Fear-ridden Warnock is Holding Leeds Back

Many an evil tyrant has stood accused of the appalling crime of ethnic cleansing over the course of history; attempts to shape a race based on colour, religion, disabilities, even characteristics as trivial as hair type. Such acts define those involved as not only being fundamentally grotesque, sociopathic and disturbed, but also as weak minded individuals, leaders who are suspicious, intimidated even by those who belong to different groups to their own and often find it easier to persecute, rather than embrace the potential these ‘strangers’ offer.

Mercifully, in contemporary Western society, such attitudes, are for the most part at least, regarded as preserve of the unenlightened. In football too, great strides have been taken to make the sport a wholly more inclusive experience, where open-mindedness ensures that players are appreciated for traits such as ability, application, charisma and loyalty – the truest benchmarks of worth in this game we hold dear.

As in all sections of society, in football those leaders who are the most progressive, open-minded and steadfastly confident in their abilities are those who continue to flourish – Mourinho and Ferguson, the two most compelling cases for the argument. But for all those who embrace new philosophies and ideas, the new generation of great managerial hope – the likes of Martinez and Rogers to name but two – there remain others firmly rooted in the past; closed off to new ideas, doggedly sticking to their own dated notions and untrusting of those schooled in different ways.

Step forward Neil Warnock; a man who on the surface continues to bristle with a confidence in the his abilities, but dig a little deeper and questions start to arise about how much conviction actually remains.

Confident managers put plans into place in full expectation that they will be embraced, that each player, instilled with a confidence and utter belief in those ideas and their leader, will get on board – Warnock to me, smacks of a man who is no longer sure of himself.

While a constantly evolving squad is a pre-requisite for any club with designs of pushing forward and by necessity, a degree of revolution was required at Elland Road, a look at yesterday’s line-up against Bristol City is still telling. Working through the starting XI, although Aidy White, Tom Lees, Michael Brown, Ross McCormack and Luciano Becchio were all regulars in and around the first team before Warnock’s arrival, a look at the treatment of each player by the current manager suggests nagging insecurities about his ability to inspire those he hasn’t brought into the club himself.

While Aidy White remains a million miles away from being my idea of a good footballer, Warnock has continued to refuse him a run in the only position in which he may be capable of succeeding, indeed he’s recently gone on record as much to suggest that he doesn’t consider White a left-back. Meanwhile, Tom Lees, despite being by some distance, the best defender at the club has found himself on the bench or pushed out to right back in recent weeks to allow the lamentable Tate and Pearce partnership to ‘flourish’.

Up front, the story just becomes more bewildering. In a leaden footed side, Ross McCormack offers the only real degree of movement and (moderate) pace we have to open sides up, not to mention a goal threat, but essentially remains understudy to Diouf whose talents appear best suited to the latter stages of games. Then there’s Becchio…

Luciano Becchio, a player who above all others has come to embody the best that Leeds have been able to offer throughout our darkest times, our talisman, the player who’s probably single-handedly responsible for Neil Warnock still being in employment, now reduced to a scapegoat for unimaginative, feeble, listless team performances, archaic tactics and supporter unrest.

While Luke Varney was praised to the hilt for his performance as a forward at St. Andrews – the sitter he missed, passed by without reference – Becchio, despite being one of nine awful outfield players at Barnsley was the butt of all criticism. Some might charitably suggest that Warnock is cannily employing psychology, others, maybe more realistically might claim it represents the act of a man desperate to inspire more out of a player on whom the success of his playing style is so dependent. I’m beginning to suspect it’s now just because he isn’t one of Neil’s boys.

So we return to the list of the five players named from the starting line-up and who do we have left? Only Michael Brown. A man who may not have been brought to the club by Warnock, but played for the manager for so many years at Sheffield United. A player for whom Warnock can count upon as being in his corner; a believer, just as Paddy Kenny is and Michael Tonge.

Has Warnock become conscious that the modern game has evolved to such a degree that it’s leaving him behind? That his main, perhaps only hope of getting Leeds United promoted is by surrounding himself with players who have proven themselves as willing to buy into his dated philosophies? Is that why the likes of Peltier appear undroppable? Why Austin plays regardless? Why Brown is so often singled out for praise in games? Why Varney hasn’t been sold of to a dog food manufacturer?

It’s noticeable that even when Warnock has actually brought in players with some pedigree as cultured exponents of the game, they’ve quickly fallen out of favour – Adam Drury and David Norris have no place in his tried and trusted system. Only players who are willing to work hard, who don’t question the inadequacies of the ridged and inflexible system; who can be trusted to obey rather than to think or to question fall into the beloved category.

That is why we’re starting home games with Austin and Brown as our creative nub in the middle of the park and why Ross Barkley was pushed out to the right for the opening 45 minutes to accommodate this – nerves may have played a part in a poor opening half, but so did the team shape.

Face saver

Face saver

That is why the starting XI are shackled to into playing such a rigid system; that’s why doubtless, the trusted Pearce will return and Peltier resume his stint at left-back, that’s why expressionism is stifled, both by team selection and team orders. Warnock claimed that Leeds played with fear in the first half yesterday, but the truth is, the players play with fear every week. It is a fear to try something different, a rejection of the notion that fortune favours the brave, lest they fall out of favour – and this fear is transmitted from the top.

With Warnock these days, there is anxiety, a hesitation to be bold, to try something different to address the slide, to change a methodology that has failed throughout the season. It seems that he cannot evolve, or at least doesn’t back himself to do so. As a consequence, he’s increasingly all his faith in those personnel that are less likely to question his perseverance with failing tactics, rather than back those with the ability to transform the team into play-off contenders.

Leaders that hide from, rather than embrace change, that have a distrust of new ideas and retreat to sanctity of what they hold true, no matter how much it is failing them are the ones that perish; dinosaurs confined to the history books, stricken ineffectual and irrelevant by an unrelenting meteor shower of fresh, evolutionary thoughts.

Under Ken Bates, Leeds stumbled down a regressive path for nearly 8 soul destroying years; conventional wisdom from all other parties was thrown out. What supposedly worked once before(?) would naturally work again and those with the temerity to question otherwise or offer alternatives would be marginalised or disposed of.

Now Bates is effectively gone, the great irony is that the same mantra appears to live on in the dressing room. We now have new owners who appear to be embracing new ideas; maybe we need a man of similar mind in the dug-out? Football is a team game, but at the same time, in continuing to stifle individuality, by rejecting rather than embracing different perspectives, and in going along by showing the greatest loyalty to those least likely to question him, but also least likely to win us games, Warnock and Leeds United are going nowhere.

Closed minds never prevail in the long run. Leeds need a brave man for the new era.

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17 responses to “Fear-ridden Warnock is Holding Leeds Back

  1. I said pretty much the same thing yesterday to the two guys who stand in front of me… Warnocks tactics (I use that term loosely) are just no longer relevant in a footballing landscape where even 2nd teir central defenders are footballers, confident on the ball and quick off the mark… Whacking the ball at them is like giving them free money!

    It’s usually quite telling when a manager starts blaming individuals for the teams shortcomings, it’s usually a sign that he has ran out of ideas or he is beginning to feel insecure. Blaming the fans on the other hand is tantamount to treason!

    I’ve totally lost faith in the Neil Warnock way… It’s time he moved ASAP. In 3 matches this week he has blamed players and twice ha a pop at the fans – from that, there is no return.

  2. We are in desperate need of a manager like Adkins who is looking to the future, not to his retirement. It’s about time Warnock shut his mouth and opened his brain. We need a manager not a PR merchant. Warnock is very good at keeping himslkef in the mnedia, but totally crap about keeping a consistent Leeds team together.

    He is floundering, full stop…

  3. Its all desperately sad and frustrating. All the pre-season optimism has vanished like mist in the morning sun. The wrong players in the wrong psoitions, NW playing the media game and delivering nothing of substance on the field. Bring Nigel Adkins in now, before someone else snaps him up – he is an intelligent young manager and has been treated disgracefully by the Southampton board. Leeds would be the perfect place for him to show what he is worth.

  4. well written article and spot on, warnock has resorted to bullying and blaming others eg Becchio, White, Thompson, Hall, Poleon, Grayson, Refs, New managers the list goes on because it’s not working for him at Leeds Utd. The standards and quality of football threshold he sets the team are well below what even Grayson could deliver. Time to change or time to go.

  5. Agree entirely – even the ever-diplomatic and uber-experienced Eddie Gray can be drawn to express doubt, frustration and bewilderment at the team selection, the team ‘tactics’ and any way forward – and the prospects are grim for this season. GFH will not move against NW – Bates still pulls the strings behind the scenes – and so we will have to see out the remainder and hope that it doesn’t get too desperate before he leaves and a new manager is appointed. Another wasted campaign unless a miracle really does happen in the ‘window’ and we get in new faces that will somehow make a difference even within the NW restricted view of football potential – you can only hope for the best but prepare for what seems an inevitable mid-table nothing….

    • The above article has great merit and outlines Warnocks possible position and state of mind but… the consequences of him leaving right now are not put forward. I agree with you totally in your comment. This season is a right off and I am at a loss to see who would be brought in to see it out and move the Club forward for the long term. I say this in the context that nothing has particularly changed at this club since the takeover, infact should I even say fakeover. The same basic management structure is in place. There is not one fact that proves to me and others that Kenneth Bates is not reigning daily instruction/guidelines down on ER from a distance. GFHC have had plenty of time now to issue an informative and constructive statement, but they have not. I do not wish to detract from the truthful article above but Warnock may well be in a position of knowing exactly who the true owners of Leeds are and also know that a budget for this window will not be forthcoming. Id say he’s sick to death of the whole pantomime, frustrated, bedeviled with personal confusion and wants out but will wait to be pushed or see it out. Either way he gets his money. Sounds callus but what man wouldn’t take the money.

      There is only one question to ask and get an answer to enable the entire support of this Club to decide what they want from it and that is…
      Who really owns Leeds United Football Club?. That would set the tone for all viewpoints and management appointments to be realistically made.

  6. What a frighteningly accurate article; a better precis of our current malaise I have yet to read. I think I know what the answer is but one thing is certain; I do not know “who” the answer is.

  7. lets just stop and think about this warnock is a muppet, he will blame anyone bar himself, the buck stops with him alone not becks mac douf etc. we are never going up under this guy why not get someone who understands lufc oleary spoke the truth and they sacked him but he had the right idear, we need to take our time now and build from our accadamy of youngsters, ok it might cost us another 1or2 seasons in this leaque but in the end im sure we will have a team to be proud of i love leeds and it breaks my heart to see this kind of football comming from the mighty leeds god knows what revie and bremner must be thinking of this manager.

  8. Agree with most comments. GFH need to show some leadership and stamp their mark on the club. Warnock out, Adkins in. NOW!

  9. The flip side of having Warnock as manager is that the next manager will need to start again but will have a lot of old men on the payroll.

  10. Grammar should be improved and do some proof reading. Too many commas and the use of 3 adjectives for every point being made is way OTT. (9/10) :)
    Enjoyable article. NW is a dead man walking. Gone in 4 months at most. Becchio should dig his heels in and not buy the sh!t NW peddles, Beccs will be here long after the dinosaur has gone (cue reference to meteor showers…)
    First time I’ve read your stuff Ken (you’re not the real de Mange are you? love it if you were :) ) Keep this up, we need to pressurise GFH to get NW out soon as. They do read the blogs and forums and ticket pricing is evidence of this.

    Can you do a piece on Harvey next? With extra oomph!

  11. Yet again, it pains me to point out that Warnock is Warnock. He is “Old School”. Do not give him another contact, change in the summer find a man who is adaptable, clever and not past it! GFH where is the investment, youth, ground, training ground etc, are you skint!

    • Don’t think Warnock will want one John.You are right to ask the questions. I’m wondering why they are so silent. The Club management remains the same as before and possibly the transparency. A bit of true intent wouldn’t hurt but who is really in charge?. Early days I suppose but seems the same old, same old without them making a statement.

  12. yes we need a big CLEAN OUT,if were going to go anywhere.Why would G.F.H. buy into something they no nothing about,it’s like going to the bakey,to buy meat?COME ON LEEDS/

  13. “we now have new owners who appear to be embracing new ideas”. Would you like to point some of these out perhaps? Three weeks in to January and NOTHING has changed.

  14. My feelings are this , GFH are a business and as such the first thing they are going to do is buy the ground back , when they do eventually move on ( as they one day will) they want to make as much for the business as possible , and in football that means owning the ground and the team in the prem , i think in the short term they will off load becchio for 3 or 4 mil and buy another striker , the new striker will be someone who will be of use to the new manager we get in the summer , NW and hid backroom staff are going nowhere till thier contract is up and GFH are seeing this season out with them and a WAR chest will be availible to the man of thier choice this summer , as for the fans ! we may be lucky and make the play off’s this season but in my mind GFH are already looking to next , if were lucky and go up this season then its a bonus but my feelings are GFH are already looking to next season ….. we’ll get there , of that i’m 100% certain , MOT

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