Routine Win for Leeds Utd, Cup Final Heartbreak for Barnsley –   by Rob Atkinson


Leeds United 2, Barnsley 1

Routine for Leeds United these days appears to be outplaying determined but inferior opposition, getting into a winning position – and then having a late attack of the collywobbles which threatens to chuck a deserved victory straight down the sanitary facilities. Like that, this win over derby-day foes Barnsley was routine, right enough. It’s just that, lately, the Whites seem able to avoid the khazi part of the equation and grind out a positive result after all. So many times in the past, Leeds at 2-0 up would have been pegged back to 2-1 and had immediate conniptions. Now things are that bit different; now we have Pontus Jansson.

Regular readers of this blog may have noticed that Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything is quite the fan of our borrowed Swedish colossus. Alongside Kyle Bartley, who took time off from defensive duties to grab the opener against Toby and his Tykes, Jansson is forming an on-loan central defensive partnership for United that is starting to look as good as anything in this league. Surely the most important piece of pending transfer business for Leeds in January is to secure these two on permanent deals. We all know it makes sense.

I’ve said before that increased reliability from a more solid back line would pay its dividend in terms of greater freedom and confidence in midfield and up front. It’s starting to pan out that way, with the team more often able to take the lead and then consolidate with a second goal, as at Cardiff recently. The man who delivered the coup de grâce that day was at it again against the South Yorkshiremen, Pablo Hernandez finding the bottom corner after an assist from Eunan O’Kane. At 2-0, Leeds were dominating the visitors, forcing errors all over the pitch and revelling in this unfamiliar feeling of confidence. And although Barnsley did break through with a worrying amount of time still left, forcing poor Charlie Taylor into an own goal, the Whites held out – and that’s a sign of durability and determination for which we can all be gratefully thankful.

So, three points for Leeds against opponents who have been troublesome in the past both home and away. Barnsley share with just about all the smaller Yorkshire clubs – and a good few further abroad – that “we all hate Leeds” chip on their collective shoulder. It’s served them well in the past, imbuing their play with a Cup Final intensity that has often seen a bewildered Leeds crumble. On this occasion, though, it was just too big an ask in the end – and the South Yorkshire Reds had to trail home empty handed, the banquet and the open-top bus cancelled, the souvenir t-shirts and DVDs on hold, till next time at the soonest.

The latest international break is well-timed too, and three points is the ideal way to go into a time for regrouping, planning and recovering from injuries. And, on a day when we marked the sad loss of the late, great Don Revie‘s son Duncan, a win was a fitting tribute to Leeds United’s first family at a time of such sadness. 

RIP Duncan Revie

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24 responses to “Routine Win for Leeds Utd, Cup Final Heartbreak for Barnsley –   by Rob Atkinson

  1. Scally Lad

    Well said, Rob. Optimism but caution is the counsel of the day. We’re a quarter through the season, and at mid-table, but we’ve got to this point, as you say, by largely mediocre triumphs over inferior opposition. We’ve got to dramatically improve when we go up against the top sides, or once more we’ll be fighting the tug of the quicksand that is this league at season’s end, watching the leaders pull farther away.

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    • It’ll be interesting to see how Bartley and Jansson cope with the likes of Newcastle and Norwich. They’ll be the acid test, as you say.

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      • Agreed. Last season, as I recall, Cooper and Bellusci coped well with the better sides at home. I see no reason why the current pairing should not do just as well – if not better.

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  2. Reality Cheque

    Excellent post Rob, and we are indeed a “work in progress” but we are no longer giving our opponents a goal start now that our defensive unit is growing in stature and confidence. Opposing managers will have to have a proper game plan rather than simply saying, “just get at their shaky defence and they always fall apart” Hail Pontus, (and Bartley, Phillips, Hernandez, Sako etc., etc.,)

    Credit to Garry & Pep for sticking to their plans and principles despite the flak following a disappointing start to the season and the players do indeed now appear to be buying in to their methods.

    Incidentally Rob, have you cleared quarantine yet since your visit to Lancashire?!! LOL

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    • Thanks for your concern – I’ve just emerged from a ten day delousing programme.

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    • One reason why the defence looks more secure is that they are receiving greater midfield protection. Too often last season Bellusci and Cooper were faced with playings coming at them unopposed by a poorly organised midfield. As a matter of record the defence was generally quite miserly in terms of goals conceded; but we did, at times, seem to cave in – particularly when the hapless Bamba was playing. The big advantage the present pairing have over the Bellusci/Cooper combo is height and arguably a better penalty area goalkeeper, though Silvestri is nonpareil in shot stopping at this level.

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  3. David Dean

    It was great to see another victory at home. We really are getting spoilt. We can’t knock the performance – they did the job and all credit to our lads but they did have to hang on to win. Leeds did make quite a few chances but were they the better team? Barnsley looked good, nice swift passing and players in control with good tricks and solid in defence. They looked a much better team than Huddersfield – in fact the best team this season easily at Yelly Roared. I think it was a lucky win but strangely it could have been 5-0 to Leeds and Rob Green didn’t have a save to make. I think without Pontus we would have lost., that is how important he is to us. You are spot on there Rob he is a colossus – reminds me of Jack Charlton who used to dribble up the field from centre half and got his head on every ball just like our hero. He won man of the match after 15 minutes!

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  4. I can’t help thinking this may be one of those seasons where , if only Cellino had invested a further £10m in the squad ,we could have gone up.Only Norwich seem to have quality championship players and consistency . I suppose we can always look forward the the January transfer window when we seem to always lose a quality player

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  5. Great to see the likes of Kalvin Phillips and Ronaldo Vieira taking the places of Luke Murphy and Toumani Diagouraga in the squad. I also hope Alex Mowatt will in time take over the no 10 spot from Pablo Hernandez. If we get promotion one league game for Murphy would cost the Club 100.000 pounds in add on fee from his transfer from Crewe so don´t expect him to play.

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  6. peacock273

    Great post, as always, Rob. I have to say, the whole side put in a shift yesterday. Kalvin Phillips is really coming of age and, contrary to my usual views about him, Chris Wood had a decent game, putting himself about a bit. I lost count of the number of times he got an arm in the face from their central defender. Let’s hope the rest of the side continue chipping in with the goals. Bartley and Hernandes getting on the scoresheet again.

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  7. Still see Rob ‘Deluded’ Atkinson is alive and kicking and well…still deluded. You’re living in the past mate both in terms of how you portray your own club and how you portray Barnsley, heard all the clichés a million times (big club Leeds, Barnsley’s Cup Final etc) and whilst it might help massage you and your buddy’s egos, you know deep down it’s a load of twaddle. Well done on the win though, think you just about deserved it and defended really well.

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    • Not bovvered or rattled in the slightest, are you 😆 I still remember you and the dog botherers contriving a draw to keep you both up, and how did you celebrate at the end? Why, with a matey joint chorus of “we all hate Leeds scum”, of course. Clubs like Barnsley and Huddersfield are defined by their hatred for and envy of Leeds United.

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  8. Hatred perhaps but that’s largely down to the undesirable reputation (built up over the years with unsavoury on/off field antics) Leeds have within the wider football community. Does anyone like you bar your own fans?….envy never. Absolutely zero to be envious about.

    If we we’re envious of anyone it would be Man Utd given all the success they’ve had over the years…yet you never hear US chanting anti-Man U songs like some clubs do. Maybe those clubs too are envious of Man U?

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  9. They must be green eyed with envy, jealous of not having spent all those years out of the Prem including a spell in Division 3 lol. : )

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  10. It baffles me how certain club’s claim to be ‘Big’ with little or no evidence to back it up. Confusing.

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  11. I think that they did very well against one of the leagues best strikers already rob , the Chelsea loan player at Bristol… no reason they wont cope with Norwich or Newcastle .. its the other areas of the pitch that may let us down but not these two..

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    • I’m very impressed with Kyle & Pontus as a partnership Mr. O. – and I’m hopeful that solidity at the back will have a good effect further forward by providing a bit of confidence that stuff will be taken care of.

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  12. If you get this message in time ,, master mind in half an hour , one contestant’s specialist subject is Don Revie..

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    • Missed it Mr. O. but thanks for the heads up – I’ll download it. I’m going to a christening in Middlesbrough in a couple of weeks time, and the baby’s mum tells me that her grandad will be present – and that he was Don Revie’s best mate. So I’ll be having a good chat to HIM!

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  13. made my blood boil rob – typical BBC , they asked him two questions on so called allegations of Don trying to bribe people..
    you could tell the guy was a bit pissed off but he eventually won and is in the semi final now – will be interesting to see what questions they ask him then

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