side, it’d be easy to forgive a few careless errors when Leeds United record a bad result but the reality is, it was the senior pros making the costly mistakes at Cardiff City and home to Charlton. Marco Silvestri suddenly looks fallible, the defensive line in front of him equally error prone. Meanwhile, Lewis Cook’s stock continues to rise and Alex Mowatt is scoring ‘worldies’ almost at will. The green shoots are there, but it’ll take more than a few games for this side to hit its stride and blossom into a product capable of escaping this division. You’d be right in arguing that the same applied to David Hockaday and Darko Milanic, but to do so ignores a willingness and belief in youngsters and the style of football I’d expect of a Leeds United side. I won’t dispute whether Hockaday and Milanic got enough time to fully mold a team in their image, but we saw enough of both coaches in their brief spells to get a glimpse of the setup and the kind of football they wanted to instil upon Leeds United and neither made me excited to attend games. Both suffered from the same overly cautious approach. ‘Crabbing’ as it was described to me at the time, the act of passing a ball sideways across the defensive line, often backwards but almost never forwards, was a signature of both coaches. The possession stats looked good on paper, but what use is possession when you’re just passing the ball around in your own half, incapable of creating chances? It’s so un-Leeds like. And while Neil Redfearn hasn’t got Leeds United firing on all cylinders just yet, they clearly had license to get forward in numbers against Charlton and things are suddenly happening in games to somewhat justify the cost of attending them. It seems a lifetime ago at this stage, but we were once a League One side who would laugh at the idea of going to Old Trafford and parking the bus, yet Milanic had us battening down the hatches against Norwich City, a game in which we managed four shots, none of which – except the goal – I can remember. The reason this club loves young players is because young players play without fear. Every fan knows that attacking in numbers leaves you vulnerable at the back, but sitting back and doing nothing of interest like we did against Norwich won’t win you many games, certainly not the division, and what’s more, it’s utterly tedious to watch. I don’t care if we lose 3-1 chasing a game, I could justify the odd hammering so long as we went for it, got in the oppositions faces and attacked in numbers. But what I can’t tolerate is a Leeds United side cowering to the likes of Norwich, showing these teams too much respect and fearing them when we should be going their with a chip on our shoulder, hell-bent on taking the game to them. So much change has left Leeds United with an identity crisis. We’ve lost our fearless resolve, that certain Northern arrogance which took us to Old Trafford fully expecting our team to get in their faces, attack, and if not win, make sure the hosts knew they’d been in a game. That team had Leeds United at its core. Richard Naylor, Jonny Howson and Simon Grayson all knew what it was to be Leeds because they are Leeds. Neil Redfearn is Leeds too and building a team upon homegrown academy graduates is how we’ll rediscover the identity we’ve let slowly slip away from us over the past few years. Amid a few disappointing results, never forget this is a transitional season. That transition must see us emerge for the 2015-16 as a team recognisably Leeds United; cocky stride, Northern arrogance and a relentless attacking resolve. A team who wouldn’t dream of cowering to Manchester United, never mind Norwich bleeding City. On and on… Downunder Al The green shoots are there, a strong performance or two will instill confidence & hopefully we can build without any further hiccups. We need the young lads to stick around when the inevitable rich clubs start calling. mrbigwheels When people who are truly, ‘We are Leeds’, work and join together we will indeed see a building of confidence and arrogance… and go forward. Too many individuals at the moment, only fleeting glimpses of team work. Perhaps this is part of the transition with ringmaster Redders bringing them all together. So much time has been lost recently… as you suggest, with Redders sat there all the time. Perhaps Redders is the man to tame the real culprit of the identity crisis…. MC. Otherwise we will all remain individuals fighting our own corners within our following. Irving08 But we had one last year, the year before and …….anyway we’ve never had a single, true identity, playing-wise, which is not to say we lack an identity, but it comes from the city, as much as our supporters. Restless would be my term for it. mrbigwheels Thank you Irving. Yes, You are correct. I’m feeling restless and admit to being a ‘tad’ nervous as well, as todays game approaches… henrymouni Listening to Massimo yesterday, it seems he now accepts that we will not be promoted this year! This gives Redders time to mould and harden his team. Our weaknesses at centre-back has been with us for many years. If Redders can sort that out and bring in a couple of good, strong, tall and swift lads, we will be almost there!! Also a speedy intelligent wide man or two. It was interesting to read a Charlton players comments, after the game. He said they had identified our physical weaknesses, and knew if they got stuck in we would fold. They knew we could be easily bullied. I am really looking forward to the rest of the season!!! Come on the boys. Derbyshire White Cellino says he is keen for Neil Redfearn to ship out a lot of players who are not committing to ‘the project’. Judging by Tuesday’s performances he might have to give Neil a hand with his Italian. Mike Biggest problem with the squad is defensive aerial duels, if you watch the games our center backs are consistently beaten in the air, Alex Revell was able to terrorize us and that’s just sad. Think we’ll be all right though once we figure ourselves out and i genuinely believe that MC will give Redders time to steady the ship. Onward and Upward Irving08 We do not seem to win aerial duels in any area of the pitch. Doukara, when he attempts to win the ball in the air, appears to have his feet glued to the ground, for example. Bianchi is not much better. Only Mr Behradi seems able to win aerial duels: but then he wins most duels: he is one of our few truly combative footballers. henrymouni We certainly miss Becchio both in attack and defence. He made many vital clearances with his head. Morison is decent in the air, and could do better in our box. Brian Montenegro is also good in the air. I lost count of the number of headers Charlton managed against us. We were lucky they did not make better use of them. We have got to get more height and courage, or we will be swamped. Warnock is not tall, but wins more than is share of headers, and pressurises (subtle pushes) taller attackers to put them off balance. Irving08 In fact,Henri, we did not win a single header against Charlton: I counted them from my Kop perch. How refreshing, by the way, not to have stewards spoiling our afternoons and evening fun: young lads can now beat the corrugated iron (old men can only encourage), and not a steward in sight. Mike Forwards not winning headers isnt as much of a concern, especially since we’re trying to play it on the deck. I was more concerned about deficiencies that truly hurt us, and in our defense it makes us truly vulnerable to “last throes” if you will. Perhaps it just seemed a more evident issue to me amongst our defence Irving08 Yes, it is more of an issue in defence, but it is an issue in attack too: it reduces our options. oldschoolbaby You are right, it is a major concern. But it`s nothing new. When we are linked with a central defender I always google to determine their height. A couple spotlighted in the summer were comfortable 6 footers. I`m confident it`s a well recognised problem at the club. Of course, recognising the problem is different from finding a solution bit it`s the essential first step. mrbigwheels Hunt, bless him, despite his height is quite a jumper… He could become the jumping coach… if all else fails. George Best ate my Hampster top stuff TSS, completely agree oldschoolbaby I`m in total agreement too. I would never have picked that line up against Cardiff but its attacking nature put a huge grin on my face. I think the line up against Charlton was what many of us have wanted to see for most of this season. For the first time in a while I think we have a promising platform to build upon Bramleywhite So our chairman is scared of the number 17, someone needs to tell him we are playing blackpool which is our 17th game of the season, we are on 17 points, we are in 17th position and have scored 17 goals. Oh dear, what odds for blackpool to win 1-0 scoring in the 17th minute and scored by Miller (their number 17) henrymouni Or Blackpool winning 17-0 – Yikes!!! Helen LUFC Played well first half, second just shut up shop as refearn told them to do. Not sure why? Three nil up at half time against a team that weren’t even tracking back or trying to regain the ball in midfield was a sign they could have been beaten by more. It would be great to see us play like we did in the first half every week, but I think defensively we’d get beaten by better players. Nile ranger changed things for them and again showed what I believe to be a big weakness in our side, Jason pearce. He’s lightweight and ranger just did what he wanted, which he’s obviously used to anyway. Adryan looked great, too. henrymouni A win Helen!! Great first half. I don’t think Neil told them to sit back in the second half. Why would he? The half time whistle is not our friend. If we could have continued playing we would have got 6! Sitting back puts too much pressure on our fragile defence. As you say, we are very poor with high balls into the box, and could have conceded a lot more from headers this season. Pearce gives his all, but usually holds and grabs players when he can. Even at 3 nil up I was worried we would collapse again! We cannot rely on getting 3 goals up, to scramble a win every time!! Irving08 Pearce lightweight ? – without his last minute erceptions and courage we’d have been in a far worse position these past two seasons. He shares our collective weakness in the air, but he’s not afraid to put his head where it hurts. Leave Pearce alone and focus instead on who you want to see alongside him. henrymouni We want a big 6’7″ fast, smart and courageous, commanding centre-back Irv. Nobody doubts Pearce (& Warnocks) courage and commitment, and part of the problem is the midfield going to sleep at half time, and allowing teams to bombard us. I am sure Redders will sort this soon. Irving08 We don’t want much then Henri, do we ? oldschoolbaby I have been critical of JP but today, of all days, we should be united in our admiration of courage and commitment. Don`t be drawn in 08. If there is to be a WW3 it is reasonably likely that Helen will be the instigator. Perfect template, Henri. If I see him in Morrisons I will get him signed. henrymouni I am just worried his horns will puncture the ball, osb. henrymouni I want it all, Irv!!