The atmosphere was electric for the Yorkshire derby at Elland Road on Saturday and I was lucky enough to share the experience with a few of the old Leeds and Sheffield Wednesday players.
It's days like that when it really brings home how much you miss playing professional football. The whole day, a local derby and a massive three points to play for are what many others and I grew up dreaming of.
Again, Carlos Carvalhal tinkered with his starting line up and on a cold, blustery day the two teams went into battle. To be honest, the conditions didn’t lend itself to it being a football spectacle and it most certainly wasn’t, but it was a good, hard-fought match by two bitter rivals in front of a sell-out crowd.
Looking back on the game, I don’t think either side created a lot in terms of chances. The goal we conceded was nothing short of calamitous really. There were a number of bad decisions made by the players and I am sure the ones involved are pretty annoyed with themselves about what happened. I felt we improved in the second half, we had more possession and it was good to see us play further up the pitch but, again, I felt we lacked ideas in the final third. This is something that a few people have touched on and I have to agree with them. I would love to see us get down the sides of opponents penalty areas more, put early crosses into that space between the back four and the keeper and get the strikers attacking an early ball across defenders.
The penalty would obviously have changed the game for us but it was a very good save by Leeds keeper Rob Green and you will never hear me criticise any player for stepping up to take a spot kick. I only did it once, it was in a penalty shoot out and you most definitely have to be of a certain mind-set to do that on a regular basis. It takes plenty of mental courage to take that responsibility and I felt for Rhodes when it was saved, you could see how much it hurt him. Some people will give opinions on good and bad penalties, but to me it is easy, if it goes in it’s a good one, if it doesn’t then its not.
Overall, I didn’t think there was a lot between the teams and I felt it could be simply summed up with Leeds defended better than us on the day. That to me was the difference.
Luckily the teams around us didn’t win and so we came out of it relatively secure and still in sixth spot. When you look at the run of fixtures coming up, every game is vital. At this stage of the season they seem to be bigger than just the three points available but everyone will be looking for a positive reaction on Saturday when the visitors are my other old club Norwich City. They seem to have turned a bit of a corner lately and I am sure will come to Hillsborough on Saturday confident of getting something, what better game would there be for Carlos and his players to send out a really positive statement with a good performance and a vital three points?
Slightly further afield, the talk of the nation for the last week or so has been the decision by Leicester City owners to relinquish Claudio Ranieri of his managerial duties some eight or nine months after he and his players had done the unthinkable of winning the Premier League title. Every TV or radio show, newspaper back pages are covered in the opinions of whether it was the right or wrong thing to do.
I’m not going to touch on that, ‘the proof is in the pudding’ as they say and only time will tell if it was the correct decision. What has amazed me are some of what seem like, automatic conclusions that have been drawn surrounding that very decision. It seems that the owners requested a meeting with some of the more experienced players. As a player you would be impelled to attend this meeting and answer any questions put before you.
As of yet, I am unaware that the transcript of this meeting has been made public but what I did think was completely wrong, and out of order, was for the owners to then make the meeting public and in my opinion, try and harness some of the blame for the decision on those very players that they had spoken with.
Now, if it comes to light that the players didn’t defend Mr Ranieri in any way, then they would have done him a massive disservice and should be rightly pilloried from all quarters. Until we know what was actually said I really don’t think you can just assume the players opinions led to his sacking. I mean, who is to say that the meeting was some part of a pre-planned way for the owners to take less heat from the decision that they eventually came to?
Jon Newsome is the owner of prestige, sports and performance cars specialists, Automarques Unit 1, Old Barracks, Sheffield. S2 4EE