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[Archived] Leeds United preview

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So this weekend sees Rovers welcome Leeds United to Ewood Park. For years this was a regular premier league fixture producing some cracking encounters and is another stark reminder of how far both clubs have fallen.

Both clubs are in a similar situation – both teams have a proud history, both outside of the Premiership due to horrendous mismanagement and both struggling to get up with little resources. Of the two teams Leeds currently are making a better go of it, lying in 8th, just 1 point of the playoffs. Rovers in comparison are 5 points off back in 13th place.

We’re not the only ones (although we’ve had it the worst)

Often football fans are unaware of the managerial and administrative “struggles” at other clubs, especially away from the media gaze of the premier league (not that that helped us.) So whilst Leed’s spectacular financial mismanagement from 2001-04, people are often less familiar with the more recent problems Leeds have faced.

Since returning to the Championship in the summer of 2010, fans have constantly been against Ken Bates, who has had the role of both chairman and owner during this period. Bates didn’t endear himself firstly to the fans by being chairman for the mysterious FSF group who were the controlling company/owners of Leeds United. This was a problem since no-one ever knew who the owners of the trust companies owning the FSF company were – and Bates was seen as part of this shadowy group and complicit in the lack of transparency. (It’s worth noting the football authorities said that if Leeds were promoted to the Premier League than they would look into it – but if not, who cares?) As we are all too aware, the uncertainty of not knowing who is running the club, can lead to horrible abuses of power – not hard to see why the Leeds fans were concerned.

On buying the club (May 2011) from FSF Bates continued to clash with supporters, mainly due to a lack of investment. Loads of players were sold with virtually none of those funds being reinvested in the playing squad. Popular manager, and former Rover, Simon Grayson also lost his job in this period (Feb 2012) for not delivering promotion to the Premiership, during this period – something fans thought was a tad harsh given he constantly had to sell his best players and got none of the money to reinvest in the squad (again, sounds familiar).

Finally Bates sold to GFH Capital (Nov 2012) although remained as chairman till the end of the season before becoming life president, which pleased the fans no end. The protracted take over was a tad disappointing as GFH Capital didn’t really have much capital! Shortly after buying the club they announced they would be looking for further investors to invest in Leeds. Significant funds for a promotion push are not yet forthcoming, although there are rumours of another take over, involving club legend Lucas Radabe, in the offing.

Current Links

Two former Rovers players in Leeds United’s ranks are Stephen Warnock and El Hadji Diouf (both a reminder of better times for us).

Warnock time at Rovers transformed him from a young player with potential, to a very good left back, who was a key part of the Hughes team. Warnock signed in January 2007 from his first club Liverpool. Known for his full blooded (if occasionally reckless) tackles, bags of energy, and a desire to get forward, he was a popular figure at Ewood.

Moving to Villa in August 2009, Warnock’s time was a mixture of highs and lows. He was a regular under Martin O’Neill enjoying several good cup runs under his O’Neill’s management. However a fall out with Gerard Houllier saw Warnock exiled to the reserve team. The cycle repeated itself, with Warnock being a mainstay under Alex McLeish before again being exiled to the reserves by Paul Lambert.

This led to a loan stint with Bolton before signing for Leeds in January 2013 where he has been playing regular first team football.

Diouf signed for Rovers from Sunderland in January 2009, reuniting with manager Sam Allardyce who he knew from his time with Bolton. Despite not being a popular arrival (due to diving to win a penalty when with Bolton vs. Rovers) Diouf provided the team with width and won over fans with a series of committed displays.

Capable of playing on either wing Diouf was exiled to Rangers, as the excellent man-manager Kean couldn’t manage him (where he won the title and league cup – that’ll teach him not to mess with Kean), before having his contract terminated (August 2011). A brief stint at Doncaster in the 2011-12 season was not very successful, with Doncaster relegated, before joining Leeds in August 2012, initially on trial and then on a permanent contract. Diouf’s first season was a success, with the Senegalese international playing regularly, but injuries have hampered the current campaign leaving Diouf on the periphery of the squad.

Rovers have one ex-Leeds player on the books in defender Matt Kilgallon. Capable of playing at centre or left back, Kilgallon came through the ranks of Leeds youth academy. When Leeds dropped into the Championship became a regular in the team.

Eventually he was sold to Sheffield United as Leeds desperately needed funds. Again Kilgallon featured more in the championship then the premier league although injuries played their part in this. A move to Sunderland followed, where he spent the next three years. Again Kilgallon struggled to impose himself on the Premier League, remaining a squad player for much of his time there. Again injuries played their part in this, and Kilgallon had spells on loan both at Middlesbrough and Doncaster in the championship during his spell with the Black Cats.

In the summer of 2013 Kilgallon joined Rovers on a free transfer. Once again injuries delayed the start of Kilgallon’s Rover’s career, before the gruelling demands of the Championship on the squad has seen Kilgallon become a significant part of the Rovers team in recent weeks.

Key Battles

Lowe vs. Austin

Captain Randolph Austin signed for Leeds from SK Brann in July 2012 and after some impressive performances the all-action midfielder was given the captaincy for the 2013-14 season. A tough tackling midfielder with bags of energy, Austin is the driving force of the Leeds team. Also unafraid to shoot from distance, Austin is capable of both disrupting Rovers play, whilst providing impetus to the Leeds attack.

Equally Lowe provides energy in our midfield and has the task of disruption the opposition’s attack. Being part of a 2 in a 4-2-3-1 formation plays to Lowe’s strengths; he can focus on what he does best, breaking up the opposition’s play and protecting the back 4.

I’ve a feeling that it’ll come down to who wins this very physical midfield contest. If Lowe subdues the drive Austin provides, then a slower pace will allow Rovers superior passing to get the upper hand. A faster more physical encounter will see us struggle. Lowe really needs to keep Austin quiet.

Dann vs. McCormack

McCormack is physical, industrious, and annoying to play against. He’s also in good goal scoring form with 11 this season including 6 in his last 2 games. The phrase ‘in form’ was written to describe McCormack at the moment.

Whilst it’s uncertain whether the more physical Hanley, or former Leeds man Kilgallon will play, one certainty to start in the heart of defence is captain Scott Dann. Dann will be tasked with keeping McCormack quiet. Problem is that McCormack is exactly the type of player Dann struggles with; physical and busy. Dann must ensure that he doesn’t get bullied as he has in the past by energetic strikers. Dann’s strong reading of the game will be vital to ensure he gets the better of the Leeds front man in this contest as it’ll be hard for Dann to win a straight physical contest. If Dann can keep McCormack quiet though it’ll go a long way to a Rovers victory.

King vs. Peltier

Naturally a right back, but equally capable of playing in the centre of defence, it’s most likely that Peltier will have the unenviable task of keeping King quiet. With his pace King has the ability to terrorize any defender. Just as importantly King’s pace makes more space for Rhodes to exploit. An in-form King will be a big factor in Rovers getting a result.

Vice-captain Peltier is no slow-coach, and has a great deal of experience of the Championship and lower league football. However you feel that this will be one of his tougher tests to date, trying to keep the lively King in check. As we discovered at the Charlton home game, if King is kept quiet, Rovers struggle, so it’ll be vital for our wide man to be on top of his game.

Opposition View

Gary who I work with is a lifelong Leeds fan and kindly offered to give his opinion on how the other side see things.

Let’s start with off the field issues. Are you happy with the off-field situation? How much is it affecting the club at the moment?

As a Leeds fan I can never be truly happy with the situation off-field. There are always worries about our finance. But I've got to admit things are improving with our new investers. David Haigh has recently injected a 7 figure sum into the club which should see some new players come in to the club in January. Over all we are seeing fans return back to Leeds and there is definite buzz around the place that hasn't been been felt for years. There is a possible 6.800 visiting to the Blackburn, which is our biggest away support all session.

One point off play-offs: happy with that? How do you feel the season has gone so far? Where do you think you’ll finish?

Leeds currently sit in six place with 26 points and if you'd offered us a play-off place at this point in the session, I would have bitten your hand off. At the end of the session a top 6 place is achievable for Leeds. We are playing better football under Brain McDermott and playing with more confidence which is something you've got to have if you want to do well in this game.

Who should we fear? Who are your in-form players at the moment? And what are your weaknesses as a team at the moment?

There's no doubt that Ross McCormack is the man to fear at the moment. With 7 goals from his last 3 games he's in form and playing well. As a team we are weak with width and struggle with being in a winger. This might be a problem Brian can sort ouy in the January transfer. Although, I do believe that it could be sorted now with playing Diouf. When Diouf plays he brings something different to the team. He's great on the ball with good vision and a real play maker. I'm not sure why he doesn't make the starting 11. But If he does make an appearance then he's someone to look out for.

Can I trouble you for a likely line-up and score prediction?

Leeds are not great at keeping a clean sheet but also not apposed to knocking some in. My prediction for the game is 2 -1 to Leeds. It will be a tight game with not much in it.

For me this is a really tricky game. Leeds are in good form, have players back from injury and are exactly the type of team we don't like playing - high energy and physical. Given we've not been on a good run of late, I suspect we'll do well to get something from the game. However if Rovers can get Dunn, King and Rhodes on form, we can cause problems for anyone. So head says a 1-0 loss, heart says a 2-1 win to Rovers.

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Think GB will set out in a don't lose at all costs kind of way. , I think with the new big lad up front we may see Rovers playing for a few more set pieces and hope to nick something that way.

0-0 19,175 (6,800 dirty leeeeds)

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Well apart from evans, everyone who has a realistic chance in the starting 11 is now available. Bowyer has had enough games now and has tried enough different formations/formulas.

I guess this is where we find out what he thinks is his best 11, as we badly need a result in this game.

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Unlikely , I will be there on Saturday due to work commitments ..

All depends on Dunn if he plays well for 60 mins or so we have a chance of winning , if not a heavy defeat could be on the cards ...

Suspect Leeds will be very physical and we have a team of little lads ...

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  • Backroom

I'd swap King to the right if we are to insist on having Cairney out wide, cairneys totally wasted on the wing anyway so may as well put King on the side he'd be more natural on

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Trouble is although he is better at cutting inside than crossing he's still bloody rubbish at that. He'd be a sub for me, an impact player to bring on later when hopefully those who started will be tired and his freshness would mean less mistakes by him. He must be a very frustrating team mate his pace gets him into good positions but he's so poor with a ball 9 times out of 10 he balls it up.

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He cant cross with his left foot. When he cuts in to use his right the defender he has beat has then caught up. He needs playing on the right then he can at least have a chance of a decent cross, becasue his left foot is non existant

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He cant cross with his left foot. When he cuts in to use his right the defender he has beat has then caught up. He needs playing on the right then he can at least have a chance of a decent cross, becasue his left foot is non existant

So basically even with all that pace he's not football savvy enough to deceive the defender and get in front of him. Say it all for me, bench impact player or send him back to Norway for their Olympic team.

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I would rest Dunn and King for this game and put both on the bench. we have 3 games in a week and we need both Dunn and King 100%. there is no way Dunn can start more than 1 of the next 3 games and I would start him against QPR Away next Saturday.

I would also go 4-4-2 and try to the ball into the box quicker and provide good crosses for the strikers.

my team would be:- Kean; Kane, Dann, Hanley, Spurr; Marshall, Lowe, Cairney, Taylor; Gestede, Rhodes.

Subs:- Eastwood, Kilgallon, Williamson, King, Dunn, Rochina, DJ.

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Kane Dann Hanley Spurr

Williamson Cairney

Taylor Dunn King


Subs:Raya, Kilgallon, Lowe, Rochina, Best, Campbell, Judge.

Dunn can play every weekend, play Rochina at Ipswich.

King is fine. No doubt Cairney will play out of position, we will have 2 holding midfielders and Bowyer again won't know how to break down Leeds.

0-1 McCormack.

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The king discussions are interesting - in my opinion it's his arrogance (and pace of course) that makes him good at taking players on, but he also thinks he should then be the one to shoot - which is where his talents end. Create the openings, pass it to rhodes.

Can't wait for this one. Hoping for cairney and one of the defensive midfielders in the centre rather than lowe and williams.

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Best on bench??? No chance.

Now we have Gestede on loan he will be ahead of Best for sure.

Rhodes and Gestede could be a decent strike partnership. Let Gestede be the target man type of striker and let Rhodes play on the last defender shoulder and let him look for knock downs of Gestede.

Dunn can just about play 60 mins at best. thats why I want him to play against QPR and let him come off the bench for Leeds and Ipswich games.

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