Well, thank god we ended that run of draws.
After describing my mood variously as “reasonably happy” or “happy” on last week’s Derby County Podcast, this was a bit of a shock. Aside from the possibly Clement inspired 15 minute purple patch at the start of the 2nd half we were poor. Probably as devoid of ideas/determination/organisation than we have been since that Reading game at the end of last season. Leeds thoroughly deserved their victory, they had some outstanding young talent in Byram, Cook & Moffatt on the pitch &, of course, they had a tactically astute, experienced manager to guide them, one who knows how to beat us.
The team news was as everybody expected, which is perhaps not a particularly good thing. The reversion back to 4-3-3 came as no surprise either. I think I would have preferred a 4-4-2, it served us well in the Brum game & I reckon it gives us more options up front. 4-3-3 is easy to play against. Stifle Thorne & Martin & Bob is indeed your uncle.
That formation depends on playing quick attacking football at a high tempo & according to a few player interviews before the game we were supposed to be going at Leeds from the off. However, as we all know, we were extremely poor for that first 45 mins & we were much too late in getting going. That’s obviously a failure on the part of the players but if it happens many more times it will be Clement’s fault for not sorting it.
Leeds certainly were not as negative as the Boro were recently (in fact they were very mobile & knocked the ball around well in midfield) but we struggled to gain any attacking momentum or indeed pass forward. In fact, retaining possession seemed the limit of our ambition. I’m not even sure we did that particularly well. The constant passing back & lack of attacking confidence began to frustrate the crowd.
I don’t agree with booing players but I don’t find it surprising that fans express frustration when players play poorly. I had reasonably good view of the Baird incident. He passed it back. The East Stand collectively moaned in frustration. He reacted, waved his arm around & no doubt threw a few choice words in the fans’ direction. Which probably riled them up a bit more. Not the most sensible or professional thing to do. He could have acknowledged that in his “honest” post match interview but he didn’t. There you go. He’s gone down in my estimation.
The whole team (aside from perhaps the increasingly heroic Mr Keogh) were lethargic & lacking in endeavour in that 1st half & just before half time Leeds were deservedly in the lead, when the team collectively went to sleep for a disputed corner, allowing Adeyemi a free header. Much too casual. You would hope that Clement will doing something in training over the next few weeks to sort that out.
As we all know, we came out for the 2nd half a completely different proposition & within a few minutes we were all square, through another great goal from Martin. He hadn’t achieved much until then. Apart from falling over 5 times & winning 1 free kick. That early 2nd half performance gave us a bit of hope & at least suggested Clement must have had some effect on the team during the half time team talk. However, we’re going to be in trouble if we have to rely on that to get the team going.
Hendrick was absolutely anonymous in that 1st half & his miss in the 2nd proved to be a watershed moment. He should have scored. He clearly isn’t interested or capable of contributing in the 1st 2 thirds of the pitch & he’s only fleetingly effective in the final third. Unless Clement has some ideas about improving him, he needs to be dropped. Providing we have enough midfielder players left to replace him that is. 2 more midfield injuries, perhaps we’ll be overpaying for players in the following few days after all.
We lost momentum after Thorne went off injured & Leeds steadily got back in the game. Cook again had the freedom to wander through our midfield at will & slip a ball through to Wood. There you go, it was all over. No booing from me at the final whistle but there was an air of despondency amongst the fans I left the ground with. Let’s hope we get a win pretty soon, otherwise the pressure’s going to mount.