Newcastle v Leeds – Isn’t It Time We Called It ‘Doing A Portsmouth’ Instead?
Tonight in the Capital One (you’re even worse than Wonga) Cup we welcome a team that have been off our radar for too long, Leeds United.
Like us, they are a big enough club to stay in the news even when they are out of the Premier League and they have become infamous over the past decade for being a club that implodes so spectacularly that they have given birth to a new footballing phrase, when disaster strikes it is known as to ‘do a Leeds’.
Only it isn’t really true is it. Painful though a double relegation and 15 point deduction was in the mid-noughties for the fans of the Peacocks, they’ve got over it and are now within reach of the Premier League, just like we did when we nearly ‘did a Leeds’ and just like Rangers are currently doing when they ‘did a Leeds’ too.
Today we welcome our old rivals Leeds to SJP and The Mag simply says: Isn’t it time we called it doing a Portsmouth instead?
Who Manages Them?
Brian McDermott was a player who had a lengthy but low visibilityplaying career, falling short of 300 appearances in 16 years, a stat which makes Shola look like a man who has never missed a day’s work in his life. His management career has been much the same, starting in Sligo and on to Woking and then Reading, first as Chief Scout and eventually into management nine years later.
After the inevitable but undeserved ejector seat at the Royals, McDermott was only out of work for a few months before replacing Neil Warnock at Leeds in April, which suggests he did a better job at Reading than the Reading owners thought he did. He may have only been at Leeds for a few months but he’s already shown he is the opposite of that arrogant scrimshanker Warnock, recently gushing “I feel I’ve been adopted here at Leeds and I owe the supporters” when being linked with Republic of Ireland national team post. McDermott also won the LMA Championship Manager of the Year award in 2012, so there’ll be two 2012 LMA Manager of the Year holders on show tonight at SJP, the main difference between the two being that Brian McDermott can probably afford to lose this game and keep his job.
Who have They Signed?
In the summer Leeds signed Crewe captain Luke Murphy, a 23 year old midfielder who scored on his debut for United, a 94th minute winner against Brighton in the first game of this season. It was a goal which underlines the sense in young players improving by gaining experience playing games above all else, no matter what the level. Murphy had made nearly 200 appearances in the lower leagues before being snapped up by the Whites and he has shown this experience immediately at the higher standard. Compare that to Haris Vuckic, two years younger than Murphy but with only 26 professional appearances under his belt and you can see why Murphy will probably play tonight and Vuckic probably won’t. Murphy chose Leeds over Blackburn and Wolverhampton in the summer, which proves at least one thing about him, that he had been to both Blackburn and Wolverhampton.
Leeds have also signed a player who dumped us out of this competition at the same stage last season, centre half Scott Wootton, signed from Manyoo for another million pounds and also signed centre forward free transfer Matt Smith. Once Smith had decided to retire from Dr Who it was an obvious choice to play for Leeds, he’s used to looking at alien species and appearing in front of monsters, though being a Doctor he’ll have to live in York.
How Will They Do This Season?
With a decent manager, experienced squad and big, loyal support Leeds must have been looking at a top 6 finish at the start of this season. Recent results haven’t been good though and the Championship may be a notoriously tight division, last season 6th placed Leicester won only 4 more games than relegated Peterborough, but three defeats in the last 4 have left them languishing in Championship mid-table. They should do much better than that and looking at them from the banks of the Tyne, if they don’t finish in the top 6 come May something has gone properly wrong.
Are We Going To Win?
Despite Leeds being in mid-table, their away form has been good, the pressure won’t be on them and a good cup run often helps build momentum on and off the pitch for a Championship club. They will bring a lot of fans for this game so it should be a good atmosphere and hopefully the occasion will make Brian McDermott play his part and play a first team rather than rest too many players, even if he can be forgiven for thinking that the Championship has a higher priority. Hopefully getting beaten by Hull at the weekend will make Alan Pardew pick a proper first team as well, this is a game we shouldn’t take lightly and will need to play well in if we are to grasp the opportunity to go into the fourth round of a competition which is our best chance of winning something this season. Sing the lads to victory tonight, we don’t want to ‘do a Leeds’ but perhaps we can at least ‘beat a Leeds’.
You can read more from Ben in our latest magazine, on sale tonight outside St.James’ Aprk before the Leeds match and in all decent north east newsagents, or if you’ live away from God’s own country of Tyneside, order single copies & subscriptions in our online shop.
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