As usual things are never straight forward for Leeds United. With lots of fans staying up for the transfer deadline on Thursday evening with the imminent signing of Dan James from Swansea, I went to bed. It was only the next day that I found the deal to be off due to Swansea in fighting, but I found the way they’d handled it as deplorable. What a terrible thing to do to a young player who was sat at his “new” club waiting for things to be finalised. Having just got home from the game tonight and hearing Swansea have parted ways with their chairman it looks like they have lots going on behind the scenes. I really liked Swansea at one time due to them playing in white and having the supporters having a say in the running of the club. How things change!
My granddaughter Laura and I bumped into some Irish lads from Enniskillen as we headed to The Peacock. The pub itself was absolutely heaving before the game and I didn’t even attempt to get to the bar which was about five deep everywhere. There was a good atmosphere though with plenty of singing. I met Mick from the Nottingham Whites who had bought one of my books to sign. He then bought Follow Me and Leeds United from me too so I hope he enjoys the read. He gave me some fantastic feedback from reading my book Back to Reality, Leeds United 2017-18 and I thank him for that. I’d already bumped into Matt prior to getting to the Peacock and thanks to him and also Linsey and Katie for buying this book also. As always I appreciate the support.
Fans had laid flowers at Billy’s statue in memory of Toby Nye and there was also a minute’s applause at the start of the game for both Toby and a little girl Sophie a Norwich City fan, who had also died from cancer as well as ex Leeds player Phil Masinga. Life can be very cruel sadly.
The team: Casilla, Cooper, Jansson, Ayling, Harrison, Alioski, Roofe, Hernandez, Roberts, Forshaw and Klich. Subs: Douglas for Harrison (46), Clarke for Hernandez, (46) and Bamford for Roberts (63). Leeds lost the game 3-1 with Bamford scoring for Leeds (90+1). Attendance was 36,524 with 2,465 Norwich fans.
The ground was rocking as the game kicked off with a sellout which included a full away end for once. The scarves held up all around the ground looked spectacular and I loved seeing that again. Leeds started off on the attack but within five minutes of the start were once again having to come from behind as Norwich took the lead. We gave away a free kick on the edge of the box and the ball found the top corner of the net in front of us via a deflection off the wall. We had a good chance to equalise as the ball fell to Alioski in the box but his shot skimmed across the front of the goal going wide. We had a couple of shots on target which were easily saved by their goalie. The referee should have twice booked two of the Norwich players for diving and cheating once the game stopped but he didn’t even speak to them. With Norwich being one of the teams to send a letter regarding our “spygate” to the EFL, had also painted the away dressing room pink to try and gain an advantage, it just shows what double standards they have. Before half time we had a great chance with Roberts through on goal only for him to be brought down by their goalie. I thought he was out of his area so it wouldn’t be a penalty, but as he was the last man he should have walked. A booking only sufficed but our resulting free kick was poor. Norwich were looking stronger than us as we looked weak when trying to get the ball from them. Even when we won the ball back we would give it away easily. Forshaw looked very calm as he took the ball then suddenly lost it and the ball just ran perfectly for Norwich as their player tapped it into the net after an initial strike deflected into his path to put them two goals up. Before the game I’d been asked if I was worried about playing Norwich and I said no. I only concentrate on Leeds United and take no notice of other teams. I will always make my judgements when watching the game myself. I realised we had a mountain to climb but thought we’d a few players not pulling their weight. We had got a different formation today with both Roberts and Roofe playing but I felt it wasn’t working well at all. Once again Harrison looked lightweight and he hasn’t proved to me that he deserves a place in the starting lineup only as an impact sub probably. Roofe was being well shackled and to be honest I think we missed Phillips in the team. Bielsa made his judgement to keep him on the bench today but I think it was a mistake not to have him on the pitch. Ayling also looks to be struggling and is definitely not playing well. That saying, we got the ball into the net just on the half time whistle and it took me a minute to realise the ref had disallowed it. Their goalie lost the ball and it should have stood. Sorry I forgot we are not allowed to challenge in the penalty area!
We were still positive going into the second half even though we were two goals down. Both Harrison and Hernandez were subbed for Douglas and Clarke but it didn’t make a difference to the way we played. I thought Douglas was very poor when he came on and would much rather have put Alioski at left back and brought Phillips on. It was ages before we got the ball to Clarke too but when he did get it, he always looked dangerous. Norwich were still the stronger of the teams overall but their play acting I can well do without, although we were still giving the ball away far too easily. Maybe when things are so difficult in getting near the penalty area we should try having more shots from outside the box. I know many will go skyward but catching the goalie unawares may work. To cap it all, Norwich got a third goal when the ball went through Casilla’s legs to put the score beyond doubt. Bamford hit the crossbar before getting a consolation goal for us in injury time. With the home terraces emptying at great speed, we stayed where we were until the bitter end. It was a very disappointing game for Leeds and I don’t think we played well at all, only in small patches.
As always we have to move on and that will be for the Boro game next week which is now another early kick off apparently due to police advice. I will take the game as it comes even though it will be tough. There is still a long way to go to see how the season ends, but anyone can beat anyone in this division as we found out today. See you there, LUFC – Marching on Together.
Heidi Haigh – A fanatical Leeds United supporter of over 50 years
Author of the following books:
Follow Me and Leeds United
Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan
Co-author with Andrew Dalton of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of Leeds United
The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-17
OUT NOW! Back to Reality, Leeds United 2017-18