Barnsley 2 Leeds United 0

Barnsley; so much to answer for. How I’ve come to resent this beastly abomination of an away trek; the familiar impending feeling of dread, pre-match drinks in a curtain draped sports hall, and that walk down that rough, coach-flanked footpath down to the pit of the hill, through into the courtyard and onwards to those turnstiles, each in their own Satanic bleakness, an individual gateway to a footballing Hades.

It mattered not that Barnsley lie bottom of the league, that they staggered into the weekend, punch drunk from the loss of their leading scorer and broken by the knowledge that even Terry Butcher and Sean O’Driscoll considered Scottish football and the dole queue to be more fulfilling day to day occupations; a record breaking run of 11 home leagues games without a win was merely a trivial detail, for Leeds were in town.

4800 people who deserved better

4800 people who deserved better

Neil Warnock claimed this time would be different, pledging that the “minimum we can give is 100%”; true it was another statement that stood testament to the adage that those in football shouldn’t dabble with elementary mathematics, but the sentiments were clear enough. Leeds, buoyed by the signing of Tonge and the loan capture of Barkley would be at it from the start, exploiting a broken, shell-shocked opposition…yes, I stopped buying into this stuff a long time ago.

So to 2.55pm, the teams stride out from the corner of the North Stand, outwards into the Oakwell arena, a pitch surrounded by a mish-mash of stands – the cheap modernist and decrepit, coalescing into a vista that has spawned the backdrop to a thousand LUFC-related nightmares. A positive start, that’s all it should take, never mind the perceived wisdom that there is nothing more dangerous than a wounded animal; if you knock ten balls of crap out of it before it has time to recover it’s strength, then it’s game over.

But Leeds didn’t start aggressively; rather than butcher the lame Barnsley beast, they gently patted it, fed it bread and milk and then when it was ready for something more substantial they offered themselves as a light, if unsubstantial afternoon buffet for to their hosts and those severely malnourished Tykes fed eagerly. It took a manner of minutes for the pattern of the game to be established; Barnsley swarming all over Leeds from the off; players in faces, tackles committed, 40/60s won with regularity and concerning ease. David Perkins ultra-blonde bonce, was once again everywhere all at once as Leeds failed miserably to match their opponents for desire.

In the middle of the park, lurked Austin, an immobile imposter inheriting a role previously filled by an all-action, tough tackling, Jamaican superman; just ahead of him, David Norris, a man with sound footballing attributes but wholly incompatible with a luddite style of play roamed anonymously. Out wide, lurked Diouf, able to hold on to the ball, but lacking the pace to do anything other than “put it in the mixer” from distance. While Tonge’s return offered a small degree of poise, any spell of possession was quickly curtailed by a team mate electing to play it long (and aimlessly). This left only Ross Barkley to offer a degree of attacking intent – shamefully, our loanee of 24 hours was by some distance the outstanding outfield player of the day.

Bright spot

Bright spot

Barkley’s efforts were not enough in isolation though as Barnsley stretched Leeds at will; with the midfield over-run, Becchio completely starved of any service and a collectively pitiful backline showing, the only surprise of the day was that Leeds made it through to the interval unscathed; opportunities had been in plentiful supply with Kenny making several excellent stops and only his right hand post denying Harewood’s 16 yard strike and Martin Crainey’s glancing header. Regardless of the status quo, patience was already snapping in the stands, the first anti-Warnock chants clearly audible and regular instances of booing from the half hour mark. Leeds were pitiful, again.

Inevitable and unavoidable changes brought new hope for the resumption as Norris made way for Paul Green and Diouf for McCormack; Leeds kicked off the half with a line-up agreeable to almost all and for the opening 10 minutes or so appeared to be rejuvenated. A fresh, conscious effort to keep hold of the ball, the energy of Green and the pace of McCormack suddenly rendered a one-dimensional side an expansive one and when Becchio cushioned a header into the path of Barkley, only the depth of the crossbar denied the debutant a moment his display merited.

A goal may have been a worthy reward for Barkley, but for Barnsley it would’ve stood as a travesty and maybe spurred on by that thought, the home side stepped up a gear and again, as the pre-match promises came to nothing in the first half, ten minutes of initial Leeds promise was brushed to one side with embarrassing ease. Barnsley finally struck on 63 minutes as Chris Dagnall, tormentor in chief for Sam Byram for the day, drew a horribly mistimed challenge from the right back; a clear cut penalty. Dagnall struck home with confidence and Oakwell erupted; a tenth playing of ‘Chelsea Dagger’ in just 4 hours of football against Leeds – God, I hate that song. Predictably, some of the locals got a little over-excited, taking a break from celebrations to pile up against a barrier in an effort to goad visiting fans. They bounced around and made all manner or gestures; it was more Conquest of the Planet of the Apes than Green Street as they struggled to decide whether to focus primarily on dancing or mockery.

Composed presence - but to what ends?

Composed presence – but to what ends?

Regardless, if it was a conquest that they looked to mark, its confirmation wasn’t long in arriving, indeed it took the regularly disastrous pairing of Tate and Pearce only 3 minutes to combine for the second goal; this time, Tate who’d spent the entire game backing away from his man (his role in the first goal should not go un-noted) instead got ‘touch tight’ to Marlon Harewood who simply rolled his opponent and slipped through Dagnell who lost Pearce and calmly slotted home. Chelsea f**king Dagger again…

The knockout blow had been delivered on the pitch and suddenly the gloves were coming off in the stand – “We’re shit and we’re sick off it!” made an emphatic return, becoming more vociferous and heartfelt in delivery as each lamentable minute passed by; “Warnock. Time to go!” quickly followed. Following the desperate surrenders of the last two Oakwell visits, the inconceivable was happening – somehow Leeds had managed to outdo themselves again.

On the back of a 5-2 and a 4-1, a 2-0 defeat may on the surface not seem quite as bad, but make no mistake, it represented the most shameful display of them all. Leeds were outplayed to the same extent as they were at Hull, only this time against a team at the bottom of the league; in 90 minutes minutes they failed to muster a single shot on target, nor even a corner! The last two visits to Oakwell have effectively ended Elland Road careers; in September 2010, Fede Bessone disappeared down the tunnel never to be seen again while the New Years’ Eve defeat last season more or less sounded a death knell for Simon Grayson’s reign.

Default away day sinking feeling

Default away day sinking feeling

The question now is should it do the same for Warnock? On the evidence of recent performances it’s becoming increasingly difficult to make a compelling case for the defence; poor runs are a common phenomenon for all but the strongest Championship clubs where so many sides are of similar ability – form, confidence and luck are all transient qualities and most Leeds fans are realistic enough to know that. However, concerns about current performances run much deeper than this, for the second consecutive away game, Leeds have failed to test the opposition goalkeeper even once, while against Bolton and Brimingham they mustered a grand total of three efforts on target (one a penalty) and all via the left foot of Luciano Becchio.

In other words, over 6 hours of football have been played since any Leeds player other than Luciano have tested the goalkeeper – a truly damning statistic; and how does Warnock respond to this? He criticises Becchio’s display at Oakwell, claiming the Argentine has had his head turned by other clubs. Frankly, who wouldn’t? Leeds don’t possess a squad with the quality or strength in depth necessary to push for an automatic promotion place, not by some distance, but the personnel is certainly sufficient to compete for 6th position; in the likes of Byram, Tonge, Austin, Diouf, Green, Norris, McCormack and now Barkley, to name but a few, we also possess players who are more than capable of playing the sort of progressive, passing, high tempo football needed to succeed at this level. Yet under Warnock, the qualities for which these players are noted have been stifled, strangled even, by a neanderthal playing style that ensures that current position of 11th is greatly flattering.

If doubts about the opinions of those who stood witness to this shambles at Oakwell remained, they were surely dispelled come the full-time whistle. Becchio left the pitch alone, seemingly appalled at his situation, reciprocating the applause of those sympathetic to his cause; the remaining players trooped off together, amid a hostile reaction. Warnock was the last to leave – he initially signalled to the supporters to acknowledge Ross Barkley for his contribution for which they needed no prompting, but then when he offered his own thanks it was thrown back at him in a sea of deafening boos and vitriol. The Leeds United jury found him guilty on all counts.

Having enjoyed the style in which QPR strolled to the title in 2011, I believed that Warnock had proven that there was more to his footballing philosophies than long balls, percentage passes and “getting it in the mixer”, sadly upon his return to Yorkshire he seems to have regressed to stereotype. His irrepressible enthusiasm is now conspicuous by its absence and the players have stopped responding to him.

Crisis

Crisis

The first priority GFH should’ve had was to either back Warnock with a contract extension or signal their intent to start with a new man. Instead we’ve had three weeks of uncertainty and an increasing general acceptance that the manager will bow out in May; experience shows that when such departures are scheduled, problems typically emerge in the dressing room as players feel less inclined to respond to a man who’s not going to be present in the long term.

So now we find ourselves back in January again, back in limbo again and back on the precipice of waving goodbye to the play-offs for another season. December 21st, the day of the GFH press conference was the moment to clarify Warnock’s future, for the owner’s to resoundingly illustrate their faith in him and for him to commit to the club. Three weeks on and I fear it may be too late.

Leeds United are currently heading down a fatalistic road on a journey that’s scheduled to last for another four months. It might just be time to drop off Warnock at the next junction and start planning long term, from root to tip rather than waste even more time.

 

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18 responses to “Barnsley 2 Leeds United 0

  1. Good article – nice description of Oakwell, good analysis of game, and interesting analysis of current crossroads.

  2. I have supported Warnock from day one, but now I have to reapraise my thoughts and I believe that he must leave. I do not think that he believes that we can even reach the play off places. He has had a hard time here trying to press forward towards promotion which was clearly his aim when he arrived here. But without the support he was promised it has proved to be a hopeless task. He is not commiting to a further season so having lost faith he should now leave. I do not think it is a good idea to be constantly changing managers. So the next one through the door needs to be young and commited to the cause and given a long contract to enable him to build a team that will not only gain promotion, but to eastablish the team in the premiership. I believe we have the basis of a good footballing side here at present, it is leadership both on and off the pitch that is lacking and needs to be rectified.

  3. Agree with your final Analysis….. Most of us realise that Leeds united needs a complete re-branding and a returm to attractive football RIGHT NOW or we lose thousands more fans permently……My concern is that with GFH coming from a corporate back ground rather than a fan based one they wont understand exactly how much action is required…….. Also the fact that Bates hasnt been ejected along with shaun harvey….the cursed radio station closed and the BBC medial welcomed back suggests this is not a straight forward takeover……. What leverage has Bates still got to still be involved ??

  4. Based on the News Report (PR excersise) just posted by Leeds united website I would summise that we are stuck with warnock weather we like it or not……wake up GFH please, if needs be listen to the blog editors you have chatted to……….Leeds united is in a dangerous place and it isnt just a case of strolling through and riding out the storm ! As another fan has said I can see the attendances falling to Pre Revie levels (11k)

  5. Sorry, to say, I warned about the Warnock issue a long time ago. He is a dinosaur. GFH, are looking like Ken Bates clones in disguise. For the sake of a once great football club, get a grip GFH, spend money wisely, buy the ground and training pitch back, invest in quality and youth. Plan for the future, do not sell assets but get rid of the rubbish. Strachan for Director of Football, promote Redfern to First Team Coach if Poyet cannot be brought back to Elland Road.

  6. Poor Leeds such saddness at having to even think about having to come to Oakwell to the pit yard of football the most unatractive club in football. To the tarn that has been the but of jokes sice musichall days.

    A team that know one wants to manage, and that same team continues to STUFF LEEDS.

    You were guttless and pitifull.

  7. To Keaton Roebuck snr. I guess you are a Barnsley fan. Enjoy you moment of glory. Relegation is on the cards for Barnsley. It is a long trip to Yeovil, better start planning the journey now.

  8. Excellent report well written – well done mate. I have the same thoughts but do think it is time for Warnock to go. Not a knee jerk reaction as there have been some shocking displays and clearly the players are not playing for the manager.

    Warnock out, and President Bates too.

  9. Hi John
    Its more than one moment its three or four, Yeovil no problem Timbuctoo no problem, you have the problem STUFFED by the Tykes time after time, Sorry John as much as you would like to you cannot undo that which as been done. N you have been well n trully done.

  10. Thank you for your kind thoughts Keaton Roebuck Snr, I believe Mr Redfern of Leeds United declined to get onboard the good ship Barnsley, I wonder why??? Just think what he is missing! You may well have success again with a team from West Yorkshire, that is if Bradford City get promoted.

  11. Poor John,

    Bite the bullet John be a man stand tall n come to trems with the facts, Bradford we may well play Yeovil too, who knows one day maybe Frickly but we still STUFFED Leeds.
    Keaton

    • Yes Barnsley won the match, has anyone denied you were easily the better team yesterday. There are of course 46 matches in the season. It is nice that you are excited by the match. I believe that good may come from a bad result for Leeds, maybe Mr Warnock will go sooner rather than later, anyhow, this season Leeds are looking like mid table good home results rubbish way. I never liked that guy that Barnsley recently relieved of his duties maybe this new guy could be OK, too early to tell yet. By the way 2-0 is a good result for a home team not a stuffing. I am sure the next time Leeds meet Barnsley the result will be very different. Good luck Keaton, Barnsley like Leeds need it, for different reasons!

  12. Thanks John,

    We need all the luck we can get. The time as come to close this particular book. I wish you well as I do every Yorkshire team, Barnsley supprter I am. But also a great upholder of Yorkshire teams. I am afraid my next statement may make me a marked man? I even wish the de dars well.
    No malice just good banter, though perhaps my smile is the broarder.

    Best Regards.
    Keaton.

  13. Mark from Oz here lads. 45 years a supporter. Warnock has lost the changing room. maybe the players believe they are good enough without loanees. this time of year always ends in tears!!

  14. Pingback: Stick Or Twist? GFH must make decision on Warnock’s future | The Scratching Shed·

  15. I think we are too critical of GFH. As business men they have upheld their promises to a tee. They are delivering exactly what they said, I quote a paraphrase…” The business model for Leeds United does not depend on the club being in the Premier league….” So there you have it, GFH, NW, the players are all doing their bit to uphold that commitment. The club is on a downward spiral under this management. Excellent report, great writing.

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