Let’s get one thing out of the way right at the top, there’s simply no argument for Leeds deserving to take a point from this game. That we didn’t record another defeat on the road had everything to do with poor decision making from the linesman and nothing to do with Leeds’ performance.

That’s not to say Leeds didn’t have their moments, but while we continue to show glimpses of good play on the attack, we’re so catastrophically poor in defence that an away trip to a very good Forest side should only end in defeat.

Instead Matt Fryatt’s 45th minute opener was cancelled out by Billy Sharp after Sam Byram’s excellent run through the opposition box won Leeds a penalty.

Forest can have no complaints about the penalty decision, but Matt Fryatt saw two additional goals wrongly ruled out for offside, costing the home side all 3 points.

Though it’ll be scant consolation to Nottingham Forest fans, it’s probably true that these things level out over the course of the season. Leeds have also suffered from poor refereeing decisions this season, most notably at Blackburn where a blatant dive from Luke Varney won them the game. A lucky point here doesn’t make the refereeing howlers we’ve been victim to elsewhere any less frustrating, but it’s somewhat comforting to know we’re not alone.

Balancing out though our luck may be, from a Leeds point of view, that doesn’t make this performance any less troubling. We can’t head to places like Forest, play like we have been and expect to record satisfying results. It’s fine to take a risk and setup in an attacking manner at home, but on the road, you have to keep it tight and make things difficult for the opposition, especially when the opposition is a side like Forest who will – and at times did – run us ragged given too much space to operate in.

Looking at the side we lined up with, the first thing you notice is how lightweight we are. We lack a powerful, combative presence, particularly in midfield where Adryan and Mowatt are one luxury too many for an away trip in this division. They’re both playing well and it’ll be a tough call for Redfearn to make, but we need to be starting with a more defensively minded player in place of one – if not both – of them on our travels.

I know it won’t be a popular view, but away from home I’d be dropping Adryan to the bench and using him for the last 30 minutes as an impact sub, the same as we did with Max Gradel in his early days at the club.

Our lightweight midfield can’t take all the blame though, the central defensive partnership of Pearce and Cooper just isn’t good enough, nor will it ever be. They’re just too similar. This is understandably an area Redfearn wants to focus on in January and I suspect he’ll be hoping for a more physically imposing player with better command of the air to play alongside one of them.

In the meantime, Leeds can consider an undeserved point at Forest an early gift from Santa, but we must use the time between now and our next away trip (Derby on the 30th) to work on a different approach.

Happy Christmas everyone. On and on…

37 Responses

  1. disqus_nLE7HZSu89

    Think you may have watched a different game to me? Not sure that they ran us ragged, only Byram refusing to stop the cross was when we were really under pressure. Their back 4 were as bad if not worse than ours, once Bellusci is back (or a proper CB) to play next to Cooper we are always going to struggle at the back

    Agree with dropping Adryan away from home as he is too lightweight, also need to drop Bianchi as he slows the play down and times when we should be pressing quicker

    • TSS

      Well Silvestri made a couple of decent-ish saves and they scored 3 times. I’d consider that a fairly dominant display considering what we offered in response.

      • TSS

        Yeah. I’ve lost a little confidence in him after those blunders though, he seems to hesitate a little on every decision and it makes me nervous.

      • Irving08

        Our players must be among the most scrutinised in all four Leagues. It is no wonder there are so many, apparently demoralised, ex- LUFC players knocking around. It was ever thus at Leeds, though.

    • Chareose

      I agree with TSS, in terms of quality of play and dominance it was fairly even but Forrest had two perfectly good goals disallowed. They were mugged. I must admit that my jaw was hanging open for both dissalowed goals due to the defending….. Our players just ball watched…..
      For me its our formation and more the lack of wingers or a winger that’s the major cause of our problems, more so than missing combative experience.
      WE DO NOT HAVE A LEFT FOOTED FIRST TEAM MIDFEILDER. Mowatt is right footed and so is Adryan. We need to buy a Max Gradel type and have either a 4 or 5 man midfield. The key is that every midfielder must close up into a narrower 4 man block when they haven’t got the ball
      In reality this was what Redfearn was trying to do with 433 formation that we started with but its asking a lot for a striker like Sharpe to be an extra cover on the flanks and still have an impact in attack.
      If we bought just one left footed winger we could afford to go 442 (with mowatt in a Speed type role on the right flank so he can come in to the penalty area and poach goals from the left wingers crosses)
      When they don’t have the ball they would go narrow and force the opposition winger to hug the line, making it easier for the full backs to close them down.
      The key for Leeds therefore is a proper all action winger and a target man. We only need one to dramatically change the team….. Wilkos team only needed one Winger (mr Strachen)
      With width leeds will have an instant release valve that will enable them to have a plan B to trying to thread the ball through the eye of a needle

      • disqus_nLE7HZSu89

        Mowatt is definitely not right footed, and isn’t quick enough to play as a winger! A Max Gradel type player would cost us money that we are reluctant to spend.

        One of their goals was offside as his arm was ahead of our last man, the rule changed last year to state that any part of the body ahead of the last man is taken as offside.

        Drop Bianchi and Pearce for Bellusci and a new Defensive central midfielder who can control the tempo of the game, a Michael Brown of 5 years ago would be perfect.

        Need to strengthen as much as we can in January. A Centre half, Centre midfielder, winger and a striker

      • Chareose

        You have almost completely missed my point…….. We need atleast one winger and atleast a 4 man midfield that goes narrow when we haven’t got the ball. Speed wasn’t a WINGER ! He was an attacking midfielder and a goal scorer, at the moment Mowatt is our goalscoring midfielder…..If you go with two wingers you need to make sure they don’t do what we did last season…… sit out on the flanks like lemmings leaving the midfield exposed

  2. Keith Senior

    Totally agree with your views on Adryan. Unfortunately he’s not a team player yet and needs to learn he can’t beat the opposition by himself. I’d like to see Sharp there and Belusci playing in front of the the back two, with Bianchi on the bench.

    • Chareose

      Agree about Bianchi, hes not giving us anything different at the moment and he seems to occupy almost the same area on the pitch as Cook

  3. NottsWhite

    The defence’s ability to manage a crossed ball from open play or a set piece is definitely our Achilles Heal and cries out for a centre back who is prepared to attack the ball. Cooper has at times shown he is prepared to take that responsibility however I feel that when paired with Pearce he is concerned with covering for his partner. The midfield lacks steel which hopefully will be addressed in the Jan window. If there is an insistence from Redfearn to play Adryan and Mowatt then it should be done as part of a 5 man midfield. I felt sorry for Sharp on Saturday, he has spent weeks on the bench waiting for an opportunity to play ahead of Doukara (IMO the laziest player in the squad) only to be selected in an wide attacking midfield role. The issue with this is that there was not a focal point up front as Antennuci is given licence to roam. Sharp is a finisher not a provider. Cook had a great game against Forest and will start to attract attention (if he has not done already) from the Prem teams. Bianchi offers very little to the side at the moment and would benefit from some time on the bench.

  4. Jonathan Davies

    Sums it perfectly. Morrison for Adryan had an immediate positive effect with more height, more strength and an out ball

  5. Tim

    Agree, Adryan from 60 minutes away from home. This might be off the wall but could Morrison play central defence or holding midfield instead of Bianchi and / or Pearce? Bellusci will return soon and if we start with Sharp we can always bring Doukara on later. I am just not so sure though about Sharp and Antenucci together.
    The January window may sort out some of this but in my opinion we may already have the players if we swap around a bit.
    Personally, I like Morrison and he is effective in his defensive duties, a hard worker and strong on the ball.

    • TSS

      I fear getting laughed at here, but I’d be tempted to stick Rudy Austin in at CB as a temporary fix. He’s dropped back there before when we’ve had a CB sent off and did well, he’s also the only player in our team who regularly wins headers by attacking the ball.

      • JDC

        Another off the wall suggestion TSS … put young del Fabro alongside Liam Cooper as the right sided CB and Giuseppe Bellusci as the sweeper / holding midfielder. All three of them are comfortable with the ball at their feet and are happy to play the ball out of defence. The one player who just can’t be included at the moment is Jason Pearce … he’s an absolute liability

      • Tim

        Well I have been going on about Pearce since last season. Nice guy and a hard trier but not at this level I’m afraid.

      • NottsWhite

        Rudy at centre back could work. One of his best games for Leeds was the opening fixture against Wolves 2 seasons ago, in that game he sat in front of the back 4. Austin’s issues are that he goes charging around the park and invariably gets bypassed. A set position for him would not do him any harm, he can head, is not slow (in centre back terms) and is strong enough to deal with physical centre forwards. Not a bad shout TSS

    • henrymouni

      I totally agree about Morison.
      I have mentioned him on several occasions.
      He wins nearly all his headers & works hard at closing down defenders – a real handful like Luciano.
      Also we need him in our box for the set pieces, as he is strong there too.
      At the moment Adryan tries to pick people up, but he is a terrible defender, as is Bianchi.
      I don’t know about Rudy at the back.
      He can be a bit rash, but we don’t have many choices there.
      Maybe Sam Byram at CB.
      He is struggling at defending RB just now.
      Maybe CB is right for him??


    To be honest, until we sort out our defence we’re going nowhere! Pearce is a liability. I would say this is the main reason for our inconsistency this season. He doesn’t instil confidence in his team mates. When I see his name on the teamsheet I know (as do the other team!) there will be chances for the opposition, over and above what you’d usually expect – forwards must be rubbing their hands. I’m sure Redders knows this and is keeping his cards close to his chest as he doesn’t want to alert other clubs about his targets.I hate to pick out players but time after time Pearce has been found wanting. His defending is at worst amatuerish and at best suitable for a lower standard such a League 2 or semi-pro – little or no pace and positional sense awful. Sorry Pearce youre a trier I’ll give you that, but at the level Leeds require, that’s not enough!

    • Irving08

      Hmm if you focus enough on any single player, you will discover sufficient faults to damn him. There are probably only three or four player sag in our side that would survive such scrutiny. Pearce may stand out for his faults simply because he has to do the lion”s share of the defending. If he was as incompetent as you suggest, how do you explain the fact that he has been a more or less automatic selection for all the Managers he has played for ?

      • RUNDMC

        Admittedly, no player is perfect, they all have ‘faults’ as do teams, that’s why others exploit them! What I’m saying is from watching Pearce on a number of occasions, is that he is consistently ‘found out’, and this is not because he has to do the lion’s share of defending! It is because he has more faults than can be expected of a professional playing at the level Leeds are. Yes, he’s been an ‘automatic’ choice for Leeds (mainly because we had no or limited options!) for Neil Warnock (say no more!), Brian McDermott, etc. and where has this actually got us? I don’t know the statistics, but I’d hazard a guess that Leeds are better when he doesn’t play (i.e. goals conceded, win ratio etc). I’d think this is particularly evident this season, especially away from home! I think I’m right in thinking he came from Portsmouth for 500k and was signed by Warnock (his first signing I think), and they weren’t exactly pulling up trees either, even allowing for their situation at the time – was he an automatic choice there too? Has he played elsewhere? Please enlighten me. He hasn’t got the pedigree or potential to be at a club like Leeds, let’s be honest. I’m sorry, but he must be a relative if you’re ‘defending’ him – maybe you should teach him a few tricks or take his place! The sooner he’s replaced, the sooner we start to climb the table!

  7. Aldo B

    totally agree with this article but I would like to add that we need to change to a 4 4 2 away from home and use Adryan from the bench, as we need a more physical player who will sit deeper and just let Mowatt act as the playermaker, to often we are caught to high up and we leave gaps for opponents midfiled to get in behind.

    At the back,,,,,,its just a nightmare Pearse and Cooper seem unable to mark players, ie Fulham game no one within 3 yards of Rodijega, and Bianchi was brushed off far to easly by McCormack…

  8. oldschoolbaby

    Central defence, and Pearce in particular ( though I hugely admire his commitment – RUN DMC`s critique is brutally honest), has been our primary problem for a long time. Murphy`s career was destroyed by his confusion over feeling overly obliged to help out defensively and the unpredictability of Austin. He needs to move but I have a feeling he will kick on again when he joins a more settled, structured team.
    Lack of confidence in the defence is the greatest millstone around the current midfields necks. Just because Cook can play a holding role well doesn’t mean he should. Bianchi is very capable in the holding role and moves the ball quickly. He is average to ineffectual played on the right. Then he becomes frustrated. Then he loses his positional discipline. Then he`s a liability.
    Adryan should be ok when he reaches puberty and bags a goal. Often there are no runners taking defenders away when he has the ball. He just runs into a blind alley. If Cook was further forward he would enjoy a lot more space. And if Bianchi was holding they would be fed quicker.
    CBs tend to mature later than other players. If we don`t have a look at Del Fabro though we will never know.
    Silvestri needs a Neuer DVD for Christmas

    • Irving08

      You are being too harsh on Pearce and too kind to Murphy, OS, but you are right on Bianchi, though I suspect he is just not suited to the hurrying and scurrying of English football, decent technique notwithstanding. Cook, I think, is best suited to a central position which, in this team, does mean a holding role. So, I’ll stick with my suggestion of Byram on the right, with Mr Berardi – a Swiss International no less – behind him at full back.

    • the major

      shut up spell it as it is super leeds moan moan moan forest you never be big as leeds never

      • Kenatto

        Nope, we’d have to shrink a considerable amount to become a piss-ant little club like weeds.

  9. Irving08

    I am struggling with the idea of Adryan as an impact player since he is of average pace and below average scoring power. Besides a team cannot be built on the basis of having different players for home and away. I am still undecided on him at all as a player able to help get us out of this Division.

    • henrymouni

      We have a good attacking midfield but, they are not very good at defending.
      At set pieces Pearce & Cooper have too many big men to pick up.
      If you look at the Forrest goal, you had a big lad unmarked (Adryan was trying to pick him up), he headed easily into the danger area.
      We need Morison to help in this area plus another big strong midfield player to help us compete at the back.
      Every cross and corner is a scramble for us, and our lack of strength in midfield allows the opposition to run right through us.
      How many last ditch tackles and blocks can we endure?
      Lewis Cook likes to get stuck in, and has a great fighting spirit.

      • Irving08

        Happy Xmas Henri – 6 points on Boxing Day ! Morison just needs a big hug – but would you fancy hugging him ?

  10. Kenatto

    Notts? I thought Leeds had left League 1 – perhaps their deluded idiot fans still think they’re down there. Leeds played Forest on Saturday you inbred tit, or did you not notice? You Wednesday fans are right thickos.

    • TSS

      LOL, you realise of course that I’ll use nothing else now I know how much this winds your fans up, right? Merry Christmas.


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