Millwall_The_New_Den_680375A pretty forgettable first half gave way to a lacklustre second half Leeds United fans will want to forget quickly. as the Whites fell to a fourth straight defeat against a distinctly average Millwall side.

There’s little to sugar-coat what was a poor showing from Leeds, Millwall found space far too easily in the second 45 and Leeds were perhaps lucky to only lose by two.

Both the goals Leeds conceded were a failure of the team as a whole, particularly the midfield who left far too much space between themselves and the defence which Millwall effortlessly exploited.

The second goal was particularly bad from a Leeds United point of view because of the amount of opportunities we had to close Millwall’s players down. Malone and Trotter played five passes between themselves which went unchallenged as they advanced into Leeds United’s half, Malone ultimately finding himself in acres of space from which he dealt the deciding blow.

Millwall had already struck the post in the first half before Paddy Kenny attempted to head an attempted lob (when it looked easy enough to catch), missing it completely but saved once again by the woodwork. Another chance was crossed between Leeds United’s line of defenders and Kenny, with neither making any contact, but their blushes were spared by Millwall’s failure to connect.

If this game had ended four or five nil, Leeds United could have no complaints. A better team would have walked us off the park, but Millwall are a pretty average Championship side and that’s what makes this particular defeat so difficult to stomach.

Had Leeds United posed any kind of attacking threat themselves, this could have been a different game. Ross McCormack went closest for Leeds, trying to glance Alex Mowatt’s cross into the far corner, only to see his effort go wide. It was the best chance Leeds United had created and a poor miss from eight yards out.

To underline just how average Millwall are, a defensive blunder almost gave Leeds United a goal. I’ve no idea what it was their defender was attempting to do, but he hit the ball towards his own goal, then scrambled back to save the shot he’d taken, desperately hitting the ball against his own woodwork (more luck than judgement) to make the save.

But it doesn’t matter what class of opposition you face when there are so many holes in your formation. The space between midfield and defence was big enough to house Piers Morgan’s ego; Stoke City could look like Barcelona playing with that much space around them.

At times, Millwall looked like they were on the training ground. Cutting through Leeds United’s midfield and defence was far too easy, so easy in fact, they’re probably a little disappointed to have not scored more.

Overall, a dreadful performance from Leeds.

FT Millwall 2-0 Leeds United

All the talk of reinforcements has centred on a striker this last week or so, but I don’t think that’ll solve the problems Leeds United have. For me, it still comes down to wingers. I’ve been repeating that line for so long now that I’m starting to bore myself, but we only created one and a half good chances today (McCormack’s that I mentioned above and Rodolph Austin late on). Millwall were able to pile players forward because they didn’t fear Leeds United’s counter attack, nor should they have.

Furthermore, the addition of wingers allows us to address the cause of all our problems – the easily exploited formation which leaves acres of space for opposition players to dance around in while doing absolutely nothing for us in an attacking sense. I agree with McDermott that you have to play a formation that fits the players, but the one we’re using is so narrow that we’re easily broken down by the opposition congesting the area we’re playing in, then, as soon as they take control of the ball they break away into the acres of space we leave all over the pitch. It’s pretty amateurish at times.

From an attacking sense, the biggest issue is that we can’t stretch teams and drag players out of position. Key to our attacking prowess under Grayson was the unpredictability of Gradel and Snodgrass, who constantly moved around the pitch dragging opposition players with them. Early doors, we were hugely over-reliant on McCormack doing just that, but the opposition have grown wise to that approach and we lack an alternative.

There’s a quality issue too. Take Michael Tonge for example. He’s very good at tying things together and bringing a bit of composure to the centre of midfield, but he offers very little defensively and is nowhere near quick enough to cover the distance required of a central midfielder playing in a box-to-box role. Here we need a Jonny Howson, who was much better in that role than many fans give him credit for.

Another problem is Rodolph Austin who was a bit careless at times today and didn’t do enough to fill the gap between midfield and defence. Paul Green did well at DM early in the season and while I don’t wish to start second-guessing the manager already, I think Austin is better off in Tonge’s position with Green playing behind him.

The only midfielder who came out of this fixture with any credit is Alex Mowatt, who at times, looks a class above those around him. It”ll take time for him to fully command any fixture, but he’s quickly growing into his first team role and should retain his place for the visit of Bournemouth.

On and on…

36 Responses

  1. Matthew

    From the chances we’ve had the balls flung into the box at certain players heads/feet at times, I feel that had GFH not completely fucked up and let Becchio go, he would of converted quite a few of them. A goal poacher more than anything would do this team no end of good. While I also agree that we need Wingers, I just can’t help but think of the chances we’ve had, Becchio would of put a few away. Goals that either would of won or drew us games, we haven’t conceded a huge amount so far. My point doesn’t address the glaring problems in the team, but Becchio would of won us a few more points had he been playing this season, and likely bought GFH some time before the pitchforks came out lol

  2. Colin

    I’m sorry, but I vehemently disagree. Mowatt did not play well. He was poor. Just like the rest of the team. He is in no way shape or form as good as Howson was for us (much berated). This team has ZERO quality. And no spark. The signing of Noel Hunt was a mistake and a pointless drain on resources. There’s not one player in our team that could make it in the EPL
    .I’m not sure that Byram is okay. Diouf has talent and we should use him more.

    • yorxman

      I agree with TSS re. Mowatt, the kid is too clever and too quick for the players around him. He will go on (no doubt somewhere else) to become a top player.
      For you to say he is nowhere near as good as Howson is a very short sighted as he’s 18 and only played a handful of games. The kid has talent

  3. Frankoldshep

    A few more beatings from ‘average’ teams to come on your way down !
    COYL !!!

    • Matthew

      Millwall win a few games, and suddenly their fans feel they can come on here and talk shit. I would tell you to fuck off but it’s not worth it, your kind aren’t really intelligent enough to really know when you’re not wanted. Did you expect me and Colin to care you marked us down? Your banter is shit, so you doing that doesn’t surprise me.

      • Frankoldshep

        You and Colin get back into bed & please keep the moaning down, I can hardly hear myself laugh !

      • Matthew

        Are you seriously that retarded? No wait, don’t answer that, you’re a Millwall fan, it explains it all. You and the average Norwich fan share a 6 fingered heritage from being born in an inbred family.

      • Frankoldshep

        Have you always been this sad & bitter ? Or are you just missing your friend & mentor ‘sir’ Jimmy ? You Northern kiddie fiddler !

  4. henrymouni

    ‘dreadful performance’ is spot on TSS!
    Two rubbish teams, playing rubbish football.
    Not a great time for Mowett to join the fray.
    The manager has a lot to do to pick them up for tuesday.
    We need class signings to lift the team.
    Bates must be laughing his socks off.
    He stitched us up, good and proper!
    GFH can invest over £100 million in property in London, but can do nothing for us.
    I know it is easier to borrow to buy property TSS, but that money has to be paid back.
    Hefty interest charges that GFH have to get from somewhere.
    Bates did the same because he had no interest in the team.
    Yet , it could be argued he invested more in the squad than GFH.
    “The past is the past”????
    I don’t think so!

    • Irving08

      In London eh ? The smart money, according to the FT, is looking to Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool, for returns on commercial property. II wonder if we’ll be hearing this week from GFH ? Bates would certainly have had something to say. Whatever one thinks about the old sod, at least he had presence – and we had Radio Yorkshire ! (Radio Leeds is sooo provincial.)

  5. Lufc1979ish

    Other clubs would look at using byram and poleon as wingers until other players become available, but no not leeds, we bitch and moan we have no pace out wide and have our two fastest players sat on the bench.

    • henrymouni

      We don’t ‘bitch and moan’ about lack of pace.
      We moan about end product.
      Sam has been out for 5 months and had no pre-season.
      It will be November before he is up to speed.
      Aidy is a full back, but his centres into the box are poor.
      Dom is fast but lacks awareness of where he and his team mates are located.
      Snods was not fast but he had guile, and the ability to centre the ball from most situations.
      We lack quality.
      The manager and his team work with the squad all week, and should know better than the fans, who should play.
      We have a lot of negative midfield players, so Mowett has been given his chance.
      Until the team can master passing, tackling, crossing from near the deadfall line (not lobs in from 30 yard out) we need not worry about pace, too much.
      The team should leave the fans to do the ‘ball watching’.
      My heart is with Brian.
      It was obvious that once the team stopped giving 100% we would be back to square one.

      If they are good enough, they are old enough!

      • PMH

        I have little sympathy with Brian who is being paid to sort things out and work with what he has. And, you won’t get 100% when players lose faith in the system and things are going badly; they’re human. He wanted to play a passing game, but that is a failed experiment. Perhaps he doesn’t have the midfielders to pull that off. So, that leaves us with pace up the wings and “hoofball.” Unlike others, I do not care how the ball gets in the net. If it works it is good. Goals don’t get scored with short passes stroked around the centre circle, however pretty that may be to some.

      • henrymouni

        Retaining the ball is a big part of controlling a game. It keeps the pressure off our wobbly defence.
        We need a midfield player who can run at the opposition to create openings for our strikers.
        We need a goal poacher and a winger, and a powerful centre-half.
        Brian has inherited this team and was told he could bring in 6 players of his choice.
        If this had been honoured he would have had a chance.
        He ended up with freebies, cheapies and rejects.
        Tactics are ok but if your players cannot pass the ball 5 yards, or lift the ball over defences you have a big problem.
        We have a big problem.

      • Irving08

        Henri, I admire your stout defence of Brian, but 2 million quid is not peanuts in this Division, and I honestly cannot see why we spent one million on Murphy. Also I refuse to believe that better players than Smith and Hunt couldn’t be found in the lower Divisions. It may be that new Managers, who are under some pressure to bring in fresh blood, asap, simply go for names already in their scouting books, or for players they have worked with. (Interestingly the best players signed under the two Managers previous to Warnock and Brian do not appear to have been recruited in this fashion. Perhaps they also had the benefit of not having been top(pish) flight Managers and not feeling quite so pressured for success.)

      • henrymouni

        £2 million Irv. I bet we have not even handed over £500,000 yet, to Crewe and Man U.
        I agree that all the lads he brought in have been poor, so far.
        I think he saw Smith as a gamble worth taking, along with Murphy who has never played at Championship level.
        I still hope to see Wootton and Murphy blossom, and in a better squad they would be under less pressure.
        Hunt is still on his honeymoon, but has never scored many goals in his career. He is a workhorse really.

        GFH brought Brian in early, as we were sliding towards Div1.
        He kept us up, which was excellent.
        He assessed the squad and decided he needed 6 top players, to turn the shambles around.
        I don’t think Smith, Wooton or Murphy were in his thoughts then.
        GFH asked him to draw up his list of targets.
        Then it emerged that we had little or no money to spend – (Vintage Bates) BIG blow for BW.
        He realises he has to quit, or work with the dreadful squad we had/have.
        He spent the little he could dredge out of GFH, and bought in 2 freebies and 2 gambles.
        The side were giving 100%, and scraping wins.
        It could not last, of course, ’cause lack of class tells in the end.
        Now even GFH are realising (they always knew really) that Brian was correct, and the squad will not win many games AND all the gains their bull has gained with the fans will quickly evaporate.
        We have a couple of midfield players in Mowatt & Dawson who could do well this term in midfield, but no one else from the reserves/juniors, is likely to help this season.
        For a squad as poor as ours we need £5+ to do any good.
        You can bring any manager in you like, but they will all struggle, with poor players!!

        Tackle from behind:-

      • Irving08

        We agree on one thing Henri – what we get from GFH is largely bullshit (not lies).
        And like you I would be inclined to put my faith in Mowatt and Dawson rather than in most of our other midfield players – Green perhaps excepted, and one can only hope, – Murphy too.

      • henrymouni

        We agree on more than one thing Irv’, my bro.

        I would always start with Green.

        Just in:-

        “Leeds United have enquired about the loan availability of Arsenal youngster Serge Gnabry, manager Brian McDermott said this afternoon.
        McDermott revealed in his press conference ahead of tomorrow’s match with Bournemouth that he had been looking to bring in new faces and named German teenager Gnabry as well as former striker Luciano Becchio, now at Norwich City, as targets.”

        Gnabry is a winger.

  6. Irving08

    Very helpful report. Two of your observations merit particular attention: (a) the gap between midfield and defence; (b) our inability to pull opposition defenders out of position.
    The remedy for (b) you see in one or more Gradel/Snodgrass-type players, and for (a) reshuffling the midfield pack, playing Green in Austin’s position, and pushing the latter further forward. Who woud be your third midfielder ? (we have a lot to choose from !). And does (a) imply that our priority is not a goalscorer ?

    • Chareose

      (b) yes….that’s the key problem, we have very few mobile midfeilders….. Mowatt is mobile and that’s it…. I would go back to 442, put Byram at full back, White at left back, diouf on the wing, get Bechio back on loan and play him next to his old pal McCormack, its also time to try more of the kids….Dawson and stick Peltier back into CB
      Bechio / McCormack
      Diouf, Green Murphy Mowatt
      White Peltier Wooten Byram

      • Irving08

        More realistic, I think, though it’s a bit tough on Pearce who, this season, hasn’t done much wrong defensively.

    • TSS

      Mowatt would be my third midfielder. Both he and Austin will cover the ground between defence and midfield. He also created the best chance of the game yesterday and played some nice link up play with McCormack – they seem to be developing an understanding very quickly.

      And yeah, the priority isn’t a goalscorer for me. It’s not that we don’t need one, we just need wingers more – a left sided one more than anything else. If we get an LW and play Ross on the right (with Byram behind him) and Warnock behind the LW, Austin and Mowatt in CM with Green behind them, it instantly closes all the gaps. Moreover, it allows us to counter-attack more effectively – Byram, Warnock, McCormack, Mowatt and the LW push up when in possession and it gives us an attacking force that doesn’t compromise the defence.

      Of course, a Luciano Becchio type to top off such a formation would be helpful, but the LW addresses so many more problems. It fixes the entire formation IMO.

      • Matthew

        I agree, not sure what’s up with Warnock lately, doesn’t seem to be having the best of luck. I don’t think he’s a bad player, just he hasn’t put in a shift.

      • Irving08

        If a bona fide LW really is the solution, then we are well and truly buggered. Where are we going to get one from ? I am afraid we will have to find another way.

  7. PMH

    Good article and analysis. Must agree with others that one more player is not the solution here. First you need an idea of how you intend to score goals; something totally lacking at Leeds. So, this comes down to the manager. We don’t see what goes on between him and the players, but I am not impressed by his game comments. When your team is is organized and unmotivated, that is a result of your failure as manager. Your job is to get the best football out of the players you have. BMcD is definitely NOT doing that right now. I’m a Leeds lad here in the USA and one thing I like about Bill Belichik who is coach of the Patriots is that he takes the blame when the team disappoints: “My team played poorly and so I need to do a better job.” Fact is that he is the best coach in the league by far. He has figured out that manager blaming players is workman blaming his tools. Brian, get your team organized to score and player motivation will take care of itself. Hoping for a 1-0 as the best you can possibly do is demoralizing.

  8. gistheman

    Bm needs to have Ross upfront and either get a loanee or try poleon there.
    My team would be
    Peltier. Whotton. Lees. White
    Byram. Austin. Poleon/ loanee
    McCormack smith

    • Matthew

      White shouldn’t come anywhere near the first team at present, all he has is pace. I wouldn’t start Poleon either. I would keep Pearce in the same, he’s had a few dodgy games in the past but has done well lately. I would actually put Drury above White, he’s old but sometimes you need an old head in the defense. If McD can’t get a Striker for Tuesday I would keep Varney in the team, he doesn’t score goals but is fairly good in the air he when he can be arsed. Would also put Byram in a defensive role when fully fit and not in the midfield, with the right player infront of him he can push forward as he has done before.

      • Irving08

        Did you see White against Burnley, Mathew ? I though he had a reasonable game, coped well when, unsupported, he often had to cope with two players against him in the first half, and completed the only dribble of real note into the opposition’s box during the entire match – and it nearly nearly won us a penalty. The only negative thing I noticed was one occasion, in the first half, when he allowed Trippier, I think, to get a cross in, when he might have blocked him (here i concede that Warnock, if he can get to his man in time, is quite a good cross blocker, but the operative word here is ‘if”). And perhaps he needs to work on this aspect of his game. Drury, of whom admittedly I have seen little, like Warnock, just doesn’t have the legs, and is always therefore going to be playing under pressure in this Divison.
        I agree on your other judgements.

      • gistheman

        So when has white been giving a good run at left back???
        Varney did really well against burn key and against millwall didn’t he. Poleon is another that has never been given a proper chance. Im not saying they are the finished product, but if are going to loan another teams kids why not blood your own first???

  9. brennie27

    The current Leeds squad has so little pace and quality it is frightening. The Millwall game was there for the taking, any quality side would have been four goals up by half time. Really cant the manager see that Austin is just like a bull in a china shop, barging over people and not being able to pass the ball AT ALL. Warnock is a joke as a defender, cant run, cant pass cant do anything. Why do managers continue to sign these has been premier league players instead of bringing through some decent kids. At least kids have some energy and pace and a desire to play and surely our academy must have some players that cant be any worse than what is on the field right now.
    McDermott i like as a person and he seems like a great man manager but he needs to go out and sign some quality youngsters from some of the top Premier league clubs on loan. There are so many quality kids available and here we are talking about David Bentley another over-hyped overrated expensive has been from the Premiership. Birmingham had the right idea signing the striker Linghard. iF WE DONT HAVE OUR OWN GOOD KIDS THEN TAKE SOME ON LOAN, AT LEAST THEY ARE CHEAP. I have been watching Leeds for 45 years and at this rate we will be back down another division next year. WE ARE CRAP.

  10. Matthew

    I would like to see us use the 4-1-4-1 formation in the near future, or if we’re ever promoted, with the right players it’d make for some damn good football. You need 2 wingers to use it effectively mind. Some world class sides have used this formation before too.

    • Irving08

      Benitez in his Saturday Independent column reckons that systems are secondary; what matters is having players that can adapt to the circumstances. (Do look at it on-line and while you are at it, have a hoot at Warnock’s column – he says that good Managers never bawl out individual players !!!)

      • PMH

        Exactly. There is no magic formula. You need a system that fits your personnel, and maybe it helps if it is not too familiar to the opposition. I imagine that each player wants to be given a clear role, and one that they can execute with their current (and limited) skill set. The manager’s idea of hold the ball and make lots of pinpoint passes may require a quality of player we don’t have. But, it is way too soon to despair. I am convinced that this team can compete for play-offs when they get their collective act together. It takes time to build a good team.

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