Friday, 23 September 2011

AMEX awaits as dust settles

Gus Poyet's Brighton side are Leeds' next obstacle this season with the dust only just settling after a crushing 3-0 loss to bitter rivals Manchester United on Tuesday night. The Seagulls have had even less time to prepare after their Wednesday night defeat to Liverpool. That gives Grayson and his men a slight advantage as their will be a few more tired bodies in the Brighton camp.

Leeds fans were left disappointed leaving Elland Road on Tuesday as they'd pretty much watched a Man Utd training session without being able to get themselves in the game. The fans deserved better after the atmosphere they created. Grayson will be looking to put it right tonight as they look to secure their first away win of the season. Paddy Kisnorbo is back after suspension and is expected to control the central of defence once again. Also Grayson welcomes Elland Road old boy Danny Pugh to the squad after signing him on loan from Stoke. Pugh might be what were missing at the moment, he is versatile and plays almost anywhere on the left flank.

Poyet faces the Whites for the only the second time since leaving Elland Road after being Dennis Wise's No.2. He's had a fantastic time at Brighton and they are playing an attractive brand of football. They were invincible at home last season and are yet to be beaten at their new AMEX Stadium. Will Buckley is their main danger-man after his explosive start to life in the Championship. They also have Craig Mackail-Smith who is natural goalscorer, the United defence will be in for a tough test tonight.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Different Competition, Different Venue, Different Players, Same Rivalry!

Its been 7 years 11 months and 8 days since Manchester United last visited Elland Road. That was funnily enough in the League Cup. These two famous clubs with a fierce rivalry lock horns once again in what is an eagerly anticipated fixture for both sets of fans.

Leeds shocked the footballing world three seasons ago when they stunned the Red Devils by knocking them out of the FA Cup at Old Trafford, that Jermaine Beckford goal will never be forgotten. Revenge might be on the agenda for Sir Alex and his unbeaten side come tomorrow night, however he is rumoured to be introducing many young players to the team. He certainly wouldn't want a repeat result. So will the likes of Wayne Rooney, Ashley Young and Nani travel? I expect to see them on the bench. I see Man Utd taking a similar strategy to what Liverpool did a few seasons ago by fielding a young yet talent starting eleven whilst being backed up by a star studded bench.

As for Simon Grayson he has a few dilemmas's to his selection with an important Championship trip to high flying Brighton on Friday night. Experienced defender Patrick Kisnorbo is suspended, he would have been one of the few survivors from the side that one at Old Trafford. Captain Jonny Howson has had an average start to his campaign but should lead his side out with all the fans begging for a performance like the Jonny Howson that dazzled the Championship last term. You can't stop Ross McCormack scoring of late and he'll be hoping that his fine form is rewarded with a start in this high profile game. Also Paul Rachubka who played in the 2nd round tie will be hoping to get the nod over the impressive Andy Lonergan.

Whoever is selected for the both sides a explosive atmosphere is sure to be created from a vocal Elland Road faithful. Ken Bates is expected to be at the game and he is once again in the headlines after calling ex-white Neil Kilkenny a 'petulant sod' after he sarcastically blew kisses at him in the stands during his goal celebration at Elland Road on Saturday. I can only imagine the fans will once again voice their protests against him but all I can hope is that the players do their talking on the pitch and give the fans just reward for an emotionally toiling start to the season.

White vs Red... Grayson vs Ferguson... Leeds vs Man Utd... It doesn't get better than this!

High and Lows, Red Cards, Red Devils, Gradel & Luciano

I apologies to my followers that I've gone off the boil when it comes to my opinions and takes on all news Leeds United of late. So here's a catch up. Victory against Hull gave us our first league victory which finally gave the fans something to shout about. A difficult trip to Upton Park to take on a West Ham side riddled with Premier League quality was next on the agenda. We put in our best performance of the season so far and really showed any doubters that we plan to be right up again this season, unfortunately lady luck wasn't on United's side as we had to settle for a more than deserved point courtesy of Adam Clayton's 90th minute leveller, the midfielder's first goal in a Leeds shirt.

After a drama filled week in the league attention once again turned to the Carling Cup. A trip to Doncaster was the perfect reminder of Ramon Nunez' talents for Simon Grayson as his brace sent us into the 3rd round. Early on Saturday morning the players will have been delighted by the news that they would once again take on Premier League champions Manchester United, this time on home soil. Football has a funny way of bringing you back down to earth and another red card and a late goal took the points away from Leeds and handed struggling Ipswich a much needed win.

A shocker for United fans! Fan favourite Max Gradel handed in a transfer request as he searched for football in France. An offer from Saint-Etienne was accepted and all of a sudden the Whites had lost their talisman as well as no incoming replacement. Two home games followed for Leeds and the week was made better as Grayson declared Luciano Becchio was close to a return after a long injury lay-off. Veteran striker Mikael Forssell joined up with his new team-mates as Leeds looked to bulk up their attacking options. Clayton was missing from the Palace game and Leeds sure did miss him as we failed to control the game, this also down to the fact that skipper Jonny Howson seemed to be being sick. United won the game 3-2 due to Luciano Becchio scoring on his return albeit off bench as well as goal machine Ross McCormack scoring a brace including a late winner.

Bristol City were the next visitors to Elland Road which is currently undergoing a re-model. It was also a return for Neil Kilkenny as he took on his old team-mates after leaving on a free in the summer. Leeds were out of the blocks like a racehorse and it only took 3 minutes for Adam Clayton to open the scoring for United with a curling effort into the top corner. Loanee Andy Keogh had a brilliant chance to make it two but David James was equal to it. Minutes later City were level and no prices for guessing who dealt the blow, old boy Neil Kilkenny with a rasping effort from 20 yards. After that Leeds seemed to lose that zip they had in the first 15 minutes.

In the second half both sides were looking for the break through and the game changing moment came when Nicky Maynard broke was through on goal after a slip from Darren O'Dea, Kisnorbo trying to save the situation went piling into the back of him giving away a penalty whilst seeing red. United fourth dismissal of the season. Maynard stepped up to take it but Andy Lonergan made a good save to keep the home side in the game. With Becchio, Forssell and McCormack all on the pitch despite having 10 men their attacking threat was still present. Leeds kept fighting and from a Bromby long throw Becchio flicked onto McCormack who poked the ball in at the back post to maintain his impressive scoring record. Leeds hung on for the win after being penned in their defensive third for the last 5 minutes but another win for the Whites as they climb up into the top half of the table.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

44 games until where?

I prefer to be optimistic than pessimistic when it comes to Leeds United and over the last few weeks and months we haven't had much to shout about, however we are in the most unpredictable league in the world and yet to spread our wings and fly.

Last season was a great learning experience for us as we came so close yet so far from a Play-off spot. Now we shouldn't waste a great chance to kick on from a superb platform generated last term. It's a huge club and our absence from the top flight hopefully won't be extended much longer. It does concern me that with players like Max Gradel and Robert Snodgrass catching the eye of many Premier League clubs it's only a matter of time until they feel they must fulfil their dreams elsewhere.

We face Hull today who like us have come up against two good sides in Blackpool and Ipswich. We enjoyed two quality games against the Tigers last season with them both finishing 2-2. United still without a point this season will have to try to overcome a dangerous Hull side who have their own promotion aspirations this season without Gradel and skipper Jonny Howson after two harsh red cards on Saturday.

Leeds welcome back Andy Keogh to the club who is expected to make his debut tonight. Also Mikael Forssell is training with the club along with other trialists as Simon Grayson looks to bring in more fresh faces to the club.

It will be interesting to see how Grayson approaches this game tactically. Whatever happens whether it be win, lose or draw we will be marching on together through good times and bad.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Homecoming for Keogh! Meanwhile, fans must improve

Leeds have signed Andy Keogh on loan until January. The Wolves marksman started his professional career at Elland Road as a product of the youth academy. Keogh joins up with his new team-mates in a current state of 'madness'. With the Whites without a point from the opening two league games and the fans divided over opinions of Ken Bates ownership it's fair to say the club is in disarray.

Keogh only made the one solitary appearance for Leeds during his first spell at the club and he is expected to go straight into the squad for the Tuesday night clash with Hull. This signing is to aid the injury void left by Davide Somma, Luciano Becchio and Billy Paynter who all find themselves on the treatment table.

This signing worries me a little, we were linked with a 'big name' striker from the Premier League last week and I feel this may have been a 'panic' signing from Grayson. It is public knowledge that we missed out on a forward last week and there has been a demand for squad improvement. Have we settled for Keogh? His scoring record isn't the best but hopefully he can find a new lease of life at Elland Road to pull us out of the growing pit we find ourselves in.

I will note the need for the fans to get behind the team on Tuesday instead of falling into a mob mentality against owner Ken Bates. He is doing the best for our club and at this present time it's the majority of fans that are the ones letting the club down. We've been unlucky in the market and things haven't gone our way but us as fans have one job, to support the team, let's stick to our job, set the example and hope the players and management follow suit! 

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Tensions flare at Elland Road

Is our beloved club starring once more into the abyss? What has always seemed as a good working relationship between Ken Bates and Simon Grayson is now under scrutiny from the fans and press. Frustration has been the summer mood for Leeds fans with the constant excuses for us missing out on players being; "ridiculous" wage demands, couldn't agree personal terms etc. I understand the need to remain within the budget and not to spend money we don't have however Bates is trying to dictate the price of players, in this modern day of football, supply and demand is huge! Therefore to get quality you must  be prepared to pay for it, it seems Leeds are the only club who aren't.

The latest story coming out now is that Grayson has been refused permission to sign Alex Mendy, one of the trialists that impressed during pre-season. This is a massive alarm bell, history shows when Chairmen get involved in transfers in ends miserably. We were poised to sign a "big name" striker on-loan until Christmas however negotiations broke down, Bates claimed his agent got greedy. I hope you'll forgive for referring back once again to the deal that saw fan favorite Kasper Schmeichel dpeart. Bates once again via Twitter criticised the agent for being unwilling to negotiate a new deal for the stopper, however Schmeichel came out and said he always wanted to stay at Leeds. So what is really going on at Elland Road? Is Bates taking the fans for a ride trying to get money in his pocket all the while leaving Simon Grayson to struggle by the way side of other Championship sides spending power.

The other side to the argument is that the once irresistible offer to play for Leeds is no longer that attractive. Do we have to get to terms that were no longer the club that can attract the big names? Or is it that simply the manager is not bringing in the right players, agents are greedy, were not playing well and the development of the East Stand was a must do!? Hell No.

There's something fishy going on at Elland Road and the fans, the people that make the club what it is are being kept in the dark. It is only a matter of time until the protests being and real questions start being asked. All that won't help the football. The Leeds faithful often act as a 12th man on a Saturday but one thing is clear we won't stand id-ally by while the club is run in the wrong way. We're clearly on top of the business and financial side of things, but the football (the most IMPORTANT thing) is being forgotten. A quick question before I move onto the football side of things, why have we developed the Upper East Stand when we use it maybe three times a season? Baffling...

There weren't a huge amount of positives to take from our Carling Cup 1st round victory against Bradford City. Obviously the first win of the season will be a huge boost for the players. I'll start with Ramon Nunez, a flair player, always looking to run at opponents and he's definitely got a hunger for goals. He looks a bright prospect and this season could be our super sub, he seems to have an ability to make stuff happen. Moving onto Tom Lees, I certainly didn't think I'd be writing about him today. After another poor showing from our defense Grayson turned to the youngster to replace Connolly at right-back, he gained his plaudits by delivering the perfect cross for Ross McCormack to head home the equalizer but also made some strong confident challenges. He in my mind must be in contention for starting place on Saturday against Middlesbrough.

My main piece of praise is for Man of the Match Adam Clayton, what an exciting player. As on Saturday he was once again probably our strongest player. His passing has zip and accuracy, he seems to have a combination of all the attributes our midfield trio had last year. I never once saw him stop running on Tuesday night, he fought for everything and put in some powerful challenges. He has a superb presence about him and I believe Grayson made a great decision sending him out on-loan, he's come back had a full pre-season and looks a different player. I have high hopes for Clayton and believe No.15 is perfect as he can replicate the impact that the predecessor of that number Fabien Delph had on the team.

Sadly I can't say the same about fellow midfielder Michael Brown, the 34 year old seemed like an spare part on Tuesday. He contributed nothing to the game which made Clayton and Howson work over time. Credit to him that he pulled off a full 90 minutes which many people raised questions about. On Saturday he made several silly fouls and Tuesday he couldn't make any fouls because he couldn't get to the player, he was that far off the pace. We have lacked strength and depth in midfield for a couple of seasons now, another signing is vital.

Mixed reviews have come out when long-term absentee Paddy Kisnorbo comes to the forefront. He's had a full pre-season since recovering from his horrific injury. However he still looks rusty, albeit being the best defender of a pretty poor bunch. One thing I did highlight on Tuesday was that when going to clearing the ball he seemed to go with the wrong foot on more than one occasion. He's been solid enough but what concerns me is the awkwardness of his defending.

All in all, until the power struggle between us and agents ends we're going to be stuck with the squad we've got, is it good enough to compete, although we haven't shown it in the two performances so far. It's Middlesbrough on Saturday, there's no hiding now, games coming thick and fast, sink or swim for the Leeds boys.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Unconvincing cup win

Simon Grayson's Leeds side hosted local rivals Bradford City at Elland Road after their dismal season opener. United were without wingers Robert Snodgrass and Max Gradel as they were called upon by their nations. Billy Paynter was also an absentee with a thigh injury he suffered on the south coast.

All the pressure was on the home side as City arrived with nothing to loose. But it was the Whites who had the best chance early on, Ramon Nunez should have put Leeds ahead after Adam Clayton broke down the right flank to deliver a perfectly weighted ball for the Honduran, only for Nunez to fire into row Z. The pressure was firmly on Leeds again when Compton put the visitors ahead on 31 minutes after Leeds' defense failed to deal with a surging Stewart run. The first half ran it's course with the fans seeing no real improvement from Saturday's disappointment.

Whatever was said in both dressing rooms at half-time it seemed that Grayson won the war of words as Leeds equalized just 25 seconds into the restart. Lloyd Sam twisted and turned after a clever dummy from McCormack, before he laid it off to Clayton allowing him to set up Nunez to score a well taken finish from inside the box for his first Leeds goal.

Bradford reacted superbly, Syers seized on a heavy touch from Paul Connolly and struck a low shot which whistled past Lonergan's post. However it didn't take the League 2 side to get back in-front, an inch perfect pass found Flynn who took it down superbly and smashed it into Lonergan's top corner.

Fans started to voice their frustration with 'Bates Out' chants ringing around the ground. But the men in white had some fight in them, Grayson made a double sub bringing on Bromby and Lees for the less than impressive O'Brien and Connolly. It was Lees to make the impact, he swung in a sublime first touch cross to find the head of lone striker Ross McCormack who lost his marker, the scotsman headed home to put Leeds back on terms for the second time of the night.

Sadly for the Bantams there would be no shock exit at Elland Road tonight Sam's cross got a small deflection from a City defender which took the ball away from the keeper, letting Nunez help the ball home for his second of the night and to put United ahead for the first time in the tie. Leeds milked the final 15 minutes and booked themselves a spot in the 2nd round.

Att. 17,667
Leeds 3-2 Bradford

Compton 31 - Bradford
Nunez 46 - Leeds
Flynn 57 - Bradford
McCormack 69 - Leeds
Nunez 75 - Leeds