Some Encouragement in Defeat at Burnley for Leeds United   –   by Rob Atkinson


Burnley v Leeds

When Leeds United‘s defence stood politely aside to allow Burnley’s Scott Arfield to score in the first minute of Saturday’s early Championship encounter at Turf Moor, it looked like a long lunchtime ahead for long-suffering Whites fans. And, ultimately, a defeat is a defeat – even by that solitary goal. It’s clearly never welcome. But the way this game panned out carried more than a little encouragement for Steve Evans‘ troops, and for that loyal travelling army. Credit too, to Steve Evans, much maligned by a section of the Leeds support and in the most ignorant and offensive manner. Evans has retained his dignity in the face of this, and he was there in the dugout – despite a family bereavement – as enthusiastic in the cause as ever.

The fact is that the dread prospect of a couple of hours watching Silvestri pick Burnley goals out of his net never actually transpired. Over the piece, as Leeds grew into the game instead of reeling from that early shock, it was United who carried the greater threat. They had more of the possession, found better spaces, forced more corners and generally bossed proceedings – save for that annoying little habit of failing throughout to trouble the scorers.

The devil, as they say, is in the detail. The only detail anyone’s ever really bothered about at the end of a football match, is that telltale scoreline to indicate who got the points. Burnley added three of those valuable items to their league total as they consolidated their position at the top of the league. But almost every other aspect of this match could easily have had you fooled as to which of these teams is sitting proudly astride the Championship.

The tragedy for Leeds on the day was their lack of a decisive finish to so much good work. On many another occasion, Chris Wood – still rusty after a long injury absence – would have had at least two goals to help rehabilitate his season. Looking at the plus side, he was at least actually there to miss the chances, an important part of any striker’s CV. Less positively, he certainly should have snapped them both up, and he will know he has no excuses. There are reasons though – form, confidence, match sharpness. In time, this burly young striker will hit a real hot streak. Will that be in a Leeds United shirt, though? Only time and perhaps the attitude of the less patient Leeds fans will help decide that.

On this occasion, and in marked contrast to many recent performances, I feel that Evans has much to take from the game. Sadly, that doesn’t include any points, despite the fact that United deserved something from a match they dominated for long spells. But, at this stage of our promised “beautiful” season, the ugly truth is that points are not all that relevant. The threat of relegation is almost gone, and any fanciful ideas of play-off chances have long since been laughed out of court. It’s evidence that Leeds can perform as a team that matters now – and there was plenty of that at Turf Moor.

The sooner yet another bleakly disappointing season is over, with United safe for another year, the better. Then, it’ll just be a matter of waiting for the positive spin to start emerging from Elland Road, with “We’re looking to get our business done early” the ante post favourite. For the time being, let’s be grateful for the extremely small mercy of a decent performance, albeit in defeat. 

For Leeds United fans, in these bleak and troubled times, that’s about as good as it gets. 

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8 responses to “Some Encouragement in Defeat at Burnley for Leeds United   –   by Rob Atkinson

  1. David Dean

    They did look the better team and if it would have stayed at 0-0 it would have been a good result and performance but when Burnley take a 1-0 lead in the first minute it was a case of them finishing the job off against a Leeds team that scores very few goals.

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  2. Steve Kerry

    This is one of your tongue in cheek pieces surely? Burnley just had an off day today, nobody I watched it with saw anything to hang onto.
    No width, no pace, no bite

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    • Scally Lad

      Steve Kerry is right. I sat at the ground with my head in my hands. I’m just glad we’re eleven points safe with only six matches to go. We’re probably going to stay up. For this season to last any longer, we’d surely be staring at relegation. Fortunately, I think we can expectantly look forward to Steve Evans’ dismissal next month with the hope that we may get a manager with some creativity and vision and not someone who’ll drive us farther and farther down the table as the season progresses.

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  3. Smack on Rob and Credit to Steve Evans for being there – he was obviously cut up before the match.
    Credit to the lads too – I enjoyed the match for a change!!! We are so near in so many positions and I just hope we hold it all together – we could still finish 12th – mid-table if we can start scoring!
    GerryCwmbran

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  4. Rob, this is an unusually positive article about a loss – I admire your sang-froid as I am just depressed about the result. The team should be applauded, they certainly need something to lift their spirits and rid them of losing mentality.

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  5. Iain Alcorn

    Better but not good enough. Where were the midfielders when Bamba had to rush out like a headless chicken because they were missing. I am still unconvinced by Chris Wood. He doesn`t win as many balls in the air that a player of his stature should. He doesn`t spend enough of his time in an area where he could do damage, ie in the box. but, I also feel that whoever plays as a lone striker is on a hiding to nothing in our line up he needs someone alongside, and I mean alongside not 30 yards away. The midfield are more often than not too slow to get up to support. We were much more direct when Antenucci came on (What does he have to do to retain a place), he sees and does things no other player does, but as usual both wingers who were capable of crossing a ball were taken off. When we need to score to get into a game why does the manager persist in diluting our attack.

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  6. Steve Evans is possibly the most incompetent of all the incompetent coaches we’ve had. (I don’t recognise hockaday as a coach). Not only is evens a convicted fraudster like his gaffer he is a nasty piece of work who revels in making unnecessary and snide remarks to fellow professionals. Freedman and Redfearn bring just two examples recently. He singles out innocent parties for blame yet heaps praise on the wholly incompetent. And how many more times must we hear about opposition players telling him how they don’t know how they won and how they were outplayed and how he should be given a ten year contract because he’s up there with Revie,Shankly and Rinus Michels? One up front home and away says it all. Plus he has a shredded wheat on his head. Who bleached their hair at 53? What an embarrassment. I expect him to be gone tomorrow after tonight’s gubbing at Brum and good riddance.

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