I made the trip to St Andrews on Saturday to watch Leeds United bring down the curtain in 2017 at Birmingham City.
I give my view of the Leeds performance in the 1-0 defeat.
He had nothing to do until the final 15 minutes of the game. He made a great save to deny David Davis but once again, he must take the blame for the goal. Not for the first time this season he has only pushed a shot straight back out into a dangerous area rather than pushing the ball away from the danger area. For me it is basic goalkeeping.
We missed him getting forward to help the attack and he had a relatively easy game defensively despite the pace out wide for Birmingham.
I thought he was having another solid game but his part in the mix-up that led to the chance for Davis, changed the impetus of the game in Birmingham`s favour.
Like his partner, he was dealing with most things well although he got another stupid booking for not having the ability to see the ball out, something he has been caught out with a few times this season.
His 100th appearance for Leeds and a nice touch to give him the captain`s armband but the introduction of Jota late in the game shows why we need a better left back. He cannot deal with any sort of pace or trickery.
I actually thought he did ok in parts. He won a lot aerially but he had no creative spark in midfield and he couldn`t get a foot on the ball. We could never get going in midfield. A strange choice to start ahead of Saiz, Klich and Anita.
He had a couple of chances for Leeds but he missed both Vieira and O`Kane doing the dirty work in midfield.
He struggled to get going. He did have Leeds best chance but David Stockdale in the Birmingham goal denied him.
It was one of his frustrating performances. He has now been with us half a season so sooner or later he needs to realise you don`t get free-kicks in this league by throwing yourself to the ground when someone breathes on you.
I doubt he enjoyed his Saturday afternoon workout as he fed off scraps throughout. He could work harder closing down the defenders when they have possession.
He offered us little.
Saiz 7 Star Man
We looked a completely different team once he came on as he carried the game to the Birmingham midfield and defence but he was given little support.
He did what we had missed in the game. He got possession and gave the ball to those that could carry a threat.
He is either unfit or not bothered. He looked lethargic and uninterested when we needed to try to get back into the game. He made a poor connection with the one chance that came his way. I wonder if he will be going back to Germany in January.
I will be honest this performance has been coming and it is always the sort of game we manage to lose when we face a team that haven`t won for ages and are bottom of the league. We have managed to scrape wins this month when not playing well but we didn`t get away with it on this occasion. I hope this performance is a wakeup call for the current squad and also the men with the purse strings in the January transfer window because we need to fill three or four key areas.
Birmingham fans tried to rally their players from the off but I would imagine it wouldn`t have taken much for them to get on the players backs had we gone at them, so it was strange for us to lack any creativity and attack until Saiz came on.
A few final points.
Firstly to Birmingham. At half time, they ran off a list of names of their fans that have sadly departed in 2017. This list went on for about five minutes and was a range of ages. A great touch and it was good to see everyone join in the applause. I think this puts into perspective what really matters in life and not a good or bad performance by the team.
Secondly, it was our final game of 2017. It is a year that I feel we finally have our football club back after years of mismanagement.
Things on and off the pitch have improved massively and the atmosphere at Elland Road hasn`t felt like it does now in many years. I have every faith in our owner to get us back into the Premier League but sometimes a bit of patience is needed. Some of the comments you read on social media aimed at the owner, management and players after a defeat are pathetic. Just remember where we are coming from under a longlist of previous owners and stick with them all. Remember, we win together and we lose together.
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