Welcome to Marching on Together

18 Sep 2017 05:42pm, by Shields53

Following this summer’s transfer activity one might think that the first names that would pop into my head when you mention Burnley would be those of a certain left back or an antipodean striker. But there will only one name I think of and one goal, though there were two drag backs and three feints involved. That name of course is Eddie ‘The Last Waltz’ Gray and that goal was against Burnley on Saturday 4th April 1970.

With the League title gone, weary United were dealt another blow twenty-four hours after their European Cup Semi-Final home failure against Celtic. Right Back Paul Reaney had sustained a fractured leg in a meaningless 2-2 draw at West Ham United. The injury cost him a place in United’s FA Cup Final line-up against Chelsea and a trip to Mexico as part of England’s World Cup squad. Manager Don Revie sent out a patched up side on the Saturday before the FA Cup Final, lacking Reaney, Gary Sprake, Mick Jones, Terry Cooper and Jack Charlton and Norman Hunter.

The game against the Clarets was United’s ninth in eighteen days, so with the Cup Final coming up, a shadow side on view, the extra cost of watching a game with nothing at stake and the Grand National on television, only 24,691 fans turned up at Elland Road, about 12,000 less than average. The stay-away fans not only missed a chance to see some of the blossoming young reserve talent, but two of the finest goals ever seen at Elland Road. Both were scored by young Scottish international, Eddie Gray, but both were entirely different in their execution.

After only ten minutes, Gray, wearing the unfamiliar number six shirt, moved through the centre circle towards the Kop and spotted Burnley goalkeeper Peter Mellor off his line and produced a stunning chip from forty yards that floated over Mellor’s head and into the net. Burnley drew level after twenty-five minutes when John Faulkner, the former Sutton United centre-half, making his debut, deflected a shot past David Harvey.

However, the United youngsters were not fazed and Gray produced a truly stunning winner on seventy-one minutes. He was hemmed in on the bye-line to the left of the Burnley goal, but twisted and turned into the box, where a posse of defenders were left trailing in his wake by his mesmerising ball skills, before he thundered an angled shot past Mellor. It was an amazing solo effort and was the main topic of conversation the following day as fans queued for FA Cup Final tickets, but they were worth just a fraction of the quality of Gray’s magnificent goals against Burnley.

Who knows with our tricky attacking playes in Saiz, Alioski and Hernandez maybe one of them might try to emulate him tonight?

For match reports on more of Leeds United's Greatest Games check out OzWhites Leeds United F.C. History.

18 Sep 2017 05:35pm, by Shields53

Disappointments in the Championship

Following the disappointing conclusion to last season, Leeds United have bounced back for the 2017-2018 season in the best manner possible. The early signs indicate that the appointment of Thomas Christiansen could be exceedingly fruitful, the 44-year-old has already proved his ability to mold the shrewd signings Victor Orta has made into a competitive and exciting team.

The Whites’ absence from the Premier League has arguably been far longer than many people predicted. One of the most recognised and historically best-supported teams in England have been vying desperately to return to the top flight of English football since the 2003-04 season.

Their agony was worsened having been relegated to League 1 in the 2006-07 campaign, and despite taking three seasons to retain their status as a Championship club, the Peacocks have since failed to return to the splendorous heights of the Premier League. Nonetheless, their efforts have not been devoid of unwavering determination, Leeds have finished in seventh place in the Championship on two separate occasions (2010-11 and most recently 2016-17).

The influence of Gary Monk

Garry Monk’s appointment injected a sense of infectious optimism among the club, a manager who was harshly sacked by Swansea following a period of sustained success and stability in a league that is widely considered the most competitive division in world football.

There was ample cause for positivity, despite enduring four defeats in his first six league games, Garry Monk had successfully managed to overturn his team’s middling form as the Whites began to register victories. Indeed, with only ten games to go it seemed that his side was destined for a play-off place, yet much to the unrelenting disappointment of all those associated with the club they failed to achieve their ambition. Ultimately, two victories in their last ten league games of the season (a run that included four defeats and four draws) saw Leeds squander their playoff place, and hopes of a Premier League return were duly vanquished.

Monk left for Championship rivals Boro, and Chris Wood who amassed a magnificent tally of 30 goals – 27 of which were scored in the Championship equating to over 44% of total of league goals - eventually secured his Premier League move. Despite this perceived adversity, following the loss of two instrumental figures, newly-appointed Thomas Christiansen has adapted effortlessly to life in Yorkshire. Much to the bemusement of several pundits, Leeds currently occupy a superior position compared to twelve months ago.

Terrific start to the new season

Following the initial eight games of the new Championship season, the Whites sit at the top of the table, albeit only on goal difference from Wolves and Cardiff City. The former Apoel manager has orchestrated a productive start to the new campaign, which includes five victories and two draws.

Defensively, Leeds were comparatively compact last season, and they’ve begun the season with supreme defensive quality. In eight games, they’ve only conceded three league goals – despite the departure of Kyle Bartley who returned to Swansea. Also, they’ve registered six clean sheets, the best total in the league. One of these clean sheets was attained during a 5-0 demolition of Burton Albion, one of the teams that hindered their hopes of promotion during the last ten games of last season.

Regarding their transfer business, Rob Green has been replaced by Felix Wiedwald, who is perhaps still yet to prove himself. Another summer signing that has thrived is Pierre-Michel Lasogga. On his very first appearance in English football, the 25-year-old demonstrated his capacity to become Leeds’s talismanic striker with a brace and an assist against Burton. He’s seemingly the perfect replacement for Wood. Another summer addition, Matthew Pennington – who was severely constricted from first-team involvement at Everton – although injured early on remains a great looking prospect for this season.

In straightforward and rather understated terms, everything that could have gone right has gone right for Leeds; the question is whether they possess the depth and the temperament to maintain this form over the duration of the next forty league games. The Leeds faithful are better accustomed than most to comment on the grueling and laborious demands of the Championship. Thus, the significance of fighting until the very end cannot be stressed sufficiently.

While it is far too early in the campaign to preordain this Leeds side for greatness, early indications are unequivocally favorable. The Bookies currently have Christiansen’s side 11/4 for promotion, if they continue to maintain their impressive form, this season could finally conclude their Premier League absence.