Why can’t Leeds close out a lead?

24 Nov 2014 03:03 pm, by YorkshireSquare

Leeds United seem to have a bit of a problem this season, holding onto a first half lead and closing out the game. I think the modern term is ‘poor game management’. So far against Rotherham, Wolves and now Blackburn we have thrown away a winning position at the break and handed all three points to the opposition. Against Charlton we gave away a first half lead, went ahead again only to concede on 81 minutes to share the points. At Bradford we took the lead on 81 minutes only to get knocked out of the cup four minutes later.

In the ten games so far this season we have taken the lead we have only gone on to win 50% of those games. Had we converted those leads into victories we would have got through to the third round of the FA Cup and have 31 points in the league, sitting in a dizzying fifth spot. As it stands we are on 18 points, only two points off the relegation places. But why do we seem to have this tendency to give up our lead and is it really an issue?

There had been cause the blame the manager and the system we played. Under Hockaday there was plenty of sideways football and a certain reluctance to get out of our own half, you are always going to invite pressure from the opposition when you play like that. Then again under Hocaday we didn’t so much give the lead away as never even take the lead. Milanic was the biggest culprit at giving away leads, we had been warned that he played a ‘negative’ style but that was most on show in the Rotherham and Wolves games. After taking a first half lead we seemed to sit back and rest on our laurels in the second half which could only lead to one result.

When Redfearn got the job on a permanent basis I had hoped we would see an end to these second half performances where we back off and let the opposition come back at us. After all when he was at the helm on a temporary basis we converted loosing positions at half time against Birmingham and Bournemouth into a draw and a win. So were Redfearn’s tactics on Saturday wrong or was it just down to the players?

They seemed to panic, both defensively and going forward. When Blackburn attacked the players made rash choices and didn’t clear the lines effectively and we saw the mix up between Cooper and Silvestri which lead to the equaliser. We were still in the game though, still got our chances on the break but again we lacked composure, Doukara didn’t hold the ball up and was hasty with his passing. Antenucci and Adryan both had chances to score but both lacked a little composure when the pressure was on.

I don’t think I can blame Redfearn’s tactics, a freak mix-up and a dive gifted Blackburn their two goals and though they certainly increased the pressure in the second half without those two incidents I feel we could have kept them at bay. Perhaps the players have just been conditioned to panic in these situations by the coaching of Hockaday and Milanic and the two weeks Redfearn has had with them over the international break is not long enough to give them back the confidence they need.

Do we need to worry? Probably not, after all for the vast majority we competed well with a team in the play-off places ad you could say we deserved to win the game. Confidence and composure is what we need and I faith in Redfearn to restore that within the squad. One thing you can say about this bunch of players is that they genuinely seem to care, which is not necessarily true of some Leeds teams over the past few years.

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