Leeds United 0 Cardiff City 2
What to say after that result?
Well, let’s start with the obvious; first, there will be no easy points on offer for the rest of the season, every game will test our young side to the limits. Second, games this season have already shown how thin on the ground we are too, quite why we went through a transfer window without finding another centre back and another Wood like striker baffles me. And third, sides have now had the opportunity to look at the way we set up too and we have not shown any sign of having a plan B.
So, when the news came through before the game that our brick-heading talisman would be missing, we ought to have seen the writing on the wall. When we add in the presence of the crafty Colin in the opposition dugout, a bloke who has done us before of course, then I suppose defeat to Cardiff ought not to have come as a surprise to us. It did still surprise me though.
Leeds have looked stodgy in recent games but in general the defence has still looked strong yet today, without Pontus it looked all at sea and ultimately cost us as we contrived to gift the Welshmen two very soft goals, goals that last season’s defence with lots of Bamba and Bellusci in it would have considered regulation but which this season are relatively unknown. How ironic that Sol was masterminding the visitors defence today without mishap! OK, we knew that was going to happen!
Even without those two errors though, we were not looking likely to win this game; Cardiff set out to combat our plan A and did it well enough. We just didn’t have the guile to unlock them and the substitutions looked merely that, substitutions rather than an actual plan B. Pablo did his best but in recent games he doesn’t seem to have the legs for 90 minutes and for whatever reason, the champagne football we saw in glimpses at Villa and against Derby has gone flat. We are not creating enough good chances and then for the half-chances we create we are not hitting the target often enough. We apparently have the best ratio of goals to shots on target in the division but is that a good stat? I feel we are missing the target too often and that is what’s skewing that stat. Today for example we had 17 attempts from 71% of possession but hit the 8 yards by 8 feet target only 3 times. Cardiff did so 4 times from 10.
We are still in a great position in the table of course but we are in temporary disarray and confidence is visibly ebbing away. We now go into another crucial home game without our skipper, Liam Bridcutt and with talk that Pontus might be still missing. That rejigged defence will be even more open to pressure without Bridds protecting them. Longer term we are all hoping and praying that Bartley and Jansson don’t get injured whilst knowing they are more than likely to miss more games through impending yellow cards. Who is there to give Pablo a rest? What if Chris Wood picks up an injury? Is O’Kane better than Ronnie Vieira? They each seem to have one good game and then one less so. Who should we now be playing out wide? Sacko, Pedraza, Barrow, Dallas, Roofe, Doukara? Somehow Garry Monk needs to pick his way through all the questions and fashion whoever he chooses to face Bristol into a cohesive, positive, attack minded unit such as he created before Christmas. We don’t have much time and if we don’t sort it out quickly we could suddenly find that our great position in the table has evaporated, overtaken by the likes of Derby, Norwich and Fulham. It is all well and good thinking that our young team will be more ready for promotion next season… but there is a certain amount of luck involved in such things too and to now waste the opportunity we find ourselves in just seems, well, wasteful! We need three points on Tuesday to steady the ship.
Leeds United Cardiff City
Possession 71% 29%
Shots 17 10
On Target 3 4
Corners 5 3
Fouls 15 10