Whites plod to point in the sunshine Gary February 25, 2012 Leeds United, Match reviews 22 Comments 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.