Over the last few games there has been a new item to add to the increasingly shrunken column titled “In Warnock’s Defence”. People have latched on to the new style of play that Warnock has extolled, with the ageing manager suggesting that there is now a huge difference in the manner of approach without the presence of Argentine Luciano Becchio up front. Warnock himself seems to suggest that the new style alone is a clear improvement.
However, whilst I will not disagree with the notion that it is more watchable, I will still critique the issues that have come with it. The new style has improved the manner of approach play slightly, with more ground-based balls being played and some ball retention, but the new style has not altered the effectiveness of our play in front of goal. One of the major issues with the long-ball style Warnock used in the early and middle parts of the season was that it did not lead to much in the way of chance creation. This meant we required the ludicrously effective Becchio to take as many of the few chances that came his way. At one juncture Becchio was converting over 50% of his chances, the only striker in England playing on a consistent basis who was doing so.
Despite the change in approach play, we have not increased the number of chances in front of goal hugely. Fans at Blackburn on Saturday could point to two memorable clear-cut chances, not enough by any means for a team hoping to challenge for promotion. Yes, Varney and McCormack could have scored, but they should each have more than one opportunity per match to do so. The extent to which Warnock has starved us of shots means I now see a shot on target in any game as a huge moment. This is preposterous, and has completely altered my perceptions of football outside of Leeds. The reality is, a side pushing for the top has to have far more than that.
The style has improved, and to be fair, we have started to create more in front of goal, but it needs to continue and get better before I can be convinced that Warnock and his backroom staff have it in them to coach quality approach play.
Follow Amitai Winehouse on Twitter (@awinehouse1).