Leeds United 4-0 Shrewsbury Town
Its the first competitive game of the new season. There's an abundance of new faces and youngsters that need to gel together into some sort of team. We score four times. We keep a clean sheet. And we win. Not a bad day's work.
And "not bad" is probably the perfect way of describing it. It wasn't unbelievably exciting or impressive but there was nothing wrong with it. Shrewsbury, fresh off last season's promotion, played with confidence and caused a threat at times, but from playing good football rather than our own individual errors.
Paddy Kenny looked solid and composed throughout, despite being overly tested. His handling looked good and he was on hand to make a fine save from the bright Marvin Morgan...even if the linesman awarded a goal kick for it. What also impressed me was his distribution which was quick, direct and extremely effective.
His back four were also impressive, particularly young Sam Byram who rounded off a fine pre-season with another excellent, mature display. When Lees returns, there is no doubt that the youngster will find his first team opportunities limited and so it was nice to see him play, and play well, today. Although he was slightly out of position at centre half, Lee Peltier put in an excellent performance alongside the solid Jason Pearce, both looking like extremely worthwhile acquisitions. On the left side, Aidy White was rarely tested and didn't attack as much as he usually does, but is a player that is crucial to our successes this year.
|David Norris; I love you|
The midfield impressed me the most, in particular the centre-midfield partnership of Rodolph Austin and David Norris, the latter who was given the captaincy. Austin is a man who the fans have major expectation for and he eventually delivered after a reasonably slow start. Both men played the simple game well, showing a good display of passing as well as the valuable asset of not being afraid to get stuck in. Austin's powerful strike was the catalyst to the opening goal, which after being poorly dealt with by Weale, was converted by Luciano Becchio. Norris rounded off a good display by scoring himself, his right foot half-volley trickling into the far corner to put Leeds 3-0 up. Paul Green and Luke Varney both made solid debuts with Varney continuing his imposing presence in the air, as well as getting off the mark with his first competitive goal in Leeds colours. It was ultimately a tap-in, after good work by Ross McCormack, despite the Scot being at least two yards offside. Green was reasonably quiet, further fuelling belief over the requirement of an exciting right-winger.
Enter El Hadji Diouf. Controversial? Yes. Un-necessary at times? Yes. A good signing? Quite possibly. He replaced Green late on and received a mixed reception. He had little impact on the game but did show a few nice touches and creative balls that we lacked with Green on the field. Maybe he'll never be a fan-favouritebut its time to forget his past and support him as the Leeds player he now is. Well, for now at least.
Luciano Becchio and Ross McCormack both did well, working hard and both getting on the score-sheet. Becchio's hold-up play was an improvement on last year's and hopefully a sign of things to come. We all know that Warnock is a huge fan and hopefully Becchio can repay the faith in a manager who has always had the ability to get the best out of players. McCormack wasn't outstanding but still did enough and was lively at times, also getting on the score-sheet from the penalty spot.
It was alright. Nothing to write home about but its impossible to be too pessimistic after a 4-0 win. Shrewsbury were no push-overs; they played extremely well in the face of a tough opposition and a daunting home crowd. They were bitterly unfortunate at times, appealing for a goal from Jermaine Grandison, a penalty after a clear Austin hand-ball and a corner after a fine save from Kenny. They received nothing. As mentioned previously, McCormack was also off-side for the second goal. That's football I'm afraid.
I loved it. Seeing the new heroes of this football club stroll to a comfortable victory in the sun was a perfectly acceptable way of spending my Saturday afternoon. Lee Peltier and David Norris have emerged as the front-runners to be my new favourite player and I certainly wouldn't mind Norris becoming club captain. Rodolph Austin isn't far away either and I firmly believe an excellent season for him could lead to an excellent season for the club. The performance was there, as was the attitude and belief. Improvements are needed but I am optimistic heading into next week's game. Even my Mum kicked off her season in style, correctly naming ten out of the eleven players at half-time, showing adept knowledge of the new players. She forgot Paul Green. When I test her next week, I wonder if Paul Green will be the right-winger's name she doesn't know. Maybe the right-winger won't be called Paul Green. Maybe he'll be called Diouf.