When Leeds United win, all is right with the world. When Leeds United lose, something is wrong with the world and there is a sudden need to find out what it was that was to blame. Peter Lorimer knows where the blame lies – it’s the back line.
In his Yorkshire Evening Post column, the Leeds legend says that Ipswich Town, “highlighted a problem which I’ve been banging on about for ages.” He goes on to mention that the team has shortcomings that are known by all, including head coach Steve Evans and owner Massimo Cellino, then goes on to say that the biggest shortcomings are those involved with the back line, the Leeds United defenders.
Arrowing in further, Lorimer indicates that the actual root of all Leeds United’s problems is the centre of defence, whichever centre back combination Leeds United put out is to fault, their weak displays that often mean the Whites “quite often need to score at least twice.” Lorimer expands on this by focusing on the manner in which Ipswich scored their two goals that took all three points at Portman Road earlier this week.
On this, Lorimer says that, “Both of Ipswich’s finishes were relatively simple; crosses into the box which a good, organised backline should be able to read and deal with.” He then criticises the lack of pace and size that leads to United not being dominant enough defensively and finishes with the oft-quoted missive of, “Good teams are built from the back – that’s a fact.” The final nail of doom from the ex-Leeds United and Scotland frontman is that so ingrained are the defensive frailties that Leeds United can’t hope to “improve league position significantly.”
Lorimer then falls back into the ‘little hope scenario’ that teams around mid-table tend to fall into; that even though the odds are against them, the play-offs might still be there to aim for. Lorimer himself warns against writing off the playoffs by saying, “They can’t give up and they shouldn’t think that the season is dead.” And he’s right, they shouldn’t give up and fold like a house of wet cards.
Something nags me though, I mean is it really the fault of the defence and especially the lapses in the centre or is that to simplistic? I’m not wanting to have a dig at Lorimer, in a way he is spot on. Yes there are problems in the Leeds United side and that is evident, but to single out the defence as the issue? Under Rosler, Leeds’ defence was actually worse on a game-by-game basis than it is now.
- Leeds’ defence under Rosler: P11, F10, A15, goals for per game 0.90, goals against per game 1.36, difference goals for/against per game -0.45
- Leeds’ defence under Evans: P15, F17, A15, goals for per game 1.13, goals against per game 1, difference goals for/against per game +0.13
So, a lot pf what Lorimer is saying seems like that old soundbite reactionism without having a basic look at the numbers. Yes there are deficiencies in the Leeds United team but to blame the defence on the back of a disappointing result is a bit raw. There are deficiencies all over, and in reality, the defence is meaner and the attack slightly more clinical under Steve Evans. Maybe we need to look for the deficiencies elsewhere before pointing the finger of doom at the back.