Peter Lorimer: Rochdale was unacceptable and players got what they deserved

Brian McDermott has a word with his players at fulltime.
Brian McDermott has a word with his players at fulltime.
Have your say

Criticism from your own supporters is hard to take. I had it in my time and there’s nothing worse than the realisation that the people who back you week-to-week feel badly let down.

There were occasions where I thought the abuse of certain performances was excessive or unnecessary but I have to say that most of the rollickings were totally justified.

And if I’d been on the receiving end of that scathing reaction at Rochdale on Saturday, you’d have heard no complaints from me.

Leeds United’s players have no option but to hold their hands up to a display that simply wasn’t good enough in any respect.

Brian McDermott will take some of the blame too and I thought he spoke with great honesty afterwards but I don’t think there was enough commitment or quality in the football for anyone to drop this entirely on him.

There was one point in the match when Rochdale put together a 20-pass move or thereabouts without a single tackle going in.

They were given the freedom of the pitch. I know the game was running away by then and defeat looked inevitable but it was that sort of a day – a day when the players were second best in every department.

It’s worrying to look at a League Two side – a good one, admittedly – and see them playing us off the field and creating almost all the chances. Matt Smith had a couple of headers cleared off the line but really, the scoreline flattered us.

If Rochdale had one by three or four goals I wouldn’t have felt aggrieved.

At the end of the day, they’re a lower league side who lost 3-0 to Scunthorpe on New Year’s Day.

They’re no world-beaters. I’m not suggesting the tie was easy but to make as little impact as our players did is inexcusable.

A lot of people paid a lot of money to go to the match and I think they were entitled to vent at the end.

Let’s not pretend that anyone enjoys that situation or wants to get stuck into the players – but that’s life at a club like Leeds. I’ve experienced it before.

At the minute, the biggest problems lie in midfield. That area of our team was murdered by Nottingham Forest, it struggled against Blackburn Rovers and it made no impression whatsoever at Rochdale.

There’s no intensity, no bite and no drive.

You cannot pretend that lads like Andy Reid or Henri Lansbury aren’t quality players and to give Ian Henderson his due, he was man of the match at Spotland.

I hardly knew anything about him before Saturday. But good players can only do damage if you let them. I wanted to see our lads in their faces, fighting and upsetting them.

Instead, too many opposition players have been free to pick us apart.

Luke Murphy hasn’t really hit a consistent vein yet and watching Rudy Austin recently has been concerning.

He’s clearly a good player and he makes us tick when he’s really on form but he’s gone into his shell these past few weeks and that’s not a great state for your captain to be in.

Only he could tell you if this is the case but I wonder whether the responsibility of carrying the armband is weighing heavily on him. It’s not an easy job.

You’ve got two commitments – to play to your peak time after time but also to keep everyone on the straight and narrow on afternoons as hard as Saturday.

We’ve had a few tough afternoons in a row recently and Rudy hasn’t been the player we know. Maybe that’s something Brian needs to look at.

But the one thing I’m wary about is people throwing in the towel. Yes, we’ve had a bad spell and the results are taking a toll but to say we’re in a good position in the league is putting it mildly.

As far as I’m concerned, the league will be won by Forest, Leicester City or QPR. One of those clubs will go up in second too. But that leaves three play-off positions to aim at and I still believe they’re wide open.

Things don’t look great for us at the moment but things never do when you’re on a bit of a slide.

Football changes quickly and with a couple of good signings I genuinely believe that it won’t be long before we’re back in business and competing again.

But Rochdale? Rochdale should be a lesson to everyone about what happens when you fall so far below 100 per cent. That will never be accepted.

Not at this club.

Eddie Gray.

Leeds United legend Eddie Gray was given new lease of life by Jimmy Armfield