One step forward, two steps back – Leeds prove opposites attract Graham Smeaton December 12, 2014 Leeds United 6 Comments Paula Abdul and MC Skat Kat at least got one thing right. The playing style down Elland Road way is a case of ‘one step forward, two steps back’…although perhaps the regression is a little more than just a couple of steps. It seems that just as we are finding our groove, settling down and playing some decent football…boom! The God of Football takes an almighty dump on us and inconsistency doesn’t just creep in, it absolutely bullets in. Forget the Facebook-mafia clamouring for ‘a decent CB’, ‘we need to get a winger in’ or that ‘Redderz [sic] needs to drop the diamond’; there is only one thing that Leeds United need and that is consistency. In a way, we have Mr Consistent in newly-appointed captain Stephen Warnock who, upon being granted the stewardship of the team, had an absolutely barnstorming display against Derby. In this game he was like a demon, a man possessed and some mythical beast all rolled into one. Against a season average (over 90 minutes average and including the Derby game itself) Stephen Warnock has returned pretty respectable numbers in: ‘tackles’ (2.80 per 90 minutes average), ‘interceptions’ (2.80 per 90 minutes average) and ‘key passes’ which lead to shooting attempts (0.97 per 90 minutes average – slightly under 1 per game). In the game against Derby, he was like a dervish, all whirling and gnashing: ‘tackles’ 11, ‘intercepts’ 4 and ‘key passes’ 3. Hit the fast forward button and spin through 7 days of your life and you’d expect this to be replicated in some manner against Ipswich Town, some of it was. Whilst maintaining his 1 ‘key pass’ per game average (Warnock fed the ball in for Mirco Antenucci’s opening goal) and performing above his per 90 minute average for intercepts (he had a healthy 4 in total); his ‘tackles’ were massively down from 11 against Derby to 1 against Ipswich. Now I know that you cannot perform at such a level as 11 tackles every game, but to drop to 1 tackle highlights the very weakness that will plague us throughout this very season; quite simply put it is the inconsistent levels at which we play as a team that seems to drip-feed down to how individual players play. For every game like against Huddersfield, we have a Brentford; for every Blackpool, there is a Blackburn and every game like Derby, there’s an Ipswich bubbling under. If ‘consistency’ was on sale at Poundland, we’d only likely have enough to buy a pinch of it. We are a Jekyll and Hyde team: spluttering and starting, purring effortlessly then spluttering, spluttering then purring effortlessly and there have even been times where we have gotten it right. But it has largely been inconsistency that has been our collective bête noir both this season and reaching back into the three previous Championship campaigns; the only ‘near’ consistency of which were the final table finishing positions of 15th (2013/14), 13th (2012/13) and 14th (2011/12). Well, actually, that’s a lie as there are other ‘consistencies’ that spring up across these seasons; the consistency of us not being able to put together consistent runs of point-gaining results. I suppose that you could say that we are consistent at being inconsistent. Let’s take the last three mid-table, mediocre finishes as a measure and look at the kind of long streaks that we put together: 2013/14 – 3 wins, 5 wins/draws, 2 draws; 2012/13 – 3 wins, 6 wins/draws, 3 draws and 2011/12 – 2 wins, 7 wins/draws, 1 draw. Again, more application of consistent scrapings of inconsistencies as we seemingly scrabble around like deranged chickens searching for grains of millet. Our points totals for these seasons of woe is also remarkably consistent with 2011/12 returning 61 points, 2012/13 returning 61 points and 2013/14 returning an even-more depressing 57 points. Inconsistency is also endemic in term of individual player performances akin to the one hinted at in relation to Stephen Warnock. Alex Mowatt’s growth spurt in front of goal seems to have regressed, Marco Silvestri’s early season heroics seem to have diminished, Tommaso Bianchi’s stoic nature seems to have wavered and even the youthful exuberance of young Lewis Cook is seemingly being washed away as the season progresses. Throw into the mix a blustery Souleymane Doukara, an oft-quietened Adryan and the constant hilarity provided by whatever combination of ‘Chuckle Brothers’ we play as the central defensive pairing and it seems that the whole team has caught the ‘Inconsistency Bug’. If we want to rescue this season then something must change and we really must search with earnest for the antidote to inconsistency. If we don’t, then you are looking at a long, hard slog towards mediocrity…again.