Leeds see the spectre of the playoffs approaching again

Swindon Town v Leeds United
26th of January 2010
County Ground, Swindon

Leeds United are having a peculiar run of form. What’s wrong with this picture?

Manchester United 0 Leeds United 1
Tottenham Hotspur 2 Leeds United 2
Swindon Town 3 Leeds United 0

Whether it is tiredness, whether it is elation or something more, all the signs are that the Peacocks are having a difficult time adjusting from the big days in the FA Cup to the workaday business of life in League 1. This has resulted in their 8 point lead at the top disappearing. It has led to Norwich overtaking them and Charlton closing the gap for second place and now it has led to their worst defeat of the season. That defeat came against a Swindon team who were competent but never outstanding but who could have scored six against their opponents.

This, in turn, resulted in the away fans who had arrived announcing that the Swindon followers were only in the ground "to see the Leeds" being robbed of what little articulation they originally had and resorting to call their opposite numbers "scum". There was little intellectual debate about the relative merits of the two teams to be heard amongst the fans of either team.

Personally, I prefer to ponder those things rather than shouting abuse but I would have been hard pressed to find any individual players who merited commendation where a few days previously against the Spurs there had been many. Then Ankergren played in a way that was, frankly, beyond his capabilities and Beckford looked like he deserved the inflated fees that his agent had tried to attach to him just a few weeks earlier. At Swindon, Snodgrass was once again bright and purposeful but didn’t achieve much in the second half and substitute Gradel looked overmatched against taller and heavier Swindon defenders despite his obvious enthusiasm and love for the game. And they were the best on offer.

The logical conclusion is that unless something can be done to right the ship, Leeds will again drift out into the post-season playoff games and their ability in those situations has not gone well dating back to the time when Billy Bremner was at the helm as team manager.

The cold night brought home a harsh reality of a defence that looked like it lost its shape too easily and couldn’t pick up players who needed to be marked at set pieces. The midfield looked like it lacked a play maker especially when Kilkenny was withdrawn at half time and that the policy of playing Beckford alone upfront in a League 1 game is foolish indeed.  He desperately needed Becchio to play off and to hold the ball up for him but by the time he was brought on the team were already behind and lost heart all together when the second goal went in.

So will Leeds trade automatic performance for the glamour of a cup run which brings bright memories but will not end in silverware? Well, on current evidence it is a real possibility.

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