Tag Archives: Bielsa

It would be fair to say that things are never dull.

20 Aug

Brentford travel to Elland Road on Wednesday evening for a game that is sure to be played out against a rich backdrop of recent history. Even if it is one in which the main protagonists have both since moved on. Neal Maupay has left Brentford for Brighton. Pontus Jansson has left Leeds United for the Bees. The question is now one of whether we can continue our fine record against Marcelo Bielsa and his boys. A record which saw us moments away from picking up two wins last season but, instead, having to be content with a ‘mere’ four power points following the late, late equaliser scored by Jansson back in October.

History is history, of course. Yet it does present an interesting, if brief, retrospective. We demolished Leeds at Griffin Park to railroad their rapidly diminishing promotion chances. To borrow a line from the song at the time. “Leeds. Leeds are falling apart. Again.”  We almost picked up the win on our travels, but for that 88th minute goal. There was the penalty (definite), the celebrations, both of them, from Neal Maupay. The post match reaction of Pontus himself which saw the player charged by the FA  (as were the club , home supporters throwing objects at our number 9) after accusing the referee of ‘robbery’ and saying on live TV that the result felt a bit ‘shit’.  There was even that wonderful talk of conspiracy as United’s seemingly unstoppable start to the season began to hit the buffers. Copy. Paste. Return.

Yes, it would be fair to say that things are never dull when our teams meet.

But whilst history is nice, and it is, things move on. Past form is not a guarantee of current performance. Leeds United have started like a runaway train – as they always seem to do – topping the nascent table after three games and 7(seven) points. Only Charlton can match them, even if Brentford sit just 3 points behind. There’s no way Leeds will choke it again, is there…..?

Well, looking at the immediate short term i.e this fixture, the bookies have the home side as 3/5 odds on favourites with Thomas Frank’s team out there on 4/1 to pick up the points. Whether that form and that favouritism continues throughout the campaign depends on when Leeds decide to start treading on their annual potato skin. As a general observation, August is far too early for that to happen. Especially when they are up against, and score a point for each of these you see on Wednesday: tinpot Brentford, teams like Brentford, pub side, little club…..  

I would say this does also seem the exception to the rule these days. I’d also say that when we’ve hit the early peaks this season we have looked sublime. Consistency is , of course, the key for Thomas. The first half against Birmingham and the denouement of the Hull City game were both magnificent. We perhaps rode our luck a tad up at Middlesbrough, at least in the opening period, but took a wonderful three points in the end.

Ollie and Sergi have both started at 100mph. Pontus looks imperious at the back. The midfield is developing solidity and then there’s Benrahma. The fleet footed Algerian wing-wizard is back. I can’t expect him to start on Wednesday, it’s been too long, but the brief cameo afforded to supporters at the weekend had the fans leaving Griffin Park with spirits high. More of the same would do very nicely, thank you.

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Pontus – now a Bee.

The other question, team selection aside, is just who can travel to this one? With adult tickets at £37 in advance and no trains home after full time, this promises to be a costly exercise. With Sky TV continuing their red button coverage for midweek fixtures there is an understandable alternative. Yet it is a game which promises to be a real treat for those fortunate enough to be travelling. I can’t even pretend to be amongst their ranks this time out. Sadly. Hats off to those who have found the time and the finances to make this a viable prospect. 

And those who have should read the away travel guide on ‘official’ . Whilst, normally, it isn’t one that troubles the statisticians I have had a look this morning to see if the £42 ‘pay on the day’ option is available. Not, it seems. But what I did discover was the wonderful dead pan line:  Finding Drysalters requires fans to pass the Old Peacock pub, a staunch home supporters’ pub, which is not recommended for travelling support.

Good luck with that. Good luck everyone. Especially to Thomas Frank and the team. It won’t be easy but it will be fun. And I can’t wait. Even if this time it is from the comfort of the sofa.

Nick Bruzon

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Bamford on thin ice after mayhem at Leeds. Brentford in limbo after mayhem at EFL.

29 Apr

What a way to finish the weekend in the Championship. Norwich City are up. Sheffield United are up. Brentford (and Bolton) are in limbo. Leeds United are in the play-offs whilst Patrick Bamford is flat on his arse after being allegedly floored by I don’t know who, or what, exactly in their game with Aston Villa that gave new meaning to the word controversial.

Starting with Brentford, three days on and we still have no idea if or when Saturday’s rearranged game with Bolton will take place. Or with what level of team. Not much else to say there. Everyone, from both sides, gets it. Let’s just hope that for everybody’s sake a resolution can be expedited. Whatever the direction of the eventual decision. Certainly, this morning’s update from ‘Official’ suggested a degree of frustration at the lack of any progress from the EFL.

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Draw your own conclusions

Next up, congratulations Sheffield United. Their promotion was confirmed on Sunday lunchtime as Leeds United could only pick up a point against Aston Villa rather than the win by at least 7(seven) goals which would have kept the race for second place mathematically alive going in to the final round of fixtures. It was the game which had everything that typifies the Elland Road outfit at present.

Accusations of dirty, cheating Leeds. Failure to win (see also Wigan and Brentford). Patrick Bamford going to ground like he’d been shot by a sniper ( see also: Brentford and the Keith Stroud non-penalty decision). Marcelo Bielsa maintaining his dignity and calmness whilst floating serenely atop a sea of madness.

I’ve seen the opening goal numerous times and am still torn. Yes. Kodjia was fouled but the ref never stopped the game. Play the whistle, not the ball is one of football’s most basic tenets. Some Villa players stopped but others continued. Even they weren’t sure . The real flashpoint being Tyler Roberts’ decision to play the ball through after the visitors had slowed up when it looked as though he was going to strike the ball into touch. That was the point when what followed should have been nipped in the bud.

One can well understand the reaction to that pass. It was something which the Sky commentary team described as ‘Disgusting’. Yet the mayhem which followed was even worse as Patrick Bamford went to ground looking like Ahmed El Ghazi had just emptied an entire can of pepper spray into his eyes. Instead, he was subsequently caught by the cameras pulling off an act of fakery that was up there with Ali Dia pretending to be George Weah’s professional footballer cousin. But by then El Ghazi had been shown red and the damage was done.

It did also beg the question as to what would have happened had Keith Stroud been in charge. Having called ‘no penalty’ when Bamford hit the deck against Brentford on Monday, would he have made the same call? Is Bamford more Bambi on ice? Or just the wrong player in the wrong place at the wrong time?

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Bamford and El Ghazi go for it

Regardless, Bielsa once more reigned supreme. Say what you want about Leeds United but he is the absolute boss. Literally and figuratively. As the inevitable chaos ensued, he did what Mr. Attwell  should have done and made sure his team kept the scores level. Albert Adomah was given the freedom of the Leeds defence (on purpose, for once) as he was allowed to run through unchallenged to restore parity.

Bamford may not have had a punch thrown at him but one can only presume he will have the book perform that task today. It was as embarrassing as Rivaldo back in the 2002 World Cup. A shameful, cringeworthy act that only poured more fuel on the fire of Leeds’ reputation.

The one positive to come out of this is Bielsa. Whilst Leeds have missed out, for now, could his persona prove to be the crucial difference once we get to the pressure cooker atmosphere of the play-offs? Moreso if we get the Villa-Leeds final that currently looks as though it could be based on league positions. If Sunday was tasty, just imagine what that one would be like……

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Was there another reason Bamford collapsed

Nick Bruzon