LUFC TSA: A new captain, and…a clean sheet?!
Tim Steere writes his weekly article for Vital Leeds United and today he looks at the new skipper as well as the fresh start under Neil Warnock.
The first game under a new manager tends to cause much anticipation and intrigue amongst fans.
The excitement of who is he going to pick? Who will he leave out? Will he change the formation?
All managers like to stamp their mark, show that they have arrived, and a manager like Neil Warnock would do that discreetly.
Portsmouth away presented the first opportunity to show Leeds fans what a Neil Warnock regime would consist of.
Instantly, a new captain was appointed in Robert Snodgrass. Believing that captain`s should be outfield players, Lonergan the man to make way and was apparently relieved about it.
The decision to make Snodgrass captain is in my view a great decision. If there is one player that all Leeds fan admire for his work rate, natural ability and passion for the club; Snoddy has to be up there as number one.
Nowadays though, the impression you give in the media is crucial. Every time Snodgrass talks, it`s always with honesty; passion and very articulate.
His commitment never comes into question and no doubt with the pride of being captain of Leeds United like his fellow Scot, the great Billy Bremner, the winger will come to the fore and show the same amount of pride.
A new manager, a new captain and a new formation. Warnock deployed a 4-2-3-1 with Snodgrass behind the lone striker Becchio, with Brown and Clayton holding the fort in midfield.
As I didn`t see the game it`s hard to comment, but, a clean sheet was the end result. Yes, a clean sheet, against 11 men. It has been a while since Leeds fans have seen that. Unfortunately we didn`t score, but Rome wasn`t built in a day.
It`s clear that Warnock`s mentality of building from the back came to the fore. It`s been the backbone of many of his sides; the number of clean sheets QPR kept in their championship winning season is a testament to that.
It could`ve been a win if McCormack`s 'goal` hadn`t been ruled out. But, like I say, small steps taken. It`s a start.
Seeing Michael Brown start in the centre of midfield maybe wasn`t a surprise as he was a key part of Warnock`s Sheffield United revolution, and reports suggests he had a good game. He`s always had the potential, some cite his age as why he`s never done well. Or maybe he`s just never had the right man to motivate him. We`ve all heard endlessly about Warnock`s man management abilities and how to get the best out of players, maybe this is Brown`s time.
Bromby also made a return as an early sub at right back for Bruce and perhaps the biggest surprise was Billy Paynter`s return to the bench.
Sent out on loan to Brighton and failing to impress, always on the periphery and his only goal against Preston a distant memory (I was actually there to see it!), it looked like he would never feature again. Granted he didn`t come on against Portsmouth, but it`s a start for a forward who was setting the football league alight with Charlie Austin a couple of years ago.
Two goals in a recent reserve game and again, a new man in charge, maybe it`s his time to come back through like Brown. If he can find his Swindon Town form again, I don`t think many Leeds fans would complain.
Added to all these minor changes, a new face has come in through the door at Thorpe Arch. Danny Webber has arrived on a free transfer after being released by Portsmouth last summer.
The 30 year old can play on the wing or up front, he has been keeping himself fit at Manchester United`s training complex and still has some pace about him apparently. Warnock again worked with him at Sheffield United and Webber`s first words were to speak of, you guessed it, Warnock`s man management skills.
Based on this amount of praise, you think Warnock could charm the birds from the trees and convince the Christians that they could beat the Lions.
Webber will no doubt be used as a wide man as we have strikers galore fit at the moment. With Somma still to come back, remember him, he was good.
So after game one, there is signs of progress with a clean sheet (still feels weird saying that), and off the pitch, there are quiet moves to strengthen and build.
The honesty displayed by Warnock is gratefully received, saying that the defence needs work and that this side isn`t capable of going on a run. Looking at the next four games, just avoiding 4 defeats would seem an achievement, especially if they brought about clean sheets.
Southampton, Hull, Middlesbrough and West Ham are up next. It will be the toughest start to a managerial career Warnock could`ve imagined. All teams at the right end of the table, and have been consistently there or thereabouts.
Southampton took us to the cleaners on the opening day; we battled back against West Ham at Upton Park in the opening month; down to 9 men we succumbed to Middlesbrough but hammered Hull 4-1 at Elland Road.
A mixed bag, but only one win. And many would say we have only got worse since then. Remember those skills of convincing the Christians can beat the Lions? Let`s hope Warnock does have them, otherwise Leeds could be set for a mauling. Let`s hope the players remember how to keep that clean sheet.
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