For those of us trying to keep up with events at Ashton Gate via Sky’s Soccer Special, it was relatively simple to gauge the progress of Leeds United at Bristol City – simply by listening to how hopeful, depressed, bored, hopeful again and ultimately jubilant was the demeanour of the most disgracefully biased match reporter, in Paul Walsh, that it’s been my misfortune to witness.
Hating Leeds is a media preoccupation, we know that. But do they have to be so awfully blatant about it? Walsh was transparently hoping against hope from minute one that Bristol City could get a result. When Mirco Antenucci gave United the lead from the penalty spot in the first half, the ex-Liverpool striker sulked and pouted that the advantage was undeserved. Then Chris Wood doubled the gap after the interval, applying a fine finish after cutting inside a defender. Walsh was distraught; from that time until City’s late comeback, he was morbidly resigned to defeat. When Leeds missed a half chance to go three up, he admitted he knew little about it as he’d actually started watching one of the other games.
Only when the home side scored what looked like a last-minute consolation did Walsh perk up and show some enthusiasm and faint hope. After that, we could tell that City had gone close again but missed without even going to the game – it was clear from Walsh’s clearly audible agonised gasp off camera. Then, at the end of six minutes injury time, Walsh got his reward with a scrappy equaliser – and smiled broadly at last.
I’m not going to dwell on yet another Leeds capitulation, it’s too depressing. We know this was two points needlessly dropped; there is some consolation in Wood breaking his duck with that fine second-half strike. For the rest, it was flattering to deceive, late panic and surrender – the usual United stuff we’ve all seen far too much of.
The stand-out point here, the factor diverting this blogger from bemoaning another sub-standard Leeds performance, was the unforgivably amateurish and biased display of Leeds-hating from yet another old pro in Walsh, who has evidently been well-paid for the sole purpose of rubbing our noses well and truly in it. That’s just not good enough, and I’ll be contacting Sky to complain.
I’d urge anyone who agrees that Sky are basically taking the mick to add their voices to a chorus of protest. Paul Walsh should be sacked – he’s not of the standard we have the right to expect. Our protests will fall on deaf ears, of course. But the very act of having a go might just make us feel a tiny bit better on yet another let-down of a night for Leeds United.