B'mouth 4 (Lerma 20,24,Solanke 63,Semenyo 90+1)
Leeds U 1 (Bamford 32)
30th April 2023, Premier League
This team of ours is shot… or at least it should be after a performance like that in the one game of all games that we just could not afford to lose. Once again our defence was all over the place, once again we looked uninspiring going forward and, once again, a poor team has totally embarrassed us. I for one cannot see any way we can now escape the drop, not only because of the teams we now have to play that all look likely to thrash us, but also because the heart and soul of this team has, not surprisingly after recent results, been trodden in the dust.
Yet again Leeds flattered to deceive for the first twenty minutes, hardly allowing Bournemouth a kick and we were head and shoulders the better side. Bamford shot wide and had another saved, Roca had a shot saved, Harrison had an effort blocked and meanwhile, at the other end, Bournemouth had just one attack worth the name that ended with a shot off target. 20 minutes and Leeds were totally dominant.
But, as we have seen in recent games, all it takes is for Leeds to concede once and suddenly our heart appears to sink and we collapse in a shambles. So it was again today. A simple long diagonal ball was half-won in the air by Solanke against Liam Cooper, but then he’s somehow allowed to run circles – literally! - around Harrison and Roca in our box and eventually, he lays the ball back for his strike partner Billing. His low shot was brilliantly blocked by Coops but it rebounded to the edge of the area to Lerma and, well, where was the Leeds midfield that ought to have picked up Lerma’s run? No one was anywhere near him and he had time to retie his bootlaces if he needed to before curling the ball beyond Meslier. This has to be the worst defence or the worst-coached defence in Leeds’ history!
As always, Leeds concede in the same manner as those London busses appear – in twos – and we were two down inside the next four minutes. A right-wing corner into the heart of Meslier’s six-yard area, he rises, flaps the ball down to the feet of Lerma and bang, he fires it into the roof of the net. What on earth has happened to Meslier in the last few weeks? Is it just that his confidence is shot having conceded so many? There can be no justification in keep putting him in the side, he clearly needs resting to get him out of the firing line, again, literally.
It started to feel like the game at Elland Road then as we quickly pulled a goal back – a fine goal, a goal that ought to have been just the confidence boost we needed, a goal that showed that, actually, this Bournemouth team has a weak defence, just like us. West Ham fired four past them only last week for goodness sake. Anyway, great work on the left by Willy Gnonto, inch-perfect cross into the middle and Bamford cleverly finds the space between two defenders. Perfect! Now build on that!
Well, we couldn’t of course. We huffed and puffed for a bit but, to be honest, we look like a jigsaw with a couple of pieces missing, an engine with a cylinder missing, we have no potency at all. We look so predictable going forward as the ball can only go to the wings and then it’s usually snaffled back by the opposition defence. Again, I have a feeling it’s just a lack of belief and I have a feeling that stems from Javi Gracia not being the motivator we are desperate for at times like this. Has the man got any fire in his belly?
Second half the defence was shown up twice more – the third came from a simple clearance down the middle of the pitch, Wober slips, Quattara is then behind us and he finds the only man not sleeping in our box – Solanke. The fourth came from Semenyo, firing in from the left with a shot that every other keeper in the Premier League would have stopped but Illan, I’m afraid, is no longer competent.
At 4 – 1 down Leeds came up with the usual last hurrah, but it was too little too late and I’d guess it only came because the home side had gone back down through the gears and were then resting their better players and giving the subs some minutes. Even so, it might have been different if Koch’s header had gone in or if Willy Gnonto could have replicated the Sinisterra header against Leicester instead of the back post miss by Bamford in that game but even Lady Luck is not helping these days.
However you try to explain this defeat, it comes down to the simple fact that across the team we simply are not good enough. Maybe this team would look more like a team with Tyler Adams in there, we have certainly missed him, but the fault we have missed him so much is down to the recruitment in the summer and in January failing to come up with quality replacements that could be called upon in the inevitable situation where big players are injured. It was the same last season, we simply have learned nothing and seeing £35m of striker sat on the bench throughout the game again is possibly the greatest sin of all. Whoever signed off on that deal wants to be removed from the club; it’s embarrassing.
We are not down mathematically of course and I did speak with fans even after the game who refuse to accept that we can’t get something from the remaining four games. But even they accept something major has to change to try to shake our players out of this sleepwalking stupor. Personally, I’d tell Javi to go home and throw the gauntlet to Scoobs again, just to see if he can find the spark again like he did before Javi arrived. No pressure, just see if a change of leadership in the dressing room can bring about some improvement.
For me though, the game is up and I fully expect to be getting my 10% back on my season ticket and preparing in the summer to fit in another eight games… my Mrs is going to be delighted
B'mouth Leeds U
Possession 43% 57%
Shots 12 15
On Target 7 6
Corners 2 6
Fouls 12 14