Portman Road, Ipswich TownWhen Einstein said the definition of insanity is repeating the same thing and expecting different results, I think he was talking about Leeds United fans. After all, who in their right mind gets up at 4:30am to travel 200 miles for an away game we always lose?

This was either my seventh or eighth visit to Portman Road and I’d seen Leeds United win there only once. That was over a decade ago, back when Leeds had one of the strongest squads in the country and even then, we needed Ipswich’s assistance (an own goal) to win the game.

The last four consecutive visits to Portman Road have seen The Whites reduced to ten men and lose, a sequence of events so unlikely (not the losses, the red cards), some of us were calling foul-play… Albeit, jokingly.

Portman Road is to Leeds United what leprosy is to a supermodel. It’s like a tripod missing a leg, or Ant without Dec. It doesn’t allow us to function properly.

Insane I must be though, for at roughly 6am my lift arrived and to Ipswich we drove, fuelled only by two cups of incredibly strong coffee and 3 hours sleep.

Curled up on the back-seat of a Volkswagen with an engine too small for any self-respecting man to drive, I was seriously regretting the decision to return home from London the night previous to see my fiancée. A moment of madness which had cost me hours of much needed sleep and extended my journey by several hours.

This is the grim reality of the long-distance away day. “First world problems,” I know, and it’s all good fun when you arrive at the destination, but the early morning wake-up calls, tediously long drives through Britain’s grey, rain-soaked land, not to mention the financial cost of such trips is impossible to justify – even to ourselves – when we turn up to witness 90 minutes of utterly atrocious football, returning home with a much lighter wallet and little else to show for it (as we did for most of last season).

But that’s what it looked like we were in for as we kicked off at a rain-soaked Portman Road. Ipswich set out to attack early, ghosting through Leeds United’s abject defence to find the back of the net within the opening 7 minutes when Jay Tabb tapped in from close-range.

Luckily for Leeds, Tabb’s goal was dubiously ruled offside. The first sign that all the bad luck we’ve experienced at Ipswich in recent years may have been levelling out.

Leeds’ defence failed to heed the warning though and within a few minutes of Ipswich having a goal ruled out, they scored again and this time there was no question as to whether it counted. Hopelessly inept defending from Leeds – which culminated in Tom Lees falling over – left David McGoldrick in space with the goal at his mercy. 1-0.

More chances followed for the home team and by the time Aaron Cresswell hit the crossbar with an audacious effort from long-range, it was difficult to understand how Leeds weren’t 3 or 4 goals behind.

Then, totally against the run of play, Leeds bagged a thoroughly undeserved equaliser. A desperate long-range effort deflected into the path of Luke Varney who smashed home with power to level the tie. 1-1. Somehow.

The match evened up from there, not because Leeds United improved, but because Ipswich Town seemed to lose their edge. Aside from a wonderfully slow WACCOE chant, nothing else of note happened for the remainder of an opening 45 that the home side should have won comfortably.

HT – Ipswich Town 1-1 Leeds United

Having witnessed a very poor first half display from his team, McDermott’s half time words of wisdom had to inspire an improvement if Leeds were to take anything from this fixture. Those who had placed a bet before the game at bookies like http://sports.coral.co.uk will also have been hoping for a much better half from Leeds.

Defensively, Leeds had been awful. I mean, truly awful. It’s impossible to isolate a root cause of this team’s defensive failures because it’s something of a package deal. ‘Organisation’ would be the closest you’d get to a summary, as in, the total lack of.

But there’s a particular type of player we miss too I think. We don’t have that experienced, imposing figure who’ll do the right thing 10 times out 10, all while organising those around him – just like Naylor did in League One, and Kisnorbo after him. We need an “intelligent” (for want of a better word) defender. Someone to do what Diouf does so well in attack – make the right decisions while controlling and calming Leeds United’s play.

The best example of how bad Leeds’ defence is comes from set-plays; we haven’t defended one convincingly all season. No one seems to understand who they’re picking up and no one is putting their body on the line to beat our opposition to the ball. We seem to just stand, wait for them to connect with the cross and try to block or scramble away whatever effort they forge.

As for the rest of the team, they had a pretty forgettable first half too. Passing was almost non-existent and the build-up play was hopeless. The first half was a Warnock side basically, hoofs and all.

I chose to highlight the negatives now because the second half was one of almost total contrast. The defending didn’t improve much, but everything else seemed to come together.

And it was with the first chance of the second half, just 3 minutes after the kick-off, that Ross McCormack scored a stunning long-range drive from well outside the area to put Leeds United ahead. 2-1.

“Na na na na na na na na na na, Leeds are going up…” sang a prematurely confident Leeds United faithful as the game suddenly became a contest the Whites had a genuine chance of winning.

Town came back at Leeds as tensions flared and the home fans started to bemoan the referees decisions. The unsympathetic Leeds United fans took great pleasure in seeing the Ipswich fans upset with the referee’s decisions for once. It felt like justice.

Mike Dean, to his credit, controlled the game well in what were slippery and difficult conditions. There was a few wild tackles Ipswich Town fans felt deserving of severe punishment, most notable of which was a late challenge from Rodolph Austin that could quite easily have resulted in Leeds United’s compulsory red card.

But Dean, making allowances for the slippery surface, kept things under control, rarely resorting to booking players for clumsy challenges. He allowed play to continue when an advantage (or no disadvantage) had been gained and didn’t let the home crowd effect his decisions – as so often happens at football.

Ipswich fans can understandably feel hard done by, but none of the challenges were malicious and they always look ten times worse when the pitch is wet and everyone is sliding around. There was a couple of handball calls too, both of which were the result of the ball being blasted at a players hand (Tom Lees and Noel Hunt) and would have been incredibly soft penalties had they been given.

However, where Ipswich must feel most upset with the game is their failure to capitalise on the countless set-plays they had. Time and time again Leeds failed to win the aerial battles, flapped desperately at clearances and somehow went unpunished.

In the last twenty minutes or so, and with the introduction of Dom Poleon, Leeds looked like they may put the game out of sight but a third goal never came and our travelling fans were made to endure a couple of injury time corners before the referee blew to signal an end to the Portman Road curse.

FT – Ipswich Town 1-2 Leeds United

Impossible to argue we were the better team and deserved to win, but the second half was a lot more balanced than the first. Ultimately, Ipswich’s failure to convert chances and punish our dismal set-play defending cost them, but that doesn’t matter to the still undefeated Leeds United.

Plenty to work on (the defence being top of that list) but if the results keep coming, Brian McDermott’s men will grow in confidence and that can go an awful long way in football. When Leeds do get their foot on the ball and pass it around a bit, we look a totally different side to that which played the first half, but it seemed to take the confidence of the 2-1 lead to do it.

First away win of the new season and the Portman Road curse broken. The man of the match award must go to Mike Dean for allowing us to finish an away trip to Ipswich with eleven men. though Ross McCormack would be a close second. Luke Varney deserves a mention too; he does get caught offside far too often, but his work-rate is extraordinary. He hassles defenders, chasing them down and keeps the pressure on at all times. A thankless task most of the time, but on this occasion he was rewarded with a goal that totally changed the game. On and on…


34 Responses

  1. Matthew

    The defence is still a concern, we seemingly fall asleep at the wrong times. Against a better side we would of been punished today. Regardless, 3 point is 3 points, I would of been happy with a draw considering the performance in general. What is a draw or a win, is not a loss, and we continue to gain points at a steady pace. With QPR and a few harder games to come, we’l see where we really are.
    That being said, why are some fans repeating the cringe worthy comments about filling the ground to GFH? Made me cringe when I saw people saying because Bates is gone we’l get 30k+ every game, made me think jesus Christ guys, we’re a Championship outfit, until we start winning a whole bunch of games with promotion nailed on, we’re not going to be hitting those attendance levels on average outside the Prem lol

    • gistheman

      So because we’re in the championship we can’t have big crowds??? Bollox we had the biggest crowds in league and some attendances were bigger than prem clubs.
      Bates killed off a lot if the fans faith in the club along with finances, and with him gone along with money being put back in to the team we will hopefully see the crowds again, people’s finances permitting of course.
      Onwards and upwards together mot!!!

      • Matthew

        Apologies, I wrote this when tired. My point was mostly that some fans are unrealistically saying we can get over 30,000 fans weekly, which I don’t think Is possible outside the Premier League. Having the biggest crowds in league 1 wasn’t much of an achievement as some teams had tiny grounds there lol

  2. spellz

    We need that smart defender real quick as we have to be a lot calmer playing from the back and defending in general we sure need someone with the influence to inspire the back 4

    I thought we played ok today, defending once again in the first half was desperate at times although I think we woke up in the second half and looked a fair bit more organised and in the end merited all three points.
    I also feel we need to be sharper in attack we are definitely missing width and it shows when we are just outnumbered going forward running in to a brick wall but we are fighting and that is testament to McD also there is a look of more hunger about us and hey we have had a great start, a good away win today leaves me smiling at least.

    M.O.T AA.

    • Matthew

      We seem to be missing the final 1/3 at times, being able to pass the ball quickly and fluidly and getting the ball into the box to the feet of strikers to be more attacking on other teams. Defense problems aside, at times our attack seems to just fizzle out and we’re easy to defend against at times. We need a Snodgrass/Gradel type Winger or 2.

      • spellz

        If we had those type of players in the championship before there is no reason we cannot have that quality again.
        Gradels fee was £100,000 and Snodgrass £260,000 I mean that kind of quality is out there on the cheap why are we not looking for or signed a pacey winger with the ability to cross the ball, it actually does not make much sense we are clearly missing it.

      • TSS

        Both fees were higher than that, transfer fees are paid in instalments so people trying to figure it out from accounts will get nowhere.

        That said, we fucked ourselves up (or Bates fucked us more accurately) because we never dealt with contracts in the right way.

        Wingers don’t come cheap. They’re probably the most expensive position to fill because there’s so few of them out there. QPR paid Blackpool £5m for Philips the other day, that’s the kind of fees clubs demand for such positions.

        If we sign one it’ll be from the lower leagues I expect, but even there you have Peterborough asking £2m+ (allegedly) for Rowe, so I wouldn’t hold your breath.

      • spellz

        I am just reiterating the fees that have been disclosed from the media I am aware the eventual fee would have been higher.

        My point is they were still relatively cheap regardless of the eventual figure and them type of gems are out there and for cheap, it just feels at times like we are not looking for a winger otherwise surely McD would have experimented by now either lower league or a loan or two we literally have no pace or real threat in attack.

      • TSS

        Disagree. If true, every club would be hunting for them. It’s nowhere near as simple as our fans seem to think.

        It highlights only the stupidity of Ken Bates. Wingers don’t sell for that price, unless you’re in a position like Leeds were where their contracts were expiring and Ken was desperate to plug the holes his pointless vanity projects had left in our accounts.

      • spellz

        Firstly not every club is in need of wingers so desperately as we are and of course we can get two wingers in on the cheap it is called talent scouting, I just gave two examples no one heard of Gradel and Snodgrass before they came to us, really did they?

        Now they are playing top flight football and playing internationally for Scotland and Ivory Coast, I feel your missing my point, we have no width at all and we are not experimenting either in the lower league or with LOANS which to me is a little bemusing, someone should have been shipped out by now to strip the wage bill down a little to make way for a winger, just does not seem to be happening.
        I also don’t see how anything I am saying has anything to do with the stupidity of Ken Bates you lost me there.

      • henrymouni

        BM was hoping to bring someone in in the next few days, but he feels it will not happen now.
        Unearthing gems takes time and patience, and a lot of luck.
        The quality of player Brian wants now, will cost money we do not have – sadly.
        He will have to play with what he has unless something breaks quickly.

      • spellz

        It is disappointing though someone really should have been in earlier to fill the relevant positions, we have payed 1 mil for Murphy in a position that needed strengthening but it wasn’t imperative, however players with the ability to play wide we are desperate for imo.
        I am sure McD knows what he is doing and like you said he will play with what he has and juggle around what is necessary, just confusing to me why we have not brought any width in any earlier.

      • Matthew

        I would like to see Poleon utilized more as a Winger than a Striker if possible, he has the pace, work on his game a bit more, and his crossing etc, he’d turn out well for us. He’s 20 next month, McDermott should play him as a Winger.

      • Matthew

        Basically I would like to see him start more games than he has done and become a regular in the squad, I think he can do it personally.

      • spellz

        I am 100% with you on that Matt as I have mentioned in plenty of my post’s Poleon is key right now to giving us that threat from the wing, I think he will have a big season if he starts on the wing, he is a nuisance.

      • Matthew

        I’m sure we can, but as a lot of people will note, against a decent side we can get the ball most of the way across the pitch, but seem to be lacking the danger men to get the ball into the box quickly and effectively, if we get these people, we’l easily score more goals. It worked under Grayson. It’s the final 1/3 that’s so frustrating, we have the players to score, but just lack that final 1/3 that can get us there.

  3. Bluesman

    There is one person who is playing out of his skin. He is the biggest asset to the team and produces some decent football . He is truly irreplaceable as far as I am concerned and worth more than anyone else in contractual value. I know he is a bit on the mature side for a footballer, but he still keeps on putting in excellent performances week in and week out. The fans know who I am talking about! It is of course BM! No surprises there then!

  4. Chareose

    I dont agree with all this…… The REASON we have become hard to beat is because we are defending better generally. Every team has moments of madness but in comparison to other defences ours have stepped up a gear. Its our attack thats the problem…. IF BM isnt going to play Diouf then we need two very good attacking players…

    • spellz

      I definitely agree with you about the defence although I feel we need one experienced head to lead the back line, just to cement a solid back 4 just to cut out how many “moments of madness” we have.
      We definitely need an improvement in attack Ross loses the ball quite often and does not really have the pace to deliver that threat, I feel when poleon comes on there is more running at defenders which we need to put them under pressure and capitalise from mistakes I certainly at this stage would start him ahead of Hunt.

    • Matthew

      Although we are defending a little better than last season, it’s the fact that some of our defenders switch off at the wrong times that’s a concern. Anyone can see it, we’ve been fortunate that we haven’t conceded more than we have done.

  5. DeterminationPersonified

    … and you so eloquently give witness to why Einstein was not correct (“sacrilege” I hear you cry). Doing the same things over and over is a perfectly correct method of gaining success … it develops expertise and it also acknowledges the one thing that is always changing – the context of the situation at hand (‘time waits for no man’, ‘tempus fugit’ and all that).


  6. Whitestillidie

    Id like to take a potshot at those arm chair fans who are having a go at GFH for not splashing the cash……..I really can see the improvement of us a a unit over the games BM has managed, pre-season aside!
    The way that possession is treated with a little more importance and we actually have players playing the ball backwards to keep the ball instead of just knocking it forward in hope of a miracle says a huge amount of how the players are starting to change the way they play and improve under BM.
    We may be short of real quality in a number of areas but the one area we have quality is in the manager. The way he changed the formation around at Portman Road to negate the space their full backs were getting deep in our half and the positive impact it had shows BM really knows what he is doing.
    We may not be the finished article but as a unit we are definitely progressing and improving. I am excited for the future for the first time since we were promoted to the championship. I feel the progress on the pitch is reflected by whats going on with the club in general and if we continue to move forward then I see no reason why we cannot make it back to the PL under GFH and BM.
    BUT some fans will never be happy unless we are banging in goals galore and having a clean sheet every game….I sit next to a guy at ER who just doesnt seem to understand that he is watching championship footballers, not world class ones, he is negativity personified!
    That is why I feel BM is so good at what he does, he is starting to get mostly average players to work as a unit and excel their own abilities!

    • Chareose

      Agree but the atmosphere last season was horrific, thats going to effect players. This seasons its completely different so players are bound to play better. Warnock, Kenny, Byram, McCormack, Austin, Murphy could do a job in the premiership, Varney, Green and Peltier are good lads, good team players who fight for the cause and Wooten & Poleon could develop into real quality……..SO the team is better than people give it credit for, we are simply just missing wiingers !!

  7. henrymouni

    Our team is now giving 100% and it shows.
    Green was back to form and the confidence is high just now.
    We are still disjointed from time to time, and our tactics were wrong in the first half.
    The opposition full-backs were given too much room, and we were lucky to survive some excellent crosses.
    BM is looking to bring some wide men in, so we will see.
    To say that Sam has not played yet, we must be optimistic for a top six finish.
    Our defence does need a calm leader, but GFH could not find the money for Greer or Mills, which is a great pity, as they could have made a big difference.
    Looking forward to seeing Wootton play.
    I expect he will be in against Donny.

  8. Irving08

    Been away, but on the pitch news is very good.
    But following Leeds, if not actually watching the matches, all of sudden has become boring. Radio Leeds is not a substitute for our own Radio Station. I am told that, on Saturday, as on other way games, we were just an add-on to Huddersfield, Bradford City etc; while the Monday-Friday chat just cannot be replicated by a BBC channel. So, whille axing Radio Yorkshire may have made sense to the accountants, it makes little sense on other grounds. In short, it could turn out to be a false economy. Supporters who can make only the odd game feel now less involved, and on away days, there is really only the score to look out for (before we had four hours or so of Thom, Johnny and Eddie no less !). There is not the constant buzz about and around the club we had before.

    • henrymouni

      You can still listen to Thom & Eddie on LUTV!
      Also plenty of interviews and match highlights etc.
      This way the club is making money,not losing it with Yorkshire radio.
      Come and join us Irv!

      • Irving08

        But I try not to watch TV Henri. Besides a radio is so much more convenient, especially for what I believe is called multi-tasking. It’s easier to do homework or write lectures to the radio, for example. It does not require a pc to be free either, in order to follow club affairs and get live commentary. Finally, there are folk for whom 52 quid is a big chunk of their live match budget. Still thank you for drawing LUTV to my attention Henri. And I concur with your positive assessment of the season to date. Now we have a top 6 finish to defend, which is much better than having to chase one.

      • henrymouni

        I listen on my laptop, so its just like listening to a radio.
        A £1 a week is not too bad, and there is a lot more on it these days, under GFH.
        There is also talk of broadcasting reserve games live, which should be good.
        Onward and upward!!!

      • Irving08

        And when someone else in the family wants the laptop ? If you could pay £1 a week, that would be good.

      • msec

        Tell them up front that when Leeds are on you need the laptop, then people can plan to use it before or after.
        You want to pay 52 quid a year in instalments??? Come on mate, seriously!

      • henrymouni

        £2.99 for the first month, then £5.99 PER MONTH direct debit until you cancel.
        It would be worth £2.99 for a month to see if you like it Irv?

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