Tag Archives: Becchio

Leeds United: No more heroes

By Dominic Smith

After wiping away my post-Becchio tears, I set about writing an article about the incoming Steve
Morison, a man Neil Warnock reliably informed me would soon be a ‘legend’ at Elland Road. Maybe
he and Ross McCormack could be the striking partnership we’ve lacked in recent years. I’d write
about the modern day Chapman and Wallace.

But I couldn’t.

It’s not that Morison isn’t a good player. He’s a good Championship striker who proved himself
at Millwall, with a goal-scoring record of better than 1 in 3 during his time there. He sporadically
impressed in the Premier League, and he fulfilled the criteria of a Leeds signing in that he always
seemed to score against us. The image of him leaving Paddy Kisnorbo in a crumpled heap on his way
to putting Millwall one-up at Elland Road in 2010 is burned indelibly on my mind.

He’s a perfectly decent player. He has history against Leeds. He should raise sufficient passion to
write a profile, or to summon my feelings about his move to the club.

But he didn’t.

I didn’t have that problem with Becchio. Even though he had quite obvious faults, no pace,
the turning circle of an oil tanker and a Carlton Palmer like first touch, he inspired a deep and
unswerving affection. If anyone I knew criticised him or called him limited, I would leap to his
defence. He’s just a goal-scorer, I would claim.

But this isn’t just about one goal-scoring hero being replaced by another goal-scoring non-entity. It’s
part of a trend at the club, principally introduced under Warnock, to replace modern Leeds heroes
(Becchio, Snodgrass, Howson) with Championship also-rans. However much he improves, I cannot
see the likes of David Norris inspiring a song from the Kop.

I feel no great attachment to any of the current squad. Sam Byram is promising, but each excellent
performance of his fuels a worry that he’ll be plucked by a Premier League side in the summer.
Ross McCormack produces occasional flutters, but his long barren streaks in front of goal frustrate.
The asset stripping Bates reign has produced a greater effect than just an average playing squad.
The Leeds United of 2013 are a group of players to which the fans have no great affinity with

We won’t get to the Premier League with this side. They are competent, a mid-table Championship
side. But it’s not their limitations which are the problem. It’s that they’re not ours. Only when we get
the next Becchio, the next flawed genius, will we be back.

Follow Dominic Smith on Twitter (@DomoTheBold).

Leeds United: I miss Luciano Becchio

Remember how glorious it was? The way he’d bring the ball down and scuttle slowly towards our own goal, protecting it with his stocky frame. Sometimes he’d fall down and we’d laugh, or cry, or howl, because we knew him so well and we knew that was what he did. Then he’d go up the other end of the pitch after someone had done something for him and the ball would be in the net. That would be enough. He’d come over to us and spend a good minute celebrating. He’d do various arm movements, he’d slide, and towards the end, he’d kiss the badge. I don’t begrudge him it.

You know who I’m talking about, right? He’s joined Twitter this week, or more accurately, he joined up on the 25th of January. His first tweet (and only prior to this week)? “I love Leeds united!!!!”. I don’t think he was lying.

The problem I have these days, now that he’s gone, is there’s no one to love. His problems only highlighted his incredible ability in front of goal. He was the perfect striker for a Leeds fan. He wasn’t of my era, but the best comparison I can make to the Argentine is Chapman. He was built to run and put an effort in and that he did, as much as people would call him lazy. The ball would end up in the net, somehow, someway, no matter which extremity was used, and in combination with which body shape. He could make falling over look gracious, as long as the ball moved forward and the net ruffled.

Over the last few weeks we’ve put in ‘better’ performances, and created more opportunities for the replacement to put away, but he hasn’t. The question then arises, why? Why didn’t we play like this when he was here? He was never a detriment before, to the Gradels, the Howsons and the Snodgrasses, all of whom did the work behind him. We used to play brilliantly with him in the team. A ruiner of performances he was not.

Imagine where we’d be if he was playing now, converting the chances we can now actually create. Any Leeds fan who sits there and repeats the mantra that could often be found on the forums and Twitter that he wasn’t good enough needs to reassess. We had a goalscorer, we had a hero, you don’t find them easily. We don’t have him anymore.

I miss Luciano Becchio.

Follow Amitai Winehouse on Twitter (@awinehouse1).

Leeds United: Changes to be Rung for Hull Trip?

Yesterday’s capitulation against Nottingham Forest is endemic of the issues Leeds have faced this season, with mistakes made in team selection and substitutions contributing to a poor performance. With that in mind, there are several decisions that need to be made for Saturday.

Start Ross McCormack: the Scot has found himself suffering from a poorly timed injury this season, taking time out just as El Hadji Diouf found his form. However, McCormack remains Leeds’s most technically able player, one of Leeds’s more gifted goals getters and creators and offers more to the team than Diouf has done over the last two matches (Diouf was especially poor in the first half against Middlesbrough). A poor performance against Derby aside, McCormack was integral to the best performance of our recent form, the away victory over Huddersfield, and Warnock’s inability to remember this is a criticism that needs to be made. Required.

A change of formation?: Hull, with their continental 5-3-2, are likely to dominate possession up against the now standard flat 4-4-2 of Leeds. This was the case for sure in the return fixture earlier this season. A switch to a 4-3-3 would allow a central three of Austin, Norris and Green to combat Hull’s midfield effectively and play a part our midfield has failed to play in recent months. Furthermore, it would allow McCormack and Thomas to provide effective support to Becchio against what will be a strong defence, whilst releasing Byram to challenge a full back one on one. The defensive help provided by the wide men in a 4-4-2 is not necessary when facing this narrower (in the final third) formation. Would be ideal, but seems unlikely.

Give Somma longer and more support: Warnock seems a big fan of alienating certain players, immediately pointing to McCormack as a sub last season and similarly saying Somma should have scored more against Forest, before we even get to the horrendous treatment of Dominic Poleon all season long. This is in contrast to the lack of criticism the likes of Peltier, Varney, Brown and Kenny have received at times, with two of the four at times undroppable even when playing incredibly poorly. Warnock needs to realise the likes of Somma and McCormack need belief from the manager – how can they be expected to score some of the more spectacular efforts they are well capable of when their manager constantly queries their ability to score from 5 yards? Warnock seems especially keen to find any excuse to drop Somma and McCormack, ahead of his demands for a new striker. Whilst in Becchio Leeds have one of the best finishers in the league, Warnock needs to realise the other 3 front men (adding Diouf) make up probably the most potent strike force in the league. Somma needs support and another 30 minutes against Hull.

Follow Amitai Winehouse on twitter (@awinehouse1) for more talk about Leeds forever and ever and ever.