Leeds Graduate With a 2:1 At Cambridge, But At a Price – by Rob Atkinson


mowatt

Mowatt – winner

When the story of this season is written, the worth of last night’s narrow squeak FA Cup victory at Cambridge United will be capable of objective assessment. As things stand right now, you’d have to say it’s unlikely to be of much if any intrinsic value; it may even be that the net effect upon our campaign will be decidedly negative.

On the credit side of the ledger, yet another fine second-half performance to paper over the cracks of yet another slow start, and this time it was the shadow squad that proved itself able to pick up its game. The downside is there for all to see; a tenth booking of the season for the iconic Pontus Jansson will deprive Leeds United of his services for two vital and rather tricky league games in Derby at home and Barnsley away. Jansson’s obvious deputy, Liam Cooper, also picked up an injury that may well see him sidelined for Friday. Given those painful drawbacks, the “reward” of a fourth round trip to past Cup opponents Wimbledon or Sutton United seems more of a booby prize than anything to exult over. Last night’s may have been a Pyrrhic victory – although at least it cut the rest of the footballing world off in mid-gloat.

The first half of any Leeds game is becoming a matter of some concern. Whatever team takes the field for United appears unable to come out of the blocks in full-on battle mode, and manager Garry Monk is having to do some sterling work in his half-time team talks. So far, that interval helping of bollockings/encouragement has more often than not done the trick; certainly last night Leeds were a different team in the second half and Cambridge were duly blown away after dominating the first 45 minutes. Some wags have suggested only half jokingly that Monk should deliver his half-time peroration before the team trots out at the start of the match, and you can sort of see why. But, looking at the positives of the manager’s input, it would seem he is adept at diagnosing the faults in a first-half performance and then remedying those faults, rather than deficient in his timing. The next step, presumably, is to eliminate the faults from the start – but that’s all part of the learning curve necessary for any “young group”.

In the event, goals from Stuart Dallas and Alex Mowatt saved United’s blushes, or at least postponed them till later in the competition. Now, with the serious business of accumulating more league points a priority, Leeds have to address the imminent problem of an in-form Derby County side managed by our bogeyman coach Schteve “Dutch” McClaren. In the certain absence of Jansson, whose weird pending permanent transfer has now been put back until perilously late in the window, and the probable absence of dead leg victim Cooper, it may be a case of asking Luke Ayling to slot in next to Kyle Bartley in central defence, with Coyle and/or Denton stepping up to one or both of the full-back berths. Not ideal against stiff opposition.

We will know more fully after the next two Pontus-less Championship games at what price this FA Cup progress has been secured, and we’ll just have to hope that it was a price worth paying. Four points out of Derby and Barnsley, two highly-motivated, Leeds-hating, chip-on-the-shoulder obstacles, and we’ll be able to breathe a sigh of relief and look forward to the next round for the fascination of revisiting Cup opponents past. Fingers crossed that last night’s damage really can be limited to the loss of a mere two points. 

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7 responses to “Leeds Graduate With a 2:1 At Cambridge, But At a Price – by Rob Atkinson

  1. The first half displays happen that much, maybe its a cunning plan..

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  2. peacock273

    I was worried from the start that Pontus would pick up the booking, especially with the way Impeazu was bullying our defence. The only saving grace is that he could play in the next round on Jan 28th to initialise the transfer just in time. Had he been left out last night and picked up a yellow against Derby, he would have been ineligible.
    Terrible performance by the whole side in the first half – failure to try to win second balls, badly underhit passes (albeit on a heavy pitch) and about 10% of the commitment Cambridge were putting in.
    Much better second half when we got to grips with it.
    We march on.

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  3. Not sure I would have played jansson last night rob ,, he’s obviously going to get booked rather a lot per season because of his style of play , so these periods of getting banned seem inevitable, but knowing he was one booking from getting a ban, surely he should have been rested in the hope he at least survived a ban till after the Barnsley game ,, these next two games could be pivotal in our season rob

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  4. Maybe, as Jansson was likely to pick up a tenth yellow card, Monk decided it was better for Jansson to serve his two match ban so he could complete his 22 games contract clause in the Notts Forest game on 28 January, before the transfer window closes.

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  5. To be honest I cant remember being this excited for the last 15 years or so and if we’re still getting the results after being slow out of the blocks then long may it continue. When did we last have smiles on our faces after the Christmas programme? I’m not even going to criticize that plank of a number 9 in this comment in fact. Now lets sort Derby out,we’ve got the ammunition even though our defence may be lacking this time. Look on the brightside regarding Pontus missing a couple,at least he’ll get a rest.

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  6. Shocking first half. The guys just didn’t have a clue . GM certainly has the gift to tell it like it is and get the right reaction. I also think he knew exactly what he was doing putting Jansson on last night. Get the inevitable ban out of the way, I believe we are strong enough in character and application to deal with Derby and Barnsley. As for the FA cup, I really do think it has lost a lot of its sparkle which only manifests itself at the quarters and semis. Many teams put out weakened sides which is a shame really, but a good chance for fringe players to show their colours.
    Just hope our new part owner seriously gives GM the tools he needs to capitalise on our current brilliant form and not jeapardise everything we are acheiving. I keep saying, there are going to be disappointing games and it’s all about how we react and bounce back, that will show our true colours. MOT

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