york city 1–1 leeds united: assistance requiredBack
By way of explaining that this game lacked lustre, here is a list of the names I heard sung by Leeds fans in the first half.
Sol Bamba, Steve Morison, Dominic Matteo, Jermaine Beckford, Mark Viduka, Tony Dorigo, Tresor Kandol, “the team of 92” up to and including Chris Whyte, Michael Brown, and Steve Morison again.
Steve Morison, at least, featured ironically; in song, I mean, although perhaps he was ironic on the pitch as well. He started this game because our new multi-million pound striker, Chris Wood, was injured in the warm up, and on reflection that’s not ironic, that’s painful.
The rest of the team looked as close to a first team as you might expect from Leeds at the moment, with incoming transfers “95% done” according to Uwe Rösler. Not too much can be read into brand new keeper Ross Turnbull’s presence instead of Marco Silvestri; it figures that Rösler would want an early look at his new toy. Tom Adeyemi, meanwhile, is being saved for Austria. Assuming Lewis Cook and Alex Mowatt are first picks, we can expect him to take Tommaso Bianchi’s place out there.
If he can provide some more energy and urgency in midfield than we saw at York, he’ll be very welcome. Leeds toiled in the first half while the fans sang of better times. Perhaps heavy metal football needs a sturdier opponent than York, but this game largely lost its way down a gap between two teams who couldn’t find any fluency or beat. Leeds led at half-time, Byram heading in a good cross from Mowatt, but the goal came very late in the half, and not very long after the first decent efforts from Leeds on York’s goal. It somehow felt more significant to have seen Gaetano Berardi bag his first kill of the campaign, while news that Doukara had taken a shot in the night’s other night’s friendly at Tadcaster had us waiting to see whether that ball would land with us in York and claim another victim.
In the second half the nostalgia ceased, Leeds sharpened up their act, and the reward was a goal conceded. Leeds deserved better. It was no longer an even contest, but one dominated by Leeds, as it should have been against a League Two side that started with several trialists (Player A, Player B, Player C and so on) and was first to change players after half-time. Cook became a boss, and Byram — wearing 20 rather than 2, in recognition of his more advanced role — became a threat. Adam Drury, our own trialist and formerly of Manchester City, was a sparky substitute.
Two things let Leeds down. One was Steve Morison’s inability to ever be in the right place to take a chance. The other was a general lack of that thing Drury provided: spark. For much of last season Leeds looked uninspired and uninventive, and that lack of creativity felt sustained at York. Lee Erwin looks like a good footballer, and it would have been interesting to see him linking up again with Wood rather than Morison, who was not on his wavelength. Cook and Mowatt, too, might have shown more with some enforcement from Adeyemi rather than the drifting of Bianchi.
That’s my main question as Leeds head off to Europe; where’s the verve? There’s nothing really wrong with United at the moment, especially given that this is only the second preseason friendly; that there will only be three more before we face Burnley introduces an element of urgency, though. But I’m not sure yet, in amongst Rösler’s new formations and new players, who is going to get the assists for the goals that will get Leeds further up the league.
Uwe was content; we pressed well, we competed hard, and we would have won but for a mistake. But two 1–1s against lowly local teams isn’t the stuff to get the heart racing, and pretty soon he’ll need to crack that, and show the fans something to distract us from the glory days of old: the days of Tresor Kandol and Michael Brown. Well, perhaps there’s a lesson there for Uwe too. If he, like the managers before him, can’t quickly make this fun, the fans will still find a way to make our own entertainment while we wait for things to get better.
Don’t miss our interview with David Batty in The City Talking: Leeds issue 26, a free newspaper distributed around Leeds and given away inside the Yorkshire Evening Post on Friday July 17th • Sign up here to get new articles by Moscowhite by email.