I had no intention to do any sort of report on the Forest game, and despite 10 goals, I feel even less desire to do so now. And yet, I can’t get any sort of closure without getting something down, passing some sort of comment on yet another extraordinary Leeds United midweek home fixture. The sight of Tom Lees hopeless attempts at dealing with the ball prior to the seventh goal may be indelibly burned on my retina from now to eternity, I can only hope to purge the remaining deadly sins through blog-based catharsis…
I’ve always held a morbid fascination with programmes dealing with the dead (and living dead) and so have become very familiar with the intricacies of the post-mortem. One recurring dream I used to have concerned a doctor conducting such an examination, surgical knives, saws… the lot, on a being that just so happened to be still alive and suddenly, very conscious. Despite the admirable efforts of new-wave French horror films to convince me otherwise, I’d never witnessed such a procedure while awake… though after last night, I might’ve just ticked another box on my ‘to do’ list.
Yes, admittedly there were (sadly) no surgical instruments, white gowns, nor the smell of embalming fluid, yet the spectacle at Elland Road had the air of a clinical examination; each player studied in order that the cause of the death of their Leeds United career could be determined under the scrutinous gaze of 21,000 medical football students.
Many of those involved had already been pronounced dead on arrival while others were still awaiting the official endorsement of the footballing coroner’s death certificate. Only a very select few were still found to be hosting faint electromagnetic pulses, suggesting that they could be salvaged from slow death by mediocre Championship side syndrome. Here’s what the autopsy results concluded…
LONGERGAN: Grayson’s decision to award him the captaincy was one of the very strangest decisions he made amongst a whole raft of errors during his final months at the club; a keeper who became back-up at Preston North End after having a crisis of confidence, suddenly installed a leader at a club that’s destroyed many a stronger personality. Prone to at least one elementary mistake per game and on occasion, (like last night) capable of rather more; probably afforded more leeway than many predecessors purely due to the ‘Rachubka effect’.
Verdict: On life support; expect Paddy Kenny to press the ‘off switch’, come June.
CONNOLLY: Awful, awful footballer who scares me when he faces a winger and depresses me whenever he gets the ball in the attacking third and looks to launch yet another aimless cross from 40 yards out. The footballing term ‘solid’ is usually attributed to him, a polite way of saying shit.
Verdict: Grayson’s last decent decision was dropping him after the Barnsley debacle.
ROBINSON: Talks and tackles with a fair degree of venom, which makes him fairly unique amongst our defenders. More liable to mark a winger out of a game through the means of a thousand yard stare and pure terror, rather than ability; looked knackered last night, seemingly a game too far for somebody who hadn’t played since January, prior to his loan.
Verdict: Good for one season, expect a four year contract in the offing.
LEES: I was intrigued by Warnock’s decision to publicly implicate Lees in the concession of the late goal on Saturday. In retrospect, maybe the manager was trying to find out a little more about his mental strength, if so, Tom registered a resounding fail last night with his response. Maybe fatigue played a role, but he looked a nervous wreck. Needs to ‘man up’…and cheer up – Connolly won’t be around for ever!
Verdict: Here for the long term… hopefully. Very much work in progress.
O’DEA: Bless Darren, he reminds me of the big dopey kid who used to get picked for the school team; not on grounds of ability, just because he was one of those kids that everyone liked as they were nice and always tried hard; the kid who was put in at centre back by the PE teacher, because he was built like a brick shit house. Everyone would hope that with enough encouragement and coaching, he’d be able to pass as a footballer and if he could concentrate hard enough, then he’d not to make too many silly mistakes.
Verdict: Well he does try and he is a brick shit house. Decent squad player for next season.
WHITE: I admit it, for a long time I was excited about Aidy White, but now I’m not too sure. I do find it baffling that many of those who regarded Howson as not being a Premier League standard player are now horrified at the prospect of losing White. Pace to burn and some potential at left back, but in the attacking third, utterly inept. Actually less composed in front of goal than Barn Door…
Verdict: Offer him a new deal with incremental pay rises built-in, linked to performance… if not, there’s always Charlie Taylor.
CLAYTON: Plenty of potential but next to no consistency. One good game in three is not good enough. Once he learns to play with his head up…scouring the pitch, rather than the innards of his own rectum, he’ll be a cracking player! Having Warnock constantly in his ear should see him start next season in that vein, hopefully he’ll then sustain it.
Verdict: Keep, tie up to a new contract and get him settled with a regular, deep sitting partner over the summer.
BROWN: Ironically, the only player worthy of any credit for his defensive showing last night. Constantly tracked back to cover gaping holes left in our backline. Developed the aura of a vintage-era David Batty in the aftermath of Danny Pugh’s stint in the middle. Ever improving with a run of games, though doubts remain whether he can cope week-in, week-out over the season.
Verdict: Handy man to have on the sidelines next year, ready to come in to do a job when tactics or injuries dictate so.
SNODGRASS: Need I say anything. As talismanic and critical to our prospects next season as Beckford was during the promotion year; essential we keep him, whatever the cost, be that in terms of a new contract (how likely?) or the loss of a transfer fee. A throwback to the days of the glorious 70s maverick footballers, possessing the ability to excite whilst exhibiting the posture of a man who’s just emerged from a nightclub and smoked 40 Benson & Hedges. God love him!
Verdict: Keep, keep, keep, keep, keep!!!
McCORMACK: When Snodgrass is off-form or marked out of games, our man who’s next most likely to. Given time to develop, the Snodgrass/McCormack/Becchio attacking triumvirate can be the most exciting outside the Premier League. Besides, he’s ginger and Scottish!
Verdict: As Snoddy
BECCHIO: Finally awaken from his six month slumber by Warnock, he’s now thriving. Looks more than capable of netting 20+ goals a season again and back to not allowing defenders a moment’s peace – fucking unbelievable! Under Warnock’s style of play, arguably our pivotal player over the coming 14 months.
Verdict: Has to stay, will stay, will thrive.
PUGH: I’m beginning to doubt that Pugh is actually a carbon-based life form, so seamlessly does he blend into the background during games, so easily do attackers pass by/through him as if he isn’t there. Maybe Bill Murray and the other Ghostbusters team should come in and check for ectoplasm. A total waste of space (if he does actually take up any); after Neill Collins, arguably Grayson’s most confounding permanent signing during his entire stint at Elland Road.
Verdict: Go! Go! In God’s name, go!!!
WEBBER: Not as bad as a Forrsell or Vayrynen, but less than inspiring. Looks reasonable at times, but maybe that’s due to low expectations or becoming accustomed to utter mediocrity…meh!
Verdict: Won’t shed a tear if he goes, expect he’ll sign on for 12 months and be the first ‘like a new signing’ capture of the summer.
PAYNTER: No come on, stop it…my mum always said if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all…
Verdict: Is there anybody out there interested? Sheffield United paid money for Collins I suppose!
That’s it as far as those involved last night are concerned.
So who at the club are essential for our squad next season?
Who’s worth retaining as back-up or in terms of potential?
Who can leave?
Interesting summer ahead, Neil!!…