Leeds Utd 1 (Harrison 67)
Tottenham H 4 (Kane 2, 69, Porro 47, Lucas Moura 90+5))
28th May 2023, Premier League.
What a sorry-looking performance to end a sorry-looking season! We all traveled to Elland Road today with a tiny weeny bit of hope that the players would find it within themselves to put on a performance to at least get the result we needed, even if few if any of us believed Everton and Leicester would slip up with their respective challenges. But what we got was a cameo of the whole sorry season – the same old failings and shortcomings that got us in this situation in the first place, indeed, the same failings that got us into exactly the same final-day pickle last season. The only conclusion is that the players we have are not good enough, never have been good enough and the squad has never been deep enough to cover inevitable injuries.
To concede a goal inside two minutes in a match that we absolutely had to win to stand any chance of staying up, and to concede it in the same manner that we’ve been conceding goals all season was, well, totally unforgivable. Once again our defenders were caught with a simple through ball, several of them drawn to the ball like moths to a flame and then leaving, of all people, Harry Kane free as a bird with no one bothering to track his run into the box. Incredible, absolutely incredible.
To be fair to the players, the rest of the first half wasn’t that bad. We created more openings than Spurs, won more corners etc. etc. BUT our finishing was as abysmal as it has been all season, shots and headers going everywhere apart from hitting the eight yards by eight feet rectangle of net that the game is all about! It is another facet of our play we have been blighted with for two seasons now. Once again, we have to conclude the players are not good enough for this level of the game.
As well as those 19 goal attempts we won 12 corners (Spurs had only 3) but can any of you remember us doing anything useful from any of them? One short corner we actually played to a Spurs man that almost cost another breakaway goal! It is yet one more aspect of our play and game management that we’ve been watching all season. Why has no one done anything about it?
The game was done within a couple of minutes of the second half with another simple through ball that cut us clean open and went straight through Pascal Struijk to end with another clinical Spurs strike this time from Porro. Yes, we did get a tiny glimmer of hope again when Jack Harrison finished well but, in oh such a Leeds United fashion, Spurs just went up the other end and restored their two-goal lead with another ridiculously easy finish – Porro breaking with the ball this time to create a 3 v 2 in Spurs’ favour and Harry Kane again delivering the sort of clinical finish we only dream about seeing. The fourth, well, who cares really… but we allowed Lucas Moura to waltz around half a dozen defenders in much the same way we allowed another Lucas, Lucas Paqueta of West Ham, to do the same thing last weekend! We just do not learn, do we? Over and over and over again we commit the same errors.
At times during the game, and certainly, at the final whistle, there was anger from some fans aimed at the players but I have to say I don’t hold with that – it is not the players' fault that they are playing for us and that they simply are not good enough, that is the fault of the poor recruitment and in some cases the lack of the right recruitment. Players don’t make mistakes on purpose, poor players will make mistakes and will not learn to become good enough to be Premier League quality if there isn’t a decent player in there in the first place. The anger aimed at the Board I cannot argue with though, it is they who have failed us.
So, we start again on 4th August in the Championship, just a few short weeks away. A few short weeks during which we need to find a new recruitment guru, find a capable manager, possibly sort out the club ownership if Radrizzani bails out, and, above all find a group of players who stand a chance of getting us back by this time next year. The name of Marcelo Bielsa was sung regularly again today with obvious feeling – he managed to get a very average set of players to work together and to a plan and to a level of fitness that created a force to be reckoned with in the Championship. Somehow we need to do it all again from scratch.
Finally, to all who have read these blogs during the season, thanks for doing so, and thanks for your feedback and interest. I for one am fascinated to see how the club now moves forward to tackle this next challenge, tough as it will be. Have a great summer and I look forward to seeing many of you in August – probably on a Friday night in Plymouth!
Leeds U Spurs
Possession 52% 48%
Shots 19 11
On Target 2 7
Corners 12 3
Fouls 7 5