Will Boro’ Bore Draw End the Era of Austerity at Leeds? – by Rob Atkinson


Cellino - wondering what the hell he's bought?

Cellino – wondering what the hell he’s bought?

Middlesbrough 0, Leeds United 0

If Massimo Cellino is indeed confirmed as the new owner of Leeds United sometime next week – and social media comment from his son seems to indicate that Monday might be a significant day – then it is somehow appropriate that over a decade of bleak poverty and tightly-knotted purse-strings should be brought to a close by such a mess of a match as we saw on Saturday lunchtime at Middlesbrough’s Meccano stadium.

In financial terms, the poverty of ambition Leeds displayed in this frustrating encounter – together with a complete lack of composure and, in some cases, ability – was an apt summation of the years of penury and deprivation we’ve all suffered since dropping off our Premier League perch in 2004.

Jack Butland

Jack Butland

On the other hand, should you wish a theatrical metaphor, this match ranged from slapstick comedy to low farce as two inept attacks somehow failed to breach two dodgy defences.  Comedy and farce could have morphed into tragedy if debutant United keeper Jack Butland had been cruelly denied the clean sheet his immaculate display most definitely deserved.  Butland averted that tragedy by his own efforts.  Commanding and assured, he gathered high balls, pulled off one spectacular save in the first half and one brave Schmeichel-like block in the second.  He also found time to prevent a Warnock own-goal and, in general, he was man of the match by several country miles.

In truth, it was a match that defied any attempt to sit back and watch your favourite team playing your favourite sport.  Although the result could have been worse, the experience was about as enjoyable as having wisdom teeth extracted without benefit of novocaine.  It was a game to anger any fan who has invested faith and money in supporting Leeds United.

All was frenzy, everything was done in such unseemly haste and there was a distinct lack of any apparent ability to pass to a man in the same colour shirt.  It was annoying, it was depressing – God alone knows what Cellino & Son must have thought.  Major surgery is needed to transform this squad into one which might challenge next year.  If only the heroic Jack Butland could be part of that recruitment programme.  But, surely – even Mark Hughes can’t be that daft?

If this appalling game does prove to be the last before our shady Italian is at last approved by the League, then it’s a suitably low note to end a very low period in the history of Leeds United.  But any new era is, at least initially, likely to bring us more of the same.  Next week’s opponents, QPR, are highly unlikely to be as forgiving of our defensive shambles as shot-shy Boro were, and the Sky cameras a week on might well witness a bit of a battering for our heroes. But, with Leeds, you just never know.  And after all, Rome wasn’t built in a day, as the Cellinos could no doubt confirm.

Surely, today’s game was confirmation, if any were needed, that this season is a dead duck for Leeds.  We’d have to pull off a miraculous run to go into the play-offs – and even then there’s that pesky fundamental law of creation that dictates we just don’t do play-offs, so it’s perhaps just as well not to even think about it.  And we’d have to suffer a disaster of X-Factor proportions to fall into any real relegation danger – surely there are enough truly awful teams down there to ensure at least our safety for participation in next season’s Championship campaign.

No, this season now is all about doing the best we can on the pitch while more important matters are being sorted out off it.  What measures will be taken, what changes might be made – that’s anybody’s guess.  You have to assume that Cellino is itching to engage with the club and start putting his stamp on the whole place.  Whatever dull and depressing football the remaining matches might have in store for us, the events behind the scenes, at least, promise more entertainment than we’ve had for a good long while.

Bring it on.  Let’s get behind the new owner as soon as he’s confirmed at least as “fit and proper” as the Porn Kings who run West Ham, and the various other dodgy geezers in boardrooms up and down the country.  We’ll have to trust that the Cellino Effect might have a galvanising effect on our beloved club, such that – hopefully – performances such as I’ve just witnessed and ground my teeth over will be a thing of the past.

Meanwhile, I’m glad to say I’m helping a mate celebrate his birthday this evening and, in the course of that celebration, I intend to drink enough to forget all about the events today in Smogland.  With my luck, though, I’ll have a great time tonight but then have nightmares about next week’s likely drubbing in Shepherd’s Bush.

It’s a hard life being a Leeds fan.  But maybe not for too much longer…

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30 responses to “Will Boro’ Bore Draw End the Era of Austerity at Leeds? – by Rob Atkinson

  1. Dave Sales

    Erm…. Lets forget this season Rob, not the easiest in our history was it? we are all hurting as we are all true fans who want the best for our beloved club. Not our time this season? Lets go “Marching on together” when it really is our time?. Even if our team on the field isn’t united at times? at least we are mate!

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  2. I fell asleep rob,watching it.it appears that mcdermott,cant get the best out of this team.as likeable as he is,im afraid hes not our saviour.his record is worse than warnocks.we r going backwards each year.like u say,hopefully for not much longer.

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    • Warnock: win rate 31% with players he chose, minus a couple he wanted but wasn’t allowed to get.
      McDermott: win rate 41% with Warnock’s players one year older and a few kids he was allowed to sign before being told to stop.
      It’s debatable whether Warnock really had a chance to do what he was brought in to do (just as well: imagine if he’d been allowed to sign 4 more like Pearce, Peltier, Austin and Warnock). But McDermott certainly hans’t had a chance.

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  3. Could take another few years 😦

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  4. That really was 2 hours of my life I will never get back. 2 diabolical teams serving up absoloute garbage for the watching nation. Sad to say it but mcdermott will not last 2 minutes when massimo finally arrives. I just can not see cellino putting up with that kind of performance week in week out and to be honest I just dont think mcdermott motivates the team. I know he is working with 5th rate footballers but he bought most of them. Please hurry up massimo I think you are our only hope.

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  5. Not convinced we’ll get a drubing next week rob , QPR are totally off the boil , regarding the game I think you’ve summed it all up and butland shows the level we have to aspire to once again , lets all hope cellino digs deep this summer and gives the club the level of backing it needs , can’t see why he’d buy it if he didn’t intend doing just that ,, so rest assured rob , have a good drink tonight and show Mrs A you’ve still got what it takes , on the dance floor of course !!!

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  6. Agree that this season is a complete and utter write off. Actually thought that before it even started looking at the investment in the summer. Let’s just hope this time things are different although to be honest I’m not entirely convinced they will be. Let’s face it you have to take everything that comes out of Cellino’s mouth with a pinch of salt as the guy is a liar and a cheat pure and simple. His escapades to date have done nothing but prove this. In addition you only have to look at the investment in the Calgari squad over the years to set the alarm bells ringing. On the other hand if the takeover doesn’t go through we’re up s**t creak without a paddle so let’s hope the FL approve this deal as quickly a possible. As for the future, who knows but let me tell you I dont trust anyone anymore when the running of my club is involved.

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  7. I just hope that its the end of the kebbe,stewart and hunt era. And for that matter,mcdermott aswell. A giant step forward getting Butland,but 3 steps back with those useless wankers. We were playing with 8 men today. Any manager who can repeatedly select them clearly hasn’t got a clue.

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    • harsh but a valid point…………I want to see the kids now, ariobi, dawson, white and poleon on please…….. seasons over so lets develop the kids who might have a future

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  8. perfertly put rob all my thoughts are in your piece if brian mc thinks you call that having a go and throwing caution to the wind then he needs to be replaced now he has signed eight players all which were in the squad today shay given hadnt a shot to save the more i watched that match today the more disillusioned and mad i became we even gained a point on the sixth place team which makes it even more frustrating am i been harsh or what what you think rob

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  9. I HOPE there isn’t still, any of the hundreds of people who thought I did’ntknow what I was talking about, when I said Austin is absolute garbage when he 1st came, still thinking he can play? Hope Cellino wasn’t put off by last 2 games of negative incompetance

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    • But Austin CAN play. He’s demonstrated that beyond any doubt – just not often enough. That’s the problem, and we’re just deceiving ourselves and going against the evidence of our own eyes if we put it down purely to a lack of ability.

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      • Austin is thick, as are most of the players McDermott inherited. It’s really that simple. Look what happened when he tried to get them to play the way modern Premiership teams play. They aren’t up to it. I think the attack was OK (I actually went this time) but it looks bad in front of Murphy and Austin. Those 2 don’t look good together and Murphy, like the other young and inexperienced players, needs a leader next to him. And they’re made even worse by the slackness of the defence. For Wootton, as Murphy; for the other 3, see a stack of very thick, very short planks. Maybe if Byram had been playing instead of the clod we had at right back we might have nicked 3 points.
        This is why I say McDermott hasn’t had a chance, and has actually done much better than he appears to have. I think his signings (except Hunt) will (or would) all be better next year, alongside a few more like themselves and 2 or 3 strong, experienced, intelligent players. Then we’d see a run a promotion. Of course what will happen is the arrival of a stack of shop-soiled French and Italian Varneys wanting to avoid injury, and then – if not before – the sack for McDermott. Etc.

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  10. Byram.Lees,McCormack poss.,Mowatt,SmithTaylor the rest need to go & the only way that will happen is if BMCD goes too. Results gone well today if the Italian players come in we could still make ago ofit as all results go haywire in last 10 games

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  11. Todays game should have been a winnable for Leeds, but the only good thing about the game was Jack Butland’s solid and impressive debut.
    If Kenny had been playing in goal today, Leeds would have lost yet another game and its just a shame that the outfield players did not do anything to win the game, against a very poor team.
    I am again flabbergasted at Kebe getting another full 90 minutes on the pitch, when he had another poor game, unable to control the ball.
    With Cellino sat in the stand, McDermott should be trying to win every game, by making earlier substitutions, but McDermott was happy with a draw, but I doubt if Cellino was.
    McDermott is on borrowed time.

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  12. Brain mc doughnut calls for all out attack and we draw nil nil and to top it off are goalie gets man of the match nice one hope mc doughnut calls for all out surrender for qpr we should score a hat full and run out easy winners mot up hill with mc doughnut on me back

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  13. Spongenose

    McHumpty Dumpty needs to go and take his Reading old boys with him. Resign now and save Massimo having to use OUR money to sack you. One of the worst LUFC displays ever seen – on Sky too – how embarrassing. Get out of our club Humpty McDumpty. You have failed.

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  14. May i throw the name of Michael Laudrup into the mix as the next manager? His teams play exciting attacking football and you never know,he may even attract Nathan Dyer to ER? Now that’s what i call a winger.

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  15. Does anyone really think Cellino is going to put up with dross like today?
    McDiarmid already looks like a dead man walking yet again. Picking some of those so called footballers today makes me think either he has a death wish or wants to make it easy for Cellino to sack him or both.
    If the performance at Brighton was an embarrassment then today was a complete freak circus with Coco the Clown aka Rodolph Austin the star of the show! As you say Rob it can only get better – can’t it please?

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    • Who should he have picked instead? Dawson and 5 debutants? Or Brown, Tonge, Norris, Drury, Diouf and Pugh?

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  16. Yes, we need a new order, a new way of doing things, fresh ideas and some quality. Introducing an Italian bloodline into the ‘stable’ May end up being a master stoke. Very good article and funny! Nearly choked on Sunday morning porridge laughing. Well, at least something to cheer us up. Bring on Cellino!

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  17. Now here’s a thing. It’s all gone a bit quiet on the sale of Cagliari. Is Cellino waiting to raid them and bring in three or four Italians before that sale goes through?

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  18. ref Austin No he cannot play, like any park playergiven agame every week with training he will have a decent game twice ayear but he IS the major problem,Iwould like anyone to watch him properly & tell me he can shoot header pass even run,unfortunatly most fans were desperate for a vinny type hero & are blinkerd once he had plowed into a tackle

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  19. If we’d have been bog-average from the start, not too many would have really minded, as it was generally accepted – if reluctantly – that Brian had been given a 3 year deal, that we are lumbered with Warnock dross until summer, and that Bates had spunked the last two years’ season ticket money on dubious building contracts to his mates.
    There’s been loads of money been syphoned out of the club again, this time under the dodgy guise of thoroughly undeserved fees for services to GFH, and plenty of hospitality, international flights in business or first for our illustrious and totally inept directorship, etc etc… no wonder we’ve got nowt left for players. Murphy’s much trumpeted 1 million transfer turns out to be in instalments and we’ve even dishonoured those!
    I’m suspending belief at the moment in the hope that Cellino’s 21-year record of non-investment in Cagliari will somehow transform into a one-year Mavis Nicholson-style spending spree at Leeds United. Fingers crossed!

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  20. Brilliant article mate. I really enjoyed it. Much the same take on the match as I felt and if you’re on twitter, the rest of the LUFC fans worldwide.

    Jump on and have a read of mine if you like. Comments, suggestions and advice most welcome!

    http://ballandall.com/

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    • Enjoyable read mate – and welcome confirmation that I wasn’t alone in my take on the game. Another scratchy, inadequate showing from United. Bring on a new era – MOT

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      • It felt a lot longer than the 90 odd minutes!

        Another frustrating match. Seems like we let a lot of these types of games out of our grasp. All too used to it over the last few seasons.

        Hopefully can get some investment and push on in the future!

        MOT!

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  21. Re the team I remember reading an interview with Howard Wilkinson where he would go to sleep going through the team – “the goalies OK, the right back is OK … etc.”. Then “but I have to get a new right winger, and if I do that I need to change the right back”, and so on.

    I’d have said, on that exercise, the one you’d currently stop at (and I’d personally not have got far past Kenny beforehand) is Austin. He gives the ball away far too often, either by inaccurate passing or inadvisable shooting. Murphy is technically better but spends much of his time winning the ball also, so he looks terrible as well. I also think Murphy is going through a process similar to Howson alongside either Clayton or Delph, where Howson as an attacking midfielder had to play a lower profile defensive midfielder role. Pity we didn’t keep Tabanelli. I’d prefer to see Mowatt in that position but maybe BM thinks it’s too high risk a policy.

    After Austin, there’s a wider choice for who would be next to upgrade, but before mentioning them I would say you just make some minor changes and – to Wilko’s comment – the rest of the team dynamic changes anyhow … I think both Kebe and Stewart are decent in theory, but Kebe in particular seems to be playing to avoid injury, perhaps having concluded that he won’t get a long term deal in the summer. He’s meant to be running at opposition but prefers to try and bounce it off colleagues in triangles to move forward, which might be great if the other players were as technically good, but just means the ball takes very little time to go to the other team, and then Kebe’s confidence is shot. Admittedly this is a very easy attack to mark right now, since the threats are so easily identifiable.

    Behind them, Peltier is a fairly average Championship right back, and Warnock is decent for free kicks (and it’s concerning that nobody else is anywhere near as good for set-pieces, and I don’t even think Warnock is *that* good) but slow, even for this division.

    The paper tonight has BM looking for another striker (and again, pity we didn’t get the rumoured Daniele Cacia). I thought Hunt looked OK on Saturday; it’s not that, considering our possession ratios, we have poor conversion ratio anyway. Ross is obviously leading the table but Smith at about half the Championship clubs would be the top scorer. Our weak season is down to a terrible defence (and for all Kenny’s shot-stopping skills I think you can see the difference in Butland, even with an obviously nervous Wootton in front of him).

    In McDermott’s favour, most people would pick roughly the 11 he picks. You look at the 18 including the bench and it’s clear there’s a quality problem. I still find it unbelievable that a team like Leeds can’t produce a winger from the academy. You can blame him for the squad but he’s been limited both by his budget and his predecessor’s legacy. That said, I think he may be lucky to get to the end of the next transfer window.

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    • Agree. I wish everyone else could see this. Murphy needs to be further forward. My only doubt is that Green was allowed to go to Ipswich; surely he could do a job in front of the back 4? He isn’t the greatest of players but average to fair is better than crap. But I suspect McDermott was told to let him go – or just maybe he has someone lined up to bring in. Doubt that though; he’s probably looking at someone to take Blackstock’s place.

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