In the Press

Leeds United news here, transfer rumours, club affairs, players, fans, etc.
Specific match discussions should go in the category below.

Re: In the Press

Postby rigger » 18 May 2019, 11:05

Barney Ronay, certainly my favourite football writer of the current crop and one of the best of all time IMHO, has written an entertaining summary of our season, dissecting the magic of Bielsa :

https://www.theguardian.com/football/2019/may/18/marcelo-bielsa-play-off-leeds-championship

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Marcelo Bielsa’s play-off agony with Leeds was a lesson in beautiful failure
Barney Ronay

Leeds fell short against Derby but it was a reminder of the joys brought by football’s great nonconformist
Image


Fail again. Fail better. When Pep Guardiola was planning for his second life as a manager he went to meet various hand‑picked tactical super-brains. Among them was Marcelo Bielsa, recently resigned as manager of Argentina. Bielsa invited Pep to his home in Rosario. They had a barbecue. Then they sat and talked about football for 11 hours.

Yes, 11. It is just such a brilliantly macho interpretation of the basic idea of having a bit of a chat. Why not 12 hours? Why not 36? Why not five weeks glued to the garden loungers?

No transcript of this conversation exists but it seems fair to say it would reward being adapted into a difficult arthouse movie, perhaps with an extended dream sequence where they both spend an hour throwing away the paper plates and trying to find something to put the potato salad in, all the while arguing about counter‑press phases and whether you can use wire wool on a galvanised steel grill.

“There are 36 different forms of communicating through a pass,” Bielsa has said, which is definitely a lot of forms. This is a manager who once drew the outline of a pair of feet on his shoes to illustrate some technical point or other and then wandered around absent-mindedly wearing the same feet-shoes for the next three weeks.

The Bielsa mythology is such fun, so full of these moments, that it can at times seem a little comical. Here he comes, the nerd-god pacing his touchline, occasionally barking out a line of machine code. Which is a shame as this is to miss the real joy of Bielsa’s maniacally vivid, almost entirely trophy-free European club football career.

This week Leeds United and Derby County produced the domestic game of the season, a Championship play‑off second leg so full of nuance you needed to watch it at least three times, preferably on grainy Bielsa-style VHS in some gloom-ridden basement. It was also a game that offered up the best of Bielsa. Specifically, the things he tells us about failure. For the last 10 days the season’s endgame has been pegged out around the opposite of failure, a gullet-fed feast of winners’ comebacks and duelling superlatives; complete with a counter-narrative of sickness and debauched methods among the losers.

There is a tendency to see sport, and indeed life itself, in such polarised terms. We live in an age of Goats and frauds, temperature set by the idiocy of social media, the idiocy of Big Sport hype, the idiocy of idiots.

Spare a thought in the middle of this for failure, the most underrated of sporting commodities. Not the kind of failure that you reject, or transform later into disdainful success. But proper failure – failure of substance, a way of losing that illuminates both your opponent and the experience itself.

At Elland Road, Leeds’ season ended like this, in a falling short that remained true to Bielsa’s own obsession with a system and a way of playing. Above all it was just a brilliant game, a night of relentless running and relentless collisions, not all of them visible to the naked eye.

There was even a note of beauty in the way Leeds lost at the very end to a team they’d beaten three times out of three, and whom they finished nine points ahead of in the regular season. With 85 minutes gone, the scores level and Leeds down to 10 men, the right-back Luke Ayling charged forward, as he had all night, and lost the ball. He charged back as Derby poured into the gap behind him in a pre-drilled counter-thrust, teeing up Jack Marriott to kill the game.

In the days since, assorted English pundits have sighed over Leeds’ defensive naivety, as though this openness at the end was a moment of weakness, a failure to read the script. Whereas it was of course the opposite, a team following the plan to the final second of the season: run, chase, pass and be damned.

From this angle Bielsa’s Leeds have been a bizarro Manchester City, utterly wedded to their system but without the magic bullet of all that high-level talent, a way of making it work even when it fails. This is what a pure, flawed, human version looks like.

It has been thrilling to watch. Leeds had most shots, most possession, most tackles, the most players sent off at home. Bielsa gave 10 players under the age of 21 a senior debut. Leeds fell short but along the way produced a series of thrilling, transcendent moments that will retain their own kind of life outside the more pressing issue of points and tables.

Whisper it, but in failure Bielsa also helped to give Frank Lampard his finest moment on the touchline.

Lampard was always a punt on status and presence, perhaps even a celebrity appointment for all his obvious intelligence. He looked like something else at Elland Road, changing the game with a tactical switch just before half-time, and winning it with the way his players poured forward into the gaps Leeds’ game of sprints leaves behind.

There is a Chinese saying that defeat should be celebrated because in the process your opponent is educating you. And Lampard did learn how to play Bielsa. Filtered down through acrimony, the weirdness of “Spygate”, defeats home and away, he might just have had his own 11-hour tutorial.

Bielsa may well end up leaving Leeds now. If he does it will be a profound loss to English football, a place so reflexively hostile to intellectualism, to theory and form for form’s sake. Either way he remains football’s great nonconformist, drawing his Rothko shapes, scrolling his numbers; and embodying along the way the most unfashionable of concepts – beautiful, ennobling failure.

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Re: In the Press

Postby Leonickroberts » 20 May 2019, 10:30

rigger wrote:Barney Ronay, certainly my favourite football writer of the current crop and one of the best of all time IMHO, has written an entertaining summary of our season, dissecting the magic of Bielsa :

https://www.theguardian.com/football/2019/may/18/marcelo-bielsa-play-off-leeds-championship

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Marcelo Bielsa’s play-off agony with Leeds was a lesson in beautiful failure
Barney Ronay

Leeds fell short against Derby but it was a reminder of the joys brought by football’s great nonconformist
Image


F
From this angle Bielsa’s Leeds have been a bizarro Manchester City, utterly wedded to their system but without the magic bullet of all that high-level talent, a way of making it work even when it fails. This is what a pure, flawed, human version looks like.

It has been thrilling to watch. Leeds had most shots, most possession, most tackles, the most players sent off at home. Bielsa gave 10 players under the age of 21 a senior debut. Leeds fell short but along the way produced a series of thrilling, transcendent moments that will retain their own kind of life outside the more pressing issue of points and tables.

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________



Belated reply to this, but I read it in the paper on Saturday and absolutely loved it. It's going to take me a good month or more to get over that match, and of course if Bielsa leaves that heartbreak will be extended well into the summer, but this article was a good reminder of what we've experienced over the past 10 months and quite how wonderful if has been.
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Re: In the Press

Postby SCOTTISH LEEDS » 20 May 2019, 11:33

Jon Howe's Leeds live article:-

Of the seven stages of play-off defeat recovery I am currently hovering somewhere between two and three, past the arbitrary yelping of obscenities in empty rooms, but nowhere near being able to objectively dissect what the hell happened last Wednesday night. This is still very much an emergency situation of blunt emotions and sticking plasters.

Every Leeds United fan has been branded with the unshakeable hangdog appearance of someone who has been sucked in and spat out twice in less than a month. Navigating everyday life is an attritional introduction to the meagre joys of a nuclear winter. This is the worst hangover ever, with cognitive processes encumbered by the dense application of cotton wool to the brain.

Even a cup of tea doesn’t taste nice, and for that, someone should have to pay. We want to be mad at Leeds United. On the list of heinous crimes they have committed in our lifetime this is not merely an irritable misdemeanour. This is not leaving the jam knife in the butter, this is buying us a ticket to the adventure of a lifetime and putting it through the 90C wash. Twice. This is a self-inflicted misery that would be laughable were it not so unyielding and unescapable. Leeds United really are relentless. They never relent.

Then the problem comes in being eternally conflicted. Of course we also want to cuddle them. And there is the critical factor of separating the here and now from the long ball game we’re all helplessly embroiled in. While this season has brought countless moments of unprecedented joy, satisfaction and kinship, what was once paracetamol for the soul is all now reduced to the status of meaningless footnotes to another abject failure. The supporting narrative, the gulps of air we caught amid preposterous drama and the left of leftfield plot twists are what could have made up the best end-of-season DVD review ever. Instead we are left adrift and unfulfilled and raging at persons unknown that, if all this didn’t constitute a promotion season, I don’t know what on earth one of those looks like.

The answer comes in looking at things in the round, rather than dwelling on the individual moments. Ruminating the apportionment of blame for Derby County’s first goal or the second half v Wigan Athletic is a fast-track queue jump to an existence of acute paranoia, cyclical anguish and daubing your bedroom walls in a dirty protest. Looking at things on the whole is the only way to safely navigate that transitional step from where we were 12 months ago to where we are now.

Yes, right now, the thought of another attempt at promotion feels as palatable and utterly depressing as a documentary on what Neil Warnock thinks Brexit actually is. It feels too gargantuan a task, like your laptop has crashed four-fifths of the way through an online job application, and the enormity of starting again from scratch is something you simply can’t fathom. Why would we willingly go through this again?

In fundamental terms, as football fans we have no choice, but also, there’s some comfort to be found in the general health of our club and certainly from the apparent willingness of Marcelo Bielsa to have another go.

People find comfort in different things of course, but my football club in the hands of Marcelo Bielsa gives me an almost child-like warmth and security. Quite apart from the fact Bielsa’s football has offered me the chance to enjoy the primal rudiments of the game as if I was falling in love with it for the first time, his considerate and compassionate managing of every aspect of the footballing side brings a blanket of serenity, reassurance and refuge.

As a child I would be allowed to stay up late on a Saturday night to watch Match of the Day and within five minutes of its end I would be tucked up in the safe, snugness of my bed as the Parkinson theme tune played from the TV downstairs. I can hear that music now and still feel the same drifting sense of calm. I had everything in life I ever needed. And having Bielsa evokes feelings like that now. Whatever life throws at you, everything’s going to be OK.

It would be wrong to suggest Leeds United have the perfect platform from which to address next season. There are fundamental flaws that have contributed to why this season has ultimately failed. Recruitment has to be better and some tough decisions have to be made, but it is a long time since we have faced up to the interminable void of the close season with some confidence we might vaguely recognise what we are presented with at the end of it.

Bielsa will bring some continuity where we have perpetually reached out for the reset button, even if there are key positions that have to be strengthened. This season might feel wasted in the sober light of day, but there has been a sea change in culture and outlook that feels more profound simply because it is Leeds United. To have an ambition beyond merely a positive goal difference is a novel concept in LS11, but that is what we have now, tangible progress from one season to the next and no earthly reason why that shouldn’t continue.

Football works in cycles and every dog has its day. True, we have been bypassed by breeds of dog we didn’t even know existed, but when was the last time Leeds United made a credible and sustained attempt to join them? Our problem is one of fulfilment, delivering the goods and creating a culture of success. For that you need the sea change to also result in a different quality of recruitment.

The 2018/19 play-offs have reinforced the notion Leeds United are the eternal bridesmaids. We might catch the bouquet, but we think it’s just a consolation prize, not the golden ticket to ensuring next time it is our day in the sun, but there is an inkling, for once, there is a plan at Leeds United, we can take what nearly worked and actually make it work.

So it is okay to be mad and frustrated and consumed by anguish, but think about where we have been during the last 15 years, think about how we allowed ourselves to be hoodwinked into fanciful aspirations, think about how mediocrity was sold to us as acceptable for Leeds United. Think about how this is not the end for once. It is not wholesale change, new regimes and a new culture across the board. It is the end of the beginning. This is just the start. So think about that and be thankful we made it through.
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Re: In the Press

Postby SG90 » 20 May 2019, 12:04

I wish they'd stop saying it was a Lampard tactical masterclass. No it wasn't, we fooked up for the equaliser which caused panic in the defence and conceded at the wrong possible time. Without that, we win comfortably. Even then, it was the Berardi red that changed the game.
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Re: In the Press

Postby Leonickroberts » 20 May 2019, 12:28

SG90 wrote:I wish they'd stop saying it was a Lampard tactical masterclass. No it wasn't, we fooked up for the equaliser which caused panic in the defence and conceded at the wrong possible time. Without that, we win comfortably. Even then, it was the Berardi red that changed the game.


It was a bit of both. It wasn't in any way 'a masterclass' and as you say the red card destroyed our chances (I won't be forgiving Berardi for this one), but fat Frank did set them up perfectly to both stifle us and hit us on the break.
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Re: In the Press

Postby SG90 » 20 May 2019, 13:25

Leonickroberts wrote:
SG90 wrote:I wish they'd stop saying it was a Lampard tactical masterclass. No it wasn't, we fooked up for the equaliser which caused panic in the defence and conceded at the wrong possible time. Without that, we win comfortably. Even then, it was the Berardi red that changed the game.


It was a bit of both. It wasn't in any way 'a masterclass' and as you say the red card destroyed our chances (I won't be forgiving Berardi for this one), but fat Frank did set them up perfectly to both stifle us and hit us on the break.

But they created nothing for 135 mins until we gifted them the equaliser. Even then, we were the better side after Dallas' goal and would have got the winner without the red card.

Lampard will be on the MOTD sofa by November when the loanees have gone back.
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Re: In the Press

Postby Leonickroberts » 20 May 2019, 14:24

SG90 wrote:
Leonickroberts wrote:
SG90 wrote:I wish they'd stop saying it was a Lampard tactical masterclass. No it wasn't, we fooked up for the equaliser which caused panic in the defence and conceded at the wrong possible time. Without that, we win comfortably. Even then, it was the Berardi red that changed the game.


It was a bit of both. It wasn't in any way 'a masterclass' and as you say the red card destroyed our chances (I won't be forgiving Berardi for this one), but fat Frank did set them up perfectly to both stifle us and hit us on the break.

But they created nothing for 135 mins until we gifted them the equaliser. Even then, we were the better side after Dallas' goal and would have got the winner without the red card.

Lampard will be on the MOTD sofa by November when the loanees have gone back.


You're totally right about the loanees - with a few exceptions (Boglein particular) they're a distinctly mediocre side without Wilson and Mount, who are obviously a cut above.

Not saying he was a genius at all (I really can't stand the man), just that he got things right against us in some ways, and we gave it to them in others. I thought Derby looked dangerous with every attack.
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Re: In the Press

Postby Costy » 20 May 2019, 14:48

Derby didn't stifle us though. We scored two goals. I don't actually have anything against Lampard to be honest and I massively admired him as a player, but SG90 is so right - Lampard didn't do anything special in order for Derby to beat us. We were the better team but we gifted them two totally unnecessary goals.
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Re: In the Press

Postby SG90 » 20 May 2019, 16:06

Costy wrote:Derby didn't stifle us though. We scored two goals. I don't actually have anything against Lampard to be honest and I massively admired him as a player, but SG90 is so right - Lampard didn't do anything special in order for Derby to beat us. We were the better team but we gifted them two totally unnecessary goals.

That's why I feared getting Derby in the playoffs, it was obvious they'd get a lucky win and Lampard would be portrayed as a managerial genius for it, then he'd milk spygate for all its worth. :roll:

One thing's for certain, he's never beating Bielsa again that's for sure. He won't allow it to happen.
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Re: In the Press

Postby Leonickroberts » 20 May 2019, 17:37

Costy wrote:Derby didn't stifle us though. We scored two goals. I don't actually have anything against Lampard to be honest and I massively admired him as a player, but SG90 is so right - Lampard didn't do anything special in order for Derby to beat us. We were the better team but we gifted them two totally unnecessary goals.


They put 4 past us and could have had more. Bielsa got things wrong (risking Berardi, subs too late), we made mistakes throughout, but Frank Lampard set them up well to take advantage. That's all I'm saying.
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