1 Unrest and despondency - Part
2 Warnock - Part 4
Results, table and transfers - printer
On the morning of 18 February, the day of their home game with
Doncaster Rovers, Leeds United formally confirmed Neil Warnock
as the new manager.
Caretaker Neil Redfearn's time in charge would end with the fixture,
for which he made a number of changes, moving Danny Pugh to central
midfield, recalling Andros Townsend on the left wing and giving
Alex Bruce a start at right-back.
United weren't in the contest in the first half and Warnock,
watching from the stands, must have wondered what he was getting
into when Rovers took the lead just after the half hour. Leeds
keeper Andy Lonergan made a good block from a James Hayter effort,
but the ball fell to Mamadou Bagayoko who stabbed it into an unguarded
The advantage was no more than Rovers deserved and there was
an accustomed air of resignation as United players trudged off
to boos and jeers at the interval. Deciding to make his first
intervention, Warnock set off for the dressing room.
Warnock: "It was really frustrating being in the stands. After
10 minutes, I was really wishing I had put my name down on the
sheet to be able to be in the dugout as there was a space on it.
"It wasn't a bad first team talk! They responded to the changes.
Neil Redfearn was already shouting at them when I went in. I let
him do that. I wanted to be the good cop!
"The little things were what I was desperate to change, maybe
the ones the punters don't notice. For example, in the first half
we defended a corner and Townsend was inside our six-yard box.
This meant we had one lad, McCormack, up front with everyone else
back. I got hold of Townsend at half time and said, 'Who told
you to go there on corners? I want you on the halfway line on
one side and McCormack on the other'. That way the opposition
have to bring three back, which is what happened."
Warnock also ordered a tactical switch, Robert Snodgrass given
a roaming role in the centre to make him more difficult for Doncaster
to pick up.
Phil Hay in the Yorkshire Evening Post: "His instructions
were almost rendered redundant three minutes after the break.
Giles Barnes sprinted over 40 yards of clear turf and laid the
ball off to Hayter who, with Lonergan to beat and United's defence
nowhere, clattered the ball against the crossbar. United's stroke
of luck was huge but quickly wasted.
"With 54 minutes played, Spurr outran Alex Bruce on the left
wing and crossed to the far post where Diouf's unselfish knockdown
gave Bagayoko a tap in. Only then, at a desperate moment, did
Leeds react as Warnock would have wanted.
"Their next attack stretched Doncaster's defence and Townsend
met Danny Pugh's lay off with a deadly strike, driven into the
bottom corner of Button's net. It raised Elland Road's smile for
the first time since confirmation of Warnock's
appointment earlier in the day.
"Leeds searched for a moment of class and it arrived 10 minutes
from time when Clayton met Snodgrass' low cross with a flying
volley and hooked the ball into the net off the underside of Button's
bar. The noise was deafening and the tension rose after a clash
of heads between Spurr and United debutant Robbie Rogers caused
a lengthy delay on the cusp of injury time.
back to top
"As the 99th minute arrived, Becchio drove the ball against substitute
Mikael Forssell and kept his head to sweep the ricochet into the
net. Warnock shared in the pandemonium by clenching his fist,
and celebration rapidly descended into violence. Welcome to Leeds."
The game ended in a breathtaking 3-2 victory. It would have been
understandable if the passionate and emotion-fuelled fightback
had gone to Warnock's head, but not a bit of it.
The new manager was alarmed at a lack of leadership on the field
and spent the week stressing that point to the players, saying
publicly: "We have good players, including some top class ones.
But we need more leaders. It can't just be me off the field, I
need one or two on the field as well."
When asked if the United job would be his last in football, after
saying that at each of his previous three clubs, Warnock laughed,
"I mean it this time. This is definitely the last one. I don't
know how long I'll be here. Because of how the chairman is with
me, we will know when the time has come for it to end … If I am
not enjoying it, I won't want to stay. Likewise, if he is not
happy with the job I am doing then he will tell me to call it
"I can't imagine there will be many managers out there who wouldn't
want a two-and-a-half-year contract, whereas I wanted an 18-month
one. We could easily extend beyond that … but I will definitely
not be going anywhere else in England after
As Warnock prepared for his first game in charge, a week later
at Portsmouth, he revealed that Tottenham loanee Andros Townsend
had left the club. "When I talked to Harry Redknapp about changing
my system for him, Harry said how pleased he was Andros was getting
a regular game. The next minute Townsend's agent phones to say
he's not enjoyed it at all. He said: 'No disrespect to you, Neil,
but he's wanted to leave for a while.' I said to him: 'He's only
been here four weeks. I don't suppose it's anything to do with
me hearing that Birmingham want him, is it?'
"I said to his agent: 'I don't want anyone playing for Leeds
who's not happy, but we'll have to play him at Portsmouth as I've
worked on his role all week. Next week he can go to Birmingham
or wherever.' I go into training the next day and ask one of the
staff to fetch Andros so I can put him in the picture. They return
to tell me he's cleared his locker and gone back to London. By
the time you read this he'll probably be at Birmingham. It'll
be interesting to see how many games he plays between now and
the end of the season."
United earned a goalless draw at Portsmouth, denied victory by
a 54th minute offside decision. Ross McCormack's exquisite chip
from the left corner of the area came back off the bar and when
Robert Snodgrass headed home the rebound he was adjudged offside.
Warnock: "Overall I can't complain. I think the lads were trying
to impress me early doors because it was 100 miles an hour, like
Wacky Races. But when we calmed down in the second half we created
some very good chances. One goal would have won us the game. Considering
the bombardment from free kicks, throw ins and so on, I thought
we defended really well. I didn't think we'd get many 0-0 draws
having spent a week with the players and looked at the videos
of the last few games. I've got to be pleased with that."
Robert Snodgrass wore the captain's armband at Portsmouth and
Warnock confirmed that he would continue in the role: "I had a
chat with Andy (Lonergan) and it's nothing against him… I think
he was quite relieved really. He's taken it on board and wished
Snods all the best. I said to Snods he'll be captain for the rest
of the season and we'll see where we go."
Lonergan backed Warnock's decision and claimed Snodgrass should
have been given the nod two months earlier. The keeper had captained
United through the final throes of Simon Grayson's tenure, replacing
Jonny Howson after the midfielder's January transfer to Norwich.
Grayson initially gave the armband to Lonergan in early January
with both Howson and vice-captain Patrick Kisnorbo sidelined by
injury. At the time, Snodgrass was recovering from emergency appendix
surgery but the Scotland international revealed that he had asked
Grayson to give him the captaincy.
Speaking after his first match as captain, Snodgrass said: "I've
been down here four years and this was one of the things to tick
off in terms of things to achieve. I did fancy the job and I spoke
to Simon Grayson at the time. He felt my form was going really
well and he didn't want to affect that. That was his way of thinking
but I didn't agree and I told him so… This manager is different.
He tells you how it is because he's got a proven track record."
Three days later, United signed free agent Danny Webber on a
short term contract. Since leaving Portsmouth the previous summer
after a campaign dogged by injury, the striker had spent the season
training with QPR and Manchester United. He had worked previously
with Warnock at Sheffield United.
back to top
United performed admirably at Elland Road against table-topping
Southampton on 3 March, despite losing by virtue of a 15th minute
strike from Rickie Lambert.
Southampton owed their victory to a fine goalkeeping display
from the veteran Kelvin Davis, whose manager, Nigel Adkins, commented:
"His performance was right up there with the best I have seen.
He was outstanding. In the first 15 minutes
we were chasing shadows for whatever reason. We looked second
best to a very good Leeds team but Kelvin made some fantastic
Southampton were saved by the woodwork twice in the closing stages
as headers came in from Snodgrass and O'Dea and then Lees shot
wide. Becchio also hit a post and substitute Webber was twice
denied a debut goal by the magnificent Davis.
Lambert's goal came from the only dangerous attack that Southampton
could manage in a first period which saw them imprisoned in their
own half as Leeds built some promising passing movements. They
were no better after the interval and while Davis was overworked,
Lonergan was a virtual spectator.
Neil Warnock insisted that United should have had a first half
penalty when Jose Fonte raised his arm to block a Snodgrass cross,
and said later, "You don't always get what you deserve. It was
a certain penalty when the lad raised his arm. I spoke to the
referee and he said he had never seen it, which is worrying.
"That performance has whetted my appetite. I knew we had a vociferous
crowd and we gave them something to get them going. The way we
played, with real style, was very pleasing but we should have
done better with our chances.
"We dominated the best team in the League for 89 minutes and
you can't ask for more than that, but we need wins."
Asked about United's chances of making the Play Offs, Warnock
said, "We have to win eight or nine games out of 12, and everyone
has seen the run in. We have Hull away, Middlesbrough away and
West Ham at home in our next three games. If we beat those three,
we have a hell of a chance.
"There is a lot of work to be done. The club has come up so quickly
over the last few years that sometimes you go quicker than you
imagine. To go to the next stage, there has to be things done.
The chairman knows that. He has to support me when I ask for certain
things over the next few months. He knows I want to do things
immediately, not in two or three years' time.
"In my own mind, I am looking towards next season. But I am looking
to win all these three
games. If we come out with no points, we can forget all about
it. If we get six or seven then we have a chance. That is how
I look at it."
In the days leading up to the game there had been press speculation
that Leicester defender Matt Mills and Bolton left-back Paul Robinson
were on Warnock's shopping list after loanee Adam Smith was recalled
by Tottenham. After agreeing a loan deal, 33-year-old Robinson
watched from the bench as Andy Lonergan's inspired performance
secured a goalless draw at Hull on 6 March.
After the game, Warnock enthused about the contribution being
made by Michael Brown. The former Sheffield United player had
started only 10 League fixtures before returning to the side at
Portsmouth, but Warnock saw him as a key member of the team. The
midfielder had been a driving force in the Blades side which thrived
under Warnock for several years, scoring 22 times in the 2002/03
season as they reached the Division One Play Off final.
"Browny's been the unsung hero since I came to the club. He's
been instrumental in defending and attacking by showing a cool
head," said Warnock. "His game's changed since we were first together.
Back then I gave him the freedom to get forward. Now he wouldn't
be able to get back! But he still has a lot to offer and his contribution's
back to top
Next up for United was a daunting task at promotion-chasing Middlesbrough
on 11 March. Some dominating and disciplined football earned an
accomplished 2-0 victory.
Louise Taylor in the Guardian: "The Championship's promotion
pretenders will be glancing, nervously, over their shoulders after
Neil Warnock's first win as Leeds United's manager propelled his
new side back into Play Off contention. Although Leeds remain
tenth, they are only four points behind sixth-placed Cardiff and
six points short of Middlesbrough, who stay fourth. If a top two
position looks well out of reach, few would bet against a Warnock
side prevailing in the Play Offs.
"On a soothingly soporific March day so untypically mild that
the visiting manager patrolled his technical area wearing a T-shirt,
Tony Mowbray's Boro played as if half asleep. To make matters
worse, a frustrated Barry Robson was controversially shown a straight
red card late in the second half and will be suspended for three
"The familiar strains of 'Marching On Together' were soon ringing
around the Riverside as Leeds fans celebrated the first goal of
the Warnock era. As this was the fourth game under Warnock's management,
one was overdue and it duly arrived thanks to the influential
Robert Snodgrass. When Darren O'Dea launched a long ball forward
it was brought down and crossed low by Aidan White, leaving Snodgrass
to direct a shot beyond Jason Steele.
"Poor Steele was beaten again before half time. This time Luciano
Becchio's low shot was too good for him following the striker's
slick, defender-confounding exchange of passes with Ross McCormack.
As Warnock celebrated with customary abandon, Justin Hoyte hung
his head. Mowbray's disappointing right-back knew he should have
cut out McCormack's
"The Leeds goalkeeper was generally well protected by a defence
that has tightened appreciably since Warnock's arrival. On the
odd occasions when O'Dea and Tom Lees got themselves in a tangle,
Robinson, newly arrived on loan from Bolton, raced across from
left-back to sort things out.
"Warnock's side weathered a spell of fairly intense, if rather
blunt, second half Boro pressure but the home side … never seriously
"All that remained was for choruses of 'One Neil Warnock, only
one Neil Warnock' to echo in the spring air as, arms folded, Mowbray
contemplated his highly polished shoes."
Warnock: "I thought from the first minute we were on our game
today and I suppose it was almost the complete away performance.
We did the nasty things well today. The pressure was excellent
and we put into practice what we'd talked about before the game
and I thought the players enjoyed it. Every department did their
jobs well, we didn't do anything fancy."
Warnock, hoping that the improvement would continue, named an
unchanged eleven as Elland Road hosted promotion-chasing West
Ham on 17 March.
The manager stressed the importance of strong home support. "Let's
get the crowd up, forget the negativity and be positive… I need
the fans to give everything… I said to the chairman 'I want to
make it my mission to get a 30,000 crowd against West Ham'. I
knew they'd bring 3,000 because they always do. The Middlesbrough
game couldn't have come at a better time because it gave the fans
something to enjoy. We'll find out something about our players
now because we're playing the best side away from home in the
The crowd numbered 33,366, the club's highest League attendance
of the campaign.
The Guardian: "Those inside had little to cheer about
in a chanceless opening 10 minutes. Things livened up after that,
with Leeds defender Tom Lees' scuffed effort scraping just wide
and Robert Snodgrass jinking his way into a shooting position,
only to be crowded out.
back to top
"West Ham's players were then angered by Paul Connolly's tackle
on Kevin Nolan … but had more to be concerned about moments later
when Nicky Maynard missed the game's first genuine chance. The
striker nipped in ahead of Darren O'Dea to find himself through
on Andy Lonergan's goal with 22 minutes gone, but his first touch
was heavy and the goalkeeper was able to get out and smother the
ball at his feet. Maynard's chance remained the best going into
the break … but both sides had cause for complaint when the whistle
was blown, with West Ham claiming a handball in the box against
Michael Brown and Leeds confused as to why Snodgrass' touch beyond
Robert Green was ruled out for apparent pushing by Becchio.
"With Maynard isolated and getting little change out of Lees
and O'Dea, Allardyce opted to replace him with the more physical
Carlton Cole and the former England striker nearly made an immediate
impact, putting a ball across the six-yard box that evaded everyone.
"A couple of thundering tackles from loan defender Paul Robinson
then helped whip up the home crowd, but it was West Ham who continued
to probe with greater intent - Abdoulaye Faye nodding wide from
a corner and Lonergan denying O'Neil after Jack Collison's shot
"Green was forced to make his first save in the 70th minute when
he showed terrific reactions to turn away a Connolly header. Connolly
rarely ventures into opposition territory but, when he did again
with 83 minutes on the clock, it created the opening goal. Snodgrass'
cross got to the back post, Connolly headed against the bar and
the ball fell to Becchio who did the rest. The lead would only
last seven minutes for the home side, though, as West Ham secured
a deserved point when Collins connected with Noble's well-taken
Warnock was disappointed not to take all three points: "Since
I've been here we should have won four out of five. We dominated
Southampton and should have won today. We've dominated two of
the best sides in the League and got one point. You've got to
win games like that, I can't remember ever being this disappointed."
After that, Warnock must have expected that the
midweek game at home to Nottingham Forest would be a straightforward
proposition, but it brought an astonishing setback.
Snodgrass converted a penalty to give United a fifth minute lead,
but they were in the lead for just two minutes, Guedioura scoring
with a speculative long range strike. Forest built on that equaliser
when McCleary gave them the lead on the stroke of half time.
When Blackstock made it 3-1 six minutes after the restart, the
home fans must have feared the worst, but within three minutes
they were baying their glee when goals from Becchio and Brown
It was the calm before the storm, though, as Leeds collapsed.
McCleary added three more goals to make it 6-3 by the 71st minute.
United were well beaten long before Blackstock added a seventh
nine minutes from time.
The Leeds players were jeered off by their fans at the end, and
Neil Warnock showed his disappointment, commenting: "I'm quite
embarrassed about the result. But I don't think you learn much
about your players when you're winning games, I think you learn
things when things go against you, who stands up and who you want
in the trenches with you. I've learnt probably more than I have
in the other games tonight."
back to top
Four days later, United returned from a difficult trip to Millwall
with a professional 1-0 victory, secured by Ross McCormack's smartly-taken
goal after 65 minutes.
Seconds after the goal, Millwall had the ball in the net, but
referee Lee Probert had already awarded a penalty for a foul on
former United striker Andy Keogh. Darius Henderson hammered his
spot kick but Andy Lonergan got down well to make the save.
Moments later, Henderson was denied by the crossbar and thereafter
Leeds gave a sterling defensive display to keep their opponents
at bay and secure a resolute victory with a fourth successive
clean sheet on their travels.
With seven games left, United were tenth, just three points shy
of the Play Off Places.
Away form had vastly improved, but results at Elland Road were
dismal. Watford's 2-0 victory on 31 March meant United had secured
just four points out of the 21 available at home since 21 January;
the sole victory had required a goal in the ninth minute of injury
Chris Iwelumo put Watford ahead after six minutes and wrapped
things up with a goal a minute from the end. In between, United
had been dire, prompting Warnock to conclude: "I couldn't see
us scoring in a brothel today. Watford are a streetwise team and
we have been mugged in every department. We were so naive.
"It showed why I got the job. A major overhaul is needed and
I don't think the 7-3 defeat against Forest was as bad as this
performance. We will have to invest… It needs major surgery. This
is as big a job and challenge as I have ever had.
"I learned more about some players today than I did against Forest.
A few of them went missing. It
hurts me that over 20,000 people have paid good money to see that.
I have said for the last few weeks I need questions answering.
You cannot expect 20,000 plus fans to turn up for that drivel.
I am not putting up with it.
"One or two people have said that the stadium is too big and
there is too much expectation. That is a load of rubbish. For
me, when you play for Leeds United you have to play with your
heart on your sleeve and you have to die for the cause… I saw
a midfield player look away rather than head the ball. It does
my head in.
"What we are missing are quality players. What we do not have
is enough of everything. We have not got enough guts, quality
and desire. You name it and we do not have it.
"I have to make sure we get enough good Championship players
who have all the ingredients of what I require to make sure we
are not in the same situation next season because there is no
way I will tolerate biting my tongue like I have after being tonked
"Heaven knows what team I will put out next week. We have Connolly
and O'Dea suspended. The sending off (of Connolly) was irresponsible.
He obviously does not want to play at Reading does he? That is
how I look at it. If we have to play the kids we might has well.
We are going to be beaten anyway with performances like this.
I might as well put one or two in and have a look at them."
Warnock brought in young Zac Thompson on 6 April at Reading,
deploying Leigh Bromby, Alex Bruce and Paul Robinson in a three-man
central defensive partnership, with Tom Lees and Danny Pugh given
advanced roles on the flanks. The manager's plans were disrupted
when Thompson was given a red card after 12 minutes for a lunging
challenge on Jobi McAnuff, but United gave a spirited defensive
display. Amidst their gritty defiance, Danny Pugh and Michael
Brown were lucky to escape punishment for some fearsome challenges.
back to top
Just as they seemed to have weathered the Reading storm, United
conceded two goals to substitute Adam Le Fondre in the last six
minutes and ended the game with nothing to show for their efforts,
but some snide 'Dirty Leeds' reports in the media.
Neil Warnock was pleased with the spirit shown by his beleaguered
troops, commenting: "The players were fantastic under the circumstances.
We had a makeshift team and I didn't think they had a shot on
goal until they scored. We played really well under the cosh.
"I've never seen players surround the referee like they did there…
Straight away he gives the red card and I thought the kid was
unlucky, having watched it three or four times. The ref only sees
it once but when you've got the crowd and five or six players
around you straight away, you tend to react. I don't think it's
a red card, not when you see it in slow motion. I thought Pugh's
tackle was worse. He should have been sent off and Hunt's challenge
on Lonergan was a disgrace.
"I was disappointed with the winning goal… I thought Becchio
was fouled in the build up to it. Gorkss is clever. He's gone
up and pushed Becchio with his arm before playing the ball. When
you've played the game you know Gorkss is fouling Becchio and
you know that's a free kick… When you see Hunt's knee go right
into the goalkeeper's ribcage, that's at least a yellow card.
The referee didn't even see the knee going in. I had to tell him
about it. He just thought the goalkeeper flapped at the ball."
United slumped to a third successive 2-0 defeat three days later
at home to Derby County, losing Michael Brown to a red card after
26 minutes. It was the third game in a row that they had ended
with ten men.
Neil Warnock: "Leeds are probably at the bottom of what they're
going to be in the future and thankfully we're not in a relegation
situation… I said to Nigel (Clough) 'enjoy this Nigel because
you'll never ever see another Leeds United team or a Neil Warnock
team like this.' That's how I feel. The end of the season can't
come quickly enough.
"I don't think you can complain about the sending off. We all
saw Mario Balotelli's tackle at the weekend and I think refs have
been watching it. You don't have to put them in that situation
and Michael is wrong to do so. Putting his foot high gave him
an excuse. But the referee said to Danny Pugh in the tunnel before
the game, 'I saw your game on Friday'. I think that's premeditated,
totally wrong and out of order."
The following week Warnock had what he described as "productive
talks" with Ken Bates. Warnock admitted to harbouring doubts but
said he "felt like taking the challenge on". The manager was nearing
the end of the first stage of his contract with Leeds - a deal
running until the summer of 2013 but including a clause allowing
him to leave the club at the end of the current campaign.
Warnock commented: "I said when I first came here that I didn't
want to be around mid-table. Next season's a big season for me.
I don't want to work many more years and if I felt we couldn't
get up there then it would be pointless picking up my money just
to put a team out. I've never been like that.
"The chairman knows how desperate I am… I was very pleased with
his reaction and I've spoken to him numerous times this week.
But how I feel at the moment is irrespective of anything. I just
feel like taking the challenge on.
"If the supporters had been negative towards me or if I thought
they didn't believe in me then it would be easy to walk away at
the end of this season. But I'm probably the best man for the
job that needs to be done at Leeds. And it'll be as tough a job
as I've ever had."
Warnock was pleased by Bates' willingness to offer a new contract
to club captain Robert Snodgrass which would make the Scotland
international the highest earner at the club. It wasn't enough
to prevent Snodgrass voicing concerns at
an official club function.
When asked about his future, Snodgrass was non-committal, refusing
to promise he'd be at Elland Road in five years' time, explaining
that "they have to show me some ambition… Last season I had offers
of Premiership football, the manager told me stuff, but I didn't
see much of it - whether that was him or the chairman. We're missing
Howson. Weird that we never replaced him. How can you say you're
aiming for promotion and then sell your captain?"
back to top
"I was very pleased with the reaction of the chairman," said
Warnock. "Money's not everything with players. Some of them just
want to see the ambition the club's got. I think Rob made that
clear in some of his comments this week. It's also about getting
the right players with the right attitude, and players who can
play for Leeds. This isn't a normal club. You need a certain type
of mentality to play here.
"I've already told the chairman of three or four players who
I'm looking at and I'm speaking to agents regularly. We need to
get cracking as soon as the season ends and that's why I want
to get the first one in almost immediately."
Warnock drafted Charlie Taylor, Robbie Rogers, Billy Paynter
and Leigh Bromby into his starting eleven for the home game with
Peterborough on 14 April.
The luckless Rogers, who had been stretchered off with concussion
on his first team debut in February, had come off the bench in
the two previous games. Ten minutes into his first start for the
Whites, according to Phil Hay in the Evening Post, the
American "hobbled down the tunnel in a flush of pain and despondency",
his season ended by an ankle injury.
In the first half, Leeds had slightly the better of an open game,
with Paynter having a one-on-one with the keeper saved in the
first minute and a header cleared off the line a minute later.
Snodgrass was denied under the bar and Bromby headed against the
woodwork. The Posh, though, took the lead after 37 minutes when
Joe Newell capitalised on some sloppy defending and was able to
work himself an opening before scoring from a tight angle.
United came back into the game in injury time when Posh keeper
Paul Jones dropped a Snodgrass shot and Paynter scored from a
yard out. Peterborough collapsed thereafter with Ross McCormack
scoring twice in the opening three minutes of the second half.
First, a gentle volley from the back post and then, as Peterborough
poured forward, Snodgrass, Webber and Clayton picked
them apart to give the Scot a tap in from a couple of yards. Seventeen
minutes from time, Paynter wrapped up a 4-1 victory.
The burly striker could and should have completed his hat trick,
blazing wide when played in by Webber, before he was given a standing
ovation when Warnock withdrew him with seconds remaining. It was
a welcome haul for a striker who had scored just once in 26 previous
United appearances, but Warnock remained cautious about his future.
"Nothing has changed my opinion," said the manager. "I don't
think anyone can tell me who is going to be involved but I think
you would be an idiot if you wanted to leave."
It was United's first home victory under Warnock, who added,
"It's been a long time coming… I really do not know what I am
going to get at the moment. That is the Championship for you.
You have to know week in, week out what you are going to get and
that is what I am going to try to build over the next few months."
Two days later, the long-anticipated clear out began when the
contracts of Ben Parker and Mika Vayrynen were terminated by mutual
On 17 April, United lost 1-0 at Blackpool, confirming formally
they would miss out on the Play Offs. Neil Warnock described the
dismissal five minutes from the end of Darren O'Dea as "quite
deserved and stupid". Two days later Warnock confirmed that the
loanee would not be offered a permanent deal and would instead
return immediately to Celtic.
O'Dea had made 35 League starts, but suspension ruled him out
of the remaining fixtures. It followed a two-game ban incurred
by the defender after he accumulated his 10th yellow card of the
season at Millwall in March. Asked if the disciplinary indiscretions
had influenced his decision to release O'Dea, Warnock said: "I
don't think it's helped. You can't be having people picking up
stupid suspensions. It does nobody any good."
After going a goal down at Cardiff on 21 April, United put up
a spirited second half display and drew level when Becchio headed
his eleventh goal of the season in the 73rd minute.
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It was a decent point, but the loss during the first half of
Leigh Bromby cast a pall over proceedings. The
31-year-old passed out and the players looked visibly distressed
as medical staff tended to him. He would face months of rehabilitation
after rupturing his patellar tendon, and Warnock commented, "He
was in agony and had to have oxygen straight away. He passed out.
He'll have an operation and he will be out for a long, long time
- I'd be surprised if he is back before Christmas. It could be
a year. I'm gutted and disappointed for him because he has just
come back in the team and done well."
United wrapped up their season a few days later with a defeat
at home to Leicester. Martin Waghorn capitalised on some sloppy
defending to give the Foxes a 38th minute lead, but Danny Webber
scored his first Leeds goal nine minutes from time, apparently
securing a point. With seconds left, though, teenage debutant
Harry Panayiotou scored to condemn Leeds to an eleventh home defeat,
an unwanted club record.
Phil Hay in the Evening Post: "History will remember this
as the season when the stadium's hostile reputation collapsed
like a house of cards… Eleven League defeats at home - a total
never before seen in 90 years of existence - is not the only legacy
of a wasted year but few are more symptomatic of the club's spineless
"United's players embarked on what is generally described as
a lap of honour at full time on Saturday but their walkaround
was nothing of the sort. Between driving rain, a 2-1 loss to Leicester
City and a final League position of 14th, the stands were half
empty by the time it began. A glance at the Championship table
said it all: 27 points shy of automatic promotion and 14 below
the Play Offs. Perhaps as prominent as Leeds deserved to be.
"Neil Warnock wore a bemused smile as he paced around the pitch,
wondering why it was that more than 25,000 spectators had been
willing to endure more of the same.
"There was nothing to be read into United's line up on Saturday,
aside from the absence of left-back Paul Robinson. Omitted for
the last game of his loan from Bolton, it was an admission from
Warnock that a permanent deal would not be in the post. His impact
in 10 previous games failed to merit one. Leeds are at the stage
where lockers will be cleared and shirt numbers handed back."
Warnock: "There's a sense of relief that it's all over. I'm disappointed
with the way we lost but I've known for four or five weeks what
type of job it was going to be here… It's bigger than I thought
and it might be even bigger again. I don't know yet whether certain
lads will re-sign or not.
"I know the players I want and I've already
got one in line who I'm pleased with. I've got to find the sort
of players who will revel here - who'll enjoy games at Elland
Road like I do on the bench. I need to be able to rely on people
and that's not been the case.
"I think the record's justified, it shows you how low we are.
Instead of being a fortress to us, or an advantage, it's been
a weakness all season. That won't happen again. It's not the lowest
ebb I've ever had but for Leeds to lose that many games at home
is about as low as you get.
"What we've got to use at Leeds is the advantage of the crowd.
We've got to get pace in the side, power in the side and we've
got to have energy. We've got to get the crowd up and at them,
not the other way round. At the minute it's them trying to get
There was the hope of better things to come under Warnock if
he managed to make the changes to the playing resources which
he promised, but it was a gloomy moment as the bedraggled fans
trooped sadly away from Elland Road.
Part 1 Unrest and despondency -
Part 2 Warnock - Part
4 Results, table and transfers - printer
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