From bad to worse for Leeds as Walsall destroy Fort Elland Road TSS February 18, 2010 Leeds United 31 Comments I’ve left this match report a little longer than usual as I felt writing it yesterday whilst I was still fuming from the worst display I’ve seen at Elland Road this season wouldn’t have made for good reading. I could see so few positives yesterday that it would have simply been a list of our faults. The only problem is that time hasn’t changed my opinion of the match and I’m still at a loss to find anything good to say about the Leeds team of Tuesday night. Whilst I wanted to avoid a simple list of faults, there’s little else to focus on, so here goes; 1) The defence: Starting at the back and working my way forward then, I’ll start with the defence. Never has a team been so reliant on one player as we seem to be Patrick Kisnorbo. There’s no organisation without him, the closing down is slow and we look nervous under pressure. I’ve always liked Richard Naylor, but I think this probably stems from his performances last season and the fact he’s a Leeds United fan. Being our captain, he’s unlikely to ever be replaced from the team and being a Leeds United fan, the fans are more tolerant of his poor displays than they would be Rui Marquis’ or Lubomir Michalik’s. The fact is however, age has caught up with him and he can no longer keep with the pace of League One. How he’d cope in the Championship is anyones guess, but I’m not too optimistic. Clearly Kis has made the difference all season and that’s become blatently obvious by his absence. I’ve lost count of the amount of man of the match awards I’ve given him and I know others have always been of the same opinion. What I’d not realised was how much he was carrying Richard Naylor though. Looking back now, the best defensive pairing I’ve seen for Leeds this season was Rui and Kis early on. Ended by injury and the return of Naylor, but something I’d like to see reinstated as soon as possible. It’s been too easy to make Lubo a scapegoat lately and we’ve all been guilty of it, but when the defence looks disorganised, sluggish and slow to close down, you can only turn to the captain to get it sorted and get them in gear. Nayls is failing miserably on that front at the minute. The midfield: In an attacking sense we sometimes look OK. I’m willing to accept the new additions will take time to gel, but those thats been around longer don’t seem to be doing any better. Howson and Doyle have taken a lot of criticism from fans this season as they don’t play the pretty, attacking football like Snoddy and Johnson, but in their absence, it’s clear to see what they did do and that’s sure up the defence. Doyle is an experienced player with a good head on his shoulders and is always there to get stuck in and win the ball before it becomes a defensive issue. He’s always back helping the defence when they are in danger too and the same can be said of Howson, which is why I’ve always been reluctant to criticise either players attacking play. It’s all well and good having four attack minded players on the pitch when we’re in possession and moving forward, but as soon as the tables turn we’re looking weaker than ever and short on numbers as the opposition breaks. Whilst it’s good to see Simon using the squad more, I can’t help but feel he’s changing the dynamic of the squad with his changes, rather than the players for fresher ones. Let’s take the introduction of Gradel as an example. Whilst I know the lads giving everything for Leeds and provides something different going forward, he isn’t Micky Doyle or Jonny Howson, who are both more defensive minded players in my mind. As a man for man replacement, we’re adding more players to one end of the park and losing them from the other changing the balance of the team entirely. Now, I aren’t one of Andy Robinson’s biggest fans. It’s nothing personal, but I think the Leeds fans overrate him massively because ‘he tries’. However, the lad can mix it with the best of them, has a much more defensive nature to his game when needed and would be a much more suitable replacement when Doyle needs to be rested. My other problem with the midfield is the final ball, or lack thereof. For the overwhelming amount of attacking players we have on the pitch, we’re producing very few clear cut chances in the oppositions half at the minute. Johnson resorted to shooting from anywhere and seemed to have brought his rugby boots with him and we never really looked all that much of a threat, despite dominating much of the game. The attack: Finally we come to the attack, who can’t be blamed for anything as it all comes down to mismanagement for me. Luci gave everything but was replaced at half-time in favour of Grella, who also tried to get stuck in but the midfield created so few real chances that neither of them were ever likely to score. Then there’s Beckford, and as much as we’ve missed him and need him back in the starting XI, he clearly wasn’t 100%. He just seemed a yard behind all the game and I was convinced he’d be replaced at half-time or around the sixty minute mark, but Luci was brought off instead. So, do we no longer trust Grayson? I’ll support whoever Leeds’ manager is whilever they’re in the job and do believe Grayson will get it right again. Hopefully, he’ll do it sooner rather than later as failure to secure promotion will likely cost him his job. He’s a young manager whose team have hit a bad run and he needs to find a way to get them out of the rut. It’s that simple really and however much I criticise his decisions I still have faith in him and hope he can get us back on track. …and that goal? The goal that didn’t look like a goal is irrelevant for me. Had Leeds performed well and lost to a dodgy decision I’d be calling for the linesman and referees head, but in truth it was no less than we deserved after failing to do anything with all the possession we had. My biggest problem with it now is Casper is using it as an excuse for the defeat, as others in the team are no doubt doing too. It gives them an easy scapegoat to pin the blame on, but each and every one of them need to wake up and see the reality that they only have themselves to blame. Bemoaning your luck will get you nowhere. Getting your heads down, getting stuck in and giving the same kind of effort that we have for much of this season wins points, not pointing the finger and looking for someone else to blame.