Marching On… Just About

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Ten years. Ten long, emotional years. Two relegations. The loss of our stadium. Two play-off final disappointments. One gloomy administration. Twenty-Five points deducted. Countless numbers of debts owed. One close-fought promotion place. One uplifting win over our rivals. Three opinion-jerking owners. Nine full-time managers. Zero cup finals. Yet, we are still marching on… just about.

As a relatively young fan, at 20 years old, I am both envious and sympathetic towards the older members of our fan base. I am envious in the sense that I would give an arm and a leg to have witnessed Leeds United being crowned ‘The Best Team in England’. What a time that must have been.

I do sympathise though. I cannot imagine how it would feel to watch the demise of my team from Champions to the bottom of League 1, in the space 15 or so years. Disappointment and gloom is all the memories I have, so for me it is nothing out of the ordinary. It still hurts though.

It is a shame that the way our team have been dragged through the muck has led to friction within the support. No one is particularly angry at other fans. They are angry at the way this club has been treated. It leads to so many differing opinions, which are fine, but once given the limited social media platform that is Twitter, it can sometimes lead to unneeded tension. I have myself been involved, but I can say now that most of the time, I have absolutely no issues with the person I am talking to, it’s just a sensitive subject to all involved.

We are all supporting the same team at the end of the day.

We are a weird mix of fans. No one can deny that. A club of fans open to admitting we are ‘vile’ and ‘dirty’. The encourager of the ‘We All Hate Leeds Scum’ chant we have heard so frequently. Happy to mock ourselves in order to unite. We just feel different to other fans. How many other clubs have kept the level of support we have, despite the turmoil we find ourselves in on too frequent of an occasion?

There are many, many words to sum up the emotions and feelings us, as fans, feel in regards to our beloved Leeds United.  The one from above that jumped out the most to me, however, was ‘broken-hearted’. The Oxford Dictionary defines ‘broken-hearted’ as:

“Overwhelmed by grief or disappointment.”

In some way, I am certain all, if not the vast majority, have fallen victim to these feelings within the past decade. It’s similar to watching a distant cousin, admittedly one that has let you down on numerous occasions, being repeatedly ‘kicked in the crotch’. You cannot help but share the pain.

Nevertheless, when we have a reason to celebrate, it’s like a wave of euphoria takes over us. The sense of happiness that overcomes me when we score is incredible. For that moment in time you forget everything else that has happened at our club. The administration. The relegations. The misery of the past decade. There is no hatred between fellow fans. It’s all gone. For those few seconds or minutes, you remember why you fell in love with this great club.

I’ll just leave this here…

 

 

We are Leeds United. Us. The Fans. We have to remember that. Players, managers and owners come and go, but the fans remain forever. So before questioning the loyalty of a fellow fan, remember that. They don’t have to support this club, but they do. We all feel both the misery and excitement our club brings us just as much as the next Leeds fan. We are all in this together. Side by side.

Now, this is the bit that I find the most difficult. How exactly do you explain being a Leeds fan to someone who isn’t one? There are plenty of words, but none do it justice. So I’ll leave you with this tweet, which to me, sums it up as best as possible:

Questions arise as Leeds face January Window transfer embargo

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This week we have endured more hardships from the Football League. The club now has a transfer embargo placed on it and our owner has begun his appeal process to defend his role at the club. This might be one of the (many recent) toughest times being a Leeds United supporter. Not to mention a 1-0 loss to a poor Fulham side at Elland Road. This week just needs to pass on by.
However, the good news is that there is a small loophole to this transfer embargo for the January Window. We can bring in players that are free and will only cost the club around 10k per week in wages. It will also allow us to use loans. However, we must have available spots on our roster for these players. Currently, it appears that we have 4 available spots in or 24 man roster. It seems that the game plan may have to change to “survival” compared to “playoff spot”. It’s pretty obvious we could use some speed in our squad. Also, we could use a defensive midfielder and a Centerback. With Premiership clubs looking to thin out their squads and with a little research needed, my question to you is, who do you think we could bring into the club to strengthen our squad?

I have seen some names float around the internet to be offloaded from other clubs…and just to name a few: Ricardo Vaz Te, Matt Jarvis, Scott Sinclair or Anthony Knockaert. Any of these could do a job for us.

Keep the faith!

No Home Away From Home

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Due to the fierce competitiveness of the Championship, the away form of the sides often separates the men from the boys.

It will come as no surprise to many of you that our away form has not been up to scratch this season, hence the focus of this article. We have participated in a total of ten away games so far this season, yet we have only managed to muster up a pitiful five points, these coming from one hard-fought win and a couple of disappointing draws, with these points being saved, quite literally, by the man between the sticks, Marco Silvestri.

 

Marco Silvestri saves vs Norwich, courtesy of LUTV & WALMOT3

 

These five points from ten games give us an average of 0.5 points collected per away game. At first glance that sounds terrible, however I am afraid the situation is a fair bit worse than that. After looking at the final league standings from the last two seasons, it shows that we are way off the mark of the top six in terms of away points collected, with the top six teams collecting an average of 1.5 points per away game. As things are, it shows us finishing 23 points off of the top six in terms of away points throughout the season.

So, just whereabouts are we in terms of average away points per game? Well, again looking at the previous two seasons, it shows the bottom three averaging a total of 0.8 points per away game. Now that is the average of the last six teams to be relegated, however looking at individual averages, the worst was Bristol City back in 2012/13 with an average of 0.57 points per game. As it stands, our away form is worse than all of the last six teams to be relegated out of our division. Nevertheless, we are only 23rd in the away form table for this season, but it’s not much consolation to know that Blackpool are the only team worse.

In terms of comparing us to this season, with an average of 0.5 points per away game, we are collecting less than half of the average points gained per away game which currently stands at 1.09. We are also scoring less per game on average with 1 goal per away game (1.13 average) and conceding more, 2.2 conceded per away game (1.46 average). We are also currently suffering from a three away game losing streak, making up half of our six away game streak without a win, with none of our ten away games ending in a clean sheet for us. Buy hey, at least with an average of 3.2 goals scored in our away games, no one can say we are boring!

There are many reasons for why someone will argue we are not picking up enough points away from home, but every opinion comes down to the obvious two factors; we don’t score enough and/or we concede too many. Never mind refereeing decisions and whatnot, it comes down to those two fundamental factors. Personally, I feel we concede too many, as I am sure most of you will agree. Oh, and the fact we have dropped nine points away from home after being in winning positions certainly doesn’t help our cause. Anyhow, I had a little gander on whoscored.com just to see how dire the situation really is. It was not pretty viewing.

We average a total of 9.9 shots per game away from home, with only a mere 2.8 of these being on target, putting us 22nd and 23rd in the table respectively. Ten of these have found the back of the net, so with an average of a goal every away game, the situation doesn’t look too bad, hence why I feel the problems are within our defensive capabilities away from home. We allow the opposition an average of 18.5 shots per game, which puts us 2nd in the table on that statistic. Almost double the amount of efforts we have on goal. My reasoning for this is we miss too many tackles, possibly due to inexperience our revamped squad has in this league. Too many are looking to impress and thus a number of players dive in to try and win the ball. This has led to us only completing an average of 15.3 tackles a game away from home, which puts us at 23rd in the league.

There were a couple of positive statistics though. After collecting 17 yellows and 2 reds in 10 games we are only 17th in the away discipline table, so there are 7 teams dirtier away from home than ‘Dirty Leeds’. Clutching at straws I know. However, we also have the 5th highest possession average away from home, with 51.6% and the 4th highest pass success percentage, standing at a mighty 78.4%. This clearly shows that when we do have the ball at our feet, we are not doing anywhere near enough with it. To have half of the average shots than the team with less possession than us is quite frankly embarrassing.

I do, however, feel it is important that I mention that seven of these ten away games we have played are against opposition currently within the top nine of the Championship, whereas the final three are 19th, 20th and 21st.

Let me leave with this final statistic. I calculated the round-trip distances from Elland Road to our respective opponents’ home grounds. I used this to calculate that we have travelled an average of 657.6 miles per away point gained this season. Partner that with fans spending around £60-£70 in tickets per away point and you have an astounding statistic. Let that sink in.

Oh, one more thing. We were also knocked out of the Capital One Cup to a League One team after a 2-1 defeat. No prizes for guessing if we were playing home or away.

Stephen Warnock HAS to get a new contract

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At this level, there aren’t many better at left-back. Given that he doesn’t have a wide player in-front of him, he does an even more impressive job. Every team we play against tries to attack us through Byram’s side, simply because they know how good Warnock is. He offers much experience in a very inexperienced side, it says a lot that he has been promoted to captain, even when Jason Pearce played. I think it’s very unlikely that Warnock will get a new contract, because he’s one of our higher earners. However with the ongoing Massimo Cellino – Football League problem who knows who our owner could be later this season? I don’t think Cellino would give Warnock a contract but a different owner is very likely to see it very differently.

Arguably, he has been our most consistent and best player this season, he has a massive impact on games from left-back. Maybe this also tells a story that the rest of the team hasn’t been good enough… On the basis that Cellino stays, I don’t see him signing any experienced players, he seems to favour signing young players with potential, Antenucci and Taylor being the only real exceptions. I also think keeping Warnock for another season would be good for Charlie Taylor, as they could both have proper competition for places and I’m sure he’d learn a few things.

Another player that has to stay, more long-term than Warnock, is Adryan. With Cellino or without Cellino, he is loving it here, you can tell from his interview in the YEP. I think next season really could be a great season for us, one that sees us properly challenge for the first time in years and Adryan needs to be here. Keeping Adryan would show great ambition, we just need a new CB and a big strong central midfielder oh, don’t forget the wingers.

What, if anything, could make Leeds a better team?

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As wearying and apparently pointless confusion and acrimony is again thrown at Leeds United from the Football League, plunging our club into needless hysteria once again, one constant source of distraction from this week’s hyperbole for me has been the unquestionable and certified promise regarding on-field matters, especially in light of the wonderous 2-0 dispatching of Derby County last weekend. I have found it a jollier pastime over the last few days to daydream about our promising youthful squad, symbolised by the feats that Lewis Cook and Alex Mowatt are achieving with a regularity be lying their tender years. There is undoubtedly a uniqueness to this side under the stewardship of Neil Redfearn, a positivity and starry possibility that far outweighs the hollow delights garnered from our blustering successes achieved around this time last year under Brian McDermott. This team is one with a future, and I felt compelled to write this piece, firstly as a measure of distraction for myself from the current off-field torment, but mostly to put down what I think could possibly make this Leeds team any better than it is now and how this young group of players could best be fostered to achieve in the years to come. I also want to know about what other Leeds fans think on this question, special as I feel these crop of players are. Below I have listed three things that I will be discussing as I believe these to be the areas of most contention when approaching this subject:

– An experienced and bold character in the midfield

– Strikers

– Creativity/pace, or a ‘Plan B’

Experience

In my view, central midfield is a position where I believe our academy talents in Cook and Mowatt could definitely use a fellow midfield operator with experience, distinctive leadership skills or strength of character. Tomasso Bianchi works extremely hard alongside the two cited here and recycles the ball proficiently, but I would say that someone with these same capabilities combined with an experience within the English game, along with knowhow and hardiness could help Cook and Mowatt to an even greater extent on the pitch. This is no slight on Bianchi, I just feel that sometimes, when the going is getting tough and the team finds itself under real pressure, as against Blackburn at 1-0 for instance, that for Mowatt and Cook to be playing with an established performer who’s seen it all, relishes the battle and is constantly geeing up everyone around him could provide the visible and nearby stimulant that Bianchi perhaps doesn’t at the moment. Stephen Warnock is a terrific example of such a ‘stimulant’. It must be a heartening sight for the other Leeds defenders, particularly youngsters like Liam Cooper and Sam Byram, to see someone like Warnock fighting for everything during a game and doing so with total conviction. In general, Warnock provides for the defence what I feel is needed in the midfield. A Michael Brown type player but veering more towards the Scott Parker end of the spectrum. However, I can’t for the life of me think of or find such a type, having pored through Premier League squads for players barely featuring and thus more likely to be loaned or sold, but to no avail. I would be very glad to hear suggestions. As I have said before, I feel that we are in a very blessed position at this moment in time, as a veritable wellspring of talent flows from Thorp Arch to the first team squad. You could not quite call it a golden generation, since this is usually based on the success this generation achieves in later years, but it is a suitably plentiful batch of prodigious young’uns that tends to send me all rosy when I think about how it could all come together. A fully home-grown midfield of Cook, Mowatt, Philips and Dawson with Adryan and Montenegro wreaking havoc up top maybe, or a defence that gets finer with age composed of Silvestri, Byram, Bellusci, Cooper and long-term left-back Charlie Taylor. However, in checking all of this wild conjecture and fantasy in my head, I stop to think of other clubs who have had fruitful years of talented youngsters making the grade in the first team simultaneously, and then going on to achieve great success with their teams. Think about Barcelona 15 years ago, when Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta were manufactured and have themselves gone on to win three Champions Leagues, or at Ajax even further back, when Edgar Davids, Patrick Kluivert and Clarence Sedorf all came through together and experienced similar European success in 1995. These youngsters were not brought into teams entirely composed of similarly aged players, they were already carefully composed sides, crucially containing experience or leadership like Luis Enrique and Carlos Puyol for Barca, or Frank Rjiakaard and Danny Blind at Ajax.

Of course I’m not for one minute likening Leeds United’s current set of youth players to that which Barcelona and Ajax produced in these times, and we probably aren’t going to win the Champions League any time soon. The point I make is that when clubs have experienced bumper years of youth development, the young players brought through have been able to experience success relative to the club’s stature when coming into teams containing established pros. The strength that these experienced players bring ensures that the vibrancy of youth is matched with an acquired fortitude, ultimately forming a stronger team. Leeds could benefit in following this model, with maybe just one more hardy soul.

History in the Making: The Memorable Leeds United Goals From The Past

After Jordan Rhodes scored a late winner to secure ten-man Blackburn Rovers an unexpected win over Leeds United, the Yorkshire club were forced to consider what might have been. Now 16th in the Championship table and ten points off the final play-off place, the club face yet another year in the wilderness and a huge challenge if they are to revive their former glories. Leeds remain one of the best supported clubs in the whole of the UK, however, and this betrays a long and illustrious history that is almost impossible to ignore.

The Leeds United Goals that Shook the World

With this in mind, let’s take a look at three of Leeds United’s most famous goals and where they stand in the clubs’ history: –

Jermaine Beckford (19”, vs Manchester United, 3rd January 2010)

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While it may not have won a trophy, secured promotion or earned a league title, Jermaine Beckford’s winning goal for Leeds United at Old Trafford remains a firm favourite among fans. Having travelled to the home of the Premier League champions as a League One side for the third round of the FA Cup, through gave them a chance of recording anything more than a heavy beating. Beckford’s early, break-away goal secured one of the greatest FA Cup upsets in modern history, however, and expedited Manchester United’s earliest exit from the competition in more than twenty years.

With the 3rd round draw for this seasons FA cup fast approaching, we wouldn’t mind seeing a recreation of this moment.

Mark Viduka (74”, vs Liverpool, 4th November 2000)
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Australian striker Mark Viduka polarised fans during his time in Yorkshire, although few could deny his natural talent and individual brilliance. He managed to secure cult status during a famous premier league clash with Liverpool at Elland Road in November 2000, however, as he scored all four goals to secure a dramatic 4-3 win over the Reds. Having trailed 2-0 after just eighteen minutes and lost influential defender Jonathan Woodgate to injury, Viduka had already hauled Leeds back from the brink and left the game evenly poised at 2-2 come half-time. The sides exchanged another goal apiece before Viduka’s final intervention, as he raced onto French midfielder Olivier Dacourt’s pass to lift an exquisite chip over keep Sander Westerveld.

Lee Bowyer (88”, vs AC Milan, 19th September 2000)

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The turn of the century was a glorious period for Leeds United, as they rubbed shoulders with some of Europe’s most elite and prestigious names. The club reached it zenith by progressing to the semi-final stage of the coveted European Champions League, before being beaten by an extremely talented Valencia side. The highlight of this campaign was an initial group stage encounter with Italian champions AC Milan at Elland Road, which the home side dominated despite being unable to turn their vibrant attacking play into goals. This changed in one glorious moment two minutes from the end of the game; however, as Lee Bowyer drove forward and hit a swerving, 30 yard shot that goalkeeper Dida could only fumble into the net for the winner.

5 Centre-Backs that Leeds could sign

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We recently did an article on 5 wingers that we could sign and then I thought, which other area is a bit of a problem? The CB position fits the bill, we may be doing fine in terms of the number of CB’s that we have but the quality? It’s not there I’m afraid. Bellusci is too error prone, on his day he’ll be fantastic, the day doesn’t come often enough. Jason Pearce also has an error in him and I think if we’re being honest, he’s not good enough if we want to be successful. Liam Cooper I believe is good enough and will only get better, I think he needs a good partner. Here are 5 CB’s that I think would improve Leeds:

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Steve Cook – Bournemouth have been brilliant this season and Steve Cook has been a vital part of this. However given that he’s vice-captain and only 23-years-old, it may be a difficult one to pull off. However, the name Leeds United does still mean something so it’s a possibility. Oh, he also signed a three-year contract in the summer, good luck lads.

Marching on Together – the theatre production

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As a life-long Leeds United fan and an award-winning playwright, Adam Hughes has finally managed to bring together his two biggest passions, football and theatre, with his new play Marching On Together.
It’s Leeds, it’s the height of the football season in 1984, and it’s carnage. West Yorkshire miners are on strike and football hooliganism is rife, with bitter battles being fought on both the picket line and the touch-line. Macca, ex-leader of the notorious Service Crew, is released from prison into a divided Leeds that he hardly recognises. With Macca’s infamous crew now disbanded, a younger generation of hooligans have taken up his violent mantle defending the mighty Whites, leaving the former general on the side-lines without an army. Abandoned by the only group who respected and supported him, Macca is no longer just fighting for Leeds. He’s fighting for his own survival. Read more

November International Break at Leeds

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Over the past few months we have seen a lot of activity. From multiple managers leaving to seeing our players start to gel and work better together…

However, these next two months could be pivotal for our chance at getting in (or near) the playoff spots. I must say, I am very impressed with coach Redfearn. He has started to get the team out playing in a more fluid form and has got them enjoying their football. During the international break he has called back Lewis Cook and Alex Mowatt from their international duties to get them more time training for the club. He is working on stabilizing our squad and getting them to settle which is also important for the younger players blending with the veterans we have. I think coach Redfearn understands that we may not get many more players in this season and he has to make sure that our veterans work well with any of the younger players who could be needed in their absence.

Looking at the schedule, we play some solid teams and the top 6 spots are totally up for whoever wants to get in them. With this much of an open table, now would be the time to build on the momentum we have. For too long it seems that we have slowed down heavily during the holiday break. If we stamp down and get some points we could go into the holidays sitting in a confident spot in the table.

As far as transfers go, the first thing coach Redfearn needs is some help. I was under the impression that we would have had an announcement last week regarding a new assistant coach but it looks like it might be longer. I hope Cellino and Salerno are working hard to get who Redfearn wants in. If it’s Thompson, I’d imagine the price to get him from Huddersfield will not be cheap. However, it’s about who Redfearn needs.

Secondly, with player transfers, it seems the obvious choice would be to get some quick, young, wing players in. Of all the teams we play, nearly all of them have had a couple of players with real pace that can run at us and give us trouble. I’ll also add that it seems we also need a defensive mid who can slow down some of the threat those wing players from other teams have been giving us. I honestly don’t think we can count on Austin to do that every game and I don’t think it’s fair to put pressure on Cook to do it either. Bianchi is our other resource but I feel he is better going forward and creating quick passes and linking up with attacking players (of course lately, he has done the a lot of our defensive midfield duties).

We have a big game coming Saturday against another decent side but one that we could get all 3 points from. Let’s hope this break has been used very well to get the best out of our players going forward. MOT!

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