Tag Archives: leeds

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: Kenny not the problem; Ashdown not the answer

As a general rule, the most lazy method to go about improving a football team is to suggest the supplanting of the current number one with the backup. Over recent weeks I have repeatedly seen people call for the replacement of Paddy Kenny in the starting eleven with his reserve, Jamie Ashdown. This is a suggestion that leaves me baffled every single time I come across it.

Firstly, what has Paddy Kenny actually done wrong over the season? In fact, to be more accommodating for the other perspective, what is it that Paddy Kenny has done more wrong over the season than any other player in the first team? The goalkeeping berth has consistently been the position in which there has been no real issue. Given the utterly porous nature of our defence (on average, over the entire season), with the opposition getting chance after chance to convert, Paddy Kenny has to make 2 or 3 great saves per match. He tends to make them. Paddy Kenny, as much as people critique his reactive goalkeeping, as opposed to the more modern sweeping goalkeeping, tends to be one of our better players.

Secondly, what has Jamie Ashdown actually done right over the season? Or, more accurately, what has Jamie Ashdown done more right than Paddy Kenny? I can’t remember a single egregious mistake that Kenny has made to directly cost us an important goal in an important match. For example, the Wolves game was an example of him being a clever dick, yet it didn’t lead directly to a goal. Ashdown, on the other hand, let the ball go under his body against Chelsea, costing us a one goal lead and essentially condemning us to a loss, given we had no lead to protect. He’s not Rachubka-esque by any stretch of the imagination, but I can’t remember Jamie Ashdown ever looking entirely comfortable.

This is the thing with goalkeepers, they need to have your trust. I’ve never felt like Paddy Kenny is going to let us down, and in fact, he often wins us points by making saves that he shouldn’t be required to – think of Middlesbrough at home, for example. Ashdown, whenever I watch him, always looks on the cusp of conceding a goal he shouldn’t. We have big problems in the starting eleven, but without a shadow of a doubt Paddy Kenny is not one of them.

Follow Amitai Winehouse on Twitter (@awinehouse1).

Leeds United: A Failed Season?

Tonight’s result summed up a lot about this season for us. There’s a problem with the reaction to it on both ends – it is neither a good result nor a bad one. The reality is that a draw away at Leicester is the norm for Leeds United, and that is what is not good enough.

The reality is Neil Warnock was brought in with a singular task, which was to get us promotion from The Championship back to the Premier League. The Warnockasaurus has prowled the touchline for 18 months now, doling out mid-table results in often unpalatable tablespoons. We’ve started to play a bit better, but the results haven’t improved – since we’ve sold Becchio we’ve picked up 9 points from 18, the very definition of middling.

What do we lack? A goalscorer for one, and we sold him mid-season. That alone isn’t acceptable, you shouldn’t have to replace your top scorer halfway through a season. Morison has not proven himself in that regard. Given their two records, for the run-in Becchio was always going to be the better bet. We were in the stronger position, 18-months left to run on his contract and at a club he clearly loved playing for – we didn’t have any reason to kowtow to player power and sell him.

The play-offs should not have been the aim this season, it should have been carving a path through the league, as it always should be until we get promotion. Sorry to make an obvious point, and one that will surely get me criticism, but we’re Leeds United and we’re the only professional club in the third largest city in the country. We have a global fanbase and traditionally one of the largest followings in the country. We may have fallen but we still deserve better. Until we get a manager who provides us the Premier League, we have every reason to tell them it isn’t good enough.

For that reason, and as things will probably fall from now until May, it has to be looked upon as a failed season thus far.

Follow Amitai Winehouse (@awinehouse1).