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Saturday, 3 March 2018

Middlesbrough v Leeds Utd 2nd March 2018.

It's Friday night and the weather is triple Baltic with every media outlet advising not to travel unless absolutely necessary but as the TV gods had dictated that Boro v Leeds should go ahead I joined 3,000 Leeds fans heading for a frozen Riverside Stadium.  Madness, blind loyalty or bloody mindedness?  I'll let you decide!  As it happens the roads were relatively clear and I arrived in good time to contemplate the latest challenge for the mighty whites.  Having come straight from work with my thermal Hi Viz jacket on my thoughts were frequently interrupted with strange requests from fellow Leeds fans....... "Where's the toilets mate?"  "Is the bar open at half time" and my favourite "Arrest him occifer he's pissed" Even Thumbs Up Phil thought I was auditioning for a job!

Hecky's team was unchanged from the victory against Brentford leaving ex Boro player Forshaw on the bench.  The away end was in belligerent mood as the game kicked off to a vociferous soundtrack of the Leeds United songbook. It might be so cold that even the brass monkeys were huddled round their living room fire but the Leeds fans decided singing and dancing was the best way to keep warm.  Either that or to numb what was destined to be an iconic woeful performance!

The first 15 minutes were very open and Leeds tried to get on the front foot with some bold attacking play that saw Alioski fire wide before Saiz found space and wasted a glorious chance to give Leeds the lead.  The problem was at the other end where Boro were of the same attacking intent with the prancing Unicorn, Bamford, and Traore causing the Leeds defence all sorts of problems as the home side built the pressure on an already creaking defence.  It didn't help that Wiedwald had resorted to his Dracula persona as he hesitated or flapped at any cross coming into the box.  Clearly the astute Boro manager, Mr Pulis, had highlighted our brittle weakness on the flanks and absolute fear of crosses into the box and his charges were exploiting it to the full.  When it came Boro's first goal was no surprise and neither was the manner it was conceded.

Stewart Downing was given the freedom of the right wing to set up a cross into the box..........although the box was crammed with defenders the prancing Unicorn, Bamford, was allowed space and time to nonchalantly flick the ball past Wiedwald to give the home side the lead.  Jansson's attempt to stop him was pathetic.  Minutes later Traore picked up the ball in his own half and sliced through at least 4 attempted "tackles" as he drove towards the Leeds box before releasing Bamford who although a tad offside was able to slide the ball through Wiedwald with no challenge from Jansson.  Absolutely shocking non defending by Leeds.  2:0 Boro and Leeds in complete disarray.  Half time came with the score still 2.0 but it should have been more.  If this was a horse race there would be a steward's enquiry into the Leeds performance it was that bad.

The urinal philosophers were incandescent with rage.  "Has anyone made a f****** tackle in that half" ranted one fan............."why do we persist with Wiedwald? He flaps more than an excited Hummingbird" an annoyed fan wanted to know whilst one fan asked the question we all wanted know "What the f*** has happened to Jansson.  He's even scared of Bamford"  Mmmm the natives were restless to say the least.  Still an early goal in the 2nd half..........................

Unfortunately the 2nd half followed the course of the first period with Bamford given the freedom of the Leeds defence Traore beating Leeds players at will and the Leeds players failing to lay a finger on any of the opposition.  Vieira and Forshaw replaced Alioski and Phillips at half time to improve matters slightly but quite frankly this was one of the worst performances by a Leeds team I've seen and on so many levels.  The goalie instills panic in his defence every time a cross comes into the box.  Our tackling and marking of opposition players is so lightweight it's embarrassing. It wouldn't be as bad if the players looked as if they were giving a 100% but I'm afraid they don't with the odd exception.  For the record Leeds did have a couple of chances which Jansson headed wide and Bamford got his first ever hat trick when he slowly "pounced" on a rebound to shoot past Wiedwald.  All very painful to watch.  The game ended 3.0 to an impressive Boro side.

As we streamed away from the Riverside into the freezing night there were many heavy hearts amongst the travelling fans.  They had sung their hearts out throughout the game.  They had encouraged and supported the Leeds effort when it was clear it was having no affect.  What I struggle with is the powder puff tackling and slack marking.  With all due respect to Bamford who is a good player but we never put him under any pressure all night.  His game is based on silky skills but he is the most unaggressive centre forward on the planet and yet our supposed "rock" at the heart of our defence, Jansson, didn't even ruffle a hair on his well coiffured head! Disgraceful in my book.  This game goes down on that very long list of shocking and embarrassing performances by a Leeds "team" along with iconic memories of capitulation at places like, Hereford, Sheff Wed, Swindon, Northampton, Millenium Stadium, etc etc.

Another season that's drifting weakly to the rocks of 15th place oblivion I'm afraid.  Just the runaway, classy leaders, Wolves, up next at Elland Road then........................Following Leeds United is an absolute joy said nobody ever!

Can't wait.

MOT

3 comments:

Leeds watcher since 65 said...

Pitiful and embarrassing.

Keith Ingham said...

Superb as usual Andrew. It’s a travesty that great support is rewarded by such a shockingly bad display. I worry that Hecky might follow TC out of the revolving door at Leeds because the players seem uninterested. Many need to be out of the door in the summer and take Orta with them. So fed up with it all.

Keith Ingham said...

Such a gutless performance. Superb blog

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