A scrappy 0-0 away to Hull City should be taken as a positive result considering they have the best defensive record in the division and are serious promotion candidates under Nick Barmby.

Despite a positive response to Neil Warnock’s first couple of games, and despite an understanding that Neil Redfearn’s spell meant promotion was pretty much impossible this season, the moaning returned from a section of our support.

It seems the “honeymoon period” for Leeds United managers is precisely three games long. It’s strange when you consider Warnock has had no time to make any serious changes – what else were people expecting? Since Ken Bates decided to leave the hunt for a new manager three weeks, we missed the January transfer window and are, by and large, playing the exact same team – a team that fans should understand by now, isn’t good enough.

It’s not far off in all honesty, but ‘not far off’ doesn’t get you promoted. It leaves you mid-table. Had we kept Max Gradel, Jonny Howson and Bradley Johnson we’d probably be in a much stronger position, but we didn’t, and Neil Warnock has been left to pick up the pieces.

The biggest issue for the last two seasons has been the defence. Two clean sheets away from home, and beaten by a solitary goal at home to the league leaders Southampton – who we absolutely battered – should be taken as a huge positive.

No football team scores the way we were and keeps such a strong defensive record, it just doesn’t happen. In tightening up at the back, there’s been a trade-off in our attacking force. This was inevitable. You can either moan about conceding two goals when we’ve won 3-2, or you can settle down and get used to low-scoring matches. You can’t have it both ways. We’re not Barcelona, we won’t be winning 3-0 regularly.

And it’ll never be as exciting as it was under Simon Grayson, but isn’t that what all the moaning was for? Didn’t fans want him displaced to get the defence tightened up? Seemed to me that no matter how many times I pointed out the fact we were still serious play-off contenders, and that he still got results, fans would point to the defensive record and that would be the end of the debate.

It’s the relentless moaning of fans that does more damage than anything else. The ridiculous knee-jerk reactions to what most teams would consider an incredibly strong result. Leaving the KC last night, I posted an update on Twitter via my phone and some of the responses I received were ridiculous. Not particularly surprising, but ridiculous nonetheless.

Expectations are above and beyond what they realistically should be, we have a fanbase that has no patience whatsoever, who think we should win every game and who will be calling for the managers head otherwise.

One manager is replaced because of incessant moaning and the new man comes in. Fans claim they have no real expectations and will offer him the time he needs to build his own team, yet as soon as a game kicks off, all that goes out of the window. It’s madness.

It’s not so much those at the game either, because there will have been very few people at the KC Stadium last night disappointed with the team. It was scrappy, uneventful, horrible football of the worst possible kind, but you couldn’t really fault the effort. The style of the two teams and the rugby pitch they were playing on was the problem, it was conducive to the kind of lower league scrap-fest that comes from two sides determined to keep a clean sheet. But isn’t that what fans were demanding?

Clean sheets come from teams, like Hull City, that defend from the front. Teams that put their bodies on the line to win every ball and restrict the movement of their opposition. Last night, we needed a couple of solid saves from Lonergan to keep it at 0-0, but for the most part, we worked hard as a unit and put on a strong defensive display.

It’s all about next season, it always has been. The play-offs were never realistic when Warnock arrived, so we should be taking comfort from what we’re currently witnessing. We’re seeing a team reinvented and built on a solid defensive foundation. Warnock will continue to tweak his Leeds United side, add some new faces in the summer, and by next season I think we’ll be amongst the strongest sides in the division.

If our new manager doesn’t get bored of the moaning and head for the hills that is.

42 Responses

  1. mattbb1

    agree totally our expectation levels have not been dampened by years playing cheltenham town, barnsley, scunthorpe and i cant understand why. We should also be realistic about what Warnock will try to do and how he will go about it. I think the utopian idea of Warnock spending £30m on players, and then playing total football next season will still be in the back of some peoples minds, and i find it incredible. I could see the BBC transcript writer last night at the KC falling asleep as it were  :- 32 minutes – Tom Lees ponders whether the dogs stomach is bad enough to merit a trip to the vets – falls asleep…. 55 minutes Darren O’Dea wonders if there is a god, and whether existence is transient. 90 minutes – referee blows up – full time.
    0-0 was about as good as we can hope for I’m afraid, Bates screwed us over by sacking grayson when he did, and has engaged in a near one man sabotage of the entire season. Will Paul Robinson and Danny Webber get us promoted? forget it.

    • TSS

       @mattbb1 Haha, I’ve been a little baffled by why I’m so tired today considering the extra 90 minutes I got last night. 
      It was poor, but then teams that are so difficult to beat usually aren’t very exciting to watch. Welcome to the George Graham… I mean Neil Warnock era. 

      • mattbb1

         @TSS there are some striking similarities too, Graham liked to pick up a bargain, if we could get another hasselbaink for £1.5M! We all tned to forget that he did bring us quite a few memorable games and some good players too.

      • Chareose

         @mattbb1  @TSS
         id be happy if we spent 3 million not 30 million but with cudly ken we will be lucky to spend 1 million even with warnock around, it all hinges on how much more money he needs for his building projects……….i heard a new tattoo studio, strip club and dog track were on the agenda to be added to kens business portfolio for the elland road area

      • mattbb1

        thought i’d come and join a discussion about football away from the attentions of gary cooper.. i think youre right, if we engage in a structural rebuild of the west stand – we can kiss transfer money goodbye for another 3 years. I think warnock will get at least some token transfers in, but hopefully enough to get us out of this division.

  2. Tyler75

    The elephant in the room, is that even if by some minor miracle, even if we do manage to get into the play-offs and somehow negotiate a path to promotion, we are nowhere near good enough to go up, let alone survive and one pre-season won’t be enough for the latter. I know you can’t pick and choose opportunities for promotion and have to take the chance when it comes but a promotion next season would see us in a much stronger position in the long-term and I expect NW to be able to persuade our better players not to jump ship this summer. 

    • TSS

       @Tyler75 I think he’s already working on Snoddy, don’t you? I wasn’t expecting him to extend his contract a couple of months back, but he think he may well do that now. Players do tend to be quite loyal to Warnock. 

      • Captaincrash

        Really hope so, him and Ross. If they can be tempted to remain with us and we strengthen here and there we may emerge from the summer with genuine hope and potential. Once that momentum starts………

      • Tyler75

         @TSS This is true – I’m keeping my fingers crossed !

  3. Dje

    I agree with the article, TSS, but I do think we will go back to scoring games and getting three or more from time to time. 0-0 is the default scoreline, and, very obviously, can on;y be broken when one team scores. We are yet to score under Warnock but I think with tricky players like McCormack, Webber, and Snodgrass, and the sensible football of Clayton and Becchio there’s good counter-attacking goals in us. The only problem ius that we need to grab a goal to make the most of counter-attacking football. Had we scored in the 16th minute against Southampton then I think we would have walked away from that game very comfortably.
    We’ve shown we can now soak up pressure without crumbling, so sitting on a lead and picking off the opposition when the time is right is finally an option for us. We never really mastered sitting on a lead under Grayson. We always seemed to believe that we needed to score more to win, 1-0s never being good enough. Sadly this brought us such ridiculous games such as 4-6 v. Preston, or 2-5 v. Barnsley. Confidence is built on resolution that the opposition cannot score however much they try (we saw what this meant to Southampton when they celebrated Davis’s saves, not Lambert’s clinical finish). Only then are you invincible, not when you feel you need a fifth to hang on for a slender victory. 

    • TSS

       @Dje Was definitely more fun needing that 5th though, right? 
      I think home and away will be noticeably different. We may see the odd 3-0, 3-1 at home, but I doubt there’ll be many of those away from home. 
      One goal conceded in three games. It’s almost unthinkable for Leeds. 

      • Dje

         @TSS Lol ~ It was fun for the fraction of the ninety minutes when the fifth looked on the cards. My memories of the Grayson era are already entombed in the loop of the five days following most of our matches being entirely frustrated and moaning about what should have been, then one day of optimism before our next match. This loop went on for many months until around about Nov. 2011 when I finally lost the one day of optimism for our next match. Dark days. 
        Funny, considering the League One promotion, the Man Utd and Arsenal games, ALL those goals, and my memory is already pretty grey: a sort of wasted youth lament. I really don’t want to sound like I’m pissing on the memory of the now Huddersfield manager, but, simply put, I have more faith now that we have Warnock that we’ll go forward. I just wish he had had the resources of Gradel, Howson and ( a player Warnock really could have got the best out of) Johnson. 

      • TSS

         @Dje I think he’d have got more out of Johnson too. He turned into the kind of scrappy, hard-working pro Warnock loves towards the end of his time at ER. 

    • Chareose

       the team needs to get used playing the preassure game, once they settle into warnocks style they will relax more and the goals will come

  4. number1inyorkshire

    Rather have a bore draw than a 1-0 defeat ,our defence was that shite before it encouraged teams to attack us ,therefore creating more space for us to score when we countered .
    now w e are not that bad at the back less attacks against us ,less space going forward and i would rather he play macca further forward he is after all the top scorer

  5. yesgen44

    i totally agree with what you are saying  last night after the game, i heard a couple of boo’s and couldnt believe what i was hearing. the lads had worked there socks off. ok, it was a scrappy game, the pitch wasnt up to much and with hull building a solid brick wall in defence, we were lucky to come away with a clean sheet, as they should have been 3 or 4 goals up by half time but for “loners” and mr lees. things are looking up. have poeple forgotten about the wonderful christmas we had?!? all we need is a bit of confidence up front and the results will start to come.

  6. Captaincrash

    I quite enjoyed it!
    Thought Lonners, Lees outstanding and Becchio and Brown impressive. That’s very nearly a developing spine…..
    Second half we were by far the better team and (and its unusual) both Snoddy and Ross were just off with their first touch otherwise I am sure we would have crafted more openings given the pattern of play was in our favour.
    Clayton had the best chance and I would back him 8/10 to have scored it.
    Onwards to ‘Boro……….

  7. Colin

    I think a lot of our problems still come down to lack of financial support from the board. It’s something that Ken has never offered his managers. Leeds need to develop and bring in better players and that will mean money. Will that money come next season? If not, then there’s going to be a lot of other teams out there with cash to spend, a will to get promoted, and managerial positions at those clubs available. Warnock may fancy that a lot more than staying next year at Leeds. Either way, I’m not sure the Warnock 18 month project is long enough to get us promoted.
    In previous times, when Leeds have become successful, it’s taken investment (think Howard Wilkinson when he took over from Bremner) and time (think George Graham and subsequently O’Leary). I’m not sure Bates has/is willing to spend the investment. And I’m not sure Warnock has the time.
    Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but if we had kept last season’s team (including Schmeichel, Kilkenny, Gradel, Howson) and just built on it and added a couple of new faces, then I reckon we would be easily up there in the promotion fight. Either the club and/or Grayson didn’t want those players, but they were never adequately replaced. The reason? The club either didn’t have the cash OR they didn’t have the vision under that setup and were unwilling to spend the cash to keep those guys on contracts.
    Next year, our team could be decimated. I can see quality like Aidy White & Snodgrass leaving.
    We’re already heavily loan dependant, and the players that could ‘do a job’ I think we’ll be left with are Lonergan, Connolly, Lees, Clayton, Pugh, Somma, Becchio, McCormack. That’s 8 and I can imagine someone taking a punt on some of those players.
    If the cash to buy new permanent players is available, then Warnock may have a chance.
    If the cash doesn’t appear, then I can’t see Warnock here next season. And then the club’s only going one way. Backwards.

    • TimPM

      I think when we were promoted Bates did back his manager. But in general I think you’re right.
      The thing is, it’s only a good idea to spend if you know you’ll get a return for your money – as Irving08’s pet idea goes. And with Neil Warnock we’ve ended this 2-year-old managerial-academy ethos and got in a proper, established manager who is a safe bet for adding value at least. Time to get our hands in our pockets for next season!

      • Chareose

         thats a good point Tim, he backed gary mcalister a bit aswell but i can never see him backing the team half as much as it should be given the amount of income the club generates……. it will always be just enough to keep things ticking over and the money coming into ken bates pocket because hes here for money and his ego……….thats it

  8. TimPM

    I didn’t get to see this match, but I saw Pompey & Southampton.
    We didn’t play badly in either game. In fact we were great but maybe a little bit… young… against Southampton if that makes sense. Pompey wasn’t great, Hull doesn’t sound like it was five-star, but as yesgen44 reminds us – we HAVE played worse, considerably worse. And this is the same bunch of lads who put those performances in in December, and let’s not forget all the way back in August when we still had Max Gradel.
    Don’t get me wrong, I think Snoddy’s won us about 12 points single handedly. I think Max would’ve won us another 6 at least if he’d been happy here and stayed.
    The point is, Neil Warnock’s obviously changed some things and the team is far more solid. Now Leeds might be less of a team to fear losing 4-0 to, but it’s also a team that the likes of Barnsley shouldn’t fancy their chances of outwitting or out-running. It’s early days yet, but we’re looking like being hard to beat and that’s a good thing.
    But it’s not just what Warnock’s done. A lot of this is still a bit similar to Grayson’s Leeds. The difference is that with the new manager, the end of the spiral of doom, and the new “no pressure but it’d be nice to go on a run” attitude, the lads have the freedom to play football and enjoy it. Simon Grayson’s neck was in the guillotine probably two months at a guess. How can you play with freedom when you’re constantly aware of that?
    What do boos accomplish when you’ve a new manager who’s been in for about 3 matches and the team’s just ground out a clean sheet against a team that’s conceded 2 goals in 9 matches? Is it going to make them better?

    • Colin

       @TimPM Tim, I sort of agree and disagree. I agree with your points. Personally, I still hold judgement on Warnock until the end of the season. I’m still not sure he’s our silver bullet to our problems.
      I also have some sympathy for the boo boys this time round. I didn’t have sympathy for the boo boys when they were slating Beckford or Johnson every single game. But this time round, I don’t think the boos are aimed the players or manager per se, but come from a general disallusionment over the last 2 years. And that comes from disallusionment with the club, with Bates etc. and it seems to be the only way to get it out of the system.
      There is no Radio Leeds phone in where fans can openly vent their spleen. The Yorkshire Radio phone in is very controlled to be pro Bates. And despite various stupid comments from Bates and the board, independant voices watching this mess, such as the YEP, still kiss Bates’ arse for fear of being banned and having nothing to write about. The YEP has no spine. If Bates goes, they will wax lyrical about what a bastard he is. But they’re not doing that now are they?
      Incidentally, they kissed Grayson’s arse right up until he got sacked and then they spoke about how ‘you could it see it coming’ and they had been expecting it for weeks. Why not report that then?

      • Ron_Galea

        @Colin @TimPM Well said Colin. Let’s be honest, we’ve all had enough.

      • Colin

         @Ron_Galea  @Colin  @TimPM Ron, I can only speak for myself, but personally I feel a sense of lethargy. it’s not that I’m not bothered about the club, but I feel more that the club couldn’t care less about me. Even under the -15 points and the Wise era, sure we had bad players but I was part of the ‘We’ll show ‘em, Let’s do this’ brigade.
        I do miss Howson, I do miss Beckford, I do miss some sort of plan. And I will miss Snodgrass if he goes. Sorry if I’m the only one, but Lonergan, Becchio and Pugh, just don’t inspire me. It’s not that I’m unhappy, it’s just that I’m really not enjoying this anymore.

      • Chareose

         @Ron_Galea  @Colin  @TimPM
         i agree Col, but thats because the fans emotions are split between supporting Neil Warnocks revolution and fighting the battle (that will need to be fought) against Ken Bates…….. 
        I really hope Bates proves me wrong and really supports Warnock (LONG TERM not just in the summer to get season tickets sold)……..I just cant see it long term and I cant see it being the sort of support we’d get from any normal Chairman.
        I just dont trust Ken bates and hes re-enforced that mistrust a hundred times over……

      • Ron_Galea

        @Colin @TimPM Amen. Last Winter I was speechless when we failed to reinforce when 2nd. A lot of people thought it was ‘too soon’ to go up as we wouldn’t be able to stay up (Not sure Paul Lambert got the memo), but anything is better than scrapping in the quicksands of the Championship. Snoddy will leave in the summer and good luck to him. The interesting part is the battle looming between Warnock and Bates. I hope Warnock wins as I can’t take a few more years of mediocrity.

  9. Tyler75

    On the subject of goals – Under NW, QPR scored 71 last season (10 less than us but 6 more than Swansea) but only conceeded 32 ( as a comparison we conceeded 70 ) ! Warnock’s not George Graham, his teams have always scored goals and he’s already said that our set of forward players are the best he’s inherited at a club so while it might not be as entertaining (or stressful) as under Grayson, I would still expect us to score goals. Somma will be back next season and assuming Ross & Snoddy stay, that will give us all sorts of options going forward.   

    • TSS

       @Tyler75 He might not be quite in George Graham’s league, but trust me, you’ll see a lot of those kind of performances under him. QPR was probably the most exciting Neil Warnock team I’ve seen, he generally makes teams incredibly difficult to beat but they’re horrible to watch. 

      • number1inyorkshire

         @TSS  @Tyler75 at 0-0 you still have a chance trouble is with our defence over the last 2/3 seasons the opposition has a bigger chance ….

      • Tyler75

         @number1inyorkshire  @TSS Admittedly his blunts teams were long-ball merchants, but I get the impression he wants to turn us into the same type of team as QPR were last season with Snods reprising the Tarrabt role. He’s not stupid and he’s already gone on record as saying he’s excited by our forward players and how he wants to play entertaining attacking football and fill ER- if this is to be his last job, I suspect he wants to be remembered as a Manager who could also get teams playing football. Rome wasn’t built in a day and I’ll settle for some dour away performances while he rebuilds the team from the back. There is a Torquay fan where I work and he tells me that Warnock is revered as a deity by their fans for his managerial stint with them ! 

  10. Ron_Galea

    I think Warnock is on the right path and I am glad we have him. The crime in all this and you rightly point it out; is that he was brought in after the transfer window. I have no doubt in my mind this was done to save Ken Bates money by avoiding any dealings. There is no other justification for it. Warnock will wheel and deal, but we are too far gone for the play-offs now. This is when you look back at losing to Coventry and say the ‘F word’ out loud. Another year in paradise.

  11. Max

    If you look back at this season, we had a reasonably solid start with a defence that consisted of Lonergan, White, Lees, O’Dea and Connolly. Then Lonergan was injured, Rachubka came in and the defence just collapsed. I don’t think, since Lonergan came back – and this somewhat mystified me – that back 4 got put in front of him, as Connolly had been written off in the interim. Much as I dislike Bates, his comments about players being acquired and then rapidly discarded do ring true. But he’s going to have to step up with some re-signing of the better existing players (OK, Snodgrass and maybe McCormack) and upgrading the squad.
    That having been said, this season may not have been brilliantly handled by Grayson from a squad management point of view but it really came unstuck at three points:
    – when Gradel and Schmeichel went without proper replacements
    – when Howson went without a replacement
    – finally Grayson goes and Redfearn’s period dropped us out of the reckoning.
    On each of those occasions it was Bates (and his coterie) pulling the rug from the under the team, and wasn’t any of the fans’ doing.

    • TimPM

      Nit-picking I know, but I think Lonners replaces Schmeichel adequately?

  12. GMcG

    Not sure what you’re trying to say. You name the article ‘Bore Draw at the KC Stadium’, which with the best will in the world can only be considered a negative comment and then go on to complain about impatient, critical and unrealistic fans.
    Truth is that it may have been exciting under Simon Grayson but all too often the excitement was for the opposition’s fans. Oh to have been a Preston fan at Elland Road last year or a Blackpool fan this season. However, I still don’t recall many fans immediately screaming for Grayson’s head the moment our form started to collapse in both the promotion year and last season. Most would have been content for Grayson to stay, if he had shown – by his actions rather than his gormless post match interviews – that he had the first clue of how to deal with our defensive woes.
    Warnock is addressing the area that even a blind man could see was our biggest problem – a porous defence as bad as almost any in the entire Football League. He has probably taken the view – along with most successful managers – that not getting beaten is the first step in winning a football match. Our proven set of goalscorers will come good again whereas without major surgery – either tactical or with new personnel – our defence was never going to simply right itself.
    You’re right, we’ve missed the boat this year, but if by the end of the season Warnock has fixed the defence, imagine the freedom the attacking players will feel next year knowing they don’t have to score a minimum of three goals per game to have any chance of winning……..

    • WIll23

      “However, I still don’t recall many fans immediately screaming for Grayson’s head the moment our form started to collapse in both the promotion year and last season”
      You obviously missed my bleatings aplenty on this site under SG … think I was the first to say “Taxi 4 Grayson” in fact.
      TSS eventually saw the light! :-)

      • TSS

         @WIll23 I never saw any light, I thought the sacking was ridiculous and fully maintain that. He’s the best manager we’ve had in years. But it’s water under the bridge now and we move on. 
        As for the first comment. It was a bore draw (ie 0-0). The fans have moaned relentlessly for a year and half about the defence, and when that improves they find something new to moan about. That was the point. 

  13. number1inyorkshire

    i wonder if any of those who said they were not going to renew season tickets for next season have changed their mind ,
    i think this season is over in real terms infact i never thought it has had chance to get off the ground .
    Now i know Bates and co want leeds in the prem course they do ,but at a time that suits them that time is onwards after the end of this season ,because i believe the fall out from admin —extra payments etc ..
    I think he has a manager who he has to back and the best man for the job of getting leeds up .
    not only that i think we will go up automatically with some good players with in the constraints but i think bates will lower those constraints he will give it  a push next season .
    Bates aint a leeds fan he is a fan of the money however ,he is also spiteful and will get leeds up to spite L U S T etc .
    its his last chance too and to get the top re-numeration from leeds that will only be when its in the premier league so he has to get us up ..
    I have hated every minute of bates  been at leeds i think it has been a battle for the fans in every respect ,to be fair to him ,bates has a had a battle too in part ,from reasoned argument some who support him to clarkeoneil.
    he has not helped himself its true  most of the time .
    JUST wonder if bates does get us up with warnock what the fans will think of bates and secondly when he goes if we are in the prem what his legacy will be ..
    i am not falling soft on bates i really do not like the man but this is our club

  14. number1inyorkshire

    this is a special day i have reached 100 pts .don’t know what it means but i accept the responsibility that goes with it and will continue to the next 100 pts .in the manner i have the 1st 100 pts .i would like to thank tss for giving me this opportunity and the fellow posters for coming with me on this journey …
    i thank you all

      • TSS

         @number1inyorkshire Pretty sure I was first, so I’m keeping any reward. 

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