Sunday, 28 April 2013

Leeds United 1-2 Brighton & Hove Albion

On a day when the Mitre football was the second, or third, most talked about ball on the pitch, Brighton sealed their place in the play-offs with a 2-1 win at Elland Road. El Hadji Diouf's bizarre act of obscenity stole the limelight and marred what was a fairly good performance by the home side, with the controversial character being dismissed less than a minute after scoring for a gesture to the visiting supporters. Those supporters had the last laugh though, with goals from Will Buckley and Leonardo Ulloa coming either side of Diouf's penalty sealing the three points for the Seagulls in their last away trip of the season. Referee Scott was not to be out-done by Diouf's genitalia however and stole half of the show himself by sending off two other players. Leeds' Rudy Austin was dismissed after just over ten minutes for an apparent elbow on Barnes whilst Brighton's Inigo Calderon saw red five minutes after coming on after committing the offence that led to the penalty.

Although only mathematically sealed yesterday, Brighton's place in the play-offs was already pretty much confirmed and so manager Gus Poyet could make two changes from the side that impressively trounced Blackpool 6-1 last weekend. Bruno Saltor replaced Wayne Bridge and the impressive Liam Bridcutt was rested with Marcos Painter taking his place in the starting line-up. With a lot less to choose from in terms of quality, Brian McDermott was set to select an unchanged Leeds team until Sam Byram picked up an injury in the warm up. Lee Peltier was brought in to replace the youngster and regained the captain's armband from Stephen Warnock.

Brighton's impressive football has defeated many this season and Leeds were nearly victims of it inside sixty seconds. The lively Will Buckley found space down the right to deliver a ball across the face of goal that was stabbed goal-wards by Orlandi. Kenny could only watch on as the ball clipped the outside of the post and went behind for a goal-kick. An ominous start was only to get worse in the tenth minute but as has been the case throughout the season, Leeds brought about their own downfall. After seemingly beating Ulloa in the air, Lees' misplaced attempt at what I can only think was a back-pass fell straight to Buckley who ran through on goal and beat Kenny with an assured finish. Elland Road fell silent in the disappointed way it has done so often throughout the past few years but a disappointed silence turned to stunned silence two minutes later. Whilst running alongside Austin, Brighton's Ashley Barnes fell to the floor clutching his face after a slight coming together. The referee awarded Brighton a fairly soft free-kick before sending Austin off, indicating that an elbow had been used. I haven't yet seen it back but I'm pretty sure that he got this one wrong. It was to come as no surprise; he got just about everything wrong all day.

For a few minutes Leeds lost shape and Brighton took control as Saltor flashed an effort wide from the edge of the box, before a little bit of complacency set in. A lapse at the back by Greer allowed McCormack to drill a half-chance over the crossbar and was the start of a turnaround for Leeds who started to apply pressure. Three ambitious penalty shouts were all turned away by Scott before a delicious ball across the face of goal by Diouf evaded everyone in the box. Chances were coming for Leeds and from Varney's header down Ross McCormack grazed the post with a technically brilliant overhead kick. The ten men always looked fairly vulnerable though and Brighton had the last shot of the period as Will Buckley curled one wide from distance.

You'd have thought Poyet would have been disappointed with the way his side had failed to kill off the game and as expected, the visitors came out looking a lot brighter at the start of the second half. Ulloa turned well but screwed his shot high and wide on fifty minutes before Buckley drilled a shot wide after good work by David Lopez. Lopez himself had the most meaningful opportunity as his shot thundered through a crowded penalty area but was well handled by Kenny. Leeds were creating little for the amount of possession they had but were working tirelessly with ten men and were gifted the chance to level the match on seventy three minutes. Five minutes after coming on as a substitute, Inigo Calderon was guilty of a tug on McCormack when the Scot was through on goal. Finally referee Graham Scott gave Leeds something, pointing to the spot before evening things up further by dismissing the unfortunate Brighton defender. Diouf stepped up and scored to level things up, before being sent off himself. The wind up merchant walked calmly over to the Brighton fans, blowing affectionate kisses before his romantic act turned into something more. Maybe he'd got the wrong idea, maybe he felt led on or maybe he just had an itch. Whatever it was, referee Scott didn't appreciate the gesture to his genitalia and a third red card of the game was awarded.

Brighton then took full control of the game and had chances through Vicente and Ulloa with neither managing to hit the target. However, the Argentinian striker did hit the target in the 87th minute, powering his close range header past Kenny and into the back of the net to keep up his impressive goalscoring streak and condemn the Whites to another defeat. With nine men an equaliser was never looked likely but Kuszczak was called upon in the last minute to tip over a goal-bound header from Jason Pearce. Brighton were left to celebrate their play-off place whilst McDermott's Leeds could only wonder what could have been. Half of the home fans left but half stayed to applaud the players as they made their way around the Elland Road pitch for the last time this season.

Despite the disappointment that has been this season, the award's dinner was left to celebrate anything good. It summed up what we all knew; Sam Byram has been the only positive. The young right back picked up Young Player of the Year, Player of the Year and Players' Player of the Year to round off a fantastic first season in professional football. Community Player of the Year went to Leigh Bromby, Aidy White won the Fastest Goal of the Season for his effort against Everton and Ross McCormack's stunner against Tottenham Hotspur won Goal of the Season. The Chairman's special award was surprisingly taken by Tom Lees who seemed stunned yet delighted. He said he was anyway; he still didn't smile. McDermott raised a smile by suggesting there were more fans at the award's dinner than watched Reading every week before getting down to serious business by suggesting a somewhat ambitious promotion next season. The more you drank, the more realistic that suggestion seemed and despite an awful season, the optimism surrounding the future of the club fuelled a very enjoyable evening. Even at £5 a pint.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Away Days; Birmingham City

After trips to both Bristol City and Barnsley, I wrote on this very blog that going to the football is the best way to spend your last day before going back to university. Especially if the game is away. With this in mind, Birmingham away was a must attend; I go back to the North-East tomorrow and certainly aren't returning to make the long trip to Watford on May 4th. Although Bristol City away was brilliant, Barnsley wasn't and was the second game of the current goal-less run away from home with me in attendance. Before today, this run stood at five games. Another fact hinting at a lack of goal-scoring power is the amount of consecutive games where Leeds have failed to score in the first half; a run of nineteen games. The last time we managed a first half goal was on Boxing Day, away at Nottingham Forest in a game I was at. That's the last time I saw us score away from home. Surely we couldn't draw a blank today.

The difference between today and every away game mentioned above is Brian McDermott. Under his first two games, Leeds have been better, picking up two wins out of two against Sheffield Wednesday and Burnley. His next challenge was to win a game away from Elland Road. Undoubtedly easier said than done, but I was confident. So confident, I put us on an "away teams" accumulator. Very risky. Could we win? Could we score? Could we even score in the first half?

For a brief second, it looked as if we wouldn't get to see whether we scored. We nearly died on the way to Elland Road. Genuinely. With Kez's brother Sean in the driving seat, we were very nearly cut up by a stupid old fool who'd got himself in the wrong lane approaching the M621. "Come on Eileen" was turned off, abusive gestures were made and James noted down the registration plate of the driver in question in case of any claims of whiplash. I think I can feel my neck twinge as I write this. As you can tell, I'm a bit of a Leeds United bad luck charm and although my untimely death would have probably ensured a Leeds victory, I'd rather be alive. Sean himself claims to be a Liverpool fan, but was desperate to attend another Leeds away game after trips to Arsenal and Manchester City and today was the day. He's clearly a closet Leeds fan and, after our near death experience, we all piled out of his car and onto the coach. Birmingham isn't incredibly far away and the journey passed fairly easily. St. Andrews is widely known for the fact that Leigh Bromby's long-throw could reach the McDonald's down the road and so naturally, that was our first stop. I watched as Kez, James and Sean all won something half decent on the McDonald's monopoly before opening mine. Two Instant Wins. One was a fruit-bag. The other was an apple pie. Hideous.

We arrived in the ground and confirmed what we'd already found out by looking at our ticket; we were very close to the pitch. Row five in fact. I know what you're thinking and yes, it was a shit view. Almost as shit as some of the shooting we were watching in the warm up as Habibou, Morison and White all succeeded in hitting people in the stand. Good job then that none of them were starting. McDermott opted to pick the same side that defeated Burnley on Tuesday whereas his opposite number Lee Clark made one change from midweek, replacing Morgaro Gomis with Hayden Mullins. 

A good start was imperative but it was Birmingham that looked the brightest with both Ravel Morrison and Nathan Redmond looking lively. A player of their kind is something that Leeds have lacked for years and they were to torment the Leeds back four all day. Morrison had the first meaningful effort on goal when a combination of the woodwork and Jason Pearce somehow kept out his looping, goal-bound effort. Pearce is someone who you can never trust with the ball at his feet but was called upon a few times in the early stages to make vital blocks, one denying Zigic before Morrison spooned the follow up high and wide. Leeds responded with a few chances of their own. The highly rated Jack Butland in the Birmingham goal made a mess of dealing with a Rudy Austin strike, dropping the ball at the feet of Varney who's effort was blocked well by Curtis Davies. Leeds then won a succession of corners before Michael Tonge's curler brought the best out of England's finest goalkeeping prospect. Down the other end, Redmond and Morrison continued to impress and two chances were created; one went wide but the other was on target and held by Kenny. The final chance of the half was to fall to the visitors and after some questionable defending McCormack volleyed into the arms of Butland who held on to it well. An even first half ended 0-0, making it game number twenty where The Whites had failed to score in the first period. Impressive.

At the start of the second half, McCormack clipped the crossbar with a free-kick and the Birmingham defence was on hand to twice deny a Leeds team that was attempting to play football with little luck. A problem with playing Brian McDermott's style of football is the fact that we aren't actually very good and as the game wore on, more and more passes began to go astray. On the hour mark, McDermott made his first change, replacing Michael Tonge with Lee Peltier. Although the Birmingham announcer tried to tell us that Rudy Austin was the man replaced, I'm fairly sure the player that went off was white. The move saw Sam Byram shift to right midfield, with Peltier filling in at right back. In his more attacking position, Byram was the next man to have an attempt at goal, but after Butland had again fumbled, the young Leeds right back hit the side netting from a tight angle. The longer the game went on, the less likely it looked that Leeds would score and as expected, it was the hosts that took the lead somewhat fortuitously. A long strike from distance was half dealt with by Kenny but the Leeds stopped only succeeded in palming it straight at the feet of Mullins who easily applied the finishing touch. I'm a goalkeeper myself and had I conceded the same goal, I'd feel I could have done a lot better. It was disappointing and ensured Leeds were now chasing the game.

The continued lack of quality was evident and although an Austin volley from distance had to be saved well by Butland, Leeds never looked like equalising. If anything, Birmingham could have scored again and after a mazy run, Chris Burke fired his strike an inch over the crossbar. Kez summed it up perfectly. "When we're 1-0 up at home we always seem to be clinging on, but these are taking the piss". It was true. They were keeping the ball and knocking it around well, something we continuously fail to do when attempting to close out a game. Something we fail to do in general in fact. The game wasn't to end without some drama though. In the ninetieth minute, the stewards stood up, clearly in case of some post-match trouble. None of us had a problem with it, except for one solitary woman who now apparently couldn't see the game. She pursued a one-man tirade against the stewards, screaming every possible expletive at them. After utilising every swear word on Urban Dictionary, they finally sat down. Why she wanted to continue watching the game was beyond us; she'd have had more fun staring into the steward's torso. 

The coach home dragged and there wasn't much to think about in summary of the game. It was simply not a good performance and a poor game. There was one major positive though. After two wins, it would have been very easy for McDermott to potentially think the job at hand isn't a massively complex one. In truth, it is and today's game will have gone some way in reinforcing the idea that a lot of work has to be done. Hopefully McDermott is the man to do it.  It would be good next season for the league's greatest away support to travel around the country following a successful team. 

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Leeds United 1-0 Burnley

Brian McDermott's much needed revival of Leeds United continued with a comfortable 1-0 victory over Burnley. A Rodolph Austin goal mid-way through the second half was enough to seal back to back league wins for the first time since late November, maintaining the new manager's perfect start in the process. McDermott, taking charge of his second game, made three changes from the team that beat Sheffield Wednesday with Tom Lees returning from suspension and being joined back in the starting eleven by El Hadji Diouf and Michael Tonge. Adam Drury was benched whilst Steve Morison and David Norris missed out completely. Burnley were dealt a severe blow with the loss of leading goalscorer Charlie Austin and manager Sean Dyche made two changes from the side that lost at Blackburn. Fulham loanee Alex Kacaniklic replaced Junior Stanislas and Martin Paterson was set the difficult task of filling the goalscoring void left behind by Austin. Yes I did use BBC Sport to check the spelling of Kacaniklic.

In McDermott's first game Leeds had shown improvements, vast in some areas but marginal in others. A half time team talk encouraging the players to play with "no fear" seemed to work and this ethos continued in the early stages of today. Despite not carving out any clear cut chances, Leeds played some good football and applied pressure in the final third. The lack of clinical final touch was evident though and after a succession of corners a wonderful delivery from Michael Tonge flashed across the six yard box. The home side finally got something on the end of a cross after half an hour and after Jason Pearce's header was cleared by Shackell, Luke Varney headed against the cross-bar when it looked easier to score. Burnley were largely disappointing but did carve out two chances just before the break. After Ross Wallace curled a shot wide from the edge of the area, Martin Paterson drove an angled strike against the side netting. The sides went in at half time level and goal-less. Who would have expected anything else? Leeds have now gone nineteen games without scoring in the first period.

They could have taken the lead fifteen seconds into the second half though, but Saturday's hero Varney continued to play Tuesday's villain by failing to convert from five yards after a low, driven ball across the box from McCormack. The Scot had seemingly been swapped with Diouf at half time, putting him "in the hole" and he flourished, continuously dictating the tempo of the game and keeping Leeds in control. Another chance was spurned by Varney, with Lee Grant making a good save but McDermott's "no fear" ethos was beginning to shine. It was this ethos that led to the goal.

I'd love to intricately describe every single pass in what was an outstanding move, but there were too many. It was almost like the famous Argentina goal at the 2006 World Cup. The crucial pass was played by Diouf who threaded a wonderful ball through the heart of defence which Rudy Austin latched onto after a powerful run. It only took the Jamaican one touch to slot the ball under Lee Grant, completing off the excellent move in some style. The goal typified everything McDermott preaches and is hopefully just the start of an era in which passing football is made a priority. It was like watching Brazil. "We're Leeds United, we're passing the ball". 

From left to right: Diouf, Varney, Kenny, Lees...
For ten minutes or so Leeds were comfortable, not impressive, before Burnley rallied slightly. After the ball rebounded unluckily off Byram, Chris McCann fired wide when he probably should have done better and Wallace volleyed wide after good work by Kacaniklic. I copied and pasted the spelling that time. Despite the away side's brief spell, the centre half pairing of Lees and Pearce were as strong as they had been all evening and Leeds held on with minimal ease. Two wins out of two for McDermott and three straight home wins against our opponents from across the Pennines.

The fans that made the trip across those Pennines had to have been disappointed with what they saw. Take Charlie Austin out of the Clarets and what you had tonight was a fairly lukewarm blend of average players that are still, given the somewhat ridiculous nature of the Championship, in a relegation battle. Leeds however could only beat the side put out in front of them and completed the job professionally despite a few nervy moments. The back four were as solid as they have been for a while, in particular Tom Lees who's presence also seemed to settle down the sometimes panicked Jason Pearce alongside him. Both were excellent and Sam Byram and Stephen Warnock complimented them well, putting in solid shifts of their own. Tonge was arguably the biggest disappointment; despite his natural ability with the ball at his feet, he still looks a yard off the pace. Austin had to be the man of the match as, similarly to Saturday, he produced the kind of performance that made himself an instant hit at Elland Road in August. His work-rate, tackling and powerful running is back to what it was at the start of the season and his goal completed a fairly excellent performance. Varney's abundance of missed opportunities hindered his overall effect on the game and whilst Paul Green and El Hadji Diouf played well, the other special mention had to go to Ross McCormack. The Scot seems to have found a new lease of life in recent weeks and proved effective both up-front and when dropped back into the midfield. McDermott has already labelled him a talent and a side built around him next year could prove to be a successful one.

I'm looking forward to Saturday more than I've looked forward to any away game so far. Let's have away win number four of the season.

In McDermott we trust.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Leeds United 2-1 Sheffield Wednesday

Brian McDermott's first game in charge of Leeds United resulted in a hard-earned three points at home to Sheffield Wednesday, a result which saw the Whites end their run of defeats and ease ridiculous fears of relegation. Two headers from un-fancied frontman Luke Varney, I repeat, Luke Varney, sealed a 2-1 win over our hard-working, albeit fairly poor Yorkshire rivals. The visitors had taken the lead through Jermaine Johnson on 27 minutes but Varney's six minute rally was enough to give McDermott a perfect start.

In his first press conference as Leeds boss, the ex-Reading gaffer stated that he had come to Elland Road on "a lot of goodwill". An honest opinion if ever there was one; the "poisoned chalice" of Leeds United manager did not seem a fitting place for one of the most genuine and intelligent managers in English football. Inheriting a side struggling with injuries, suspensions and a severe lack of form, McDermott made two changes to the side that had lost at Charlton, bringing in Rodolph Austin for Tonge and Drury in for the injured Peltier, a move which saw Stephen Warnock move to centre-half. The visitors on the other hand were in sublime form; only high-flying Watford have won more games than the Owls since the turn of the year. Suspended "paedophile" Dave Jones made four changes from Tuesday's win at Millwall, bringing in Reda Johnson, Jermaine Johnson, Giles Coke and Stuart Holden for Olofinjana, Howard, Lee and Leeds loanee Danny Pugh.

Insert eggstremely generic egg comment here. 
In a stop-start first half littered with free-kicks, chances were few and far between, but Leeds were looking better and showing a much improved work-rate. They had the best opportunity of the opening stages but Steve Morison missed the ball completely from close range and didn't come any closer despite a few long-distance strikes from Rudy Austin. Despite looking fairly average, the visitors took the lead just before the half-hour mark after a combination of defensive errors. A Chris Kirkland goal-kick bounced straight over the  head of Jason Pearce and after Lita out-jumped Byram, Jermaine Johnson nipped in on the right side of Warnock to lob the ball into the back of the net. Once again, Leeds had conceded an avoidable goal out of nothing.

A reaction was needed and Leeds responded through two Ross McCormack free kicks, with the first headed off the line by Miguel Llera and the second headed wide by Pearce. Down the other end, Llera himself forced Paddy Kenny into a save with a free kick of his own. The half-time whistle signalled another first half completed without a Leeds goal and despite working hard, they hadn't tested Kirkland at all. Arguably the busiest man on the field was the referee who, for once, gave Leeds everything. The away side committed a number of fouls and were fairly lucky not to have been awarded an abundance of cards. Despite having his hair cut and no longer looking like Jesus, ex-Leeds favourite David Prutton worked miracles to not receive any sort of card after two reckless challenges on Norris and McCormack. Fellow centre-midfield partner Giles Coke was also fairly lucky not to be dismissed after two offences of a fairly similar nature. The first one saw him cautioned but the second one didn't warrant a second yellow card in the eyes of the referee. More entertaining than the first half of football was the race between the two physios after a clash involving Norris and David Prutton, or the sight Chris Kirkland struggling to take off his thermal top. Being a goalkeeper myself, I'll offer you some advice Chris. Its difficult to pull your jersey over your gloves. Take them off you tit.

Watch out for those fans Chris.
Aside from conducting himself impeccably, Brian McDermott is a deeply intelligent man and his undoubtedly harsh yet clever words at half time were sure to have been spoken in his usual soft tone. Whatever was said worked as Leeds came out in the second half and played better. It wasn't exactly like watching Brazil but was a vast improvement on the Dog and Duck style of football we've witnessed over the last month or so. Steve Morison completed a dire afternoon by failing to get a shot away after running in at goal un-challenged and it wasn't until the front-man was substituted that the deserved equaliser came. A rare moment of quality in the final third saw Ross McCormack deliver a fabulous cross that bounced down off the cross-bar and over the line after being nodded goalwards by Varney. Finally, Leeds had a slice of luck with the woodwork and with the momentum firmly with the home side, a winner looked likely. It came six minutes later with McCormack and Varney linking up in an identical fashion; the only difference this time was the cross-bar wasn't required as the well-placed header found the back of Kirkland's net. The roof lifted off Elland Road in a way that we haven't seen in a long time.

Turning round a 1-0 deficit was one half of the challenge, holding onto it was the next one. And Sheffield Wednesday made it very difficult, turning the screw and creating a host of chances. First, Steve Howard rolled back the years with an outstanding volley that clipped the outside of the post before Leroy Lita screwed a shot wide when one-on-one with Kenny. The pick of the chances however came from a scramble which saw Paddy Kenny make an outstanding double save before the ball was eventually hacked clear by Jason Pearce. However, it was to be Leeds and McDermott's day and the three points moved Leeds up to a respectable tenth...if only for a few hours.

Unlike many, I've never thought that the squad we have is the worst we've ever had. However, it is the least intelligent and by saying that I'm not suggesting that Jason Pearce couldn't tell me the square root of 549. I'm suggesting that there is no-one with a footballing brain, nobody that could pick a cute defence-splitting pass, nobody that would think to give a quicker player half a yard of space, just to name a few. Our lack of creativity, combined with an abundance of defensive errors is indicative of this lack of footballing brain. This could be about to change. Brian McDermott is the epitomisation of footballing intelligence.

He's also incredibly well-spoken. Everything he says is right. Everything he says fills you with confidence. He speaks with a voice softer than the Elland Road turf and with his head as shiny as Allan Clarke's F.A. Cup winners medal, how can you not love him? I realise I'm getting poetic, dreamy eyed and slightly gay here so I'll stop. He has a long, tough job ahead of him but so far, he hasn't put a foot wrong. In McDermott we trust.

Monday, 1 April 2013


The title speaks volumes and there's no other way to put it. Derby County have out-mastered us in every single one of the last nine matches. Its getting so predictable it might as well become a bank holiday. This one, ironically played on bank holiday Monday, was a dismal spectacle and it would be interesting to see the Sky Sports statistics to see how many viewers switched over to Antiques Roadshow after half an hour. Maybe they'd have seen an elderly gentleman trying to flog a Michael Brown or two.

Contrastingly to the first half an hour of Saturday's game, Leeds were shocking and at half time there had been little to write home about from either side. The hosts had come closest through a Paul Green strike that rattled the under-side of the crossbar whilst at the other end Paddy Kenny stuck out a foot to deny Conor Sammon. And that was about it for the first half which was a true epitomization of a game contested by two teams with nothing to play for. The only potential bright spark for the home fans was the long anticipated debut of young Chris Dawson. To give credit to the youngster, he showed a few nice touches and did try to keep the ball on the floor but, similarly to team-mate Dom Poleon is too weak and still to in-experienced for the first team.

The visitors, probably sensing that Leeds were again there for the taking had the first decent effort of the second half with Kenny beating away a long distance strike before Lee Peltier did well to clear ahead of the on-rushing Derby forwards. Shortly after the hour, Derby had the ball in the net through Leeds' Jason Pearce after a piece of embarrassing defending that summed up both the game and the whole season, but the goal was disallowed correctly for off-side with Sammon probably just about interfering with play. Down the other end, Austin drilled a shot wide after a good bit of pressure from the hosts, but it wasn't until Warnock introduced Ross McCormack for Dawson that the game was lit up with some much needed quality. The otherwise solid Derby back line failed to clear a corner and after an impressive lay-off by former Ram Paul Green, McCormack found the top corner with an outstanding curler from the edge of the area. With the game void of any class, three points now looked likely and Leeds' almost ridiculous relegation fears were put aside...for six minutes.

It was again a piece of poor defending, arguably a mistake, that saw the Rams draw level as Jason Pearce conceded a soft penalty after bundling over Conor Sammon. For all we know, the referee could have been Conor Sammon's brother; he was that useless and did have a matching bald head. The penalty, taken by Sammon himself, struck the post but rebounded straight to Coutts who applied the finish. Despite again rattling the bar through a Sam Byram header, Leeds offered little in response and never looked like re-gaining the lead, a lead which was, as usual in this game, taken by Derby. A Ben Davies free kick forced a good save from Kenny but the resulting corner was met with a powerful header from Jake Buxton that signalled another late goal conceded, another league defeat and a ninth straight defeat to the Rams. Boos and chants of "Warnock, Warnock, time to go" rang round Elland Road.

That he did, with Yorkshire Radio reporting that he would not be in charge for next week's game against Charlton Athletic. I've stuck with Warnock for much longer than most but even I can admit that things are getting slightly ridiculous. Today's performance was abysmal and its going to take a mini miracle to re-unite the fans with both the players and the club. A few of the players aren't worthy of the shirt and will surely not be around next season. Yes Luke Varney, I'm looking at you here.

The performance today would have probably seen us lose to everyone, but what is it about Derby? Clearly, I only watch them twice a season and although I always see them win, they never fail to impress me. I've always thought they under-achieve and with a better set of strikers this season, I think they could have made a real play-off push. Their back four is always solid and well-organised; Keogh and Buxton are the imposing centre halves Leeds have lacked for years but its the midfield that interests me the most. Hendrick, Coutts and Bryson, for me, are the three of the most intriguing players in the league in the sense that their excellent work goes un-noticed by the majority of fans that go to games to drink and watch their own team. Only by studying the whole game in detail do you appreciate the kind of work that the Derby midfield trio put in; as well as having a little bit of class, all three have their own individual jobs and execute them perfectly. Its the kind of thing that our midfield don't do. At all.

Leeds are now five points off the relegation zone and although relegation seems like a ridiculous concept, its turning into a possible one. We don't have anything to worry about just yet, but lose next week at The Valley and the game against Sheffield Wednesday could become a six-pointer. The bigger question however, is who will be in charge?