Lacked the Breaks, Lacked the Bottle, Lacked the Class; Simply Dreadful, Leeds – by Rob Atkinson


“Poundland Messi” Luke Freeman settles the match at QPR

As regular readers will know, I had some qualms about the match at QPR. Leeds United needed the win to go back top, Rangers had lost seven on the spin. For students of Sod’s Law, it was a disaster waiting to happen. I even wrote a pessimistic piece, observing that many a team on a poor run then go full-on Barça when they face Leeds; well, it wasn’t quite like that at Loftus Road, although Rangers matchwinner Luke Freeman did a pretty good impersonation of a Poundland Messi.

In truth, the writing was on the wall early on, when the referee missed what looked like a clear handball by Rangers inside their area. “Play on, lads”, chirruped the ref, as the advertising hoarding behind the goal displayed “Rebuilding lives after lost sight”. Even so, Leeds carried more threat than QPR before the break, with Patrick Bamford just failing at the far post to convert a low cross from Pablo Hernandez. After the break though, the rot set in with a vengeance.

United possibly lacked the breaks all night, but the longer the match went on, the clearer it was that there were deficiencies also in the bottle and class departments. Rangers, meanwhile, toiled away manfully. And they got their attacking break when Tyler Roberts carelessly lost possession on United’s left flank. The ball moved forward, a cross went into the Leeds box, and the ball was past Kiko Casilla into the net. 1-0, and you just knew it was going to be one of those nights.

Leeds had perhaps one genuinely classy move, a flowing progress upfield which deserved to be crowned with an equaliser. But Rangers cleared the ball at the last ditch, as they managed to do whenever required, all night long.

On a truly awful night for Leeds, Izzy Brown‘s long-awaited debut as a sub was probably destined to be a shocking anti-climax, and so it proved. Brown’s first contribution to proceedings was to block a likely-looking shot from one of his own team-mates – and then shortly afterwards, he picked up a deserved yellow. And Brown probably should have seen yellow again just minutes later – but by that time, the ref possibly felt rather sorry for us.

As bad days at the office go, this was akin to the whole company going into liquidation and then burning down. The best we can hope is that we’ve just witnessed the season bottoming out; that from here on in, the only way is up. But with West Brom lying in wait on Friday, even that has to be open to doubt.

Maybe the United players will take a little anger and frustration away from this game alongside, yes, a chunk of shame and regret. It’s to be hoped anyone in a Leeds shirt tonight is angry, particularly with themselves. Anger is possibly the only thing about the display against Rangers that can be taken forward and used on Friday night against West Brom.

Elland Road will be packed and bouncing then, with the crowd roaring their heroes on. And the players must respond and they must deliver. Because it’s still all to play for – and those Leeds United players owe all of their fans a massively improved performance and a much better result. Big time.

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26 responses to “Lacked the Breaks, Lacked the Bottle, Lacked the Class; Simply Dreadful, Leeds – by Rob Atkinson

  1. Feel so flat,although we’re a million miles away from where I thought we’d be at the start of the season, but doesn’t make tonight any easier.
    There again we’re Leeds United and when have we ever done things the easy way.
    MOT

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  2. Mike Riley

    It’s so disappointing Rob and I found myself urging Birmingham on at Bristol City – as I slipped into play-off mode!
    I just can’t see us turning WBA over but will be happy to eat a delicious humble pie at 10pm on Friday – with egg on my face.

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  3. Spot on Rob. Still believe that not strengthening in the final third last month will be our undoing. The final third has frightened us for weeks! Scared to shoot scared to miss! Sheffield Utd pluck Madine and Hogan out of the blue, for nothing, just to keep the goals flowing. Plans B & C. Rest my case.

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    • Decided to go to the pub to watch the match but surprise surprise sky messed up my evening and bit for the 1st time this season. Turns out that sky’s red button is obsolete on mid week match days in pubs. A room full of Leeds fans watching pompy play bury. The omens were bad when there was also no ale on tap and I had to drink dog lager. From that moment I knew leeds wouldnt win. Lol. All about the omens and stars and all that superstitious clap trap we tell ourselves. Truth is not over yet and stranger things have happened wba aren’t invincible after all. Know what you mean about bottle. But I think bielsa is right and lack of ruthlessness. How many shots do we have how many on target and how many goals. Thud thud thud (sound of bielsa square forehead hitting the wall)

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  4. Mike Durham

    Rob, I just feel so bloody embarrassed! A myriad of hopeful flicks just needing someone to look as if they were bothered and put their boot through the ball..
    I really hope I am wrong but our players looked as if they were in fear of their futures and realising that they would be upgraded if we were to get promoted ; they are human after all and that performance was just too bad to be true.

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    • Life is LUFC

      If they carry on like that they deserve to be upgraded where ever they find themselves next season.

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  5. howard mackey

    Disappointed Rob,they are letting us down badly how many chances do they need ,its the first away game without scoring, i honestly thought we would win tonight ,on to Friday and lets hope they play better.M.O.T.
    Regards H.

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  6. I’ve held back thus far from making any negative remarks regarding Bielsa but tonight is too much. While his loyalty to his players is commendable most of the time he really does need to shake things up now. Luke Ayling is a shadow of what he was in his first two seasons at Leeds yet keeps getting the nod,although he’s not the only one. I can’t remember the last time we won by two goals or more yet the amount of chances created are unreal. How many times during any Leeds game does a ball go across the six yard box only needing a toe yet going out for either an opposition goal kick or throw in? Just my opinion but I can’t see us beating West Brom and Dwight Gayle and i don’t think we’re going to get promoted now either. That was awful tonight and Bielsa’s self deprication is becoming tedious now. Do something about it Marcelo.

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  7. Chris Wheeler

    Frustrated beyond belief Rob & that season long cutting edge issue remains the biggest threat to us making a push for top 2. It’s been clear all season & even more so when we let our own Poundland Messi Samu Saiz go in Dec & failed to replace him in the Jan window. Far far too much is asked of Pablo to provide all the creative spark on his own and would love to see young Shackleton given a run now perhaps replacing a labouring Klich and pray young Jack Clarke returns soon preferably for WBA.
    Marcelo has worked wonders with this squad who imo have given their absolute all but also lack that extra bit of quality.
    The ER crowd now has a massive part to play & can be that 12th man that pushes us over the line starting Friday vs WBA.
    It’s also that time of season when with teams scrapping for their lives & the front runners getting nervy there will be plenty more twists & turns. Keep the faith MOT

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    • My faith has wavered along with that of a few thousands of others, I suspect. I really feel it’s now for the team to re-instil that – starting on Friday.

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  8. John Bennett

    I’m not going into freefall yet – No one in Leeds team played better than average whilst QPR had Luke Freeman on fire and backed up by a rare mega performance from their full defensive unit. How many corners did we waste as well? Clearly we should win these games and its not good enough but keep the faith! MOT.

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  9. On m1 on way home from a very deflating defeat rob. Unfortunately I thought they wanted it more than us tonight, won nearly every second ball and fought as though their lives depended on it but let’s face it most mediocre teams do when they play Leeds. It’s up to the Leeds players to respond in kind. The fans give it all every game. Friday they need a big repayment on that support because once again the place will be rocking. Come on Leeds it’s time to show your bottle. MOT

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    • I was struck by how inferior we were in possession in tight situations. Gave the ball away time and again, and we know they’re better than that. Overall, given that QPR had played, and lost, so many games this month, whereas we’ve played one game after a 10 day break, tonight was just inexplicable.

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  10. David Rowley

    Gutted, and reluctantly, I too have to lay some blame at Bielsa’s door. Faith in certain players has now worn as thin as our overall squad and failure to add quality in the final third, will I think ultimately cost us automatic promotion. We haven’t been good enough for some time now, although certainly, up until tonight anyway, I couldn’t criticise effort and commitment. The problem will be that we will end up in the Play Offs, where we all know our track record, which will be further compounded by a lack of momentum and a feeling that we could (should, given our position) have been top two.

    I have played 5 a side football on a Friday night for nearly 40 years and give it up for nothing, apart from LUFC. For the first time, I’m tempted not to make the two hour journey up to ER on Friday……….. right that nonsense has passed now (usually takes a couple of hours after a bad result), We can still do this but as always, it will be the hard way!

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  11. SprakeReaneyCooperBremnerCharltonHunterLorimerClarkeJonesGilesGray

    Sorry can I just retract my earlier comment that under Bielsa we will be playing in the Premier League next season. At least we can’t meet Doncaster again in the play off final……….

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  12. Reality Cheque

    Had to give myself time to calm down from such a disappointing anti-climax Rob. As you know I like to remind our fans how much better off we are this season than last but this season is rapidly descending into the Monk season when we completely lost the plot during the last nine games having spent 6 months firmly in the play off berths.

    Whilst Bielsa has worked miracles with last season’s squad, surely our best head coach in the world ought to be finding a solution to our season long poor chance conversion ratio. We are totally bossing possession and creating 3-4 times more chances than every recent season yet not converting them. Add the fact that we now can no longer keep a clean sheet which is sending our goal difference tumbling and you realise things must change quickly.

    Apparently our training sessions are focussed and intense, but still the poor conversion rates remain the same?

    Add the fact that Phil Hay insisted on endorsing the Daily Fail’s speculation regarding Bielsa leaving if we don’t get promoted this season despite his 3.5 million pound wages and our poor form at the business end of the season becomes even more worrying.

    I have decided that I am going to triple my medication before taking my seat at ER on Friday night and just hope that the main side effect is a sense of absolute jubilation and euphoria 2 hours later. ALAW

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  13. Life is LUFC

    After that game last night my thoughts went to you Rob, I’m sorry.
    I was still waiting for the game to start when I realised the ref had blown the full time whistle. Was that really Leeds United on that pitch?
    Five minutes of extra time and what did they do with it…….had a kick about whilst on a picnic in the corner by a flag of some London club.
    They all deserve to have their a*ses kicked, what a waste of points. We would all have been happy with just one point.
    I’m still not sure about turning up myself on Friday, if cannot be bothered why should I…….another threat just flown out of the window.

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    • It was abysmal, but I’m sure the players felt it too. I can’t help wondering how things might have panned out, if the ref hadn’t bottled that early penalty call. I swear he was about to give it, then changed his mind. That’s the kind of thing that can take the wind out of your sails – though I think we all know there are no excuses for last night’s performance.

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  14. I take it all back Rob , this lot don’t have the bottle to go up Automatically , they might be lucky in the playoffs lottery but they simply are not as good as either Norwich or sheff utd or even WBA, the table and especially the amount of goals scored doesn’t lie.. The Jan window was a opportunity missed and we look like we will pay the price.. I see us finishing around 4th or 5th.. hope I eat these words but as things stand it’s just how I see this panning out

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  15. Am I the only one Rob who thinks that we have got so carried away by the first half of the season. Nobody expected this. Sixth place or better would have been well acceptable last August. We went off like a rocket with players who suddenly, as if by magic became overnight thoroughbreds. We totally shocked our opponents, we shocked the pundits but most of all we shocked ourselves. It’s like the Olympic sprinter who just went off far too soon in the 800 metres and flagged on the last bend. Automatic promotion and making the play offs are worlds apart. Now it is down to earth and reality. Bielsa is hurting and that image in the tunnel will haunt me for a long time.
    It’s up to those players now because the cavalry are not coming over the hill. We have a wealth of talent in the U23s who are big enough and old enough to step up. We need to get Roofs fit and Clarke back to normal. Last but least, please cut out this slagging off and ridiculing players. The injuries have taken their toll and it’s showing badly in some playera. Forget the top two, if it works out it will be a miracle. Get behind the lads because they are hurting too and let’s show that we are not down, we are not beaten and we are LUFC. MOT

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  16. A lot of fans forget this is the same players who failed last season. Bielsa made the difference but he is so stubborn to make changes sometimes. Shackleton should be nailed on every match. Relying on Bamford won’t get us up misses too many. Roofe out, Roberts unreliable. Just look at WBA squad. We are in trouble and I don’t know a way out AR never invested now we pay..

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