Yesterday saw us with free time with the game being tomorrow so I attended the Leeds United Supporters Trust meeting first and then headed to join other fans for our singing practice. Unfortunately because of the latter I had to leave the AGM before Allan Clarke spoke which was a shame. Allan is still as passionate about Leeds United as us fans and it is great to listen to him as I did the last time at an LFU meeting. Our singing practice went really well with a group of Leeds fans and hopefully our recording of all the old Leeds songs and some of the later ones from the terraces will be done soon.
An early kick off beckoned for the rearranged game due to Sky where Leeds fans had sold out their allocation of approx. 4,600 in minutes again. Unfortunately some of our loyal fans were left wanting for tickets due to the influx of fans clamouring for them. Billy’s bar was open for bacon sarnies before we set off to the game. When our coach arrived for the police escort, we pulled up behind a Tetley’s coach. All of a sudden both coaches started moving and then a group of fans ran alongside us both chasing the other coach! It did look funny but at least they were lucky they weren’t being left behind as they were only moving us further up the road. Our police escort was very good especially when all the traffic was stopped for us and we drove on the wrong side of the road past everyone. When we arrived at the ground I was surprised to find us dropped off outside the turnstiles and our coaches were going to be there when we came out. That was good though as normally we had quite a walk which isn’t an issue for some of us. They were usually pretty good here for our disabled fans though who were normally taken on a coach to and from the ground.
The first thing I noticed was a fence had been put up between the home turnstiles and ours outside the Leppings Lane entrance. Having seen a video recently of the Sheffield Utd fans and Wednesday fans posturing at each other, I reckoned this is why it had been put up to separate the two sets of fans. As soon as I got in I went to the front of the stand to hang my banner up and what I can say, is that a steward was really helpful and friendly which was good to see.
The team today was Wiedwald, Ayling, Jansson, Pennington, Berardi, Phillips, O’Kane, Alioski, Saiz, Lasogga and Roofe. Subs were Sacko for Alioski (62) , Hernandez for Roofe (62) and Dallas for Jansson (71) who went off injured with a shoulder injury. Leeds lost the game 3-0 and attendance was 27,972 with approx. 4,600 Leeds fans.
Everyone was in high spirits even though we’d had a couple of hard away games at Millwall and Cardiff. The Sheffield Wednesday message boards had been in melt down due to playing us now as they hadn’t had such a good start to the season. I couldn’t tell you where they were in the table or how they’d played or anything as I don’t take any notice of the opposition, apart from knowing Tom Lees still played for them! The one thing I found I couldn’t tweet on this week was when LUFC said that the last time we’d played them there we’d won 2-0. Maybe I had a premonition!! A big thank you to Nigel from the White Rose LUSC for his support in buying my book Follow Me and Leeds United and enjoy the read! I was glad to catch up with Cayne and his dad Lee as it was Cayne’s first away game today.
In the first 20 minutes of the game though it was all Leeds and we really should have put the game to bed in that time. We had a couple of clear chances and my thoughts were that we had to take our chances when they are there. Saiz had a great run and his cross saw Alioski head it into the side netting. It’s a shame that wasn’t on target as it deserved an end goal. At that time I felt that Wednesday were there for the taking as they didn’t look to have much confidence. I can’t say what really changed the game though, but all of a sudden Wednesday upped their game and scored. First Jansson then another of our players missed the ball as their player beat Wiedwald to score their first. That was just the tonic that Wednesday needed and they became a different side to the one I’d seen in the opening minutes. I don’t really think Leeds were in the game much after that and we actually made them look good. The goal had given them confidence and belief and we were at sixes and sevens with a couple of times our players clashing as they went for the same ball. Passes were going short or astray and collectively were looking very poor. As the Wednesday fans chanted “Leeds are falling apart again” and “We all hate Leeds scum” it was with great satisfaction seeing them shut straight up and deflate when the Leeds fans with their gallows humour sang the same back at them.
As they scored their second goal before half time many Leeds fans were getting agitated. From my point of view we were getting overrun in midfield once again and it looked like lessons had not been learnt from our last two away defeats. One suggestion I would like to make to Thomas Christiansen is that he learns from Don Revie. Don would always have one of his colleagues sat in the stand with the fans. As they were higher up than the side of the pitch they were able to see from a different perspective of how things were not working on the pitch and were able to change things. The fans around me could all see that we needed to bolster that area because Wednesday were bypassing the midfield and putting constant pressure on the back four and goalie. Also we were our own worst enemies by constantly passing back to Wiedwald to enable him to play out from the back, we were putting more and more pressure on our defence. The best form of defence is attack so by keeping possession going forward we would keep the ball away from the opposition. When one attack came in and they shot at Wiedwald in front of us he palmed the ball away when others around me were shouting he should have caught it. I just thought he maybe wanted to make sure he got the ball away. I really felt that we should have changed our shape in the first half but we didn’t, continuing with the same formation which meant that Wednesday carried on running rings around us.
At half time it was nice to catch up with Tim who was one of my local Leeds fans I went around with in the seventies. We go back a long time as Leeds fans and hearing that he’d had some bad news with his best friend’s family, my heart goes out to them all. That’s what Leeds fans do; support other Leeds fans when needed.
The start of the second half also saw no changes so we carried off where we left off at half time, on the back foot. We were crying out for Christiansen to change things especially as he said he would have a few games plans. Don’t get me wrong, I like him very much and what he is trying to achieve, but seems to have not learnt from the last two away defeats even though he changed the personnel. Just before he made his two subs on 62 minutes Leeds had won a corner on the left hand side to us. When Alioski hit it so hard that it went flying past the goal and out at the other side for a goal kick, everyone groaned. My initial thoughts were why did he hit it so hard and them realised a sub was coming on. I knew then that Alioski was going off which proved to be. Was that a reaction from him knowing he was being subbed?
We did start off playing brighter and looked more up for the game then as we started to put pressure on Wednesday. Shortly after the subs though Jansson went down injured with his shoulder and ended up going off on a stretcher which was all we needed. It was a case of s**t or bust then as Dallas was brought on. Unfortunately we never really got going after this and to cap it all a bad pass from O’Kane when trying to play out from the back only succeeded in Wednesday getting hold of the ball and scoring a third. They had hit a post and Wiedwald had made two cracking saves before that otherwise they’d have slaughtered us! It was a bad day at the office today and a very quiet fan base. After the support shown at Cardiff it was a little disappointing that we didn’t sing as much but there again there is only so much some fans can take. There were some boos from fans at the end although that isn’t something I did and I stayed until the bitter end despite fans from both sides disappearing to the exits. On reaching the crossroads to the turnstiles where the Wednesday fans were coming out, we had to walk in between them and the police to get across to our coaches. At least it was placid enough thank goodness.
We now have no game next week due to another International break although it looks like Jansson will miss out after being called up for Sweden. I feel that we were very poor collectively as a team today. I know many fans are blaming Wiedwald, saying that he isn’t strong enough in his area. With the way we play out from the back, we need our midfield to take the strain and keep the ball more up front. We spend so much time going back towards him that we are constantly putting Wiedwald under pressure so no wonder it looks bad from a fan’s perspective. Personally I do think we have to work from the back but we also need to keep going forwards more rather than backwards so much. We also need to field a stronger midfield away from home and have a different formation. Again I do feel Christiansen is trying to play attacking football, especially on the break but that seems to be playing into the hands of the opposition. We cannot afford to keep on doing this and have to have a different way of freezing out the opposition and if it means an extra man in the midfield and I don’t mean Roofe or Alioski on the wing then so be it!
After the break we have Reading at home to look forward to plus Bristol City away and Leicester in the next round of the Carabao Cup. Let’s hope the rest does us good and if Christiansen wants to send one of his coaches up in to the away stand with us fans, he would definitely see a different game to what he sees pitch side. It may help him see what we see!! See you then – LUFC – Marching on Together!