Lacklustre Leeds destroyed by Swansea City TSS February 26, 2011 Match reviews 49 Comments It was another disappointing trip to Wales for The Whites as poor defending and a distinct lack of closing down made it all too easy for promotion rivals Swansea City. With Bradley Johnson suspended following the red card he picked up against Barnsley in midweek, Simon Grayson was forced to go 4-4-2. The absence of Johnson was evident throughout with the central midfield partnership of Neil Kilkenny and Jonny Howson failing to compensate for the loss of defensive input that he provides. The problem was not so much Jonny Howson, but Neil Kilkenny’s aversion to tackling. Killa’s lack of defensive input is hardly a new phenomena, but with a four man midfield, the Australian needed to step his game up and get the tackles in. Unfortunately, he failed miserably. Jonny Howson covered the yards and seemed to be one of only two Leeds United players (the other being Max Gradel) who wasn’t taking part in a 90 minute game of Hot Potato. Unfortunately, neither the captain or Gradel could stop the rest of the team from hoofing the ball clear with panicked clearance after panicked clearance. Between Swansea’s three goals, Leeds did carve out a couple of chances with Davide Somma seeing his header come back off the woodwork and Max Gradel denied an absolutely clear-cut penalty, but for the most part, this was an absolutely dreadful performance from a Leeds side that looked more like relegation fodder than potential promotion candidates. It’s perhaps a little harsh to single anyone out from defence for individual criticism, but George McCartney has been dreadful for the last three consecutive games now and it was nice to see Ben Parker replace him late on. The on-loan full back was exploited by a rampant Swansea side time and time again as he drifted out of position and failed to close the advancing players down. Max Gradel, whose defensive assistance I questioned only last week seemed determined to prove me wrong and was the only player who offered any protection to Leeds’ defence down that side. Doing the job of two players meant his efforts were often in vain, but it was nice to see someone attempting to stop the onslaught. Aside from Max Gradel, and possibly Jonny Howson – for his effort, if nothing else – there’s very little praise you can give to any of those representing Leeds today. The entire defence continuously held off players allowing them space and freedom to shoot, whilst the midfield looked unbalanced and the forwards barely saw the ball. It in no way excuses the comprehensive defeat we suffered, but the referee did little to help Leeds either. When he wasn’t denying us clear-cut penalties, he was tallying up yellow cards in what seemed an extremely discriminate manner. Both teams were guilty of a few rough challenges, yet only those in blue seemed to be going into the book. Overall, Swansea thoroughly deserved the victory. Leeds were absolutely dire throughout and can have no complaints whatsoever. To be brutally honest, 3-0 perhaps flattered us. Maybe this was the wake-up call we needed? The defence has been a constant weakness for a while now, but with Leeds losing just once in four months, the run of form was an easy excuse for the players to point to. If they’re serious about promotion, they can no longer afford to enter games with such an attacking mindset and must now adopt a more balanced approach before time runs out and we’re left to regroup for another season in the Championship. Two points from three games, with eight goals conceded is relegation form. If today wasn’t the wake-up call that Leeds United’s players needed, then a nosedive down the table is inevitable. lufcboy Outclassed in every way – No pace and a total lack of ideas at set pieces. Passed off the pitch. Overall very disappointing and I think Leicester and maybe Burnley just might catch us. number1inyorkshire you are right WE HAVE NO PACE when i mentioned that before i was as welcome as a fart in a space suit ,we only have gradel who is playing and Sam who isn’t . snodders has 0 pace same with becchio . kill kenny ,sorry killkenny is at best a whinging ,moaning little Aussie who to be fair can.t get in their national team he is rubbish at this level Gryff “The problem was not so much Jonny Howson, but Neil Kilkenny’s aversion to tackling. Killa’s lack of defensive input is hardly a new phenomena, but with a four man midfield, the Australian needed to step his game up and get the tackles in. Unfortunately, he failed miserably.” Agree entirely. He was a little whining tw*t all through the match too. I’ve always hated how he gives pathetic performances and glides his way into the starting XI because he knows how to take a freekick. But despite this, he sees fit to shout the ref down, shout his teammates down. The central midfield is there to get stuck in and make posession in the centre untenable, killer-passing is a bonus. Obviously they then provide leadership. All he managed to provide was comic relief for the opposition! TSS: did you spot Lichaj’s positioning each time Swansea took it down the right flank? It was amazing. Each time he stood next to O’Brien who was marking a striker, and left his left-winger completely unmarked in about 10 yards of space. Personally, I thought O’Brien & Bruce did a decent job. O’Brien was hindered by Lichaj for the first goal, and they were overloaded constantly by free runs from the flanks. But despite that, O’B alone must have made at least 5 last-ditch blocks in the opening half hour after McC/Lichaj got routed. One thing I noticed especially was that even though O’B & Bruce could have put a foot in a little more often, if the wingers ran at them, they often ended up going horizontally because the two made a very good defensive wall between them. Just a pity they didn’t have a couple of decent full-backs to complete the line! Poor form recently, but I think it’s just a few positions. The inside forwards don’t defend (harder to when they’re relied on to attack so much), the wing-backs are hopeless, and the central midfield is toothless. But apart from the first problem, 3-4 signings in the Summer will fix that perfectly. Mike Good report TSS but unsurprisingly you find it impossible to level any criticism whatever at the real culprit, Simple Simon, even though you know full well that the buck stops with him, in fact you have something in common with him, he doesn’t find fault in himself either. TSS I’m remaining open-minded with Lichaj as he did OK last time out. McCartney meanwhile has been consistently poor, and Killa’s whining does my head in too. Never been his biggest fan if I’m honest. I just don’t see what he offers to the side? Sure, he can pass a ball, but it’s never the kind of defence splitting ball that the rest of our midfield makes. It’s usually just square to an easy option or back to defence. He doesn’t tackle, barely scores and spends half the match complaining. I honestly don’t get it, I really don’t… AussieWhite My sentiments exactly. I don’t think McCartney actually made a tackle the whole game (rugby tackles don’t count) and just kept backing off, allowing their winger deep into the penalty area every time. Killa is just a fraud who couldn’t tackle a 6 year old (remember Vinnie Jones?)and actually slows down potential attacks with his sideways or backward passing. BUT, the biggest criticism must go to Larry. Everyone could see that Leeds were being over run in midfield and that Dobbie had the freedom of the park but, rather than introducing an extra body to midfield or man marking him, he just ploughed on with the same formation which could only succeed in bringing the inevitable outcome of a good beating. saltburnwhite Dont want to jump on the bandwagon , but KILKENNEY …not KILLA because thats way to ironic! saltburnwhite Sorry pressed enter by mistake and didnt finish! anyway kilkenney is the weak link , its a coincidence i dont think that since he came back into the side 3 games ago we are shite! he cant tackle , is a winging cock , and he simply adds nothing , 50% of the time he dawdles on the ball and gets tackled cos he cant get his fat butt away from the ‘man on’ and the other 50% of the time he gets the pass away and it still goes straight to the opposition , or over the bar or straight to the keeper with a ‘kilkenney defence splitting pass’ never rated him , never will and ill be glad when hes gone …and p.s. TSS grayson didnt HAVE to revert to 4-4-2 , he could have put bromby in cb and pushed bruce to dm and kept the 4-5-1 , fair enough we still concede goals but we usually score more with this formation. 4-4-2 simply hasnt worked all season and we just concede and dont score any ….better the devil you know ..4-5-1 all the way……also if your going to play a ball player who cant tackle , may aswell play a BALL player who cant tackle and thats ramon nunez and not kilkenney! Jonathan oldroyd Time to say something even if it is a ramble and not quite stated right. So much of the long string of ties and now losses, is mismanagement. It is up to a manager and coaches to motivate young players to get fired up from then opening whistle and relentlessy pursue the opposition with a killer instinct for possession and goals until the game is over. Discipline and fire every minute and game. It was up to the manager and staff to know that two unsigned marginally talented central midfielders would eventually crack under pressure or not perform. Johnson cracked. You could tell it was going to happen. Didn’t they learn that last year? Grayson doesn’t seem to have a creative mind and lacks personality and is perhaps slightly defensive and unsure. He seems to try to identify with the boys instead of being and portraying a real charismatic figurehead which players admire, look up to and which attracts talent. He appears to lack the mature insights of human behavior that allow great managers to motivate and manipulate them to perform. It was Grayson who ought to have fielded a fresh team midweek against Barnsley, not only fielding a tired team but making them twice as tired against Swansea. Not only that, it demoralizes those trying to get into the first team. Night time games especially at home, are difficult to perform in unless the staff take control of the players’ lives during the day from their domestic activity to diet. The body goes through rhythms and cycles and if those are compounded by the wrong diet of carbs, the whole body will crash. Big sports teams now control everything even screening for intelligence. But lets be realistic, Paynter is a plodder and can’t make it without a physical makeover. Watt is immature but could blossom. Bromby is mediocre. And yet we have some fine talents. The question is does staff know how to find and fit the pieces to get the business done. Gryff Earlier in the season I was very worried about Grayson. Our -15 team was easily good enough to win League One, yet despite McAllister adding the likes of Becchio & Snodgrass, the team didn’t perform consistantly & Larry got the job. Then in the first full season together, they did very well – until the halfway point. At that point, we went into a nosedive and only the constant energetic performances of little Max Gradel could bring us hobbling over the finish line in 2nd. The players Simon wants to put his faith in (most notably the central midfield as most of the others have been moved on) almost threw away promotion for a second season in a row in 09-10. Then, we started this season a bit hit-and-miss. Fair enough, if a tad frustrating. We put on some good sequences, and then in October we saw the beginnings of another potential nose-dive like the one 6 months previously. Eventually the likes of Bessone, Naylor & co. Are shipped out or miraculously suffer injury, and we put on some more good sequences. But now we’re struggling again. This time partly because of our sub-standard central midfield (which has been substandard since getting rid of Delph, and further back: Prutton & Douglas, even though they were far from perfect). But also partly because of our lack of depth. We have Watt & Nunez & the young lad as cover in central midfield, but Grayson refuses to give either more than 10 minutes of game-time. We sell Hughes, and have to get an emergency replacement in Lichaj who has had a couple of utter stinkers. Yet Grayson was insisting throughout January that our squad was good enough and he wouldn’t sign just to ‘make up the numbers’. But that’s exactly the problem. The lads have plenty of talent and give glimpses of brilliance. But they’re not good enough. They’re a collection of basket cases who bottle it at ER (and Swansea) and who are at eachother’s throats. As soon as anything goes wrong Snodgrass & Kilkenny & Howson are all whining along. It shows a lack of professionalism because they shouldn’t allow themselves to get so worked up – it only clouds their own judgement. I mean, we have whiners, bottlers, thick-as-two-plankers (BJ especially)… They’re all talented but it’s feeling more like a circus every week. Can’t help but think Grayson’s made some pretty sizeable judgement errors this past 12 months. Still, he can make some wise signings this Summer and prove us all wrong! trueyorxman Who said a few days ago on this very site that is was time to show McCartney the long & winding road back to the Mackems! Yesterdays performance showed exactly why, Bessone-esque at best. Snoddy needs a rest, should have been on the bench v Barnsley but Larry doesn’t seem to realise he has a squad at his disposal. I think after yesterday we can put any hopes of promotion to bed number1inyorkshire there are many knives out this morning .reading through news now ,square ball ,Yorkie post ,and a few others ,but lots on here .we were right mikelufc they are coming out now . i don’t want to see grayson go however there needs to be some changes ,GLYNN SNODIN,doesn’t seem to offer much and was put on gardening leave at the hammers for a reason .its usually the assistant who takes over when the manager gets the boot ,not him . we have the same goal keeping coach who was there when Casper Ankergren was rubbish maybe he could be replaced ,clutching at straws maybe but who knows. Then there is the transfer policy or lack of one , we have missed a boat somewhere albeit a small one ,Cardiff ,Swansea, QPR and others have been building for years ,at 19000+it was Swansea’s biggest crowd ever at there new ground .against Norwich and Barnsley we had a total of nearly 60000,why was there team so much better than ours i know a big crowd doesn’t guarantee success ask Newcastle ,but at this level the money it generates must have a bearing .We only need 2/3/4 players quality ones ours, not loans .Then there are players we have who are not playing ,Sam ,Clayton and Nunez who haven’t been tried . we don’t know what the transfer policy is or was but Grayson says he is happy with what Bates has said about it ,so therefore he takes the hit ,Bates has said he has offered money for signings or loans ?????????. Then Grayson has said ,he will only get players in that are better than what we have who can do a job ,so what happens when the loans go back ,the players left out who were “not good enough “how do you motivate them again it’s a worry . We were poor yesterday ,Tired,lethargic,stressed that was down to him having to play the same squad ,they swapped 3 players ,we have a squad but its just not good enough no quality . we missed 2 transfer windows , it’s too late now .Anyone coming in would be knee jerk ,and they would take 3/4 games to settle into the side . our transfer policy is very likely to cost grayson his job eventually ,and certain unrest from us the paying punter, we will never of had a better opportunity to go up this season ,the teams coming down will have loads of money with parachute payments for 4 years ,we will certainly loose some players and will be left with a new start again . just for the record if grayson gets us up he will be god what a great manger LOL WillS Snodgrass is as much a whinging jock as the whinging oz. hate snodgrasses attempts at tackling too – he always fouls then moans. But unlike the Tosser from Oz, he can be forgiven. Looking like the son of the treasonous Gordon brown does Snods no favours in life- needs a face transplant! timm Snodgrass is easily the most valuable player in that side. If you want to look at the worst player in that team over the last 2 games then you should have a look at the local hero Johnny Howson.Shocking! Way off the pace, constantly giving the ball away, terrible first touch. I suspect with your dickhead comments about one of our own that you’re not a Leeds fan.You should get a Leeds fan to teach you about how this club would have no history if it weren’t for Scottish players players. WillS Ah, so you lambast me for abusing Snodgrass’s pathetic “tacking” stlye followed by his moaning and a booking – yet its okay for you to diss Howson. Or maybe you’re upset that I think he looks like Gordon Broon? Oh is it the word “jock”? Colin Snodgrass is excellent but has been poor in the last 3 games and subbed in the last 2. “If you want to look at the worst player in that team over the last 2 games then you should have a look at the local hero Johnny Howson.Shocking!” Complete bullshit. Gryff Snodgrass is indeed a great talent. But I’ve noticed he’s almost as bad as Kilkenny when he gets tired. For me, although Snoddy puts in 100% all the time, he fits into the Kewell bracket: needs plenty of rest and nurtuting. Gryff @number1 considering Grayson’s guiding us to a top-10 finish in our debut season (after years of ability-numbing League One football), I’d be amazed if anybody thought he should go! number1inyorkshire i have 2 words “CHRIS HUGHTON “ Mike Good post number1, we seem to be singing from the same song sheet, Larry needs more criticism not IGWT, he needs to surround himself with competent assistance but I think we have blown it this season,however it is not over yet. and thanks for the touch of lightening up humour from WillS although I dont think he was making a joke. “The tosser from Oz and treasonous son of G Brown made my day.:-) :- Mike @gryff We have not yet achieved a top 10 finish and it’s a top six we need which we are good enough for when Larry gets it right (by accident) RickHx Grayson is a young, inexperienced manager and has made a few mistakes over the last year, like keeping Beckford in the team when he was desperate to stay fit to earn a multi million pound move, and not using the squad enough when players were clearly flagging. Kilkenny and Lichaj have hardly kicked a ball for 2 months and then expected to play 3 big games in a week, Snodders had just had his involvement with Scotland, Becchio has been working overtime in his lone role up front. Clearly the balance of the squad isn’t right, we aren’t covered in some of the most important positions. But let put things into perspective, We came up with a paper thin squad into a far far better league. We don’t have a suger daddy like a lot of our rivals, and we are clearly a work in progress as far as the squad goes. Its OK saying this is our best chance to go up, but who amongst you is going to throw a few million at the club? We all know Bates isn’t !!!! You all point at the poor players Grayson has signed, but what do you expect for £100,000 – £200,000, at this level. You get the players other teams don’t really want. We obviously don’t pay the best wages, as a number of our players are letting their contracts run down so they can get a better deal elsewhere. Personally I think the team are doing remarkably well. Sure we have made mistakes and have throw plenty of points away, but thats part of the learning curve. QPR, Swansea, Cardiff, Forest have all been building for at least 2 or 3 seasons and now have the squad to compete for promotion. We are nowhere near their level, but still only a few points behind. Our second defeat in 22 and we are now officially the worst team ever, with a coaching staff who shouldn’t be allowed to run an under 11s team. TSS @RickHx Thank God for that. I was close to suicide reading the rest of the comments. We didn’t have a member of staff left worthy of a place at Elland Road. Gryff TBH TSS, along with 3-4 good staff, we do have a handful of blokes who failed at the lowest leagues and have still – somehow – walked into a job at a place like Leeds. Jim Barnett @RickHx well done mate for giving a balanced argument. Speaking of which, I point you all in the direction of the latest Square Ball article…hits the nail on the head. number1inyorkshire that square ball article is bang on .lack of ambition in the transfer market Colin Do Grayson and Bates still think Bradley Johnson isn’t worth a new contract? Johnson would have made A difference. Not necessarily THE difference, but he would at least have given Leeds more presence in midfield. timm Yes but he was suspended. Colin timm – i know he was suspended. My point was that Johnson isn’t valued enough to get a new contract, yet the fact that when he doesn’t play, he’s noticeable by his absence. Grayson’s had all season to get a replacement for Johnson, either permanently or on loan. he hasn’t managed to find one and he’s the only defensive midfielder we have, so we should. If we can’t find a defensive midfielder as good as Johnson, then WTF are Leeds doing letting him walk on a free? TSS @colin I don’t think Larry has ever wanted rid of Johnson – that was all Bates’ doing, because he was being too tight to pay him the salary he wanted. I was Johnson’s biggest critic six months back because all he ever did was blast 40 yard shot, after 40 yard shot into the roof of the Kop. Now he’s playing defensively, he’s the most important part of our central midfield. Colin @tss – i’m not sure. I think Bates has stood by him and supported him with the players he wants to keep and who he wants to buy (within reason). Grayson wanted McCormack, and he wan’t cheap, and Bates got him. I think Johnson wasn’t on the Grayson love-in list and now he probably is but we’ve pissed that down the drain. I fully expect to see him in another team next season, on the original contract that he wanted. A nice freebie for the likes of Forest or Norwich etc. Grrrr, Grayson Rog Simon Grayson has done a fantastic job since becoming manager.Everyone makes mistakes but he is Leeds United through and through. Get behind the team- we have had a great season so far and we are still in the top six. Marching on TOGETHER- that’s how we’ll get back to the promised land of the Premier League! Graeme Ramone (Nunez) Yesterdays game was a reminder of how far we fell, plummeting down the leagues. We have 50 points now and wont get relegated, being around the playoffs is an ok 1st season back in level 2. We have no money and a steady hand at the helm in Grayson, we have to be realistic, building and not buying a team is the grim reality. Eventually we will be back at the top, these dark times will make that all the sweeter, MOT. Mike “A steady hand at the helm” Graeme? Are you in touch with reality? Larry plays the same people time after time wearing them down while others who could be used with their fresh legs in less important games sit frustrated on the bench unused except for the odd 5 minutes. He gets rid of hard working players who want to play for Leeds because their face does not fit then realies he has effed up and brings on tossers on loan who offer nothing. Take the silly rosie spectacles off and get a grip. Loved them diamond floodlights Simon Grayson will do very well as a manager at Leeds or somewhere else I would prefer it to be at Leeds he is young Makes mistakes etc just like that scum manager did many Years ago , it’s about time we had a real long term manager To really create a dynasty I think he can results like yesterday Happen to every club can anyone honestly say he has not Done well for us? Look what he did at Blackpool it’s not all Luck and he did not have the same back room team there So to me he has done well at two different clubs with two Different lots of assistants that says the manager does have A clue, I still believe we will go up and if we don’t and finish 7th or8th I’m sorry but that is a good season in this league No matter what your club is called. RIP Dean Richards tragic Mike @floodlghts On present frm there is littl reason to believe we will finish in the top 10, so what kind of a season will you call that? After having been second 5 minutes ago! Gryff It’s disappointing and perhaps not good enough, but at the same time almost everybody assigned this season as squad-building in the pre-season. That’s exactly what we’ve done, we’ve got centre-backs, keeper, inside forwards and (more or less) forwards sorted. Chareose Give Leeds investment and a competitive wage structure and then you can start leveling critisiscms at Grayson………(a manager who got us promoted with loans and bargain basement deals) Mike your completely out of touch with reality, we arnt Barcelona with a hundred million transfer budget, we are a relegated club being bled and run as a purely small time profit making business………….. yes Grayson has “money to spend”…..50 pence. What we are seeing is a result of poor investment and to be brutally honest I dont beleive that the Chairman and his mysterious friends particulary wanted Leeds to gain promotion……. theyve saved themselves jacking out 12 million to debits and 20 million on transfers….. Leeds are exactly where they want to be, Club on the up, showspotential for any would be buyer…. Tim Wilsom It’s already been said.Pretty bad,shuffle the pack Larry Chareose By the way Gryff, lets be realistic, we will lose the cream of our team during the summer without promotion. The club needs a buyer to invest in it. Bates and Co are clearly playing a clever game, trying not to invest too much money initially but keeping the train going in the right direction in order to entice interest. If that interest doesnt appear in the summer then they have some hard choices to make. Gryff Chareose: We only lose them if we chose to sell. They are contracted to us and if we have the finances to pay their wages then it is literally down to Grayson whether to let them ‘further their careers’ and all this other new-age hippy rubbish Mark R Some interesting posts, Jon Oldroyd, Gryff & No.1 in Yorks in particluar. Yesterday was woeful. I think SG was reckless in playing 4-4-2 at Swansea, and perhaps trying to make up for teh points dropped vs.Norwich & Barnsley at home – both winnable matches. Defensively, again we needed to be more compact against a dynamic Swansea side – where 1 point would have been a good result. A 4-5-1 formation would have had the potential to make us more difficult to score against. However – again another 3 goals shipped. As I’ve written before on TSS – Either a) Employ tactics that play to the strengths of our current squad. b) OR get new players in that can play the tactics SG wants to use . We’ve known for most of the season that the midfield isweak and inexperienced, and defensively the team is fragile. Can anyone say that SG & co have addressed this problem & found a solution ? So Bradley is out for the Swansea match, and there are rumours of Michael Johnson, Stewart , Southern from Blackpool – all supposed to be the missing defensive midfielder coming our way – so what has happened ? Nothing apparently. We seem to have trouble recruiting players – surprising for a team with our history and size – in the promising position we are currently in. Eithe rthe salarys we are offering are unrealistic , or SG is overly cautious, ot perhaps a bit of both. The season is unraveling and SG must now be decisive and take action to consolidate top 6. How can we draw against Arsenal yet perform the way we have done in the last 3 matches ? Come on SG – sort it out! MOT RickHx Mike, you say “On present frm there is littl reason to believe we will finish in the top 10, so what kind of a season will you call that?” well when we lost at home to Cardiff there was little reason to believe we would finish outside the relegation zone, but look where we are. You forget we have hit the woodword 6 times in the last 3 matches and had a stone wall penalty turned down. We were excellent against Norwich, should have beaten Barnsley with a poor display and only 10 men and although we were out played at Swansea, who knows what might have happened had the penalty been given. Even if we don’t finish in the top ten I would call this season a great learning experience for the players and coaching staff and proof that we are going in the right direction. Chareose Gryff…..you think If a decent prem club come calling that our great dane will hang about ?? Im not so sure…. I think Gradel is just as ambitious also…. And i beleive Bates will cash in on players if the money is good enough Gryff Unless they pay enough money for Grayson to think he can get a better keeper in replacement, then yes he will be hanging about. He has no choice, as he has signed a legally binding contract. Our most important players are O’Brien, Gradel, Snodgrass, Becchio & Somma. Gradel has two years remaining meaning we have him next season even if we have to sell before his contract is out. Snodgrass has two years left, Becchio just signed a new contract, O’Brien only just signed up. Casper is the only problem, and I can’t see a single Premiership club wanting to risk signing him to play as a regular. He’s made many fantastic saves this season, and a decent number of howlers. If you’re in a team that’s expected to fight against relegation there’s no way you’re going to risk any points on him at this stage in his career, while better Premiership clubs are unlikely to give him a guaranteed season of football like Leeds. l l l leeds Spot on, TSS. Mike @gryff “Our most important players are O’Brien, Gradel, Snodgrass, Becchio & Somma.” So you dont rate our revered captain or Goalie?!!! Bugger me! No No I dont mean that, Flipping heck! Gryff An oversight on my part! I did go on to talk about Casper wanting to leave at the end of next season being a problem (in my defence). Gryff But Howson, I rate him but he isn’t one of our most important players to me. He does a good job going forward but with our current squad is easily replaceable should he get injured.