I’m a little bit afraid. There is something not quite right at Elland Road at the moment. I’m not sure if it was the cold yesterday, and I was maybe hallucinating from the blood freezing in my body but it appeared to me that we absolutely played Queens Park Rangers, runaway league leaders a month or so ago, off the park.
Let’s be honest, after that defeat against Cardiff back in October, we would have taken a 1 match unbeaten run, never mind the nine games that we have strung together. What is even sweeter though is the way the team, now that Larry has stopped tinkering have grown into a really strong, attacking outfit.
The game against QPR was the first time we have put together a 90 minute display, and following on from the fantastic 45 at Burnley we were simply too good for Neil Warnocks team. From goalkeeper to striker Leeds out fought, out thought and out played their opponents.
One of the most pleasing things about yesterday was the defensive performance. Andy O’Brien was again missing, and things could have looked bleak with the departure of Alex Bruce early on but Leigh Bromby, who has hardly had a look in all season stepped in and was immense. He is a far better centre back than full back, and his performance gives Grayson a pleasant headache, in an area which had previously been an area of concern.
The performances of Paul Connolly have been steadily improving and his link up down the right just gets better and better. He has become a real strength and a better performance from George McCartney saw the entire back four contribute to the game. The intelligence of McCartney to see the space for Gradel to run into for the second goal was a real piece of quality.
The midfield has been much talked about in recent weeks, but we have now found a settled unit. Neil Kilkenny was the weakest link in there again yesterday, but he did at least show a bit of bottle and got stuck in to a couple of tackles. What annoyed most yesterday was his inability to admit when he made a mistake. Whenever a pass went astray, he blamed the guy who his wayward ball did not reach. A bit of humility is required from the Aussie.
Bradley Johnson was a real force in the midfield, and he needs to perform like this more often. In my opinion the club should be making an offer dependent on our status next year. This position is a real area of concern as there is not another player in the club at the present time who can fulfill this enforcer role.
Snoddy and Max on the wings were a real menace. There is no doubt that Snoddy is really finding his form after his pre-season injury and the way he turned the full back inside out for the opening goal was sheer class. Gradel was his usual all action self, and his willingness to do the dirty work and tackle back that makes him such an asset. His two goals were just reward, and his confidence was there for all to see with his run and finish for the decisive second goal.
Last word goes to Becchio. He had one of those games where a lot of things bounced off him but he still manged to force two outstanding saves from Paddy Kenny. He is such a threat at the moment, that he takes two men to mark him and creates the space for the likes of Howson, Gradel and Snoddy to capitalise on. The news that he had signed his contract topped off another perfect day.
So 2nd in the league at Christmas and 38 points in the bag. We have an eight point cushion now to 7th place. Even a return of a win every other game would see us get 74 points and that is generally enough to get into the playoffs. Should we be aiming higher? There seems no reason why not, but our next game will be a massive indicator of how far we have come. Just three months ago Leicester gave us a footballing lesson, and coming off the back of a thrashing last night at Ipswich they will be a dangerous proposition. But its Christmas and lets bask in our success for now. Merry Christmas.