So, just switched off SkyTVisf**kings**t for Christmas 2020, and that game just about sums up this year, doesn’t it?
Full of promise at the start, quickly descended into a complete farce, a bit of hope halfway through and then utter carnage, and despite continuing to battle to the end, beaten into submission. That was the summary of 2020 – now back to the game ….. oh no need. Ditto.
The fortunate thing about the football is that there is hope, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Once we get our defenders back, and hopefully Coops isn’t hurt too badly, we will throw everything (again – like we always do) at Burnley, and come away with three points. 2020 is also coming to an end and good riddance I say.
There’s no doubt at all that this has been the most calamitous year in a long, long time.
Two weeks ago, we played Chelski. Or should I say, Chelski decided to turn up to a game and actually properly participate in it, unlike their previous game against Spurs which was as dull as ditchwater. Yes, we lost but we had been forced to start with Llorente, as our stand in centre back (as Koch had got injured, and is now out til the Spring), and we were no match in the box against the giants in Fat Frank’s team. We then played the ‘Appy ‘Ammers and again, gave away pointless free kicks and corners, and again lost. Both games were on the telly and both drew a massive audience and subsequent newspaper column inches.
There is no doubt at all that Leeds United have cemented themselves as THE team that the TV companies want to have in their schedule. The football we play under Bielsa is attractive, and played in the spirit of the game that it should be. Having put myself through the commentary of Martin Tyler and Gary Neville today on SkyTVis f**kings**t, which is heaps better than the Amazon rubbish against the Geordies the other night by the way despite Jermaine’s moonlighting, it was almost embarrassing to hear them gushing over us. It was like listening in to a discussion between Dave Rowson and Paul Beaumont over Nigella Lawson. In fact Leeds United are probably the football equivalent of Nigella Lawson at this moment in time.
When Leeds are on the telly, you can almost see these commentators drooling down their microphones on the gantry over our passing play. Even the BBC are forced into it. And even though we lost today, the flattery from Tyler and Neville was evident and rightly so. Our football is THE most entertaining football currently available. Every game pre match there is talk about how they think Bielsa is going to play, but there doesn’t need to be. Regardless of who we are playing, Bielsa is just going to play exactly the same. One of the funniest moments was before the West Ham game, when in the press conference, the gaggle of reporters were trying to make a big deal of who might or might not be playing, so Bielsa just came out with the team line-up. Excellent. Giving them all the respect that they deserve – none whatsoever.
Lately though, there does seem to me that there is a worrying pattern forming. Chelski, Spurs, Citeh and Scum today just don’t seem to be bothering to turn up properly in certain games. Only then to turn up the heat when they are playing us. I know that for years and years, it has always been the pretence that we are the opposition’s Cup Final, but this season, it genuinely feels that way. As a seasoned conspiracy theorist, it does seem that when teams play against us, they are up-ing their game and playing much better football.
Is this because of the open style we play which makes other teams seem better? Before today, Scum had only scored three times at home, today they were 2-0 up within two minutes. Yes, I am sure that because our play is attack, attack, attack, we do leave ourselves open and have been of late (because of injuries and no Ben White!) been punished on the break. The fluidity of our play against the likes of Newcastle the other night, was breathtaking but then, like it was today, when the opposition are just as fast as we are, begrudgingly, the Scum goals were taken well.
Like Tyler said today, Leeds play the style of football that was played in the 1950s, when it was common place to score 6 to 8 goals a game. It was end to end stuff and there was no place for “clever game management” aka feigning injury and diving, because the game was played how it should be. However, playing the game how it should be played, may not win us the league. It will give the PL the breath of fresh air that the staleness of the last decade has needed. It will boost the TV figures, not that they need much, seeing as we will be in lockdown til the end of the season now, but it might spur on a generation of young footballers to do the right thing and stop the future Grealishes and Livarpool employees from getting anymore silly ideas.
For our first season back in top flight football, we haven’t done too badly really. We are midtable but it’s not even Christmas yet. The injuries are a concern, but we will have to wait and see. It was interesting how he took Kalvin and Klich off today, apparently because they are on 4 yellows already, and he didn’t want the team to suffer from any suspensions until the reset button in the New Year. Tactics? Hmmm.
The one thing that annoyed me today was that they kept harking on about Bielsa’s philosophy. It’s not really a philosophy is it? It’s just playing the game how it’s meant to be played. The game has changed so much since we were last in the Premier League. Not just with VAR and the rule changes, even the pitches don’t seem like a proper grass surface anymore, they look like someone has gone over them in green felt tip pen. The players may be super fit, nutritionally balanced dietically fed, non smoking, non alcoholic, computer controlled hermetically insulated playing machines, but this makes them prone to hissy fits. Including headbutting, pushing and shoving, handbag throwing merchants, added to that all the hair pulling, eye gouging, biting and name calling spectacles that were not uncommon at 1am in the taxi queues outside Flares in the old days. They maybe be human, but not as we know it, Jim.
Anyway, Merry Christmas folks, enjoy it as much as you can in these uncertain times. We might get lucky and be able to watch a live game at ER before the end of the season. Whatever happens, it has certainly been an interesting and enjoyable start to our first season back in top flight football. The results might not have gone our way, but the football we are watching is fantastic and long may it continue to be as entertaining as it has been. Roll on the next 20 points, 7 more wins will see me happy before the end of the season.