Four days on after the footballing horror show at Rochdale on Saturday, it looks like things have finally calmed down. Don’t get me wrong, it was the worst performance I’ve seen in my 10 years of supporting Leeds, and the players deserved every bit of stick they got after the game. But with talk of imminent signings (including an actual real-life winger), it looks like things might be looking up.
One thing’s for certain, though, you can’t cover up the negatives of the last few games. A lot of United fans on Twitter have had their own opinions, with the vast majority, including myself, blaming a lack of effort from Leeds’ players. We’ve all witnessed it over the past few weeks, either live or on TV, which might make it harder to swallow.
Against Forest, we were poor, it was plain to see. Leeds were passed off the park by their midfield, and subsequently, we started pointing fingers, with Rudy Austin the main target. Okay, Forest have spent millions on their squad in the last couple of seasons so not many of us would have expected a result on the day. But against Blackburn a team that had won just 3 of their last 26 away games, you’d probably expect better.
I went to Elland Road quietly confident of a result, expecting a response from the late Forest defeat the Sunday before. What I didn’t expect was the same lack of passion Leeds showed in the 2 games before. I remember the reaction from those around me in the South Stand when Jordan Rhodes put Blackburn ahead. We all knew he wasn’t the quickest player, but seeing Zaliukas and Pearce strolling back while Rhodes closed in on goal really got to us. They looked tired, everyone in the ground knew it.
The same could be said about Paddy Kenny, being asked to start when everyone knew he was not 100% fit isn’t right. To be honest, I felt sorry for him. He made some vital saves that maybe young Alex Cairns wouldn’t have done to keep us in the game, but if you can’t physically kick the ball, should you be in the team?
And again, Austin was poor. In fact, you could say the same for the whole team. Only Luke Murphy was willing to get stuck in a scrap for the ball. And going forward they weren’t much better either, it says a lot when Danny Pugh is your most threatening player. But, after good moan on social media, I decided that it couldn’t get any worse at Rochdale, and that Leeds would come back fighting.
Oh dear, I shouldn’t have been so optimistic, the last time I felt like this I was on my way to a certain game at home to Nottingham Forest when Neil Warnock was in charge, and we all know how that one ended.
Okay, Leeds annually have a torrid spell over December and the New Year, but this one has been something else. Against a League Two side, two goals conceded, no real goal-scoring chances created, and another lack of effort, drive and passion. You can only take so much when you pay to follow your team week in, week out. Against Forest and Blackburn a lot of us might have managed to bottle our frustrations up, but after Rochdale, we all snapped simultaneously.
I’m sure we’ve all seen the post-match reaction of the 3,400 fans at Spotland on YouTube (below), 257,000 views in 3 days tells its own story. But I still stand by original comment, McDermott should have changed the team, taking clearly fatigued players such as Austin, Kenny and McCormack, and replacing them with players who have something to prove, such as Cairns and Dominic Poleon. Even Michael Brown was worth a place in the team, “At least he’d have got stuck in” said one fan on Twitter.
The effects of the tough winter fixture schedule might have taken its toll on key players, and now that Leeds don’t have a game until the weekend, they might have a chance to recover from their respective injuries. Kenny was of course injured, McCormack took a knock over the New Year, and Alex Mowatt has been struggling. If these players come back to face Sheffield Wednesday at the weekend, and Leeds secure the signing of Cameron Stewart, and the other mystery Premier League player before the weekend, I don’t see why we can’t get a result.
I’ll go to Sheffield this weekend again hopeful that Leeds will show a bit more desire, because if there’s one game they’ll need to show passion in this season, it’s the big Yorkshire derby.