At the risk of sounding a complete mysogynist, the next 16 days are going to depend on balls. The next four games will rest on balls. It sounds funny, doesn’t it? But it isn’t a joke.

Next season, and future seasons, will basically depend on balls and how we handle them in the next 16 days.


It’s going to depend on how good we are at putting the ball in the back of the net. Just for clarity, the oppositions’ net. That’s just for starters. But it is also highly dependent on stopping the opposition getting the ball into the back of our net. That makes it sound so easy doesn’t it? Someone put a picture on facebook of our predicted team formation against Citeh on Sunday. It was a diagram of all of the team, apart from Raphinha, stood in the 6 yard box. If that had been the actual plan, that may have worked. After all, focusing all your efforts on defence kept Sean Dyche and Burnley up all this time. People laughed at Burnley – they’re not laughing now. Dyche and his particular style of  negative football may be gone but they are in with a better chance of staying up than us. This used to be us defending…..

Ballwork – working with balls

We are also highly dependent on the simple skill of passing the ball to each other. Also another basic. Our players really need to string a couple of passes together. Unless of course, the rest of  our season is going to depend on long balls from Meslier straight to Dan James, bypassing defence and midfield. Technically this happened against Citeh anyway, when we got the ball. The long ball game hasn’t been seen in a long time at Leeds United. Not since the heyday of Colin et al and Steve Mo-ri-sonnn, where Paddy Kenny lumping the ball upfield was the preferred option because our midfield was so inept. But, it isn’t just the ability to pass it, but to get on the end of it, trap it, pass it and shoot. BielsaBall – how I miss it!

Blocking the ball

We need to get back to being able to block the ball and protect Meslier like we did the other  season. Remember that game, with that video that “went viral”? Someone put a David Attenborough voice over on it, hunting like a pack of wolves, or something, and someone else put the Titanic music over it?

this is the link from the original in case you have forgotten

and this is the story from the article two short years ago

Those were the days eh? When the team was fit and not injury ridden.

The best example in recent times of not being able to block a ball was that Ward Prowse free kick. We always knew that if we gave Southampton a free kick, they would score from it. We always knew that Ward Prowse would swing one in over the wall. He always does. So why did we think it fit to lie someone on the pitch behind the wall? What was the point of that? Especially against someone who always curls the ball? Or was it more of the case that having someone on the ground is “on trend” for free kicks in the PL, so everyone has to do it to fit in? A man on the near post or even a couple nearer the touchline would have been a better tactic. We were clinging onto a slim lead, not 3 -0 up.

A speciality free kick taker. Remember them? We used to have one of those. Ian Harte, Gary Mac, Kalvin Phillips even, before Bielsa turned him into the defensive midfielding maestro he excelled in so much in the Euros. Now we don’t even have a speciality penalty taker, let alone anyone with a deadly right or left foot. I don’t know whether it is because we just don’t have anyone who wishes to step up and take that gauntlet, or whether we just aren’t confident with a dead ball full stop.

Grow a pair

At the risk of getting cancelled, we need to grow a pair. At some point over the weekend, I saw a comment saying that it looked like the team had been c*strated. Someone else watched that Citeh game and thought, like me, that the team looked a mere shadow of it’s former self. Not just in terms of the inability to win a game, defend etc. etc. etc. But genuinely, it looked like we had lost our balls. Citeh didn’t even break into a sweat. I know it was widely publicised that when the new manager came in he “adopted new strategies” and decided to designate “group leaders”. Well that’s all fine and good, but has that actually materialised into results? (Wins against Wolves, Norwich and Watford?) This is the table as it stands

At first glance, ours looks better as it doesn’t have so much red on it, then you realise it’s because we didn’t have a game that week!

I know I sound critical, and I am bitter, I cannot deny that.

We could and should have beaten Palace. Leicester were poor and Villa, well their form isn’t exactly brilliant, is it? Burnley play Villa twice in the space of two weeks. Southampton, I’ve already discussed, we cannot go one nil up and then defend it for 45+ minutes. That’s what Southgate did, and look how that worked out! We needed to go for the jugular and get another goal to settle our nerves, but we sat back and the rest is history as they say. It is now out of our hands and we can only rely on teams around us losing which is a horrible state of affairs. Until the City game, it was squeaky bum time. I had hoped Citeh would have other things on their mind, but in truth, they could have played the U23 side that was here the other day, and the result would have been the same.

Now, even with my undying optimism, I have to say despair is creeping in. For the last decade, my super power was my unwavering optimism. I always thought that we would get promoted until it was mathematically impossible. Now, until it is mathematically impossible, I am hanging on to the thinnest thread that is the relegation fight back.

Whatever happens, my season ticket, like many others’, has been renewed. This will be my 28th consecutive season, I simply couldn’t afford one before then. You didn’t need to buy a season ticket when I started going, you could just pay on the turnstile, and as for away tickets, it was never that hard to get one. I bought a season ticket because I was proud to be Leeds. I still am. It’s my club. There’s many more in the branch who have done longer. Leeds United belongs to us. The current custodians are merely temporary. We are the permanent ones, win, lose or draw.

I spoke to a guy the other day who said he didn’t think there were that many who were long term season ticket holders, apart from the ones who bought into the bond scheme. He seemed to think there was less than 500. It would be interesting to know how many people there actually are who, without fail, have held season tickets for 20, 30, even 40 years. The Chairman, Charley Megginson is one, The Secretary of the branch another. Maybe I should do a poll? Or maybe just ask Leeds United directly. 

As it stands though, whether we stay up or go down, ecstatic or sarcastic or cynical or bitter, I remain Always Leeds Always Loyal