Way back in November 2010 I took over the reins here at Leeds the Offside.
I’ve learnt a lot during my time here from networking to how painful it can be to follow and constantly write about Leeds. However I’ve enjoyed it and thank all you readers for helping me out. At times we had some big page views considering the site was on the decline and wasn’t well known, which yet again is down to you guys!
Unlike Jonny Howson and Max Gradel me and Ciaran aren’t leaving the Leeds blogging scene. We’re moving to a new site which we believe in fact we already know is much better. www.throughitalltogether.com is our new home where we will be doing the same things, plus much much more.
There’s no point in rambling on, but anyone who has ever retweeted, told a friend, commented or copied the link…anything to help out the blog we thank you.
We hope you join us in our new home, you’ll like it. The season for me is over already, mathematically we’re still in with a shout but it appears our away games will be the down fall. You never know though.
Enjoy the rest of the season and we look forward to you reading our content on our new site.
Marching on Together!
Leeds travel to Millwall this weekend as Neil Warnock looks to pick his side up following the humiliating defeat at home to Nottingham Forest during the week. Many believe any slim chance United had of reaching the end of season play-offs went when they let the Forest attack net seven times on Tuesday night. Nevertheless the Whites certainly need to restore some pride when they visit Millwall, the Lions will be the second team in a row that United have faced near to the relegation zone. Three points never come easy at Millwall though and the London club are sure to be tough opposition for the Whites who have haven’t won in South Bermondsey since the 2007/8 season when goals from David Prutton and Andy Hughes saw Leeds run out 2-0 winners.
Warnock could make changes to his Leeds side for the first time in three games after being left ‘embarrassed’ after the Forest game. Alex Bruce is closing in a return to action after struggling with a hamstring injury while Andy O’Brien is also nearing recovery from a similar issue after he completed 45 minutes action for the reserves. Danny Webber could earn a recall to the starting eleven after he replaced Aidan White at the half time interval on Tuesday night. Other players waiting in the wings include Danny Pugh, Ramon Nunez, Billy Paynter and Mikael Forssell.
Shane Lowry, a former United loanee, has missed the last four matches for the hosts but could return to Millwall’s defence on Saturday. Meanwhile Nick Montgomery could make his full debut for the Lions after coming on as a late substitute in the 3-0 win at Doncaster on Tuesday night. Liam Trotter, Therry Racon, Tamika Mkandawire and Steve Mildenhall are all still missing for Millwall though. On loan Leeds keeper Maik Taylor has been given the green light to play and is likely to feature against his parent club.
One To Watch:
My one to watch this weekend is somebody that has been on loan at United this season and is Andy Keogh. Despite only managing to find the net for United on two occasions, the Ireland international has already notched five goals for Millwall in nine league starts and is sure to be fired up for the visit of the club where he started his career. Keogh is forming a good partnership with Darius Henderson, who has scored 19 goals in all competitions this season and I am convinced that the former Leeds player, who has also had spells at Bristol City, Cardiff City, Bury, Scunthorpe and Wolves will grab a goal on Saturday.
It is a tough one to predict after the shock we all received in midweek. United have to restore some pride this weekend but will have to be on top form against Millwall, which is always a tough place to come away from with all three points. I think it will be a much improved performance but I don’t think the Whites will come away from the New Den with a win. I’m predicting a hard fought 1-1 draw.
Last Six Meetings:
3rd December 2011 – Leeds United 2-0 Millwall
9th April 2011 – Millwall 3-2 Leeds United
21st August 2010 – Leeds United 3-1 Millwall
23rd March 2010 – Leeds United 0-2 Millwall
24th October 2009 – Millwall 2-1 Leeds United
15th May 2009 – Leeds United 1-1 Millwall
That is all from me, tomorrow I will write about it.
In fact I might still struggle for words. Utter garbage. Only one football club could self implode like that.
Unfortunately myself and all you readers support them.
Leeds welcome Nottingam Forest for a midweek clash at Elland Road as the Whites look to make some ground on the top six. Leeds will be aiming to score four past Forest for the third time in a row after recording 4-1 and 4-0 wins in the last two meetings and the visitors haven’t beaten United since 1996 when they were victorious at Elland Road. Nevertheless Nottingham Forest could make it 28 victories each in this fixture on Tuesday night, after 84 encounters, Leeds have won 28, Forest 27 and 29 have ended in a draw.
United have only lost one of their last six games, however three of those games have been draws and goals have so far been hard to come by under Neil Warnock who has only seen his side hit the back of the net three times in five games. Forest travel to Leeds having achieved three wins from their last six games which have propelled Steve Cotterill’s side to two places above the relegation zone. Leeds though, will be vying to become the sixth club to do the double over Forest this season but will have to keep only their third home clean sheet of the season to give themselves the best chance of doing just that.
Alex Bruce and Leigh Bromby continue to get closer to a return to action but are likely to remain on the sidelines for the visit of Nottingham Forest. Warnock has no new injury or suspension worries so could once again named an unchanged side as he looks to edge the Whites closer to the play offs.
For the visitors George Elokobi and Danny Higginbotham are both expected to return after the pair have been out with hamstring injuries. However, the visitors will be without Marcus Tudgay who is suspended following a red card at Pride Park last time out.
One To Watch:
Andy Reid returned to the club where he started his career at the beginning of the season and the midfielder, capped 27 times by Ireland will be looking to make up for the red card he received in the reverse fixture by helping Forest to all three points at Elland Road. since originally leaving Forest in 2005, Reid has enjoyed spells at Tottenham, Sunderland, Charlton, Blackpool and Sheffield United amassing over £10 million in transfer fees. In his first spell at Forest, Reid notched 25 goals in 160 appearances and Tottenham saw enough potential in the Irishman to splash out £8 Million in a deal which also saw Michael Dawson move to the London club. Reid certainly possesses a lot of talent and the 29-year old has been one of the shining lights for a struggling Forest side this campaign.
Leeds need a win in this fixture to keep any sort of hope alive about making the end of season play offs and I think we’ll get it. United have been unlucky not to record a win at home lately and despite a draw being a fair result on Saturday, the late equaliser was very deflating. West Ham made the game very scrappy and hopefully Forest won’t do the same and Leeds will get the better of them. I think we will run out comfortable 3-0 winners.
Last Six Meetings:
29th November 2011 – Nottingham Forest 0-4 Leeds United
2nd April 2011 – Leeds United 4-1 Nottingham Forest
15th August 2010 – Nottingham Forest 1-1 Leeds United
13th February 2008 – Leeds United 1-1 Nottingham Forest
25th August 2007 – Nottingham Forest 1-2 Leeds United
17th March 2005 – Nottingham Forest 0-0 Leeds United
If you’d have asked any Leeds fan six weeks ago that we would be feeling down after a point to West Ham they would have laughed in your face. Yet although slightly content with a draw and I’m really emphasising on the slightly, this is the situation we found ourselves in thanks to a another tremendous effort from the Whites.
Neil Warnock asked for over 30,000 and he got it with 33,366 packed inside a sunny Elland Road. The fixture on paper had that typical Premier League feel to it with the two sides arguably being the biggest in the Championship. The first 15 minutes of the game seemed to drag on slightly with the ball rarely played along the floor. From a free-kick Tom Lees had Leeds’ first chance when his low shot took a slight deflection to go wide.
Both sides were doing well to break the other down but it was Leeds doing more of the work, constantly pressing the Hammers and making them work the ball back to the shaky Robert Green. Andy Lonergan had to be quick to stop Nicky Maynard but down the other end Robert Snodgrass’ free-kick went whiskers wide.
From a similar distance but this time from a more central position Adam Clayton’s turn and shot went wide but United were looking stronger as the half wore on. Just before the half-time whistle the Whites took the lead through Snodgrass but the goal was disallowed for an apparent foul from Luciano Becchio.
The second-half didn’t get much better in terms of quality football with both sides forgetting their midfielder’s and hitting it long. It was working well for Leeds with Luciano Becchio doing just as Warnock said he would by winning every header. With most of the team struggling for form in the second-half, it was Aidy White who was looking the most dangerous. Swapping from the left to the middle then to the right, his speed and quick touches were causing the Hammers defence some real problems.
However, if anyone was to be replaced out of our attacking trio of midfielders you suspected it would be White despite his improved second-half display. Danny Webber took to the field instead of White while Mikael Forssell came on for Ross McCormack. As the clock ticked by towards the end of the game, Paul Connolly went desperately close with a header which was palmed away by Robert Green.
Just when you thought Leeds were never going to score they did through Luciano Becchio. Paul Connolly’s header hit the bar and Becchio was there to nod the ball home from close range. The goal sent the increased Elland Road crowd into raptures and the thought of upsetting the Hammers was crossing everyone’s mind. The minutes seemed to go slower than ever and West Ham did finally grab an equaliser.
From a corner in the 90th minute Danny Collins leaped higher than anyone else to nod the ball into an empty net. The jury was out for who made an error, why was Andy Lonergan off his line? Or why was there a couple of Leeds United players on the floor, was it a foul? Those questions could go on for ever but the reality is that a 90th minute equaliser from West Ham felt like a defeat.
I’d have taken a draw before the game there is no doubt about that. In a number of weeks we’ve played three of the top four/five teams, but only taken one win from these games. However given how badly we had been playing before Warnock came in this can only be classed as a bonus and a sign of improvement. West Ham aren’t an easy side to beat, and we are slowly becoming just as difficult to beat. Two goals conceded in five matches and Leeds United…oxymoron or what?
Leeds fans have waited a long time and yes lets not get carried away…but we look hard to break down and hard to score against. West Ham weren’t brilliant today, far from it but they know how to grind out wins and that is why they’re in the top three. Tactically we’re also getting little things spot on. Today I noticed how Paul Connolly a 6ft + defender is going up for corners, under Grayson he was the man who sat back. This is irrelevant to most, but just an example of the footballing brain and pretty much common sense of Neil Warnock.
Man of the Match
Adam Clayton and Michael Brown were once again brilliant in the middle of the midfield. They worked tirelessly and made life very difficult for the moaning Kevin Nolan and co. Paul Connolly looks like a new man under Warnock, where have you been hiding Paul No.2? Tom Lees and Darren O’Dea were resilient in the heart of the defence and they seem to be growing stronger each week. But for me the man of the match has to go to Paul Robinson.
When he first moved to the Whites I was sceptical of his ability and quite critical. It’s only been two games but at the moment he’s proving me wrong. Robinson an old-school defender who loves a tackle was instrumental in showing his passion and pride at playing in front of a Leeds crowd. His accurate and hard tackles were roared on by the home crowd and his fist pump after one of them was brilliant to witness.
Right now he’s what we need. An experienced pro that is willing to give it everything. As for the team well another solid performance as they chase the play-offs. We’re counting on others to slip up but it’s not impossible to catch up. I’m a realist and don’t expect to see us reach the top six, but if we keep playing like this, keep defending like we are then hold onto your horses people as it could be close.
On on on!!!
Leeds host West Ham at the weekend in front of what is set to be one of the biggest crowds Elland Road has seen this season. The reverse fixture was an entertaining 2-2 draw in a game which saw Adam Clayton score a late equaliser for Leeds and the Whites will be looking to stretch their unbeaten run against West Ham to nine games when the Hammers make the journey to West Yorkshire. United have made big improvements in recent weeks and will be hoping to continue the trend when the side who many considered the favourites for the Championship at the start of the season come to town. Despite coming unstuck of late at home, the visitors West Ham have won their last 2 away from home and will be looking to record a hat-trick of wins on the road. Three points for the hammers would also be their eleventh away win of the campaign, which would be their best ever. It’s not going to be easy for the Londoners though who have only beaten Leeds twice in the last twenty nine years.
Robbie Rogers made a goal scoring comeback for the reserves during the week and could return to the squad for the hosts. Meanwhile Neil Warnock let Lloyd Sam join Notts County during the week stating “I’d rather him go out and play four or five games and have a look at him that way instead of maybe 10 or 15 minutes coming off the bench here” on the club’s official site. There are thought to be no new injury worries for Leeds boss Warnock as he looks to record back to back to victories for the first time as manager of Leeds United.
West ham will be without Ricardo Vaz Te, Winston Reid, Julien Faubert, Guy Demel and Papa Bouba Diop who all continue to struggle with injury. Meanwhile Joey O’Brien is expected to return to Sam Allardyce’s squad for the clash with the Whites.
One To Watch:
Kevin Nolan is a midfielder who has really found his goalscoring touch during the last few campaigns. Following on from thirty goals in the last two seasons for Newcastle, Nolan has hit the back of the net on nine occasions so far this year for the Hammers and will be looking to make it to double figures at Elland Road this weekend. Nolan enjoyed eight years under Sam Allardyce at Bolton before the pair were reunited at Upton Park and Allardyce wasted no time in making Nolan skipper after Nolan displayed brilliant leadership qualities in guiding Newcastle United back to the Premiership in 2010. Nolan will be hoping to help get West Ham’s automatic promotion bid back on track this weekend and United need to ensure they remain as tight at the back as they have been recently to ensure this doesn’t happen.
West Ham will be looking to bounce back from a string of poor results at home which have seen them fall out of the automatic promotion places at the expense of Reading. United however have been boosted by their first win under Neil Warnock which has given them something to build on so it is a tough one to call with the visitors winning their last two away from home. With Leeds set to have over 30,000 fans roaring them on, it is sure to be a good atmosphere and I think this will spur United on for another much needed three points.
Last Six Meetings:
21st August 2011 – West Ham United 2-2 Leeds United
26 February 2005 – Leeds United 2-1 West Ham United
10 December 2004 – West Ham United 1-1 Leeds United
8 February 2003 – Leeds United 1-0 West Ham United
10 November 2002 – West Ham United 3-4 Leeds United
1 January 2002 – Leeds United 3-0 West Ham United
With Leeds on the mission to try and sneak into the play-offs we need some easy games if that’s possible in this division. So with ten games to go we need an easy start, so who better to face but West Ham? Probably the hardest team to face on paper in the league, and also third in the league. To get an insight into our opponents I spoke to Paul Nixon from West Ham blog Claret and Blue in my Blood.
2nd in the league with a game in hand over Southampton. Are you happy with where you’re at? Or did you expect to be running away with it?
Happy is overstating how many West Ham fans feel right now. By and large we’re a spoiled lot in this division, and, rightly or wrongly, have high expectations for the club given its current predicament, squad depth, and recent expenditure on new signings. While the Championship is a new division for the club, it is also a new one for Southampton, and, right now, they are running away with it. Many fans will see this season as a failure if we do not secure one of the two automatic promotion places easily. Currently, the best superlative I can come up with is cautiously hopeful…
Unbeaten in four but with only one win, have you been looking good recently or are West Ham having a little poor blip?
Away from home the team has been looking very good recently with big wins at Blackpool and Cardiff, the former with ten men; however, at home it is a different story. Unless we play with ten men at home, we can’t seem to buy a win or put in a good shift lately. The last few games against Palace, Watford and Doncaster in particular were shocking in their lack of intensity, of ideas, of creativity, and overall team performance. This is most definitely more than a blip: it’s a potential deal breaker, as now, West Ham find themselves in third to two teams with better current form, and, in Southampton’s case, potential.
Last time we spoke you mentioned how you had fell for the ‘Long Ball Sam’ tag the media had given. Have you changed your thoughts, and is he the man to take you back to the Premiership and beyond?
I believe that Sam is the man to take us back to the Premier League and give us a few seasons of relative stability. On the plus side he is a fabulous man-manager, a strict disciplinarian and is tactically astute. However, there are times when he will play players out of position and fail to get the best out of them. Sam is also a curious manager, and there are times that the team plays some epic stuff, like at Blackpool or against Millwall lately. But in both those games, Sam’s hand was forced to rejig the team by a sending off relatively early in the games. With our players, given his druthers, Sam will play 5 across the middle with a big man up front: Cole. However, this is often not successful, and it’s a less expected source that will score like Nolan or, as happened lately, McCartney. We have lots of creative forwards, but unless they are allowed to play together and given better service than a lob up front, the profligacy and snatched half chances will continue to go begging. However, you never count Sam out, and once in a while, he does an unexpected thing, whether prompted by injuries or brainstorm, you never know. Overall, for many West Ham fans lately, results count, and the jury is out on Sam’s “style”: automatic promotion will buy him a second kick at the can, but failing this, his popularity would be spotty, to say the best.
Going back to Sam for a second, it seems that the fans would rather have good football at all times than promotion under Allardyce? What is the obsession with the West Ham football, surely getting back to the top-flight and staying there is far more important?
There are purists out there who would rather play the “West Ham” way in any division, but, frankly, the vast majority of us haven’t seen the West Ham way since Brooking, Devonshire, Bonds, Lampard senior etc… played back in the early eighties. (Zola tried, but with the possible exception of Swansea, there aren’t too many teams that can play like Arsenal or Barcelona while on a budget!) We do like it on the deck with neat triangles and good off the ball movement, but, I believe, while they grumble most fans would hold their noses for promotion to the top flight.
I remember telling you in September that George McCartney was appalling for us, how has he been doing?
George McCartney has been stellar for us. He plugged a hole at the left back spot for us and has made it his own. He seems to love being at West Ham and works his socks off. I really was very cynical that a second spell at the club would be successful for him; however, he has proved many of us wrong week in and out this season: his defensive work is solid this season and his runs up the wing often lead to something positive. There is some debate though whether he is the man to ply that position if we are lucky enough to be promoted.
Nicky Maynard, Ricardo Vaz Te and Ravel Morrison all joined in January? Have they been playing enough to show you they’ve got something to offer?
Both Nicky Maynard and Ricardo Vaz-Te have played a few games in the first eleven. When they are used in their best positions, they have both been excellent. Vaz Te is working hard for Sam and is a very creative player. He has speed and likes to run at defenders. Maynard is great when he used as part of a 442 or a true 433, but play him as a lone striker and he’s not your man. Ravel Morrison has been made the captain of the development squad players. He has, by all accounts, done very well and found himself on the bench last game, although he wasn’t used. As a creative technical and pacy player, there are lots of calls by fans for him to be used, but Sam is integrating him carefully into the squad. By all accounts, except for the twitter blip, he seems to be settling in well, and that he could be something special. Time will tell.
To say you’ve gone down and complained with money issues on SkySports last season (Owners did) you’ve spent some money and brought plenty of money in? Are you going into further debt or have you found some miraculous pots of gold?
Well, you hit it on the head, Tom: we’ve hit some miraculous pots of GOLD. West Ham are in debt; however, all the new signing have been purchased by the owners’ personal funds, and not those of the club. Our owners, Sullivan and Gold, have come a long way since last season; Sam seems to have politely but firmly curtailed their sometimes detrimental public comments about players, and, as fans, they’ve always put the club first literally bleeding claret and blue.
What were your thoughts on our first clash? I thought we played really well and should have won the game, but we had to settle for a draw late on?
Funny thing about perspective, Tom! I thought we deserved something from the game, and that while you were the more creative, we were unlucky to concede late on. However, that game, twinned with home defeat to Cardiff spurred the team on and in the next two league games West Ham netted 8. However, from what I saw on that day, I was sure that Leeds would be a major contender for promotion, which, perhaps, they will still be.
What are your thoughts about Leeds as a club or the events this season?
Leeds are an enigma to me. I can’t decide whether they are being fiscally managed by a very prudent man with long term goals or whether the owner’s motivation is short term profit. Some of the sales of some major talent has definitely undermined the club’s short term league performance. But perhaps Bates feels it’s too early, and he wants more financial stability and a more steady progression with a solid foundation before making the final assault on promotion; it’s almost as if he’s holding the club back, on purpose because the other alternative doesn’t bare thinking about from a fan’s perspective. If I were a fan though, I’d be livid at the offloading of some of your talent. However, I’ll not write Leeds off this season until or unless they’re mathematically out of the running. Who knows, by the end of the season, maybe Bates will be hailed as a hero and Leeds as the next Swansea. Maybe…
How do you see the Hammers lining up on Saturday?
I think that if the Hammers will either be organized as a 451 with Cole up front or a 4141 which is how much of our away success has panned out lately. We have a number of critical injuries right now: in defence Reid is a big miss; O’Brien and Papa Bouba Diop are likely out too, as is Vaz Te. I expect that Nolan will captain and that we’ll play one up front, with that being Cole. If that is the case, look for a low scoring game.
We’re trying to get over 30,000 for the game on Saturday and we’ve been told you’ve sold your allocation which is always good. What will the travelling Hammers fans be like on Saturday and have many complained about the prices?
I haven’t heard any complaints about prices from West Ham fans this season. The away support this season has been second to none, and they have been very supportive and loud. It’s the home fans that have been less happy with results and have let the players know all about it lately. We haven’t had any trouble this season, even at the Millwall game, and the fans are always, as I said, in good voice on the road.
Who do Leeds fans need to watch out for?
Leeds players need to look out for Nolan. He seems to thrive in pressure situation and never plays as well as when he is booed. He’s not the most mobile player, but he does position himself well. If anyone will get a goal on Saturday from West Ham, it’ll be him – probably out of nowhere. Matty Taylor can never been written off, and, if either Baldock or Maynard get a look in, then they’re always worth a flutter.
Anyone from the Whites you’d like to bring to the Hammers?
Because of our inability to score goals lately, I think I’d have McCormack, Snodgrass and Becchio: with 36 goals amongst them they’d be a welcome addition to any Championship team, and, frankly, some Premiership teams too. Let’s hope for your sake that Ken Bates values them in white shirts.
Finally what is your prediction for the game on Saturday?
With Warnock and at Elland road, I believe you will be a tough proposition. I think most fans expect a win, given our away record, but I think a draw would be a good result for us right now (though not good enough to be convincing for promotion). However, in reality, I think Warnock will work his magic, and you will snatch it 1-0. I wouldn’t want to be between the two managers on the touch line – I imagine it will be fairly tense!
Leeds made the trip to the Riverside Stadium still in search of their first win under Neil Warnock. The former Sheffield United manager made two changes to his starting eleven for the game as Paul Robinson, on loan from Bolton made his debut at left back in place on Danny Pugh whilst Aidan White made his return from injury in a move which saw Danny Webber back on the bench. Boro went in to the match having won four out of their last five games and were seen as the favourites for the visit of Leeds but United had a score to settle after Marvin Emnes’ goal at Elland Road earlier in the season was enough to see Middlesbrough leave Elland Road with all three points.
Leeds started in that vein and Ross McCormack could have opened the scoring when a clever flick from Luciano Becchio found the Scot. McCormack can normally be relied upon in those types of situations but unfortunately for Leeds, he sliced his half volley wide of the post. There was also a nasty clash in the early stages which saw Lukas Jutkiewicz’ elbow find Darren O’Dea’s head and there were early concerns over the defender who has had spells out of the side this year with bad concussion. Thankfully O’Dea was deemed fit enough to continue and following on from that it wasn’t long before Leeds early dominance was rewarded. It was the man Neil Warnock made captain who scored the first goal of Warnock’s reign following some good work down the right from Aidan White. It was a shot that Steele in the Middlesbrough net should have saved but the Leeds fans didn’t care and it was 1-0 to United. The goal seemed to wake the home side up a little and they tried to put some pressure on the visitors. United stood up to it well though and after just under half an hour it was 2-0. A good ball from Robinson sent Leeds away on a counter attack and some good link up play between McCormack and Becchio via a mistake from Middlesbrough’s Hoyte left Becchio with an easy tap in to send Neil Warnock and the Leeds fans into dreamland. McCormack did particularly well to have the vision to set up Becchio when most people in the stadium were expecting United’s top scorer to have a shot.
Middlesbrough’s best chance of the game came on the back on a crunching tackle from new loan signing Paul Robinson. It was from the throw in that Barry Robson sent in a powerful half volley on the turn but Andy Lonergan was equal to it and sent the ball wide for a corner. It was Robinson again who came to the fore when Robson’s corner seemed to be going straight in. Robinson dived in and headed the ball clear. The away side then had another two chances to further stretch their lead when a looped ball from Michael Brown found Luciano Becchio who was onside but the Argentinian couldn’t steer his first time effort on target and it was over. Aidan White was the next man to miss a chance when a McCormack’s pass found White on the right hand side of the box but he too guided his effort over the top.
Leeds went in at the break two goals to the good, it was no more than the visitors deserved and it could have been four or five with the chances that they created. The second half started with Middlesbrough trying to get a foothold in the game and they earned an early corner which was brilliantly collected by Andy Lonergan. It was from Lonergan’s long clearance that sections of the Leeds following thought they had gone three up. McCormack found himself behind Boro’s back four and he teed up Snodgrass who fired the ball into the side netting. Middlesbrough had woken up at the start of the second half though and they were next to hit the side netting when a Barry Robson free kick was guided just wide by Rhys Williams.
Adam Clayton was the next to go close for Leeds when his long range shot was deflected over as United looked for that third goal to kill off any hopes of a Middlesbrough come back. With the game in the final ten minutes of normal time McCormack had a glorious opportunity to make it three when a great pass from Becchio sent United’s number 44 through on goal. However with the defender closing in on McCormack his tame effort wasn’t enough to beat Steele.
There was still time for some controversy as the fourth red card was shown in this fixture during the current campaign. It went to Barry Robson after he tangled with Adam Clayton. The card seemed harsh but Leeds didn’t care and Middlesbrough would have to finish the game with ten men. Forssell, Pugh and Webber entered the fray in the final stages as seven minutes of stoppage time were played out without any real incident. Middlesbrough should have pulled a goal back in the final minute when Andy Lonergan fumbled a tame Adam Hammill strike but the on-rushing Middlesbrough man couldn’t guide the ball into the empty net.
That was the last chance of the game and United thoroughly deserved their win. It was their first under Neil Warnock and the 2-0 scoreline saw the Whites record their third clean sheet in four games. The one goal conceded so far in Warnock’s reign was against the league leaders Southampton in a game in which we deserved to win, what a change Warnock has made already. United are now four points off the play offs and it is hard not to get carried away but it is important we don’t. However if United continue to play like this from now until the end of the season then it is certainly going to be an interesting ride. Particular praise has to go to the defence, they have all stepped up their performances in recent weeks and with the likes of McCormack, Snodgrass and Becchio going forward we are always going to be threat. Long may it continue.
The Whites head to the Riverside stadium this weekend for a lunchtime kick-off with Middlesbrough as Neil Warnock continues to look for his first win as Leeds United manager. The reverse fixture at Elland Road saw Leeds finish the game with 9 men when Max Gradel and Jonny Howson were both given their marching orders while Middlesbrough also had a man dismissed. Howson and Gradel have both since departed the club while United have a new setup under Neil Warnock who is the latest man to be given the task of getting Leeds United back to the Premiership.
Middlesbrough will be chasing their third successive victory when United come to town and their return of 59 points so far this season is the best they have produced since their last promotion to the Premier League in the 1997/98 season. If the home side are to record their first league double over the Whites since 1963, they will have to beat Leeds at home for the first time since they moved to the Riverside stadium. The last time Boro managed to beat United on home soil, Leeds were Champions in August 2010. The Whites have enjoyed six victories and three draws since then, including a 3-2 victory in which a certain Lamine Sakho scored during the 2003/04 season.
Alex Bruce and Leigh Bromby are both set to continue on the sidelines as the pair continue to struggle with their injuries. However Aidan White could return to action as he nears recovery from the knock he picked up at home to Southampton last weekend. Paul Robinson could also make his debut for the Whites after the veteran sat it out on the bench at Hull during the week giving boss Neil Warnock plenty of options at left back.
Danny Webber will be hoping to keep his place in the starting eleven after earning his first start at the KC stadium on Tuesday night. However the likes of Lloyd Sam and Ramon Nunez are also knocking on the manager’s door asking for a chance in the team.
Rhys Williams is back for the hosts after the midfielder missed out against Barnsley through suspension while Marvin Emnes, Adam Hammill, Julio Arca and Barry Robson will all face late fitness tests after picking up knocks in the clash with Leeds’ Yorkshire rivals in their last outing.
One To Watch:
Middlesbrough possess some quality players within their ranks such as Marvin Emnes, Lukas Jutkiewicz and Adam Hammill but the one I think United need to keep an eye on is Julio Arca. Although Arca faces a late fitness test, if he plays for Boro he is the type of player who can pull the strings for the team and really hurt his opponents. Arca has previously enjoyed spells at Argentinos Juniors and Sunderland before he made the £1.75 million to the Riverside stadium in 2006. Arca will create opportunities for Emnes and Jutkiewicz given the opportunity and United’s revitalised back four will have to be aware of Arca’s creativeness.
The trip to Middlesbrough is another tough one to call, the home side are on a good run of form as they look to secure their play off place. However Boro have only scored 19 goals at home all season and if Warnock can get the players to produce the same effort as they did at home to Southampton then there is every chance the Whites could leave the Riverside Stadium with all three points. Unfortunately I think Middlesbrough will just have too much for Leeds and I think they will come out on top of another tight game, 1-0.
Last Six Meetings:
13th August 2011 – Leeds United 0-1 Middlesbrough
1st January 2011 – Leeds United 1-1 Middlesbrough
16th October 2010 – Middlesbrough 1-2 Leeds United
31st January 2004 – Leeds United 0-3 Middlesbrough
30th August 2003 – Middlesbrough 2-3 Leeds United
15th March 2003 – Leeds United 2-3 Middlesbrough
Sunday sees the Whites travel north to face the Boro – Middlesbrough FC. Neil Warnock’s men will be looking for their first goal since he took permanent charge, in what promises to be a tough game. Jonathan Firby a Boro Fan and blogger is the editor of Boro site We Shall Overcome. Despite not writing much this season on the Boro, Jonathan runs a successful Facebook page throughout the year which you can view here.
So without further ado below are his answers, lets hope his score prediction is wrong though.
I asked you back in August if Tony Mowbray could get you promoted to the Premiership; your reply was that you’d be overjoyed if you made the play-offs. It looks like you will but can you go up automatically?
I think it has taken most fans by surprise how well we are doing this year but I think that a realistic view has to be finishing 3rd or 4th. If we can begin to sort our home form (starting with Leeds) and beat West Ham away the sky could be the limit though!
4th in the table with 59 points, do you fear dropping out of them towards the end of the season?
Not really… I think it will be a tight finish but we have been fairly consistent all season.
Considering your solid and fairly consistent season, do you think anything less than a play-off finish will be a failure, although you had a shocking year last season?
Personally no because I, like many fans, are happy we have the right Chairman, right manager and lots of academy lads in the team so even if we don’t make the play-offs I’ll still be happy watching the lads in the Championship. The way football is at the moment we are lucky to have a stable, local team that are at times a pleasure to watch.
You’ve recently signed Adam Hammill who I would love at Leeds. Are you pleased with the capture and his first performance?
I saw him play against Barnsley and was very impressed with him. He has pace, skill and he’s not shy with a trick or two when taking on players. He’s just what we need in the team and I hope we can make him a permanent addition to the squad.
Marvin Emnes seems to have stopped scoring as many goals I could be wrong. Is he back to his best and still a constant threat?
He scored a good goal last week against Portsmouth but as of late he hasn’t been knocking them in with as much regularity as at the start of the season. If Marv starts his pace up front will cause Leeds problems but if he fails to score the recent additions of Bart Ogbeche (who scored last against Barnsley) and Lukas Jutkiewicz hopefully will fill in.
What were your thoughts on the first game between us two…personally I thought all three dismissals were poor and we were the better side?
I thought the referee had an absolute shocker and I was very disappointed with the way Jonny Howson behaved. All the sending offs were dubious to say the least but I thought we just edged it on the day and deserved the three points (but I’m going to say that aren’t I?)
As well as Emnes and McDonald you’ve also got the big man Lukas JutKiewicz. Have you been impressed with him since his move from Coventry?
I am, especially since his Cup goal against Sunderland! He brings different qualities to our attacking line and has fitted into the balance of the team well.
How do you see Boro lining up on Sunday?
I can’t see Mowbray changing too much from the side that played Barnsley, injuries aside. If fit Nicky Bailey will come back into midfield and Tony McMahon may be brought in rather than Hoyte who for some reason if favoured usually for his attacking ability.
The crowds always look poor at the Riverside no offence, are you expecting a bigger crowd with it being a decent fixture, or has the TV and Sunday schedule ruined any chance of that?
It’s a strange one this. The TV will have an impact but Boro fans do see this game as a ‘true’ Yorkshire derby so crowd numbers will be up. I would of thought Leeds will be bringing a few thousand so my train journey home on Sunday evening will be an interesting one!
Who do Leeds fans need to watch out for?
Curtis Main – He may not start but he will feature at some point. He is another product of our academy and has recently broken into the first team. The young striker is quick and strong and despite only a few appearances has a senior goal to his name already.
Anyone from the Whites you’d like to bring to the Riverside?
McCormack has knocked a few goals in so he would be a nice addition but I do have a soft spot for Becchio.
And finally what is your prediction for the match?
If memory serves me correctly Leeds have failed to score in 3 games so you are probably due to score, but our defence has been looking solid of late… I think it will be tight, but I think we will just have the edge, especially if Nicky Bailey is back. I’ll go 1 – 0 to Boro with a goal coming from Barry Robson (maybe a penalty!)