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Watford 0 Leeds United 1 (28/08/2010) 29/08/2010

Posted by Matt Rowson in Match reports.

Five thunks from the first League reverse of the season

1- The sort of game, frankly, that I was dreading in the summer. Leeds weren’t particularly better than us – but they were bigger, stronger and, crucially, one goal up for most of the game. An equaliser was never beyond the realms of possibility… indeed, our second half flurries constituted the most convincing spell of pressure from either side – but nor did it look overwhelmingly likely. Pre-match discussion had suggested that this game would help inform whether the season was to contain unexpected revelry on a par with Norwich, or whether we were to be a soft touch as suggested a couple of times since. Unfortunately, one suspects that there will be further frustrating afternoons in store… we don’t have the physical presence to win a battle, or the depth of options to change a game that needs changing.

2- Having said which, it’s difficult to fathom Swash Buckley starting on the bench. The source of so much of our positive attacking play this season, if his selfless running and bringing other players into the game sometimes resembles the contribution of Danny Graham, Graham’s enforced absence made Buckley’s omission all the more mystifying. The frustration was exacerbated by a shambolic performance from replacement Jordan Mutch, whose showing was an exaggerated pastiche of one of Henri Lansbury’s early, less convincing games. Clearly a talented player – his one or two good moments were amongst our best – he largely struggled to contribute in his role at the front of the diamond, often needing too much time in possession and consequently losing it, shying away from the physical confrontation and too frequently shooting optimistically from distance. As with Lansbury, we have to hope that player and team work out how to benefit from each other in time.

3- Troy Deeney. Lots to love and lots to agitate over already… strong as an ox, great touch, worked hard, but (as I may already have suggested) recalls Gifton Noel-Williams in his ability to antagonise a referee (an irritating little nerk in this case) by being big and awkward. His strength will be a massive asset, we just need to suss out how to use it, and that involves Troy working out how not to give cheap free kicks away. Significantly, having been at fault in the calamity that preceded Naylor’s goal, Deeney subsequently proved very adept at dropping back to support his defence at set pieces. Plenty of raw material here.

4- Kasper Schmeichel was amongst the most demoralising aspects of the afternoon, plucking even the better of our highly variable crosses with what might have been a yawn. He has also inherited his father’s enormous kick, and only once looked troubled when a right-wing second-half cross left him exposed but unpunished as our forwards weren’t alert enough to attack the far post. One particularly aggravating moment came when Schmeichel came out bravely to pluck the ball from Martin Taylor’s head… I’d maintain that Taylor’s showings thus far constitute a big improvement on what we saw last season, but he’s still not nasty enough. Given the obstacle that Schmeichel was providing, forgive me, but I’d quite like to have seen Schmeichel flat on the floor and the ball in the net, even at the cost of a free kick. Taylor had every right to claim the header, but didn’t do so.

5-I’m completely in favour of the pragmatic use of the East Side of the ground; in the absence of a stand, the erection of commentating gantries and the like can only be interpreted as sensible, whilst the benches enjoy their long-awaited roof safe in the knowledge that nobody’s view is being obscured. It does feel rather… resigned though. Much as I know that nothing’s doing there any time soon, I’d like to be able to prolong the illusion of progress – semi-permanent constructions kinda forbid this….


1. The Great Big O - 30/08/2010

Thunk five: I agree. I just read a Leeds fan’s blog inaccurately describing the ground as a building site. I wish. Demolition site isn’t a good look.

2. Gin n Tonic - 30/08/2010

I understand peoples love of Buckley, he is the type of player the crowd rise too, remember Wooter…. However he needs to learn get get his head up. There was one moment when he came on when he ran from the right wing all the way to the left and basically 10 yards from Cowie. A pass to Cowie much earlier would have been more effective and much quicker and given teh team more options. A friend of mine on the coaching staff at the club has said to me previously that if hey open the door at the back of the Rookery he would probably keep running and end up in the allotments!

Sordell a problem for us, I feel, another friend of mine is a Wealdstone season ticketholder. Wealdstone had him on loan a while back, he said then Marvin wouldn’t make it in the top two divisions simply due to his touch not being good enough. Sadly the last few performances seem to be backing up his statement. Has pace and may yet be an asset coming off the bench. Surely a loan striker is a must unfortunately was his playing which ultimately led to the Leeds goal head the ball back across the goal.

McGinn did he play? Far too lightweight for the championship maybe out wide but so far, I am not sold at all. For me with the window closing I would sell Loach for £2m, a loan back will be great, and invest the cash in three or four players. I am excited by this is a young squad but I do feel we need to add more experience heads to help this side nit and develop.

A week off due to internationals after which I expect to see at least two more players (Loan) added to the squad. Whether or not the are of the right quality remains to be seen.

Matt Rowson - 30/08/2010

The run you mention was just what we needed, even if it came to nothing, even if there were better options. It was a statement… up to that point all we’d done was lob balls into the box for Schmeichel to catch, occasionally supplemented by a long-range shot from Mutch. Buckley needs to improve his decision making, but for me his impact yesterday was positive.

Agree about Sordell. We need to work out how to use him… whether he makes it depends on whether he can improve his touch, or whether we can employ him in such a way that this doesn’t matter too much.

As my co-editor would say, McGinn struggles out wide. I think he’s looked reasonably promising in the middle.

Gin n Tonic - 30/08/2010

Actually thought Cowie was doing well in the second half and got at the left back a number of times, switching him to the left when Buckley came on hindered his game IMO he did nothing after.

Also think you will find Buckley is not fit and carrying a knock hence why he did not start.

Getting width / good crosses in in a diamond formation relies on the fullback….. There lies the problem area of the team i’m afraid. Hodson needs to consentrait on his defending and Doyley cant cross the road!

Matt Rowson - 30/08/2010

Which begs the question, why are we set on it? It worked well at Norwich, but if the responsibility asked of fullbacks is the limitation (which I wouldn’t dispute) and if Mackay has been getting the side comfortable with playing a number of ways (and I’m all for that), why persist with a formation that doesn’t suit the personnel?

3. rousman - 30/08/2010

1. agree 2.the diamond formation worked great at Norwich (we matched them up) but on saturday until WB came on we had no width & made life very easy for there back four while at the same time not so easy for our front two (who both worked very hard) but we did miss DG. Jordan Mutch is not for me he played JE in to trouble on more than one occasion I think that is why JE was only maybe a 6/7 instead of his normal 8+. 3. agree. 4. Schmeichel was very positive in every thing he did which is what you need when there are a lot of high ball coming into the box. Taylor for me along with Mariappa were our best two player’s. 5. the East Stand ! Blackpool in 2 months have a new stand on the cheap lots of pillars low cost option but it is in place.

4. RookeryMike - 30/08/2010

The East Stand. It is only aesthetics though isn’t it. The East Stand, whilst not great to look at, is hardly required…14,000 yesterday, 12,000 against Coventry, we’re hardly bursting at the seams.

I think the fact that it is a lasting reminder as to our financial failings is hard to take, but hey, we’re on the road to recovery and until we do recover, I can cope with having a three sided ground.


Matt Rowson - 30/08/2010

If thunk 5 were supposed to be halfway rational then I could try making the case that a decent ground that doesn’t look like it’s falling to pieces might foster a more positive mentality and pull the crowds back. But I wasn’t… I know we’ve got a list of priorities, and I’m not disputing where this sits in it.

5. Matt Churchill - 30/08/2010

We looked a lot better in the second half and thought that at times Leeds couldn’t cope with us. The toothlessness in front of goal, KS aside, is a little bit of a worry, especially if super Dan ends up out of action for any length of time.

6. MartinG - 30/08/2010

That was disappointing. Schmeichel never really had to work for his money considering he’s not the tallest of goalies. I’d be interested to know our goals to corners ratio cause we get lots of the latter but almost none of the former.

7. MartinG - 30/08/2010

….from corners

8. SteveT - 30/08/2010

All in all, It was a frustrating game neatly summarised by the BBC highlights which scraped the barrel to find any evidence of us creating a clear cut chance.

Contrary to your thunk 3 – wasn’t Sordell the one who headed the ball back across goal?

Re thunk 2 – I believe that Buckley can’t do 90 minutes and as the same is true for Sordell I reckon Malky elected to have one of them on the bench.

As for Mutch – I felt really sorry for him. You could see him trying to do the right thing but getting everything wrong. In the end he had a horror of a game.

He wasn’t helped though by the lack of shape to the midfield. Cowie isn’t a right winger and McGinn certainly isn’t a left winger. I’d like to see McGinn in Mutch’s position – McGinn hits the box well and heads very well.

9. Joons - 30/08/2010

Excellent work as ever, Matt.
My thunks:
1. Naylor and Collins are two nasty yet effective pieces of work aren’t they? I as disappointed to see us play into their hands, therefore, with a succession of long passes. I can’t help feel that Bucko would have exposed their lack of mobility and pace.
Also last year Jonny Howson was rated as one of the top midfielders in Division 3, yet on Saturday he combined with Kilkenny to be a petulant pr@t.

2. We really missed Danny G – Sordell looks more like an impact sub than a starter. I like Troydeenio, those GNW comparisons are fairly valid, especially his high foul count. I like his work ethic, though.

3. Mutch didn’t really work well with Captain John, so I would like to see Walker start the next game, and given time to settle in.

4. If Martin Taylor had half the aggressive nature Wenger accused him of having a few years ago, he’d be a fearsome player. He wouldn’t be playing for us, though.

5. The way Bucko rinsed Hughes with a simple ‘push it past him and run’ move showed what we were missing – pace out wide and some adventure. I would like to see him start the next few games, too.

10. Dave Jackson - 31/08/2010

Agree with Joons on Buckley starting the next game…and how about finishing it too?
Not sure where Steve T’s evidence about him not lasting 90 minutes comes from. He’s looked fine in all the league games so far this season and we’ve only looked the poorer for his absence.

Steve T - 31/08/2010

Hi Dave

I’ve seen most of our home games and I’ve felt that Buckley tends to be blown out by the 75th – 80th minute.

A friend of mine recently compared Buckley to Nicky Wright – which is no bad thing in some respects. However, Buckley doesn’t have an injury free record and when he joined us there were stories (and press articles) about how he’d suffered muscle pains from growth spurts.

For the moment I reckon he’s the sort that needs to be kept in cotton wool for a while until any muscle imbalances can be corrected. Malky will therefore be presented with a problem of whether he should start Buckley and take him off after 75 minutes or use him as an impact sub.

11. SteveG - 31/08/2010

If the rumoured signing of a LB turn out to be ture, I still think there could yet be some mileage in playing Hodson in right midfield ahead of Doyley at RB. You might then get some of the quality of crosses that have been lacking with a bit more defensive cover.

SteveG - 31/08/2010

or maybe even if it turns out to be true! Bloody typos!

12. DW - 31/08/2010

1. There is no such thing as a one man team but Saturday showed we are not far off.
2. Much is destined to go the way of Bridcut (Brighton?).
3. Marriapa is looking very good, on at least 2 occasions he covered for Hodson who is a work in progress. It’s always a fine line but I feel that Hodson’s progress should not be in the first XI now we have a left back with a left foot.
4. It’s going to be tight this season but we really do try and that is enough for me.
5. WB not starting was most strange, lets hope that lesson has been noted.

Matt Rowson - 01/09/2010

re (1): I don’t think it’s any secret that we’ve a thin first team squad, and our “senior” players (Graham certainly one of those) would all be missed badly if absent. Not sure about one man team tho… I suspect that Eustace’s absence would have similar effect for one.

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