Date:Thursday March 8 2012
Tim Steere writes his weekly article for Vital Leeds United and this week he looks at the effect Neil Warnock is already having on the team.
When you judge the reign of a new manager, analysing the effects they have on a side usually takes its time.
Even in the instant culture that seems to have developed (especially in football), new managers are always given some leeway.
Fans will look at what was happening before and want to see change, but when you have a new man in charge you don`t expect the problems of the past to be instantly rectified. Well, most fans don`t.
When Neil Warnock arrived, he was nothing but honest about the state of the playing squad saying changes needed to be made and that he didn`t expect this side to go on a winning run. What he expected though was 200% hard work (I`m not getting into mathematical discussions about how this isn`t possible, you understand what I mean).
Of course, the defence may have been mentioned once or twice…and quite a few more times after that.
Three games in though, there has been one noticeable change; and that is the defence.
One goal conceded in one home game and two away matches. The home game against the league leaders, who based on the run of play, were very lucky to get that goal.
Unfortunately O`Dea did back off Lambert for the volley, but overall you have to say strides were made.
Tuesday night at the KC Stadium against Hull also produced a second clean sheet away in a row to go with the Portsmouth draw. Against a side fighting to get into the play offs at a formidable stadium when full and rocking, the draw was a result most Leeds fans realistically would`ve have taken.
What makes the current defensive trend more impressive, is that Warnock has done it with the squad he inherited from Simon Grayson.
Paul Robinson did join on loan from Bolton but hasn`t featured. He`s helped the back four despite injury enforced changes with Bruce and Bromby both being affected, it hasn`t affected the overall nature of the defence. Even Connolly has helped. I know.
This instant change is quite staggering. To change a defence that had conceded 48 goals before his arrival (which is nowhere near the worst) at a rate of about 2 goals per game, into conceding one goal in three games with two of them away matches, has to be admired.
One has to imagine once he has a full pre-season to bring in the players he wants, what could be the result?
He has already started with his recruiting campaign of 'leaders` into his side to help change things around more with the 33 year old defender Paul Robinson joining on a month`s loan from Bolton. Considering Warnock says he doesn`t like loan signings, one has to wonder if this is with a view to a permanent deal if he impresses.
I find it hard to comment on Robinson really. He has always been there or thereabouts in the Premier League. He hasn`t set the world on fire but he`s been fairly consistent, an experienced head who obviously just gets on with his job. Currently fallen out of favour at the Reebok stadium, I`m intrigued to see how he gets on. Primarily a left back but can play centre half, I would imagine, he would play at left back when called upon.
Pugh has done well at left back and so has White, I have no qualms with them playing there. But at the same time, if an experienced premier league left back joins the side who Warnock rates, I`m willing to go with his judgement and see him play there! Based on the last three defensive performances I`m not going to argue at the moment!
Although the defence has improved, it`s also not hard to notice that something Leeds United has become synonymous for in recent years has been lacking. Goals.
No goals have been scored in Warnock`s three games in charge. Aside from McCormack, there has been a noticeable confidence shortage in our strikers; most surprisingly in Becchio. His goals have dried up but his overall effort and commitment in winning the ball cannot be faulted. With Danny Webber looking lively in his first couple of games, he could provide goals in time, but at this stage, it doesn`t concern me greatly.
Whereas we know the capability of scoring goals in this side is there, dry spells can happen. Whereas the defence didn`t look capable of stopping anything. This was clearly Warnock`s priority, and with good reason, if you don`t concede goals you won`t lose matches.
Stopping the rot is the most important thing to help build confidence in a side, once that stability in defence has been formed and the players develop that confidence in their roles from a defensive point of view, the players can then go back to scoring freely like they used to do.
One step at a time is required and in this instance, I feel Warnock has it right. For now let`s get the defence sorted and get everyone working hard for the shirt again.
That is what Leeds fans expect and that is what Warnock expects.
And after just three games in charge, it`s hard to see changes like that in a side with a new manager. With Warnock though, something has instantly changed, but how long will it last?
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Date:Thursday March 8 2012
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