Our fans’ panel look ahead to Leeds United’s trip to Aston Villa tonight.
The game at Deepdale was a little cameo of the whole season – surprisingly good start, belief and hope surging like a tidal wave then the usual reappearance of our soft underbelly and Preston only too ready to plunge the knife in and kill us off. So has gone this woeful season.
On the back of another confidence-sapping experience at Preston, we go to Villa who bounced back to form with a good-looking win over promotion-chasing Cardiff City. Villa themselves are almost guaranteed a play-off place; they need just one more win… we can see what’s coming then!
I’ve been predicting wins for Leeds recently based on spells of good football in most games and the number of chances we’ve been missing, but I now have to admit that, even when we play well, we are still so soft and naïve that it just seems unlikely we can go 90 minutes without giving away some form of gift to the opposition!
So, I’m biting the bullet and I’m expecting Leeds to get beaten! Maybe that will do the trick and change our luck!
Prediction: Aston Villa 3 Leeds United 1.
Dire doesn’t even begin to describe Tuesday night’s second-half performance. Abysmal, unforgivable and shocking are equally understated.
You wonder what goes through our players’ minds. Paid well, supported fantastically and sitting in a hugely privileged position they have failed to meet even the basic requirements of their roles for weeks on end. But Tuesday was a new low.
Paul Heckingbottom has taken a lot of flak, so too has Victor Orta, and there’s no way that either one is blameless. That said, the players shouldn’t come away scot free.
The first half showing suggested that a fairly comfortable win could be on the cards, the second half was a cowardly surrender.
Thank goodness we had that glorious month at the start of the season when we thought we could win the league, otherwise we might be facing relegation in tonight’s game. Instead we go to Villa Park expecting a resounding defeat but with no major consequences – just how the players like it.
Prediction: Aston Villa 3 Leeds United 0.
Tonight takes Leeds to Villa Park and probably without 10 first-team players if Pontus Jansson fails to recover from being knocked out at Preston.
Paudie O’Connor hasn’t let anybody down since his debut and will be joined by another under-23 centre-half, if Jansson is absent. Villa sit within the play-off places and have an outside chance of second. Unlike Leeds, they started poorly but have improved. Robert Snodgrass has proved a superb addition and they are another team with a squad that plenty of money has been spent on.
With the Leeds’ squad so threadbare, if Villa get a early goal, it could become a very embarrassing evening in the Midlands. The Leeds supporters who will be there deserve so much more than they are given.
It was a privilege to be amongst them at Deepdale. Superb support throughout the game. Andrea Radrizzani, meanwhile, said in an interview on ‘talkSPORT’ that he made a mistake in appointing Thomas Christiansen. I think he’s now made two by appointing Paul Heckingbottom.
The coach is out of his depth and the club is sinking to its knees.
Tuesday’s capitulation at Preston (3-1) was just another example when he got his line-up wrong, and his substitution of Kemar Roofe was beyond belief when others in the team were not performing but stayed on the field.
Many players simply have ‘waved the white flag’ – and that is simply unforgivable.
The form table doesn’t lie, Leeds are relegation material and without the impressive start to the season, relegation to ‘Division One’ would almost be a certainty.
Although the owner, Orta, Kinnear and coaches – should take some blame for the insipid performances in 2018, most of the blame should be pointed at the overrated players who amble through games and have no backbone at all when it comes to rolling your sleeves up and battling for their club and its fans.
Senior professionals have let this once mighty club down and it’s time for them to be shown the door!
It might not make easy reading but that’s the truth.
Prediction: Aston Villa 4 Leeds United 1.
After a promising first half at Preston, United imploded again, leaving many questions to be answered.
Not least of these questions is regarding the future of Paul Heckingbottom.
It is easy to sympathise with him, but his record speaks for itself. At least he isn’t on a long contract like some of the players who have let him down.
We saw good performances again from Bailey Peacock-Farrell and Paudie O’Connor, and Stuart Dallas ran himself ragged to the end.
Kemar Roofe was lively and Ronaldo Vieira was okay.
After that you have to scratch your head.
The old mistakes abounded – getting caught in possession and vulnerable to any and every counter attack.
Aston Villa will present stiff opposition again, buoyed by their win against Cardiff.
And it is really hard to see the Whites coming back from the West Midlands with any sort of a result.
Over to you Mr Radrizzani, you have a lot of big decisions to make.
Prediction: Aston Villa 2 Leeds United 1.
April is the cruellest month opined TS Eliot, and with two tough away games in a few days it’s hard to argue.
Deepdale proved a wasteland for Leeds’ faint hopes and I fear Villa Park will prove likewise as the Whites’ trip to the Midlands looks as doomed as a blind man navigating the rocks. The season has long disappeared into a handful of dust and one begins to wonder whether the growing list of unavailable players is down to more than a twinge in the groin. The cruelty of hope, that glimpse of promotion has reaped a bitter harvest.
The scythe is sharpened and there is a reckoning. Many have already mysteriously disappeared and for those honest souls who play out the last rattles of the season, the blade hovers. The name of Mick McCarthy is whispered on the chill wind. Fancy dans and shirkers beware. Leeds did play well against Preston right until they didn’t and we might even put on a show against the Villains but doom lingers and stalks. It is April and for every ray of sunshine there is a shower – and Leeds, right now, are a shower.
Prediction: Aston Villa 3 Leeds United 1.