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leeds united 2 – 1 ipswich town: exit varney, pursued by a bear

leeds united 2 – 1 ipswich town: exit varney, pursued by a bear



I spent an hour of this game wishing Luke Varney’s header in the first few minutes had been allowed by the referee.

Especially as it was a mile offside. Phil Hay tweeted that Varney looked ready with a prepared celebration, but even he must have known the goal was never going to stand, so he didn’t get too far into it. And now we’ll never know.

Offside as he was, and as harmful to Leeds as a goal against would have been, and as little as I ever wished for a goal to happen to Varney even when he played for Leeds (I always wanted one of the others to score so I could enjoy it properly), I would have liked the referee to let it stand.

I would have liked to have seen his prepared celebration, to really show us all what the Varndogg was all about. I would have liked to spend the rest of the game hating him not just in general, for all the general reasons that I hate Luke Varney, but specifically, for this specific goal and his no-doubt dumb-assed celebration. And I would have liked our eventual win to have been like sand in his face and hair.

I also would have liked it just so that there would have been something happening. For the first seventy minutes this game needed something, and if that something was a goal against Leeds scored by a cretin, so be it.

We’ve reached a stage of the season, and a position in the league, where things don’t really matter as much; we’ll no doubt pick up enough points to survive (or ‘qualify for the 2016 Championship,’ as Cellino puts it), there’s no way we’ll win enough games to reach the play-offs, it’s pretty clear we won’t be signing anybody or working on the squad until the summer; so we might as well eke whatever enjoyment we can from what we have between now and the end of the season.

Unfortunately what we have at the moment is four centre-backs plus two full-backs in the team, and while that’s understandable in the circumstances, we learned back in the George Graham era that it isn’t a recipe for good times. Against Ipswich it didn’t even particularly look like a recipe for a solid defence either; Ipswich turned us less than Brighton or Watford, so Bamba was able to get back to his clearance-walloping best; but those six defenders still allowed Luke Varney to put the ball in the net.

Cursing Luke Varney for that goal would have been enjoyable, but without it as a focus, the malice was dissipated; you could sense in the stadium a real desire to have a go at him, but he’s such an awful human that nobody could really agree what aspect to concentrate on. Some complained about his diving, some about his dire career at Leeds, some about his chronic masturbation. For me it always began with his weeble-shaped head. It would have been nice to see us all with unified point of complaint to get behind, and something to pass the time.

I won’t even allow the possibility of a coincidence when I point out that this game only got going once Varney was substituted: it wasn’t. Luke Varney left the field, and the football match improved by hundreds and hundreds of percent. It was as if the players just wanted him to GO HOME too.

The twenty Varneyless minutes were inconsequential for us, if not for Ipswich, but at least they were enjoyable. We didn’t learn a right lot about Alex Mowatt from his free kick, because really the Ipswich keeper should have saved it. We saw a very good goal from Billy Sharp, the sort of goal we signed him to score, and he’s done that twice in two games now, and that’s good. We didn’t learn much that was new about Marco Silvestri because we already knew that while we can’t rely on him not to commit goal-causing howlers, we also can’t ever predict when he might make a game-saving save or, backed up by the South Stand’s intimidation tactics, penalty save.

There’s not a lot to be gleaned elsewhere, either, with so many players out of position; of those in what is near enough their positions, Bellusci looked to me reliant again on Bamba as at Middlesbrough, Murphy and Cook both continue in good form, and Mowatt took over Austin’s position behind Sharp the way he takes every position – by working his socks off to ensure he has a positive impact on the game.

And that’s that; not ninety minutes of scintillating entertainment, but a couple of good goals, some excitement, a win and three points we don’t really need. If that had been stretched across the whole game instead of been compressed into the last twenty, we might have called this a classic; but for too much of the night we saw too much evidence of something else we already knew: that Luke Varney spoils everything he touches.

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