Bournemouth victim of Leeds United identity crisis - Graham Smyth's Verdict as kids dig boss out

Whatever you say Leeds United are, they’ll be damned if they cannot prove that's exactly what they are not.
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It's little wonder Jesse Marsch is finding it hard to enjoy his job at present, when the Leeds team that finishes a game is not the same one that came off at half-time, never mind the one that finished the last match. Even Leeds themselves appear confused as to who or what they are this season.

The boos that rang in their ears as they walked off at half-time 2-1 down and second best, by a long way, were every bit as deserved as the roars that serenaded them off at full-time as 4-3 winners. Jubilation and three points were a million miles from Leeds' grasp when Bournemouth took a 3-1 lead early in the second half and yet somehow Leeds came back.

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A story written too many times already this season, of a team who have developed an expertise in wasting strong positions, was on the wall again until goals started flying in at the right end. We've seen it before - the win over Chelsea that was followed by faltering performances against lesser sides, the second half against Arsenal they failed to replicate against Leicester and Fulham. Had that magnificent display and victory at Anfield not been followed up at home to the Cherries then the disappointment would have been decidedly déjà vu.

What can be said of Marsch's Leeds, though, is that they revel in chaos of doing the unexpected. The madder a game gets the more Leeds come alive and it does not feel unfair to say this was a Lazarus moment for the Whites and their head coach. He and they looked buried, at least in the court of public opinion, on 48 minutes, so Marsch threw shovels to Willy Gnonto, Sam Greenwood and Crysencio Summerville and the youngsters set about digging him out of the mire.

Greenwood scored a beauty to make it 3-2 and swung in the corner that captain Liam Cooper met to level the game. Gnonto's 84th minute forward run was only bettered by the through ball that left Summerville with a simple finish to win it, for the second week running, late on.

That moment completed a journey from the sublime to the ridiculous and back again in the space of 84 minutes, and while Bournemouth boss Gary O'Neil wanted to 'take the emotion out of it' in a post-game debrief that gave Leeds scant credit, Elland Road was nothing but emotion from start to finish.

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It brayed its approval on 90 seconds as Brenden Aaronson released Summerville into the area and the youngster drew a foul to earn a spot-kick. The first goal was exactly what Leeds needed, a chance to take away the visitors' hopes to kill the game's early intensity, and Rodrigo, the coolest man in Elland Road, duly obliged.

DIGGING OUT - Tyler Adams, Willy Gnonto and Crysencio Summerville celebrate a dramatic comeback victory for Leeds United over Bournemouth. Pic: Bruce RollinsonDIGGING OUT - Tyler Adams, Willy Gnonto and Crysencio Summerville celebrate a dramatic comeback victory for Leeds United over Bournemouth. Pic: Bruce Rollinson
DIGGING OUT - Tyler Adams, Willy Gnonto and Crysencio Summerville celebrate a dramatic comeback victory for Leeds United over Bournemouth. Pic: Bruce Rollinson

Scoring first was about the only thing Leeds got right in the first half, however, promptly coughing up an early equaliser by giving Marcus Tavernier the freedom of his home city at the back post. Tavernier then drove a horse and coaches through the space on the right flank of Marsch's defence, leaving Rasmus Kristensen in his wake to force a save from Illan Meslier, pick up the rebound and pick out Philip Billing who rifled into the top corner.

Bournemouth were well worth the 19th-minute 2-1 lead

Elland Road fought to stay in the game, despite the performance being served up, even when Summerville and Meslier had to come to the rescue as the visitors almost scored from a home corner.

There was so little evidence of a single coherent idea in possession that Bournemouth were quite happy for Leeds to stay on the football, Marc Roca looking up to see a red and black wall with everyone bunched up in the middle. No width, no way through and no escape from the boos at the break.

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Gnonto came on for the struggling Jack Harrison at half-time and found himself defending the six-yard box as Bournemouth countered, again, from a Leeds corner. The result of that insane situation, through no fault of the 18-year-old, was a third for Bournemouth, Dominic Solanke flicking the ball past Meslier.

Somehow even that wasn't enough to kill off Elland Road's enthusiasm and their defiant singing soundtracked an epic comeback.

Patient build up gave way to a Pascal Struijk shot that was blocked into the path of Greenwood, on for Roca, and he curled a beautiful effort into the far corner from distance to make it 3-2. Belief took flight and so did Cooper, soaring at the back post to power a header down and in for 3-3.

Leeds' body language as they raced back to the centre circle said it all - they were not the team so easily picked apart in the first half, but a different proposition altogether and one fully capable of taking the lot.

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Step forward Gnonto, quite literally, from deep in his own half, running like his life depended on it and waiting for the perfect moment to release a pass through the last two defenders so Summerville could complete the comeback. The explosion in the stands matched the fireworks overhead for noise and spectacle, birthday boy Gnonto tumbling along the pitch like a Catherine wheel.

And then, suddenly, as the smoke cleared, Leeds were drama-free, professionally managing the minutes and the territory to the finish and a scoreline that was frankly unobtainable for the side that showed up in the first half.

Which Leeds is the real one is anyone's guess. That they're so capable of being both is Marsch's problem, and a big part of why his full-time celebrations were tinged with frustration.

"No," came his response when asked if he has enjoyed the past two weeks. He craves the simple life but should know by now that he's in the wrong job, at the wrong club for that. This is Leeds United, where chaos abounds. It's up to him to either tame it, or embrace it.