John McCormick writes: Pete Sixsmith caps another decent display with a more than decent report. I detect in it a touch of optimism for the future, something I share. We have been dire for a while but hopefully we will soon be rebuilding, and on firmer foundations than have propped up the last few years.
Like yesterday’s game, all is not lost.
LEEDS UNITED (away).
A few years ago, the sedate world of historians was shaken up by a spate of “What If” histories
- what could have happened if Mrs Hitler had remained asleep that night instead of being impregnated by Mr Hitler in 1888?
- what could have happened if Napoleon had been a foot taller and not been such a tetchy short arse?
That kind of thing.
Of course there was no answer to it as we really had no idea. Perhaps Mrs Hitler would have succumbed to the charms of her husband a few days later and the resultant child not be a boy, but a girl who then went on to run a school in the form of a German Miss Trunchbull, but who did not plunge the world into an all embracing conflagration.
Perhaps a taller Napoleon would not have suffered quite as much from piles and would have been able to stand up on his horse to get a clearer picture of the battlefield at Waterloo and wallop Wellington and Blucher’s army, thereby turning us all into French speakers. We will never know……
Nor will we know whether our season might have been saved had we stuck with a back four instead of three central defenders in that grim period in January and February when our relegation was probably sealed.
What if Patrick McNair had been fit all season and Lamine Kone had played as he has in the last two away games? Would that have made a difference? What if we had had a goalkeeper who was able to show basic goalkeeping skills on a regular basis and dominate his box? What if…….. well, I am sure that you could add your own. Please do.
This was another decent performance in front of a large crowd and a vociferous away support which understood that, while the players may be short on quality, they do not skimp on effort. George Honeyman and Lyndon Gooch may never be outstanding players but they run and run and run – qualities that may well stand us in good stead on our visits to Accrington, Fleetwood and Oldham next season.
Throw in a quietly impressive Donald Love and a noisily impressive McNair with the returning Duncan Watmore and possibly keeper Max Stryjek and striker Andrew Nelson (who has been banging goals in for fun for Falkirk) plus Ethan Robson, Elliott Embleton, Joel Asoro and Josh Maja and we have a core of young players that we can build a team around. Some of them may fall by the wayside but there are grounds for long term optimism and at least one of them could go on and emulate the Two Jordans as established international players.
We never looked completely secure in this game. Leeds were nervous and edgy at times but also played some decent football, hitting the woodwork three times and forcing a couple of good saves out of Lee Camp. The fact that they scored at all was down to a cock up in the centre circle between Cattermole and Kone who collided with each other and allowed Leeds to move the ball forward quickly. The goal was still to score and it was a good finish from Pablo Hernandez, one of the home team’s better players along with Sainz who had impressed at the Stadium in September.
It cancelled out a fine goal from McNair which had given us the lead (and a modicum of hope) in the 48th minute. He had worked well with his Manchester United mate Love in the first half and now at the start of the second, he worked a space with The Donald and crashed home a fine half volley to the acclaim of the 2,000 away supporters housed in the John Charles Stand.
I have wondered about McNair in his two seasons here. He has been unfortunate with injuries and I have not been convinced that he has been settled at the club. Some performances have been poor and it may have been that he saw his career slipping away. Those feelings have dissipated over the last few games as he has shown that he has a good future in the game as a midfielder and I am sure that there are middle level Premier League/upper level Championship clubs looking carefully at him. It would be a real boost for next season if we could keep him and build a midfield around him.
In our current predicament, a point is of no real use. Barnsley’s win earlier in the day was a huge knock back and it means that we have to win at least three of the remaining five games to have any chance of playing at Middlesbrough, Forest and West Brom next season. Even if we won all five, we could still go down so the mood on the way home was that of resignation.
And now, a word or two on the opposition. The foul on McManaman by Beradi was an absolute shocker and he left the referee (who had an excellent game – second time this season I have praised Jeremy Simpson) with no option. It was a potential leg breaker and McManaman did well to get up. It would have been sweet revenge had he rattled home the winner in added time but a fine save by the young Leeds keeper thwarted him.
It is rare to have a double barrelled keeper (although we have had several in the past, including Montgomery-Saviour, Davis-Calamity and Steele-Ohdear) and Bradley Peacock-Farrell is a real toff’s name. It transpires that he hails from Darlington, joined Leeds from Middlesbrough and is a Northern Ireland Under 21 international. He looked a bit shaky in the first half but made a number of good saves in the second, including a fine one from a good header by Ashley Fletcher. He looks a real find.
The organisation of the away support veered between the impressive and the chaotic. I have rarely seen as many stewards at a game and the West Yorkshire Constabulary on duty must have earned enough overtime to bankrupt the Police Authority. It wasn’t easy getting in and I am sure that some missed the kick off. The prices were ridiculous. £37.00 for a Championship game is seriously overpriced and the club deserve no credit for that. What I say is that if they charge us £37 we charge them that when they next visit – whenever that may be.
Finally, the group of fans in the old Scratching Shed area really should wake up and get into the 21st Century. Booing a player because he has a Manchester United background may work if you are proper rivals. Leeds haven’t played them in a league fixture for 14 years and the rivalry from the 90s will be but a memory for the youthful wannabees who jeered John O’Shea – but not Love, McNair or Fletcher. Better to boo those who once played for local rivals like Huddersfield Town or Bradford City. Learn from the rousing chorus of Six in a Row that we gave Vurnon Anita when he came on.
A win on Tuesday against Norwich will give us the merest flicker of hope. Bolton have slipped back into potential trouble but they are still seven points ahead of us. Five wins would give us 47 points which would be enough to cling on and cough up another £37.00 to sit in a stadium that is showing its age. I think we will be better off paying £22 at Fleetwood Town.