Cut And Pasted At Elland Road

By Anthony Vickers on Dec 22, 12 10:53 PM

LEEDS blog: *cut and paste from Birmingham game here*

Boro bossed the opening spell of the painful 2-1 defeat at Elland Road, played some sweeping football, picked their way forward with some crisp passing movement and created a string of passes to dominate for 40 minutes in the first half. Unfortunately the current conversion rate is very poor. Right now all Boro's striker need three or four chances to chalk up a goal.

Lukas Jutkiewicz smashed one in - via a little deflection and at the second time of asking - but he also squandered two more golden chances after the break, both times taking one touch too many and nudging it just too far wide. One was lashed into the side-netting and the other squeezed through the keeper's legs and then clipped the post and went out. Then there were a couple of scrambles, otherwise anonymous Marvin Emnes sent in an overhead kick that grazed the upright and Jason Steele - yes, Jason Steele - had a header charged down at the death.

Leeds had maybe four chances and Becchio scored two of them.

Boro were on top in the first half when it was a football match but failed to make it count and then Leeds clawed back into just before the break. In the second half Leeds made it more of a scrap, broke up Boro's rhythm and hit long diagonals on the break. They got their rewards with a goal from a poorly defended corner (stop me if you've heard this one before). Boro picked it up again in a frantic all out assault late on but couldn't salvage the point they probably deserved. Frustrating and disappointing - but probably par for the course for a not quite fully shaped Championship side.

It must be said it was a fantastic game to watch: it was all action, end-to-end pulsating action. It was competitive and full-blooded and high-tempo with sliding tackles flying in, although never dirty. And the rain-lashed surface making for plenty of heart-stopping errors in both halves. It was hugely entertaining and played in a fantastic atmosphere that was charged and hostile and supportive and very loud. It was a great match.

If we can play like that every week, but just tweak it - 10% more in each box - we'll do OK. No one ever said it would be easy. And if you had been offered fourth at Christmas back in August you'd have taken it. We are still in touch with two home games coming up and players coming back. We're doing alright.


Forever Dormo said:

Without wishing to sound churlish (though I suspect some will accuse me of doing just that) it is question of expectations. If the expectation is of finishing in the automatic promotion positions (1st or 2nd) "doing alright" will not be enough. You have to do really well to get the gold or silver medal.

Finishing 3rd-6th might be thought of as doing alright, but the chances of success in the subsequent play-offs would only be 25% if all the teams there are playing at the same level at that point in the season.

I suppose if the readers of this blog were supporters of a team expected to finish in mid-table, say a Charlton Athletic, they would say the season was a bit better than alright, and if they were Bristol City fans expecting a season of struggle against relegation, they'd be ecstatic with performances and results like Boro's.

On the other hand, Manchester United and Manchester City fans would NOT think that being 4th in their league was alright. Their expectation is to be in the top two.

We have heard several commentators saying that, excepting the Blackpool away game, we have not been stuffed in any game this season and have lost a number of games despite being the "better team". Those people have said there is no better team in the division than Boro - no-one to frighten us at all.

If it is true that there are no better teams than ours in this division, then shouldn't we be at the top of the league? It seems a legitimate question to ask.

**AV writes: Because Championship teams are largely made up of players that are flawed: either physically, technically or mentally. That is why they are at this level. That brings inconsistency, errors and frustrating inability to kill games off. That is why Cardiff lose to Peterborough, Boro lose to Bristol. You can't judge players or teams at this level against Premier League standards.

Paul G said:

Leeds fan here ...... thanks for a very even-handed report, although I had the game the other way around to you. Thought Leeds were the better side in the first half, Boro hit us on the break, but scored with their only real chance of the half. We had 2-3 good chances, apart from Becchio's goal just before half time.

Second half, I thought Mowbray must have put something in your tea .... Boro dominated much of the half, and it was only some desperate defending which kept it at 1-1 - I'd have settled for a draw prior to the second going in.

Agree it was a cracking match to watch, played hard but fair on both sides, and (by and large) refereed with more common sense than most games I've seen this season!

Very happy to get three points, and thought you were unlucky not to get anything from the game ......

**AV writes: Even handed report? It'll never catch on.

I thought the increased tempo, bodies getting forward in numbers and at times quite direct and scrappy second half was very un-Borolike. They had a lot of possession and pressure but it was frantic and that is not really Boro's strength. Committing men forward left them exposed. The first half - more measured, more width, more passing and probing - was archetypal Boro. That and not scoring when they had the initiative.

carltonp said:

Let's get it said: our strikers cannot strike. They cannot do what Becchio can, not by a very long chalk. He can smash a ball on target pulling the ball from a foot behind him and hitting the target with power.

Jutkiewitz rarely hits the target and rarely hits the ball with timing and power even when it may be accurate. Emnes can do tricky stuff, but normally paints himself into a corner and gives the opposition the ball: he's a defensive striker!!

Yesterday the nearest he got to troubling the opposition was an acrobatic bicycle kick, but not an accurate one, and very many of his shots on goal are blocked off easily enough. If i were the opposition, i'd want Emnes in our side.

Scott works his socks off, but can go whole games without threatening the opposition goal. His shooting can be wayward too. He defended well for us yesterday and did some good midfield linking up, but was not a striker.

Either the lads need to have huge amounts of work on how to strike a football or how to be accurate when so doing, or they need shipping out.

If the coaching staff are sure they have the basic ability to shoot, they should work on their ability to do their job under match pressure conditions. And their goalscoring intelligence.

Juke may be so left-footed that it's easy to force him the way defenders need him to be, and that is a huge weakness of his, but yesterday he forced himself too wide on at least two good goal-threatening occasions. Miller is better in all respects, as well as being stronger and more controlled as a target man.

So our main problem is the same as it has been for at least five years: no real strike power. Let's get rid of Emnes, Jutkiewitz and MacDonald (this last for financial reasons, because he at least earns his right to be in the team by sheer work rate) and see if we can trade up to a couple of strikers who can strike!

Ian Gill said:

Never mind.

Whilst teams are flawed in this division the same rules apply as in any sport, score when you are on top.

The other fact is that many of the teams have a few decent players who can turn it on. Not many but enough.

I watched Blackpool v Wolves and have listened to Derby v Hull and us yesterday and it seemed all followed a similar pattern. One side playing most of the football and the other winning 2-1

I will disagree with the Cardiff/peterborough and Bristol comparisons. Our debacle was completely home made and conceived at Rockcliffe.

We are in a better position than I expected us to be in pre season. Once we have played Derby we will have a better sense of where we are likely to finish in the league.

gt said:

It's half way in the season and we're in the mix as far as this crazy league is concerned,, so I guess we should be optimistic about the New Year and what we hope could happen come May,

I think in many games this season we have looked like the best team in the division untill we reach the eighteen yard line. We've looked quality and thats the concern I have since hearing Mogga suggest he doesnt see us signing or loaning anyone in January.

I think of Boro teams of the past who gained promotion , we always had players in those teams,who you knew would get goals in the big games or when we struggled against stubborn defences,

I think of 67. Hickton, O,Rourke,Horsfield; 74,Foggon,Mills , Hickton; later we had Slaven,Hendrie,Wilkinson, When we needed to push on ,we brought in Fjortoff, Branca, Merson, Senior, Fuchs and others I cant name,

So I appeal to Mogga go out and get for me just one player. That's all we need. Either a veteran or talented young kid who can (even off the bench) get ten goals from now to the end of the season (an out and out sniffer in the box),

Could we get a Robbie Keane, I think of a Saha at Sunderland, Bent at Villa (on loan), pay them for four months. There are others out there. My point being - do it now Mogga. Dont have any Shudda,Cudda ,wouldda thoughts at the end of this season

John Powls said:

Yep - we've got flaws up front. But just as many at the back.

You can quote the aberration at home to Peterborough but - by and large - Cardiff are eight points better off than they were at the half way point and we are three points worse off because they can defend and when they get a goal up, even when they're not at their best - viz at home to Boro and away against Leicester yesterday - they can hold on to it. So, they're not relying on their flawed strikers to score three every game to win.

CroydonBoro said:

Is the solution to sign Bechio?

John Powls said:

A very happy and peaceful Xmas to all on here and across the DiasBoro!

And three points on Boxing Day wouldn't come amiss either, Santa!

Jarkko said:

We need to get Marvin back to the level he was scoring goals last seaon. And quickly. He and McDonald have proved to be able to score goals but all the other skriker options seem still doubtful. I really do not understand how Juke cannot find the back of the net as often as in a strugling Coventry side.

As far as I like Stewie to came back, I would rather go to Swansea and ask if we can have Danny Graham back. Even for a loan.

We are playing as well as any side in the Champo but we must turn our dominance to goals. Our squad looks strong in numbers and perhaps in quolity - exept the goal takers, perhaps.

Still, looking forward to seeing Boro live next Saturday and Tuesday. I hope my favourite Rhys is back by then and like to see Woody, too. What better in the same time!

Up the Boro!

Denis said:

For once on our visit to Elland Rd we were sat with our Leeds Utd friends, directly behind Warnock 's dug out. It was, with the exception of Warnock's swearing and berating of his players an unusually civilised experience.

Such a contradiction in terms, might be explained by the rows of empty seats nearby but the home fans thought we had played the better football and were the stronger team.

It was a good match, we moved the ball crisply from the back and to midfield. However we lack composure up front with Jukes all feet and unbalanced and lacking sharpness. Emnes was easily knocked off the ball and rarely got into dangerous position.

We deserved a draw at least ,but we cannot afford too many more defeats. A sucker goal cost us again.

Redcar Red said:

Defensively we should not be conceding headers like their second when we have Woody and Hines to compete in the air.

OK, that said occasionally things like that will happen and so we need to ensure that we score more than the opposition. That for me is where the problem lies because like most sides defensively we will sometimes drop clangers or are just simply beaten by better players from time to time.

Up front we have what looks to me like one prolific striker in Scotty who looks hungry, greedy and opportunistic. The Juke looks to me like a hustling bustling sort of mid-table League 2 Striker. He doesn't posess a first touch just a scuff off the shin and a chase and scrap for the ball which then usually needs two more touches when the opportunity has gone. This for me is probably the reason why he ends up on his backside with rarely getting the benfit of the referee's whistle.

Citing Becchio's volley in off the bar, we would have chested it down, tried unsuccesfully to trap it then look for two red shirts to make moves off the ball, swivelled and tried to turn the by now three defenders and stubbed it into a crowded box and then had Scotty screaming at the ineptness of it all.

Marvin, isn't a winger as he doesn't get down the line and pass defenders although he dances around impressively out there. He is too lightweight for the middle and doesn't impose himself on defenders but he does have some clever ball skills.

He reminds me of those blokes you see on the telly during tournaments juggling balls at half time or challenging for a place in the Guiness book of Records. You wonder if they have all that Ronaldoesque ball control why haven't they made a career as a footballer. The answer of course is that that is all they have in their locker, pretty tricks but they can't make use of them in the wider context of the game and so it is I fear with Marvin.

Miller is not everyones cup of tea and while his first touch is somewhat heavy he does seem to trundle forwards towards the danger zone in a slightly menacing manner and hits the ball in the general direction of the net which may or may not bring direct dividends but if its punched. palmed, sliced by the keeper or hits the post then Scotty is invariably sniffing around having read the game and predicted the balls trajectory.

My point is that tactically playing to Scotty's strengths ususally works (it did with Cetic). Boro however look at the wider picture of the team collectively which whilst admirable and at times pretty is too pretty in the final third. Lets have a team of nine players plus two greedy gets up front menacing and lurking, wanting the ball in and around the box to hit it first time or worse case one touch then bang!

In January I would look to offload Marvin and the Juke and if we can get any takers Tommo as well (to give him a chance to ressurect his career). We then need to gamble any cash plus wages on a proven striker at this level. Could we entice Celtic for Hooper with a swap plus cash or Marvin to the Swans and Danny Graham coming this way or sending Juke back to Cov in a swap for McGoldrick?

Our Goal Difference column tells everything you need to know about what is wrong with Boro at the moment. The mere fact that a striker who was ignored for the opening two months of the season is top scorer speaks volumes. We need Goals and I'd rather see a confident net buster than Stewy in January although both would be nice.

I definitely don't want to see an 18 year old Premier prospect loanee arriving to push Main further back. We are almost complete but not quite there yet, the Final piece is still missing, otherwise we will have another 4 games to the Season's end where we outplay the opposition but come away with nothing.

Percypieblocks said:

If you can't defend set pieces or score goals then you won't achieve promotion. I'm getting fed up with hearing that were the better side and losing games that we should have won.

A natural goal scorer or even an unnatural one would help but where can you find one of them.Perhaps we could put in a goal scoring midfielder, Charlton used to have one but he doesn't feature much for us.

Ian Gill said:

A merry christmas and prosperous new year to one and all. Oh, and three wins please.

jiffy said:

Promoted sides dont get there by scoring tons of goals. They just make sure they get one every game and keep clean sheets more often than not.

As a defender of some reputation Mowbray should be thoroughly ashamed of the goals Boro concede. Defending dead ball situations we are a total shambles.

boro1953 said:

carltonp -

Agree with your assesment of our strikeforce. If the truth was known i think Mogga would have hoped Emnes would have gone in Summer and i think his over the top praise of him is in respect of trying to up his sale value with the window coming up.

As for the others, pretty much of a muchness ie no one stands out,which on the whole could cost us.

As for the middle a place for Bailey (battler) must be found. I would have him and Leadbitter (cultured) in the centre. This of course will mean McrEachren returning to Chelsea as i am sure he will be on a gaurenteed place here which is wrong. We have enough talent of our own in this area with Smallwood,Reach,Park,Halliday etc etc and McEachren is holding up their progress.

Smogonthetyne said:

Having trouble posting, so keep it short....

Happy Christmas one and all. Have a red and White Christmas.

Up the Boro

**AV writes: Yes, Merry Christmas everyone. Settle yourself down, get a mince pie and a fine malt and await the arrival of the fat lad in red and white... *insert own Mido/Stampie joke here*

Forever Dormo said:

Well, I WAS going to have a cup of tea (kettle is boiling as I speak) but since we have been ordered to pour ourselves a fine malt by AV - reply at 4.29pm - I suppose I'd better do as I am told. Well, it is Christmas Eve still here in England.

**AV writes: I'm having a Oban while awaiting the clatter of reindeer hoof on roof. Most acceptable.

timfromsa said:

Ok everyone AV has pressed the buttons lets all have a drink.

its been a great year so far for the Boro and us supporters. its also been a pleasure reading the comments on this blog which are always good reading. So to all you guys out there have a merry xmas and lets hope we are celebrating some more after the next two game.

Ian Gill said:

Every Boxing Day my dad would refer to Christmas saying it is as far away as ever.

And every Boxing Day we are hoping for a late pressie from Santa. A home win would be nice adainst Blackburn, a team we gave a football lesson to by playing front foot football. Wonder if Mogga has come up with festive surprise?

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