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(22 replies, posted in Match Reports)

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BLACKBURN ROVERS 2-1 LEEDS UNITED: THINKING ABOUT TOMORROW
In 2018-19 articles, Free, Leeds United, Leeds United Match Reports 2018/19 by Moscowhite • Daniel ChapmanOctober 21, 2018

Watching Blackburn scoring twice, unopposed, from corners; Stuart Dallas flapping at wing-back; Samu Saiz toiling like a boy with a spoon told to to dig a canal; can we avoid this question? Are Leeds United bad again now?

The wider world might not think so, but the wider world isn’t keeping a close eye on events at Ewood Park or a close ear on opinions around Elland Road. The wider world looks at Twitter and sees the video clip of United’s brilliant goal, and it’s enough to assume that the old bloke Leeds got in with the bucket, what’s-he-called, Beelzebub or sumfink, is still working his magic.

It was a brilliant goal. Eleven passes, starting at the back, created space for Saiz to trade his spoon for a shovel, flicking a pass to the far side of Blackburn’s penalty area, spinning their defence right around like Pete Burns and finding Gaetano Berardi, of all people, who had the attacking smarts to flash the ball first time across the six-yard box to Mateusz Klich, late on the scene but just in time to score, just before half-time.

It felt like a relief, and just about a fair reward. At first Danny Graham’s goal in the third minute, when he escaped Berardi at a corner to head in, didn’t feel like too much of a problem. The game was frenetic at the start, exciting, between two teams up for counter-attacking with pace. Despite the early goal, I was settling in for ninety minutes of thrills, preferably without Bailey Peacock-Farrell required to make the good saves he was making.

But Leeds, perhaps feeling the pressure of being a goal behind, relinquished their part of the fun. United’s attacks faded as Rovers’ grew in strength, particularly around Stuart Dallas, who was quickly swapped with Berardi, who coped better with Adam Armstrong. The flurries of fluid football at the start dwindled away, leaving Saiz grinding through the motions, asked to do too much, and trying to.

It was that effort that meant the equaliser was deserved; Leeds didn’t look good, but they didn’t look like giving up. In the second half Leeds controlled the pace and were the better team for 25 minutes, but slowing the game down to suppress Blackburn also suppressed United’s ability to surprise in the penalty area, unless the surprise was how ineffective we were. The scores were level and Pablo Hernandez was ready to come on, to add insight to effort and win the game.

But first, Blackburn scored again, from a corner again, and won the game. Hernandez was predictably creative when he came on, and young winger Jack Clarke unpredictably dangerous, but Blackburn had ceded ideas of attacking, and they came into a very different game, of attack versus defence. Klich aimed a good shot into the top corner; David Raya’s save was better. You could say that about everything Leeds tried in the last twenty minutes.

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“We work on the set-pieces each week,” said Marcelo Bielsa afterwards. “As much as I can,” he said. But for once the opposing manager’s comments were more insightful. “The set-pieces were something we’d worked really hard on yesterday morning,” said Tony Mowbray. “Pontus Jansson is a monster of a man and Liam Cooper is very dominant, but you take them two out of the middle of the box and we felt as if they were a bit vulnerable, which is what happened. Whoever was getting marked by those two played wide and for the first goal Graham came powering through the middle and scored. And the second goal Lenihan had the same.”

Mowbray continued in equally chilling fashion. “We’d had an international break to prepare … it gives the staff a chance to study the opposition when you’ve got two weeks to watch five or six, full 90-minute games and try and pick their weaknesses and strengths … They might argue that both of their full-backs who play regularly are unavailable, that’s part and parcel of football. I would have to say that having watched Leeds, Ayling the right back was probably their best player, so it was probably a plus for us that he wasn’t playing.”

Was Marcelo Bielsa beaten at his own video analysis game by… by Tony Mowbray? Bielsa admitted himself that he got his full-back selections the wrong way round, and given the names he praised for their ‘positive influence’ — Hernandez and Clarke, as well as Saiz and Klich — he might feel like he got other things wrong, too, adjusting for his concerns about fitness; he felt it helped Hernandez, returning from injury, to come into the game against tiring opponents; Roofe’s lack of sparkle was down to a lack of match fitness.

Bielsa knows football and how to analyse videos, but he has said himself that he had to wait until he was working at Thorp Arch to analyse the character of the squad he was inheriting, to delve deeper into his players. He has, mostly, seemed pleased by what he has found. But while we might not be able to analyse Stuart Dallas’s skill set, for example, the way Bielsa can, we have seen him try and fail in too many experimental positions before to know, perhaps better than Bielsa, that it’s easy to ask too much of him. “I thought more about the offensive play,” said Bielsa. “Stuart Dallas is better offensively on the right than on the left. And Gaetano Berardi is as good on the left side as on the right side. If I had taken the right decision I would have avoided to the team a difficult moment in defence.”

It was easily fixed, and Roberts and Roofe switched around too, and these adaptations only look like a weakness when we lose. They might be a feature, not a bug. Starting with both Roberts and Roofe, rather than leaving one out for Hernandez, made their swapping around possible — even Bielsa isn’t going to try Pablo as a target striker — testing Blackburn’s defenders against forwards with different attributes. It’s almost like an extra substitution, that doesn’t involve shaming Kalvin Phillips — who, by the way, had nothing to be ashamed of in this game. Unfortunately, wherever Roofe and Roberts were on the pitch, Rovers dealt with them both.

That’s the biggest challenge for Bielsa at the moment, apart from nursing his best players back to health. After two wins in eight, some of the faith in Bielsa’s style of play is beginning to fray among the supporters, who are used to seeing things change when they’re not working. But as Bielsa has made clear before, the style will not change. He knows the style inside out, and his belief in it is unshakeable.

What about his belief in his players? He saw the way they played at the end of last season, as did we. We didn’t suspect this squad could play as well as they have this season, but we know in the back of our minds that the drudge of six months ago is still well within their capabilities.

“If we link the last draw and the loss of today we have to conclude we are low, in a bad moment,” said Bielsa after the match. “As a matter of fact, today, our goal was to avoid [this] result [and going] through a negative cycle. Now, we have to find a solution as soon as possible. Now we know what we have to do in the next game.” But, he added, as if acknowledging the difference between knowing what to do and doing it, “We also knew what we had to do in the game of today.”

The games of tomorrow come quickly this week, games when Bielsa will have to find again the potential he saw in his players in the videos of last season, that we saw in the first few weeks, instead of the reality of March and April, the reality of Blackburn away. Leeds are better than this, and will have to be to achieve anything this season. But they have to keep believing it. ◉

Never minded Villa til Terry The Cunt joined them, now they can fuck right off. Gutted it wasn't Terry Henry, would've been great to see them two plums fail gloriously.

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(30 replies, posted in Match Reports)

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LEEDS UNITED 1-1 BRENTFORD: LOOKING UP
In 2018-19 articles, Free, Leeds United, Leeds United Match Reports 2018/19 by Moscowhite • Daniel ChapmanOctober 7, 2018

Never let it be said that Leeds United fans are not fair. When referee Jeremy Simpson gave a dubious free kick United’s way, after giving every other dubious thing to Brentford, the crowd sang that he didn’t know what he was doing, even now that his incompetence had, for once, gone for Leeds. A bad ref is a bad ref, and nobody wants a bad ref to ruin a good game. Jeremy Simpson is a bad ref.

So when Neal Maupay scored Brentford’s unfair penalty and ran to taunt the South Stand, and was pelted with every object the fans there had to hand, that was probably fair too. Missiles are on trend right now, first a cabbage at Steve Bruce in midweek, and then a ‘marital aid’ at Brighton on Friday night (although it’s beyond me why you have to be married to buy a dildo; whatever his relationship status, George Graham bought David Robertson anyway). It’s a trend that can only end in tears and ought not to be condoned, but the debris was raining on Maupay because he was like one of those thrill seekers who can’t resist driving towards erupting volcanoes; he brought it on himself. He could have been booked for his provocation, but Jeremy Simpson would have had to approach the South Stand to do it, and his one good decision of the day was to judge that those fans were provoked enough already.

Instead it was Pontus Jansson who assumed control and restored order, gently but firmly ushering Maupay and friends away from danger. That was just one of many instances of outstanding leadership from Jansson, from his superb control of United’s pressured back line, to his towering late header that equalised the score, to swearing on television and refusing to apologise, instead calling the referee a thief. “Do you think I should be happy?” he bellowed in the face of Sky Sports’ hapless reporter, who quickly shifted the conversation onto what he thought would be safer ground, although for a moment after being asked about impending fatherhood I thought Pontus was going to deck the fellow for talking about his wife.

In all these ways and more Jansson had an excellent afternoon, blossoming in the new senior role that he’s given himself this season. He has said he took some decisions in the summer, about being a better teammate by being a better person, and not making himself the centre of attention; he said it was to do with growing older, but I wondered if it’s to do with his desire to become permanent captain of Sweden. From my seat as an armchair psychologist I’ll now throw in approaching dad status as a factor, and from our vantage point further into the season we can add that Leeds United are building a proper challenge for promotion that will be helping to focus his thoughts. Jansson wants to play in the Premier League before he ends his career with Malmo; that’s the goal. Winning promotion to the Premier League with Leeds United is his dream. This season dreams might come true, and Jansson is recognising, after the World Cup made him a latecomer to Marcelo Bielsa’s revolution, that the more serious he is, the more true that dream could be.

Once upon a time Jansson might have whinged about Liam Cooper’s mistake, that allowed Ollie Watkins through on Bailey Peacock-Farrell, who shaped his body as he dived at Watkins’ feet away from the player to avoid all contact, but not before said player had decided to send his body crashing to the floor through Peacock-Farrell’s dive anyway. There’d been an hour of the referee giving everything Brentford’s way until then, so Watkins could judge that going down was laying a pretty safe bet in his favour, and he was right. Instead of whinging, Jansson did what he did all game; he sorted the mistake out, going up the other end and meeting Ezgjan Alioski’s dangerous free-kick with a carefully placed header into the net.

He had a lot of sorting out to do. Brentford, for all their help from the referee, were good; they pressed Cooper from the first minute, and with a fast front three, and attacking full-backs, they were as dangerous a team as Leeds have played. At left-back Stuart Dallas was in pain and out of place, but coping; Cooper and Luke Ayling were off their game. Ayling in particular was struggling to complete a pass, although he did play a through ball late in the game with a disguised backheel, so he’s not completely broken. Then he was sent off in the last minute of stoppage time for an innocuous trip that was deemed worth a second yellow card, because the referee is broken somewhere deep within his rotten soul.

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That Leeds kept Brentford down to one goal, and that only a penalty, was due to a couple of good saves from Peacock-Farrell, Jansson’s aforementioned leadership, and Kalvin Phillips, who kept popping up in surprising areas of defensive midfield to crunch a player or intercept a pass. He also sent one delicious through ball to Jack Harrison, a drilled volley from left-back to right-wing, but most of his best work was defensive. Leeds were creaking under pressure, but covered each other and should have earned a clean sheet. Teamwork makes the dream work, you know.

Teamwork is a bit of a failing of United’s at the moment, though. Leeds are still playing well but something was a bit off in this game, as it was against Birmingham City and Hull City. Some of the attacking crispness was missing, and it’s not just because we’re without Pablo Hernandez and Kemar Roofe. I think it’s down to communication, not in terms of actually shouting at each other, but of reading one another’s intent. Several times a pass intended for one player would be intercepted by another teammate, thinking it was meant for him, stretching to meet it and losing possession; the mutual understanding has dropped from the high standards at the start of the season.

That could just be a product of the time elapsed since Bielsa’s revolutionary pre-season boot camp. For six weeks before the Stoke City match all the players did was rehearse, so they were immersed in their roles when they took to the pitch for the first game of the season. The season itself doesn’t allow for that sort of intensity, even with Bielsa’s long work days — players have to do recovery work, some are injured, there’s an opponent to prepare for, time is limited between games. Burnout over 46 games is this season’s fear, but the bigger problem might be whether a 46 game season gives Bielsa enough time to burn the players out in the first place, or keep them trained up to the levels demanded. I wonder how the local residents of Thorp Arch would feel about overnight sessions?

Another aspect might be that Bielsa just needs to review his team. He has stuck devotedly to the same lineup, injuries and suspensions permitting, but the closing stages against Brentford brought changes, and persuasive arguments. Jack Clarke made his debut as a substitute for the last twenty minutes, and made a positive impression on the right wing; while it might be a bit too soon to suggest him as a starter, by moving to the left wing, Jack Harrison looked reborn. He wasn’t only taking on two or three players, he was beating them, finding angles for dangerous left footed crosses. Behind him, moved to left-back, Alioski had the relief of release from the offside trap — although I only counted one transgression in this game — and the advantage of starting his committed defensive running much nearer danger. He didn’t have to run seventy yards to get a foot in; the foot was in, and then the ball was forward to Harrison, with Alioski a dangerous support act, changing the dynamic down Brentford’s right.

Replacing Samu Saiz with Lewis Baker had an impact too, not because Baker was particularly brilliant — he was decent, and nearly won the game when he headed Harrison’s cross just wide in stoppage time — but because Tyler Roberts began playing outside and across the width of the penalty area where Saiz had been, and causing Brentford problems, putting in passes and crosses to… well, to nobody, because the downside of Roberts’ new impetus was that we needed two of him for it to be effective. But it was a change, a demonstration of other possibilities.

Bielsa will have taken note. Despite his rigorous insistence on his chosen eleven, he has not been completely unbending this season, and has some decisions to make before the next match. Adam Forshaw was always supposed to play ahead of Mateusz Klich, and although the latter distinguished himself by playing with one contact lens for fifteen minutes — I wear contact lenses, and do not underrate this achievement — Forshaw is back now, and ready. Luke Ayling will be suspended, so perhaps Jamie Shackleton will be back. Although Asa Jansson has followed the fine leadership of her husband by scheduling her child’s birth for the international break — thanks Asa, and good health! — Sky Sports might dish out a ban for Pontus’s comments anyway, meaning another defensive change. Sorry, not Sky, the Football League — I forget who is in charge sometimes. Hernandez, Roofe and Gaetano Berardi should all be available again; Berardi will take over from Jansson, but will Roofe and Hernandez automatically return for Roberts and Harrison? Will Barry Douglas’ injury mean a replacement left-back is still required — either Dallas, who Bielsa admires, or on this showing, Alioski? Will Saiz continue in his lonesome search for sparks, or might someone more pragmatic take over at no.10 — if not Baker, then maybe Hernandez?

The thing about all these questions is that, despite just two wins in seven, Leeds are still just two points from the top of the league, and the possibilities are still exciting. We’ve come through a tough spell without key players, still well placed, still good, still better than we expected, or hoped, and still fighting — mostly, this season, against Millwall and Brentford, in dugouts. We’re still looking up, at tall Pontus, the leader; and still looking forward, to where dreams might be coming true. ◉

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(30 replies, posted in Match Reports)

Mitaman wrote:

Just tried to go through LUFC for an official feed and happy to pay, it's utterly impossible. Faulty links, fucking joke. British website/ IT expertise? Fucking idiots.

Free schnide site anyone?

Sorry, I've had a couple.

If it's on Sky it's not on LUTV - here I subscribe to ESPN+, 5 bucks a month, they carry all Sky Championship matches, might be same where you are. Means I can watch every Leeds game, never had that before.

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(121 replies, posted in Leeds Now)

Wasn't sure where to stick this - possibly a calming influence for all those tearing their hair out at Alioffsideski.

THE SQUARE BALL WEEK: QUIRKS OF FATE
In 2018-19 articles, Free, Leeds United, The Square Ball Week by Moscowhite • Daniel ChapmanOctober 4, 2018
Samu Saiz dived to try and win a penalty against Hull City on Tuesday night, and before a yellow card was shown, I wondered for a moment if his mother wasn’t going to hurdle the barriers, march across, and give him a clip round the ear. Perhaps she would drag him from the field by that same lughole, telling him he wasn’t allowed to play anymore until he learned how to behave himself. Marcelo Bielsa substituted him a while after, perhaps his own version of a lughole drag.
It all seemed terribly unfair. Samu Saiz was basically booked and shouted at by Hull’s big defenders for the crime of being Samu Saiz. This is just who he is. In the annals of diving, dominated by Adryan Oliveira Tavares, once of this parish, Saiz’s dive against Hull will be remembered only for its absurd innocence. He didn’t leap from the grass like a salmon from a stream, then jerk and roll like a salmon on an electric fence. He didn’t claim grievous injury, crying for an ambulance. If this was the dark arts, he did it under halogen lights. Saiz simply felt contact while in the penalty area, fell over to try and fool the referee into giving his team a penalty, then got up and got on with things, shrugging it off when it didn’t work.
It was the kind of honest attempt at thieving that the East End of London has mythologised since Victorian times, and while I’d always assumed that in the film of Leeds United’s promotion season Samu Saiz would be played by Twiki the Robot from Buck Rogers, now I have to wonder if Danny Dyer wouldn’t be more appropriate. Not a bad lad, but he does some bad things, and he’s always nice to his muvva, cos she’d ‘av his lug’ole if he warrent.
Anyway, cheating is bad, and Saiz tries too much of it, but it’s always, like this, kinda sweet, and kinda justified. Except when he’s spitting at Welsh people, but even then, he’d been knocked over by some non-league bully who can’t celebrate a goal without pushing a shortarse around; the revenge aspect of Saiz’s sin that day always gets glossed over, I suppose because of the size and manner of his sinful vengeance.
More usually he’s trying to get something out of a cold-hearted referee who remains unmoved every time Saiz feels a defender’s studs scraping his ankles, but whips out his notebook should Saiz so much as complain. These situations are always made worse by Saiz’s lack of English; he seems to have learned now that, in the English game, it is not acceptable to wave an imaginary yellow card; you have to unleash streams of profane instructions at high volume into the referee’s ear. ‘Book the bastard’ — a mild version, as children might be reading this — seems to be more than Saiz can bring himself to say, and with his imaginary cards hidden on one of his mum’s high shelves where he can’t reach, he’s reduced to flurries of mad pointing to convince the referee to take action. He’ll point at the defender, at his own leg, at the other areas of the pitch this has happened, at the grass, at the ball, at anything; he’s like a tourist trying to order by pointing at an incomprehensible foreign menu, until the bemused waiter finally brings him the salad of chicken, pencils, cigarettes and glue that he apparently wants.
If only we could send Salim Lamrani out onto the pitch to shadow him and translate. For one thing the ankle kickers would think twice, because although I don’t know how Lamrani finds the time to work out between translating for Bielsa and studying the geopolitical and socio-economic consequences of diplomatic relations between the USA and Cuba, he did not develop those biceps by marking student papers, and I can not imagine Richard Keogh, for example, getting much change out of him. But if we did somehow solve Saiz’s communication problem, and find a way for him to explain to people on the pitch that he’s a nice guy who just makes bad choices, without spitting at them, I might miss some of his weird excesses. That’s how I felt about his dive against Hull. Diving is bad. Diving like that is just funny.
Speaking of bad choices, also on my list of problems I’d miss if they were ever solved is Ezgjan Alioski and The Offside Trap, an adventure story that, years from now, will be read with much joy by children in Macedonian schools. It’s the story of a young boy, far from home, taken in by a kind gentleman from Argentina, who encourages young Gjanni to take many risks in pursuit of his goals. Only by taking risks can Gjanni get closer to his dreams; but every time he thinks he’s closer, that he’s beyond the bad guys and running free, something happens to haul him back to the start. As his dreams collapse beneath flags and whistles, he loses sight of who are the real bad guys stopping him from achieving his targets, and the reader is absorbed by his attempts to overcome his flag-waving, whistling enemies, wondering if he’ll ever realise that the first battle he has to win is with himself.
Alioski kept the offsides to a dull roar against Hull, but made sure, by missing a great chance, that there were still plenty of folk around to suggest we’d be better with Jack Clarke on the wing, or Stuart Dallas, or Pablo Hernandez on one leg. There’s always been something particular about the groan of fans watching a promising attack ended by an offside winger; it’s a noise you don’t hear in many other situations. Alioski has developed it further so that Elland Road has a sound only for him, sort of like the passive-aggressive sigh of a justifiably angry spouse whose lungs have been surgically replaced by whoopee cushions. You don’t ever want to hear it; it’s unmistakable when you do.
For some reason, though, I’m over being angry about Alioski being offside. When, against Birmingham City, the entire Leeds team moved forward into the penalty area for a free-kick from wide, only for their trip to be wasted when Barry Douglas rolled a short pass towards an inevitably offside Alioski, amid that noise I wanted to stand and applaud. He’s like the Stewart Lee of offsides, repeating what is in itself an unfunny concept over and over until that becomes the joke, and you become the laugher. At the end of it Alioski is still offside, and the joke still isn’t funny, but at least you’ve had a laugh and feel better.
There might be real football reasons why Alioski is offside so often. He’s a defensively minded winger, being asked to do as much as he can with the space behind the opposing full-back, at a tempo he probably never had to play with in Switzerland. It’s okay for Tyler Roberts, given the task of dropping deep to create the space behind for Alioski to be offside in; and it’s alright for Jack Harrison, able to play deeper because he can beat a full-back with tricks, or Pablo Hernandez, who drifts deep and inside to be more playmaker than winger. All Alioski really has is pace and aggression, so he’s told to play as high as he can, on the full-back’s shoulder, stretching the opponent’s defence and creating space inside for Douglas to underlap, while being alert for through balls. Which is the problem, but he’s working on it. At least I assume he is. I haven’t seen any evidence.
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Do I want to? Yes and no. Yes, because like diving, being constantly offside isn’t helpful in football matches. But also no, because once Alioski does get behind, we might just find ourselves having the same conversation again about his final ball, and I think the offside conversation has more comic potential.
And also no because Alioski is who he is, just as Saiz is who he is, and I’ve gradually embraced that they’re both real weirdos, in the nicest sense. Add to them Kalvin Phillips, with his mad hair and pockets full of snuck chocolate cake; Pontus Jansson, Yorkshire’s number one Malmo supporter; Luke Ayling, conquering his speech impediment with a man bun; Gaetano Berardi, the sort of psychopath about whom the signs are hidden in plain sight but only spoken of after he goes to jail; Bailey Peacock-Farrell, an Easter Island statue hauled and plonked in the goalmouth; Mateusz Klich, who I suspect is using his football career to disguise that he’s the true inventor of bitcoin; Patrick Bamford, who I’m convinced is a hockey player; Pablo Hernandez, whose eyes are a cellar of bad dreams. And it’s Hallowe’en soon.
As a bunch, they’re not what you’d call normal. Salim Lamrani calls Luke Ayling “Bill.” In a video on the club’s ‘All Leeds’ YouTube channel, Tyler Roberts has to choose a team to play FIFA against Kemar Roofe, and scrolls through international teams, The Championship twice — pausing but rejecting Bristol City — Ligue 1 and then League One, where he finally — there’s at least ninety seconds of this, and it’s been heavily edited down — picks Oxford United. Roofe’s old club. That commitment to being annoying is admirable, but it’s surely not normal.
Not normal, but delightful. Because something that held us back during the darkest seasons of this decade was that, through the squad, there were few players who were interesting. Robert Snodgrass had character. It was the character of an expertly tap-dancing tramp, but he stood out all the same. When he left there was only Luciano Becchio, the Sky Bet Iggy Pop, until Neil Warnock swapped him for Steve Morison, a personality so grey only Pantone can tolerate him. Who were we left with then? Michael Brown, Colin’s mate. Paddy Kenny, Colin’s mate. Lee Peltier, Colin’s mate. Luke Varney, Colin’s mate. Even Sol Bamba, arriving later, ended up being Colin’s mate.
The shower that came after that shower hid most of what personality they had behind a) loud cowardice and b) the owner’s madness, which threatened to overwhelm Elland Road like a black hole; Sam Byram, Lewis Cook, Alex Mowatt and Charlie Taylor might have been the bright building blocks of a new generation, but they were cowed into quietness by Massimo Cellino enabling the madness around them. Would Sam Byram be having a better career now if he hadn’t spent his late teens being shouted into submission by Warnock, Cellino, Giuseppe Bellusci, Steve Evans? How could he develop an engaging personality, when he was hardly able to open his mouth?
It’s arguably not just Leeds that has suffered a personality vacuum in recent years. The Premier League’s media training successfully drained the flamboyance from a generation of footballers, and it’s only being repaired now that the players are so rich they don’t care anymore; so England striker Jamie Vardy can call England defender Harry Maguire ‘slabhead’ in public without bringing shame upon the country. (It also helps that he isn’t Raheem Sterling, but that’s another matter.) Over the last year James Milner has emerged from his cocoon as not only one of the most brilliant midfielders in world football, but as one of the most dryly humorous — just in time for his return to Leeds United.
Who are, lest we forget, being managed by one of football’s most severe screwballs. The marvels Bielsa has worked with our squad of players on the pitch — and he may keep Alioski onside yet, even if he has to watch 100 hours of footage to do it — are only part of the story. It’s too soon to talk about promotion, except it’s not, so let’s imagine going through next summer without making a single new signing, apart from Milner, because Bielsa has decided these people — Alioski, found mid-table in the Swiss league; Saiz, found in B-team purgatory; Berardi, found on the outskirts of Genoa, living in a cave with wolves — are going to be Premier League footballers. I would forgive them the occasional offside call, a dive here and there, a diet of raw meat and howling, because it’s more fun to embrace the weirdness in this squad than to be frustrated by it: especially when we’re top of the league.
Giuseppe Bellusci isn’t here anymore. Ezgjan Alioski is. Admittedly he’s over there up the pitch where he shouldn’t be, but at least he’s not a total dickhead. ◉

I hope to fuck that Villa appoint Terry Henry as manager, would be a joy to watch it go tits up. Or Big Fat Sam Alladici.

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(50 replies, posted in Football of a non LUFC persuasion)

Isn't that an oxymoron - good AND Stoke-friendly?

Fuckin hell, WBA just scored 2 in 2 mins, all square

And looking shit!

West Brom 2 down!

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(37 replies, posted in Match Reports)

Yeah, that's the reason I posted it, good report but that line is a standout!

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(2,942 replies, posted in Life)

Christ, don't get me started on fucking George, the soft twat!!

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(37 replies, posted in Match Reports)

https://www.thesquareball.net/leeds-uni … rtainment/

SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY 1-1 LEEDS UNITED: ENTERTAINMENT!
In 2018-19 articles, Free, Leeds United, Leeds United Match Reports 2018/19 by Moscowhite • Daniel ChapmanSeptember 29, 2018

Two brilliant goals were scored in this exciting game of football and Leeds United should have won. Despite feeling disappointed to only draw, Leeds swaggered away from Hillsborough with esteem intact; not even Adam Reach’s absurd goal had damaged them.

My heart sank when that long range half-volley soared and dipped into the top bin, hitting one post with a crack and bouncing over the line near the other, sending Bailey Peacock-Farrell spinning, despairing. It wasn’t only that it gave Sheffield Wednesday an undeserved lead, but that it was such an outrageous goal we were cursed to watch replays of it forever. The Wednesday club shop might add to its stock of 6-0 DVDs with a film of this goal on loop for an hour, and given enough time and distance from the event, I might even watch that myself one day as a sort of retro novelty. But for that to happen there would have to be a time in between when it wasn’t replaying on social media or television, and I doubted that would ever happen for long. It was a good goal. Well done. Go away.

Fortunately Mateusz Klich still has the Midas click that is making this season his best, and is spellbound by goalscoring form Leeds haven’t enjoyed from a midfielder since Alex Mowatt dropped two lyrical bangers in one week against Huddersfield and Cardiff. He took a layoff from Tyler Roberts, took a look — foot, ball, keeper, goal — then combined the first two to swerve a shot around the third, into the cornerest part of the net in the fourth. Now, here’s a goal I’ll watch on DVD forever, because while Reach’s speculative strike had the satisfying audacity of a stunt, Klich made something artful, deliberate and beautiful. It’s the difference between watching two magpies have a fight in your garden, or watching a nature documentary narrated by David Attenborough.

If Attenborough had narrated the rest of the match, he would have been talking about a dominant predator toying with its prey, then how its game turned to desperation when it realised its teeth had no bite. Leeds had 25 shots, seven on target; they completed 130 passes in the attacking third, more than twice as many as Wednesday. But they couldn’t score. Earlier in the season, particularly at Norwich, Leeds were making a virtue out of turning pressure into scorelines, but not lately.

The simple explanation is that we miss clinical Kemar Roofe, not something we ever expected, and without Patrick Bamford to take his place, Tyler Roberts can only offer endeavour rather than smartness in front of goal. Away from goal Roberts is coming along nicely — laying off Saiz’s pass for Klich to score was a typical contribution. But he’s going to need more than four games to become an effective Championship striker, and without a finisher in position number nine, we’re seeing more of the finishing deficiencies wearing the shirts around him. Ezgjan Alioski should be banned from shooting.

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Shooting practice for strikers is the go-to cure after a game like this, but when Marcelo Bielsa’s preferred football is in gear, the onus is just as much on the full-backs to finish the crosses curving relentlessly to the back post. Barry Douglas screwed up a header that bounced slowly over to the other post, then nodded the rebound neatly into Kalvin Phillips path — our defensive midfielder and third centre-back volleyed straight at the keeper. Luke Ayling collected a cross field pass from Liam Cooper, cut into the penalty area, and shot weakly with his wrong foot.

But that’s how we knew it was good. Much of Bielsa’s attacking style is based on full-backs bullying full-backs, ganging up with their wingers so that, when the centre-backs come over to help, everyone else is lined up behind them to fill the space and score. Or not score, as the case may be. Despite the lack of goals, Bielsa said this was the best Leeds have played since he started working here, and when again and again Ayling or Douglas were advanced like wingers, Alioski or Jack Harrison were inside them like strikers, and Klich and Saiz were hovering behind Roberts for a chance — with Phillips, Cooper and Pontus Jansson not that far behind them — we felt the thrill of what a high-pressing, hard working, overloading attacking team Leeds United can be this season. It all happened so quickly, too; from mild passing in midfield, with a blink Leeds would have six players ready to score. Or not.

The not scoring should trouble us. Or not. The players briefly looked defeated at the end, gazing at their chances being replayed on the big screen, shaking their heads in disbelief at the final score. They might shake their heads again when they look at the league table on Monday morning; Middlesbrough should beat Hull and West Brom should beat Preston, and both will go above Leeds. Leeds have taken six points from the last available fifteen; in those five games, they’ve had seventy attempts on goal, and scored six. Few things in football are more demoralising than not getting the results your performances deserve, but one of them is sliding down a league table as a consequence.

Does anybody at Leeds feel demoralised, though? Bielsa and Salim Lamrani giggled good naturedly through their post-match press duties. Replays of Klich’s goal relegated Reach’s goal to a lucky hit. And the elation of the performance overcame the deflating result. Leeds United played really, really good football, forcing Sheffield Wednesday into tactical changes and eventually submission; by the end Wednesday were defending and hoping. It was so exciting that the joy of watching it wasn’t diminished by drawing. And there was a rightness about it, a truth not reflected in the scoreline, because it isn’t possible, even in the perverse mechanisms of the soccer universe, for a team to play this well and not, in the end, get something for it. A point will do here. It’ll be three points elsewhere.

Leeds are attacking the question from the right direction, playing above results, aiming to lift the results to the height of the play. It’s exciting to watch them doing it, and good to be reminded that football is entertainment. For years it hasn’t been that way for Leeds. ◉

14

(2,942 replies, posted in Life)

fuzzy dunlop wrote:
Mike Jones wrote:

Is that why they made him into such a puff. Big girl's blouse!

The first bungle was apparently Paul Nuttall in the bear suit. It was his first ever job. His successor just had to be nicer but yeah agree they went way too far, he was a right insipid cunt wasn't he?

Even as a kid I wanted to grab him by the lapels and shout in his face "Get a grip man! Err, bear"

15

(2,942 replies, posted in Life)

fuzzy dunlop wrote:
Harvest wrote:

Geoffrey from Rainbow.

Anyone ever see the early bungle from the first ever episodes? They had to change him cos his pure dead mad coupon was scaring kids.

Is that why they made him into such a puff. Big girl's blouse!

16

(4,017 replies, posted in Leeds Now)

No chance, integral to how Leeds play - Bielsa says he has no-one with similar abilities, def mid/center back. He's frustrating at times but Bielsa not afraid to yank him, think he showed v Wendies how good he can be in transitioning from 4141 to 3331 or even 334 when we're attacking. Real asset on his day.

17

(37 replies, posted in Match Reports)

That's about 6 games on the trot where we've looked poor first half, absolutely dominated 2nd half without scoring a shedload. Can't Marcelo give his half time team talk before kickoff?

18

(89 replies, posted in Gigs)

Top dad dancing with dad trousers, dad bod and dad hair. Cross between Brando and Burt Reynolds (Deliverance vintage), with attendant hair problems. Might go and see them when they play NYC alone, love the way he goes for it. Dude, emote!

19

(2,942 replies, posted in Life)

Games teacher at school was called John Cunliffe, known to all of course as Cuntlips - had something of the Mourinho about him, shortarse with an unearned swagger, bit of a bully, thought he was god's gift. Wonder if he did Postman Pat on the side?

20

(15 replies, posted in Gigs)

Nice one Harvest

21

(41 replies, posted in Wardrobe Department)

Franz Klammer SC wrote:

That'll be 100 sheets consultancy big_smile

Ha! Put the new jumper in the allotted drawer and discovered I already have 3 other cashmere jumpers, fortunately all in different colours/neck type. Better get wearing the fuckers.

22

(8 replies, posted in You Talking To Me? Film)

Agreed, Fleabag was excellent. Gonna give this Killing Eve a go. If I can find it

23

(41 replies, posted in Wardrobe Department)

Inspired by this thread, just bought a light grey cashmere crew neck from Uniqlo, 90 shmeebs. Verr nice

24

(53 replies, posted in Life)

Cutsyke wrote:

Neck

And GG Allins Gutrot
Dave Becomes Monster - wasn't he a name writer?

25

(15 replies, posted in Gigs)

Harvest, so he's got his gospel choir with him? Also the orchestra or just choir? Looking forward to this...