This game could be quickly summarised ‘nothing happened; couldn’t really see it anyway’ – no advert for Championship football was this, unless selling it solely on February weather conditions at the division’s grounds.

Hoping for a positive start to the Warnock era, the faithful were initially in jovial spirits, aided by the abundant south coast sunshine, but by mid second half, even the Vitamin D couldn’t keep the smiles raised. It was a quick descent from blind hope to the realisation that these are the same guys who’ve been drudging away all season.

There were few tweaks to the line-up itself – but the set-up had changed. True to his word, Warnock thrust Snodgrass into a more central role behind the lone Becchio, with McCormack and White (theoretically) providing ammo from wide. It was no surprise, either, to see Michael Brown at the heart of midfield. As it turned out, he was one of the few outfield players to have a half-decent game.

Stylistically, this was nothing like a clean break from what went on under the last days of Grayson. The defence looked hesitant, panicky and massively prone to completely aimless lofts or smashes into touch, there was seemingly endless header tennis in the middle of the park bar the odd more composed Brown moment, and Becchio was far more useful in defence than attack.

It appears the new formation may take more than a little while to start to click. Aiden White looked isolated and confused wide right, though ironically produced the only decent Leeds effort on goal first half – and, come to think of it, the only real time Henderson in the Portsmouth goal was stretched all game.

The Whites’ disjointed first half showing was epitomised by two incidents: Pugh sliding into a challenge about two seconds too early, resorting to fouling the man while effectively sitting on his arse, and a disastrously ineffective short corner routine between Snodgrass and White that resulted in not even a powder-puff threat to the Home side’s box.

Pompey had looked the more likely to score, even though that wasn’t saying much, and also had a handball claim that their fans on the train out of Fratton described as ‘almost catching it’. It’d sound Arsene Wenger-esque to say I didn’t see it, but with the relentless sun requiring ‘hand visors’ from our travelling fans for the whole game, it’s on this occasion an honest rather than politicians’ response.

Little changed in the second period: when the likes of Aaron Mokoena and Tal Ben Haim are looking like flair players, you have to be worried. From us it was mostly aimless hoofing to players in offside positions, but McCormack did produce a fine shot out of nothing that smashed the underside of the bar. At the other end, they forced the second of two quality saves from Lonergan – a point-earning Leeds Man of the Match midst a barren field.

The game was crying out for a sub or two – even Billy Paynter – but despite warm-ups there was nothing ventured. The cries of frustration increased, to be replaced by the kind of subdued tooth-gnashing that’s accompanied the regular lacklustre performances all season.

The game petered out into a point that did little to help the cause of either side, while the one-man attempt to ignite a rendition of ‘Neil Warnock’s Barmy Army’ remained pretty much a solo affair. We’re going to need to see a lot more than this before he’s taken into our hearts enough for a rousing sing-song.

It would be easy to say that the new man will be given time to get things right, but after the initial love-in, the mid-week press conference was a far more cagey affair that didn’t shout ‘longevity’. Based on this showing, it’s entirely possible that the task may be beyond the time Warnock’s either given, or prepared to give.

We can only hope that a week more work bedding in people’s new roles and possibly a loan or three, we’ll show enough increase in mettle for our new supremo’s welcome party not to turn a bit tetchy. Knowing Leeds, though, it would surprise few to see them follow this dire show with a display of verve and coherence. Things can only get better – surely.

22 Responses

  1. TimPM

    Two obvious things struck me: White did look lost out wide, and we were clearly missing Townsend who Warnock made to sound like he’d be adding a double-threat for long balls which Luci’s never had to help him out with and who has worked much better in that position.
    Second, Snoddy struggled to get into the game and might need a few matches getting the feel of the role?
    But Pompey are a good side who would be sitting comfotably mid-table if they hadn’t had points deducated and that must be their first full house for a while? There’s no way Mokoena and Ben-Haim should be in a bottom half team (or even this division in their prime). On another day we’d’ve taken a result there despite the scrappy game and I think Warnock knew this would be a tough one for us with Pompey literally fighting for their lives?
    Looking forward to Southampton. If we get a result there I think we can kick on. We don’t need 13 wins or anything like it. If we don’t, it’s all about building for next season. We’ve got to remember that Grayson had this team around the playoffs all season despite a sense of it imploding with us barely stringing two passes together a few months ago and horrible reverses like Barnsley.
    I just hope Warnock starts sounding like he believes in us! He can build a good team this summer – it won’t take 10 new signings or even close.

    • Max

       @TimPM It might not take 10 signings if Warnock can retain the squad. I think Snodgrass will be sold and a couple of other first teamers will fall out of contract. Bates is threatening to “take a very different approach” to the squad next season, which could mean all kinds of things.
      On a related note (bear with me) – not sure if anyone heard the Bournemouth chairman on (or being thrown off) 6-0-6 tonight. It struck me in most other sports he’d be thrown out of the game. It goes to show that the “fit and proper” rules aren’t being regulated or enforced one iota. LUST et al should be putting pressure on politicians to better regulate the sport – it’s the only way we’ll be rid of these characters.

      • number1inyorkshire

        the Bournemouth chairman is an idiot what a disgrace ,alright they put there money in but either manage the team yourself or let the chap you pay get in with it ..
        there is a thought hat WOLVES didn’t get a manger this week cos their chairman went into the dressing room   .

      • number1inyorkshire

        forgot to say Bates would never and should never really pass a fit and proper persons test ,what with his record on insolvency and administration .
        it is a joke and really needs looking at but by who ,the corrupt at the regulators  ..

  2. dess

    It looked a little different but we had the same nervous defence. Becchio just can’t win every header and playing snodgrass in the centre takes him right out the game if we are going to bypass him all the time looking for becchio.
    Season over? Probably but. I had a great day out

  3. number1inyorkshire

    should have conceded a penalty —-tom lees hand ball
    should have scored—— becchio through
    was the ball over the line—- i guess it was
    only game in champs with no goals next 3 are must wins and hope the rest come unstuck, but for me the dream is over til next season ..

  4. Jonno63

    We have to keep the faith now. Have you seen the games coming up? It’s nasty. I trust Warnocks’ abilities and am happy to let this season go if need be. He’ll need maybe 4 players over the summer, and then we’ll see. Will always be glad Grayson has gone, his team he’d lost all clues, and he was the one that got the players in, and was supposed to know what system to play.

    • Bowy

       Completely agree I know the saying has been used a million times in the last few weeks but “Rome was not built in a day”  I fully believe in Warnock & I to am glad Larry has gone I was fed up of scratching my head with his tactics & team selection. I don’t think for a minute we will go up this season but next season then Yes & I just hope we all get behind warnock & give him the support he deserves.

  5. DrD

    Need 9 wins. And 9 players as White, snodgrass and probably Clayton will jump ship in the summer unless we somehow go up and can lengthen their contracts..oh and if we do make playoffs will have to beat brum/reading/Cardiff…nothing is impossible, Greece won the euro 2004!

    • TimPM

       @DrD Until freak-boy won destroyed us we were on top of Brum. And they’re by far the best of those 3.

  6. mattbb1

    there are a few nincompoops who expected a 4-0 win yesterday purely off the back of having a new manager, chief among them ken bates. why does ti take him until now to realise that we need new players? for f**ks sake paynter and forssell were on the bench! and all bar one of our centre backs were used.

  7. morleywhite

    Check out the Leicester Mercury paper from saturday it looks like theres some truth in Matt Mills signing for leeds for the rest of season.As reported in there paper hes on his way to Leeds with Leicester paying most of his wages for rest of the season.,be a ideal partner for young tom leeds.Be good to get him in on a permanent in the summer but apparantly hes on 25k a week at leicester which could put that to bed.

  8. Chareose

    i think leeds looked more solid against a strong team fighting for its survival, a grayson leeds team would have lost and thats no dig at Simon, i just think his reign had been erroded by frustration and he was losing the dressing room. I agree that we dont have a hope in hell of promotion this season…… weve sold all our best players bar Snodgrass.
    Warnock needs to be given around 3-4 million in transfer funds and the ability to compete on wages in the summer if hes going to be able to rebuild the team…..  Dont see the point in bringing in 10 players even if i agree thats what we need. 10 players would require too much time to bed down. So better to get 3-4 very good players and make do

  9. Colin

    I have to admit I am having a bit of a chuckle at some posters trying to defend that as a good result. But I know why. The reason is because they were the ones pissing their pants over Warnock coming in. What did he do? He played “direct” aka HOOF-BALL. Great, but not really, because if you play HOOF-BALL you take Snodgrass out of the game.
    Poor result against a bad team for me. They were there for the taking. Should have been 3 easy points. Now come Southampton. People can laud the clean sheet as much as they want, but if Leeds play like that against Southampton, Leeds WILL get battered. Ricky Lambert will score for fun against O’Dea and Tom Lees.
    Left footer Aidy White on the right and Alex Bruce (then Bromby) at RB. FFS, that’s madness. What on earth has Paul Connolly done to not get a game? What exactly is Warnock doing that was better than Grayson? Simon could have quite easily drawn against a shit team that we should have beat. The only difference is Michael Brown is playing, and playing shit.
    I don’t care what the odds are, I’m getting my money on Southampton for the next game.

    • Tyler75

      For FFS Colin he’s been in charge 1 whole week and had Townsend doing a runner in the middle of it  !!! Let’s see where we are in the next few weeks; improvement-wise.
      He found a way to make Tarrbat the best player in the division last season and QPR playing decent football but that didn’t happen overnight. He must know that its unlikely we’ll get up this season but needs to get results to keep us in with a chance if others start cocking up – that’s rock and a hard place stuff ! 

      • Chareose

         I think your being a bit harsh colin, both teams cancelled each other out a bit, Portsmouth have the same attitude Leeds had when we got docked points……they will be hard to beat now.
        The problems at Leeds all stem from the top…..(the chairman) in the summer we will lose Snodgrass and our team will be bereft of any top division talent……How many teams in the prem have so few genuine match winners ?   The truth is we are going to have to start rebuilding from scratch, try and find some new young talent like we had to do in Division 1 but I cant see that happening with Bates holding onto our coat-tails holding us back.

    • TimPM

      Pompeys team included:
      Tal Ben Haim with years of Premiership experience with Bolton, CHELSEA, MAN CITY, Sunderland, Pompey and West Ham;
      Ricardo Rocha with Benfica and Spurs to his name;
      Mokoena who learnt his trade at Bayern Leverkusen and Ajax, with years in the Prem at Blackburn;
      Hayden Mullins, a veteran from the Prem and experience of dropping down to a superior Champship side with Palace and West Ham and now Pompey;
      Marko Futacs a 6ft 5 freak of nature who was trained at AS Nancy & Werder Bremen…
      They’re not a better team than us but it’s hardly a given 3 points – especially considering they were at home to a large crowd and the club is fighting for its very existence. I also didn’t notice Futacs scoring 4.
      We’ve had left footed Snodgrass on the right for seasons and you didn’t complain. Right-footed Gradel and right-footed Sam and Nunez on the left and you didn’t argue. Paul Connolly has been overlooked by 3 managers now Colin: that should tell you something.
      Neil Warnock has had a matter of days at the club, tried to change the formation, and we’ve gone to a tough away match and got a draw. We didn’t play that well, we didn’t win, but we didn’t get luck either and we kept a clean sheet against some good and experienced players.

  10. Colin

    Okay okay. So are we going to get promoted this season or not?
    If you think we are then I think you’re deluded. I think we’ll learn a footballing lesson in the next 4 games. We NEED 12 points. We’re likely to get ZERO points.
    If we’re not going to get promoted then fine. But in that case what was the point of getting rid of Grayson and having the team managed by Redfearn for 4 games and now Warnock?
    Southampton’s job is easy – mark Snodgrass out of the game, watch out for Becchio and make sure you don’t let McCormack get a shot off. And consistently run at an awful defence and keep popping shots at Lonergan. He’ll save 75% of them but you will get through and score eventually.
    It’s that straightforward. I don’t know why anyone is arguing against me. Better teams beat weaker teams. Southampton are SO much better than us. And if we get 0 points from that game then we’re not getting promoted. And if that happens, we’re losing Snodgrass & Aidy White (at least).
    Absolutely no reasons to be cheerful after that last result.

    • Tyler75

      Better teams beat weaker teams most of the time – but this is the Championship where relegation threatened Forest who can’t buy a goal win away at Birmingham unbeaten in 2012 – the only consistency in the Championship this season is inconsistency

    • TimPM

      I don’t know if we’ll get promoted this season. Will we end up in the playoffs? Depends how we perform. We defended quite well against a highly underrated Pompey side and we were hardly locked out of the game ourselves. Southampton and Leicester have only managed draws at Fratton Park and neither kept clean sheets. Reading and Blackpool both lost.
      Conversely with Southampton our job is easy – Mark Lallana out of the game, watch out for Lambert and make sure you don’t let Billy Sharp get a shot off. Flood Kelvin Davis in his responsible midfield role and consistently run at the wide defence of Frazer Richardson who we chose Jason Crowe over, and (if Fox doesn’t play) Dan Harding who wasn’t good enough for us in 06.
      That masks the reality that Southampton are a very good side this season. Flooding Davis isn’t an easy task, nor is watching out for Lambert. Just like keeping a player with a free role out and watching out for Becchio if it comes to a scrabble during a set-piece.
      Anything’s straightforward if you want to simplify it to a short paragraph. Solve world hunger: find a way to make enough food to feed everyone. How? They have a tough job of shutting out our threats. The defence is a major weakness but in our first job since a proven manager after Grayson took over we’ve got a clean sheet at against a decent side in a famous away ground at the other end of the country.
      Absolutely no reasons to be so fatalistic following the last result. We don’t look like top-2 side but to quote a man who ruled himself out of the Leeds job:  he’s not “Merlin the Magician”! If we want to go solely by the Pompey game, Southampton struggled in just the same way as we did and they’re in an automatic place.

  11. Matt

    Promotion or not? Warnock good or Warnock bad?
    Good questions, but we are all trying to answer them too early.


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