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Thread: Blades 0 Leeds 1 - report

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2008

    Blades 0 Leeds 1 - report

    Leeds were victorious in the Yorkshire derby at Bramall Lane for the first time since 1992 when they won the top-flight championship. It was a big win for the visitors who solidified their position in the top two and in doing so dealt a blow to fellow promotion rivals United who lost for the first time at home since opening day. In truth it was a game where neither side really deserved to win the game and a point would have been fair. The Blades maybe had more chances but Henderson made more saves than Peacock Farrell. Both Sharp and Roofe missed good headed chances whilst the two keepers made saves from Halme and then McGoldrick respectively. Ultimately it was a howler from the Blades custodian that settled the game as he gave Leeds their winner on a plate to Hernandez.

    Manager Wilder made three changes with Baldock, Sharp and Duffy in for Freeman, Lundstram and Washington. Clarke and Freeman were not in the matchday squad presumably due to injuries. Leeds started with young keeper Peacock Farrell in goal after his penalty save in the week and began with Kemar Roofe as a lone striker supported by Hernandez and Alioski.

    United started on the front foot with Basham making several marauding runs as the Blades found gaps through the middle. Norwood was involved at the base of the midfield prompting and Stevens and Baldock were well advanced. Leeds broke out and had an opening but Basham stepped in to make a key block. Cooper had to hobble off after he fell awkwardly and was replaced by number 52 Halme!

    McGoldrick had the first effort when he ran forward and hit a raking low shot that Peacock Farrell tipped round the post.

    Stevens was booked for a soft foul and this was a theme that would continue most of the game. Henderson made a tremendous point blank save from the sub Halme who dropped on the second ball to fire goalward. Egan was then carded after Roofe rolled him to get behind the centre back. The free kick was blocked and then at the other end Peacock Farrell who had looked less than happy with the crossed ball; dropped a Duffy centre but as McGoldrick wildly blazed over; the referee had adjudged it to be a foul. Roofe was then booked for a high challenge on Egan.

    The best chance of the half came when McGoldrick sent over a delightful cross but Sharp nodded down and over when he should have scored. It was a really bad miss and out of character for the striker who has not scored since his hat trick in October against Wigan.

    The second half saw Leeds make a change with Alioski hooked for the youngster Clarke. The youngster was brought down by Baldock who was booked and then the same man forced Henderson into a low save. Klitsch then danced his way through and Henderson had to save again as Leeds looked the more threatening now.

    Washington replaced the disappointing Duffy and McGoldrick dropped into the advanced midfield role.
    United came again and after indecisive defending, McGoldrick was able to get on the loose ball and with Peacock Farrell out of position, the striker drew a man and seemed set to score but he rather telegraphed his shot and the keeper kept it out with his feet.

    The game was finely poised and it seemed one goal would settle it. Leeds were finding more gaps but at the back they did not look convincing and the home side were still throwing men forward. Norwood was booked for a blocking foul before some odd decisions both ways infuriated all sides of the ground.

    Stevens fired over with a rasping drive but Leeds were inches away from leading when Roofe headed just wide after a cross came over from the right. It seemed a moment of quality or a mistake would settle it and it was the latter.

    Egan knocked a ball back but it was overhit and sent Henderson scampering across. The keeper inexplicably kicked it weakly straight to Clarke who showed great awareness to roll it back across goal and HERNANDEZ tapped home. It was a dreadful goal to concede and with less than 10 minutes to play; United now had all on even getting a point from the game.

    Halme was booked for knocking Sharp over with the United skipper finally getting a decision after a frustrating afternoon. United huffed and puffed and won a few corners but they came to nothing. Washington chased down a loose ball and O’Connell centered but it was cleared by Jansson. Johson came on for Stevens as the game then went into 4 minutes of additional time. United won another corner and as the ball dropped, Washington hooked an overhead kicked effort and it beat the keeper but bounced off the bar and away. It was not long after when Johnson overhit his cross, that the final whistle went seeing a rare Leeds win at the Lane and putting them temporarily top of the league until Norwich usurped them later in the day.

    United – Frustrating as hell. We should never have lost but we say this so much. We should never had drawn is often said. Never do I say we were lucky to win that. Only twice have we got draws v Birmingham and Rotherham where we did not deserve it. Every other win we have had to play well and deserve it. We simply do not get wins unless we play really well.

    It is a real case of déjà vu as United created a fair few good chances, had a lot of the ball and controlled large swathes of the game but once again a game where we maybe deserved to draw or even edge a win; we lost. It happened countless times last season and is happening again this season. Sadly, it is not a coincident this keeps happening. We do not do enough in both boxes when it matters and so many times in the last 12 months at home have teams stole something at the Lane at the death. We make mistakes or do not finish. No one was particularly awful but no one offensively was stand out.

    Today we did alright. At times we played some good stuff and at a good tempo. We got men forward and pinned Leeds back. We had large spells where we are on top and if Sharp scores that chance or McGoldrick scores his chance it is different but even taking those away I felt we did not do enough in the final third and lacked belief. Poor crosses, poor final ball and no one committing defenders. For a home side I did expect a bit more second half. We were the only side at home today not to score in the Championship and we need to really do more to pressure the keeper/defence who had just one save to make in either half.

    I thought we shaded the first half but it was quite even. I felt too many key men were not at their best and this has happened a lot in the last 7 or 8 games. People rave about Norwood, Fleck and Duffy but they are very inconsistent at the moment. Duffy has played well in about 1 game in the last 5. Ditto for Fleck. The latter I think has had a poor season – I got called a lot of that but he is not really influencing games in terms of creating or scoring. The defence was fine saved for the silly back pass and a few moments where players dived in and of course Henderson makes the big rick. I felt we had some ok performances but not enough stand out performances. Outside of Bash who played really well? You could say the same for Leeds and both teams cancelled each other out somewhat but if we want to get in the top places, we have to have players really grasping the nettle. Our midfield three and strikers did not really do that today.

    I see some on twitter being quite optimistic about the performance and where we are and we have played well most of this season but I see real parallels with the side from last season in terms of us starting to trail off. I do not see Wilder getting much more out of this group really. That is not a criticism of him or the players. We tend to forget none of these players have played higher than middle champ or League One. That is a fact. Indeed, many are very definitely journeyman type players who Wilder has got punching above their weight. On one hand we have many fans of rivals telling us we have players that no one would get excited about but and we get annoyed but they are right. There is a reason why players like Sharp, Fleck, Duffy, Bash, McGoldrick etc have never played top level. They are not good enough to do that. That may seem harsh but again is reality. They are not good enough or consistent. A lot of the time I look at McGoldrick and Duffy and think how have they not played top level but then I look at the lack of goals/end product and consistency week in, week out and you see why.

    I feel frustrated tonight. I am not sure why. We are right up amongst the challengers and have some exciting games to come but I see the same again v West Brom and Derby etc. We saw it so many times last season where we have more of the ball, create stuff, don’t finish teams and ultimately teams sneak a goal and get points they do not deserve. As I say it has happened too many times for it to be a coincidence. Wilder needs some help and if he does not get it; I think we will end up around the mid table places. I said this at the start of the season and got panned for it but on personnel and wage bill that would still be a very good achievement. Look at comparable squads/players such as Stoke, Swansea, Preston, Millwall, Reading, Hull (many of them have players who have played much higher) and where they are now.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    We have some big games coming up over Xmas and I still enjoy watching us play and maybe should not be so down and remember where we have come from but I have a nagging feeling we have another golden chance (and still do) to capitalise on a brilliant manager and a good core and are not going to take it. I worry how long he will keep getting 100% out of this group as he can have his rants like he does but he knows for the most part the team and the players are doing their best.

    Leeds – Was a huge coup getting Bielsa after so many managers and the chaos over the last few years with ownership etc. He is a well-respected and renowned manager and clearly has some tremendous ideas and concepts in his coaching and the execution over his career has been successful with so many clubs in lots of countries. Like us they play a high press and tempo game and all the players buy into it. They have some decent individuals but not sure they have any huge stand outs. They have a few better technical players than us in certain positions but don’t see them having as much talent as say Stoke, West Brom, Villa, Boro or Derby out of the top sides.

    A lot of their success is down to following his plan and beliefs and incredible work ethic and fitness. They started the season so well and had tailed off a bit but now on another good run. Like United last season (and maybe this) I do wonder whether they can maintain this high level of intensity and pressure football; on and off the ball. Be interesting to see what happens in 2019 after Xmas. My gut feeling is his demands and professionalism suggests they might be in the top 6 but maybe just off for the top 2.

    Today they showed why they are doing well with high pressing, work rate and some decent stuff. At times I felt we matched or edged them and defensively they looked shaky at times. They were fortunate to get a win but then they were in the week apparently and the work ethic grinds teams down. They had chased down Henderson on every back pass and would not let him have time. It ultimately paid off. They allowed Egan to have the ball as they know he is not mobile or skilful enough to do much with it. I felt first half they struggled with us and we could have gone in leading but they still also had the best effort on goal but of course Sharp missed a sitter. Second half other than the one McGoldrick chance; not sure we had lots of chances and I felt they kind of wore us out a bit. They seemed to have a good spell and Roofe missed a clear header and Henderson made a few low saves but then we came on again and up to when they scored you felt maybe we might edge it if anyone. After this they had a lucky let off with the bar being hit.

    They are very fit and they press and harry. They don’t have lots of great individuals. Hernandez is a talent and Roofe works really hard. They have two big centre backs but they also have lots of youth and I felt for spells it showed with their energy and pressing making us panic or make bad decisions after good play to get into good positions. For all the talk about money I bet their squad cost even less than ours. They have a lot of players through the ranks or cheap foreign signings.

    Opponent man of the match – They had a lot of hard working and functional players. The lad Klich showed some neat touches and the young lad who came on Clarke was much more of a threat than Alioski. I thought the best player on the field was Phillips. He handled our attacking threat down this side well, made good tackles and used it well. He is a midfielder too but played left sided centre back and looked a real class act. Roofe worked hard and is decent on the air. Douglas set play was quite mixed today.

    Weak link – Alioski. Thought he was dreadful in the two games last year and the same again today. He spends more time on the floor than playing. His touch is bad and he does not work back. The keeper was a close second. I felt he was really dodgy and reminded me of Simonsen. A big lad who somehow made himself smaller on crosses and struggled with every high ball. Even the save he made he got in a bad position.

    Henderson 6/10 – Odd one to mark him so low as he would have been closer to a 8/10 but his mistake cost us the goal and that is the life of of a goalkeeper and it was a real howler. He made one super save first half and then 2 or 3 standard saves from low shots. He punched another away. His kicking all day was a bit mixed and he kicked a few out. The Leeds player were really pressing him and never gave him a moment. He is decent on the ball normally. I am not sure what he was thinking at all. It was terrible. He is a really confident lad and maybe a bit too cocky at times so today may bring him back down to earth a bit. After a tremendous performance last week he has made two errors (should have saved the first one at Brentford) in a week. Today (along with McGoldrick and Sharp) he cost us the game but in many others he has saved us points.

    Baldock 6/10 – Defensively he was alright but they did not really play with a winger and he was not put under pressure. He nipped in to win a few tackles and loose balls but positionally he was a bit all over the place – he often seemed to be in a striking role/or a number 10! It was odd but also meant we were caught short quite a bit when they broke. Going forward he offered nothing. He got in some decent positions but no end product or even a cross/shot/key ball I can recall. Freeman right to be rested but not sure he has taken his chance really.

    Stevens 6.5/10 – Started the game well but then unravelled for a bit and was lucky not to get sent off after being harshly booked he committed a poor foul, he then dived in rashly. He did some good things going forward though and one of our main threats on the overlap and got in some great positions but his crosses let him down a bit

    Egan 6.5/10 – The back pass was poor. Hit too hard and on his wrong foot and even though Henderson was at fault; he should never have been put in that position. He kept passing it back to the keeper too much. Leeds kept letting him have it knowing he was the weak link technically in terms of bringing it out. Defensively he was ok for the most part winning headers and making tackles but also got booked for getting turned in the first half.

    O’Connell 7/10 – Steady and one of our better players. Defended well and used it well when he had it. Just a solid performance really. Showed some neat pieces of skill and helped the ball move forward. He did lose Roofe once on the headed chance.

    Basham 8/10 – Our man of the match by a long way. He drove forward several times, won every 50-50 and some that were not in his favour at all. He was all over the place at times, making clearances, tackles and then attacking. The only slight knock is when he gets in those positions he does panic and often then goes back and plays it safe instead of keeping going and hitting the first man. Love his effort and will to win and shows some great skill at times too.

    Fleck 6/10 – Not sure he has affected games enough this season. He has been very up and down both game to game and in games. First half he was ok today and made a few driving runs and pieces of decent link up play. Second half I thought he was completely ineffectual and when he had it; he either lost it or moved it on. I am not sure he took responsibility and we need to see more of him when it matters. He was not awful but just very average.

    Norwood 6/10 – Big comment but I thought he was distinctly average today and did not do enough in a big game against a promotion contender. He made a few decent balls and helped us tick over and first half when we had a lot of control. Saw a lot of the ball but wasted it a lot trying to be too clever and overplayed it. He also gave it away too many short passes. His poor pass got Baldock into trouble and a booking. He also was too nonchalant in possession and took too long to do things. I also felt they bypassed him and Fleck way too much and they did not chase back enough. For a class player he flattered to deceive for me today.

    Duffy 4/10 – Thought he was really poor today. We needed a big performance from him and needed him to get in those pockets, create and make big chances. He put one decent cross over and had one good run but outside of this nothing. Slow to the ball, he did not react to things, got outmuscled and set them on the attack 3 or 4 times by losing it or overplaying. For all the plaudits he gets; he is quite inconsistent and rarely puts a run of 3 or 4 good games together. He plays really well and then is quite meh for a while. The need for a player to do his job is clear as we have no one else really – McGoldrick did it for a while today.

    Sharp 6/10 – Worked hard and tried to hold the ball up but got involved in too much of a pushing match with the defenders. He had a golden chance and headed down and over. I am not sure we saw much of him second half really and seemed to run out of steam.

    McGoldrick 7/10 – For play outside of the box and his skill, awareness, touch and ability to play for the team he would be an 9/10 and one of our best players. He comes deep and often is just in front of the defence. He also played in the number 10 for a spell and showed his adaptability. For his finishing and composure, it would be a 3/10. He missed a great chance second half when he really has to score. He did the first bit well but then his finish was straight at the keeper when he had all the goal to aim at. He also blazed over first half (flag saved him). Had once decent effort with a low shot and also made the attempt for Sharp with a good cross. His finishing is bizarre as he is such a class player but is a different player in the box to out of it. He has missed half a dozen huge chances in the last 4 or 5 games and has cost us points really even though strangely he has played quite well. You can see why for all his ability why he has not played higher up.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Subs –

    Washington – Thought he played really well and was a threat. Go in and behind, competed and showed his pace/running. We looked more of a threat up top when he did come on. He was very unlucky with the over head kick at the end also.

    Johnson – Came on and had one decent run that led to a corner but then also played a bad telegraphed ball and then the final ball out of play was appalling.

    Wilder 7/10 – Decent performance and as he often says; tee to green fine but then we did not create enough big chances (still enough) and then made a mistake when it mattered at the other end. Two consecutive weeks we have given away stupidly late soft goals and it happens a lot to us – too much. Rarely do we get such soft goals. We have to really work for our seemingly. His team selection was fine. Washington has not played much and Sharp does well v Leeds. Duffy coming back in at home was fine but he did not turn up. The changes he made were fine and at the right times I also felt and Washington did ok when he came on. I maybe would have considered Coutts for Fleck as he was poor and kept giving the ball away but then we may have lacked a bit of that drive.

    Referee – Oliver Langford. Thought he was awful. He let things go when he could have stopped it; he stopped it when things should have been let go. He gave mysterious fouls all game both ways and seemed to have no idea on what constituted acceptable contact and what was not. I think both teams would mark him very low and with good reason.

    Let us start with things he did not get right for Leeds. Apparently McGoldrick was lucky to stay on for a really bad tackle but I did not see it and have not watched back and after softly booking Stevens he should have sent him off for a worse foul. The first was not a booking. The Egan one was fair enough but then several other cards were not really yellow cards for me; Roofe for challenging a high ball, Baldock for being slightly late. Norwood maybe deserved one for a cynical block off. I also some poorer challenges such as Basham and Fleck who dived in a bit were not penalised by us. He missed a clear foul by Washington near the end when we won a corner/throw in?

    Now the things he did not get right for us. Other than the above I felt he gave most 50/50’s to them. He seemed to not give us a free kick for ages and yet could not wait to give them things at times. Minimal contact was penalised and he was constantly blowing his whistle. He penalised McGoldrick when he was blocked near the touch line and then Sharp was pulled up for a shirt pull but he was having his shirt pulled all the time. McGoldrick also had his shirt nearly pulled off his back and no foul given.

    The assistants were not much better. First half Sharp was offside on both his headed chance and also before the one dropped to McGoldrick. Then second half I felt they got some offsides wrong, missed balls going out and then gave some as out that were not out. A few throw ins were bizarrely given completely the wrong way when they seemed obvious. Collectively they were just really poor and both ways. I think Wilder summed it up when he said good officials you do not notice. There were 7 bookings and I am not sure there were that many bad tackles (not seen McGoldrick one) all game.

    Crowd – I thought the crowd was really disappointing both in numbers and volume. I expected close to 30,000 but just under 26,000 was a big drop off for a top of the table clash. I know it was a foul day and it is near Xmas and on TV but there were huge gaps on the Kop and also the Bramall Lane upper tier was nearly empty The Leeds fans sang all game and completely outsang the 20,000+ Blades fans. They sang ‘Football in a library!’ and it was very much like that. For a big South Yorkshire derby; you would have though the United fans would have been up for it; but they were so quiet. Maybe United fans have been spoiled by the football but I felt the team needed a big push/lift today and they did not get it really. It was not as if we played really bad but even kicking towards the Kop; it seemed a bit flat. One other moan – why can’t SUFC get Wi-Fi that we can access free and actually use. Trying to get on your phone’s network’s wifi is impossible. Many clubs have this now and surely it is not too difficult to be able to sort this out – I am not an IT/phone expert but it is frustrating – maybe it is just o2 that is bad at the Lane!

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