Tag Leeds United

Tag Leeds United

Old rivals and new faces for Leeds tie

September 20, 2011 Tags: , Matches 107 comments

Manchester United visit Elland Road for the first time in eight years on Tuesday night, with Sir Alex Ferguson set to ring the changes for the Carling Cup third round tie with Leeds United. Yet, with so many young faces in the Scot’s first team it is Ferguson’s older hands that be asked to impress. And as well as local rivalry, the Reds have a minor right to wrong, with Leeds having emerged victorious from an FA Cup fixture at Old Trafford 18 months ago. A similar result is unthinkable for the 5,000 Reds expected at Elland Road.

In addition to familiar faces, such as Dimitar Berbatov, Park Ji-Sung and Michael Owen, Ferguson is expected to hand young Frenchman Paul Pogba a first start for United. The impressive midfielder led United’s Academy side to FA Youth Cup glory last season and the Scot expects to fast-track the talented teen into the first team picture this season.

Pogba missed United’s reserve win over Rochdale last week, and the Premier League fixture with Chelsea, but Ferguson expects to start the 18-year-old in the hostile Elland Road atmosphere. The début will vindicate Ferguson’s decision to retain Pogba at Old Trafford this season despite widespread interest from Championship clubs in a loan deal.

“He’s got a slight injury, it’s not too bad, though. So he wasn’t available for Sunday but he should be able to play on Tuesday and I intend to play him against Leeds United,” said Ferguson.

“It’s more difficult to loan a boy of 18 who’s come from France. We prefer to keep him with us until we find he’s mature enough to possibly go on loan. Maybe next year that could be an option but we’re definitely expecting him this season to stay with Manchester United.”

Leeds United versus Manchester United, Carling Cup, Ellend Road, 7.45pm, 20 September 2011.Ferguson has also included Tom Thorpe, Larnell Cole and Reese Brown from United’s reserve team in the squad to face Leeds but established first team player Michael Carrick believes the deep squad resources now at the Scot’s disposal mean that a more experienced side than many expected may turn out.

“The squad is so strong it has tended to be the younger lads that have played in recent weeks and they’ve done really well,” Carrick told MUTV.

“The team changed for Benfica but the experience that came in was something we have not seen for a while. We are well aware of what Leeds means. [It’s a big game] because of the fans and the rivalry over the years. I am sure the manager will pick a strong team. I’m guessing it will be a full house. It will be a nice hot atmosphere. It‘s not like there is a team for this or a team for that: whoever comes in isn’t going to weaken the team in any way. They just offer something different. It is a great option for the manager to have.

“Paul [Pogba] is a huge talent. He has trained with us a number of times, so we have seen quite a lot of him and he looks very promising. If he goes about things in the right way and gets a little bit of luck at the right time, he is going to have a bright future.”

Of those younger players who feature tonight veteran Ryan Giggs says it is not the talent but the attitude that will dictate whether the kids become United legends or a footnote in history. Indeed, under Ferguson’s stewardship players with, arguably, limited natural talent but huge desire have played hundreds of games for the club. For Thorpe, Brown, Pogba and Keane tonight is perhaps the first test of many to come.

“There are young players coming through at United but this is an important part of their career,” says the Welsh legend, now in his 21st season as a pro with United.

“When you look at the lads who came through in my age group, then those who followed – Wes Brown and John O’Shea, for instance – when they got their chance, they took it. Once you hit 17, 18 and 19, that is what you have to do. It doesn’t matter whether it is if you get a chance to train with the first team, or in a match as a substitute, you need to make an impact. You need to force the manager not leave you out of the next game. The majority have the quality. That is not really in doubt. The question is, do they have the desire and appetite to take it up a step more?”

There is little more incentive than an away fixture at Leeds, with whom the rivalry burns strong despite the Whites’ seven-year exile from the Premier League. For those youngsters blooded at Elland Road an intense atmosphere awaits, with Leeds supporters still celebrating the club’s FA Cup victory over United in January 2010. It is a rivalry as intense as any in the country.

Meanwhile, Leeds manager Simon Grayson is without defender Patrick Kisnorbo, who serves a one-match ban following his sending off against Bristol City. Grayson faces a major dilemma over his team selection, with a top-of-the-table clash against Brighton and Hove Albion in the Championship on Friday.

However, United’s outstanding recent record in the Carling Cup – winners in 2006, 2009 and 2010 – and strong starting line-up ensures the Reds start strong favourites to win. Yet, there is also a lesson in history: Coventry City became the last club from outside the top flight to knock United out of the Carling Cup in November 2007. Few anticipate a similar result Tuesday night.

Match Facts
Leeds United versus Manchester United, Carling Cup, Ellend Road, 7.45pm, 20 September 2011.

Likely Line-ups
Leeds (4-4-2): Lonergan; Connolly, White, O’Dea, Lees; Howson, Clayton, Nunez, Snodgrass; Keogh, McCormack. Subs from:
Rachubka, Bromby, Brown, Becchio, Forssell, Sam, Taylor, Bruce, O’Brien.

United (4-4-2): Lindegaard; Brown, Evans, Jones, Fabio; Valencia, Fletcher, Pogba, Park; Owen, Berbatov. Subs from: de Gea, Amos, Smalling, Ferdinand, Jones, Giggs, Evans, Diouf, Nani, Carrick, Anderson, Young, Rooney, Hernandez, Macheda, Thorpe, Fryers, Cole, Keane.

Leeds: DWLWW
United: WWWDW

Referee: Mike Jones (Chester)

Leeds expose United’s midfield frailties

January 4, 2010 Tags: , Matches 3 comments

This one hurt. While both sets of fans were up for a renewal of hostilities with the club’s Yorkshire rivals – delivering an electric atmosphere at OT – only Leeds rose to the occasion on the pitch, securing a famous victory that saw United dumped out of the FA Cup at the third-round stage for the first time in a quarter of a century.

The pivotal moment arrived in the 19th minute when Leeds’ in-form striker Jermaine Beckford gave Wes Brown the slip to slot in the only goal of the game from a tight angle.

This should have been a wake-up call but United were unable to move up the gears. They had enough chances to win the game – Wayne Rooney was unusually profligate in front of goal – but it was Leeds who came closest to scoring in the second half. Substitute Robert Snodgrass saw a freekick clatter against Tomasz Kuszczack’s cross bar and Beckford came close with a strike that flashed wide.

“They had a far bigger appetite for the game than us,” admitted Fergie, adding that he was “shocked” at the performance.

In hindsight, this was a difficult game for Fergie to call. Leeds may be two divisions below United but they are a team full of confidence and well-used to the type of feisty encounter that this game inevitably became.

But Fergie’s starting XI left United toothless in midfield. Gabriel Obertan, Darron Gibson, Anderson and Danny Welbeck is not a midfield quartet to strike fear into the heart of a visiting team, and an energetic Leeds side were snapping at their heels all afternoon.

Welbeck appeared out of position on the left and Obertan fared little better on the opposite flank. Meanwhile, in the centre of the park, Gibson had a day to forget, miscuing a number of passes in the final third, while Anderson was mostly anonymous and eventually sacrificed for Michael Owen in the second half as United chased the game.

Fergie seems unsure of his best midfield right now, as he has been all season, but this certainly wasn’t it. Darren Fletcher’s industry and Michael Carrick’s precision were sorely missed, and Ryan Giggs – a second half replacement for Obertan – was not allowed the time or space to make a difference.

There were also problems defensively where Jonny Evans and Wes Brown – the latter added to the team sheet last minute after Nemanja Vidic pulled up in the warm up – were given a torrid time by Beckford’s pace. Elsewhere, Gary Neville was erratic and Fabio da Silva, at left back, was unable to provide the attacking threat usually supplied by the absent Patrice Evra.

Pundits made much of the fact that this was the 100th consecutive game in which Fergie has named a different starting XI. This run began in May 2008 and United have bagged plenty of silverware in the meantime – but squad rotation can always go wrong, and it did on Sunday.

“I didn’t expect that performance, it was shocking. I’ve no complaints about the result,” Ferguson told MUTV.

“Leeds deserved to win. They got breaks at times but deserved their luck – I’m disappointed.

“We did speak about Beckford’s pace up front. We were caught napping really, it was a bad goal for us to lose. The whole performance in the first half was bad. We never got going and the quality of the passing… the whole performance was just bad.

“I don’t think any of the players can say they had a good day. Maybe only [substitute Antonio] Valencia, when he came on, can say that. Even then it took us about 10 minutes to get the ball to him.

“You expect us to get a goal at Old Trafford and the intensity of our game improved a little bit in the second half. We had a lot of chances in the box but on the day we didn’t take them.”

The visitors did and it could be some time before United has the opportunity to avenge this defeat while Leeds will no doubt be dining out on the result for many years to come.

However, United face more immediate concerns in the shape of the League cup semi-final against City, with the first leg starting on Wednesday. This is surely now a “must win” to avoid the ignominy of another cup exit at the hands of a bitter rival.

Youth can wait with Leeds in town

January 2, 2010 Tags: , Matches 5 comments

Sir Alex Ferguson will deploy a full-strength side as Leeds United arrive in Manchester for the FA Cup third round tomorrow. The Scot will roll out the big guns for the arrival of the League One leaders from across the Pennines in the most anticipated match between the clubs since Leeds’ relegation from the Premier League in 2004.

Ferguson, who is likely to use youth and fringe players in the Carling Cup against Manchester City midweek, will offer the FA Cup the respect it deserves as United look to dump Leeds out of the competition. With the Scot’s defensive injury crisis now abating, United will again deploy Nemanja Vidic and Wes Brown in central defense ahead of Tomasz Kuszack in goal. Fit-again Gary Neville may come in for Rafael da Silva at right-back despite the Brazilian’s outstanding display against Wigan Athletic last weekend.

In midfield Ferguson may opt to bring in one of Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs or Anderson, each of whom missed out against Wigan, while Michael Owen or Dimitar Berbatov will partner the effervescent Wayne Rooney in attack.

It is almost six years since the Yorkshire side last featured at Old Trafford following successive relegations from the Premier League and Championship. But with more than 9,000 Leeds supporters expected in Manchester the tie will be as intense as matches between the sides prior to Leeds’ financial implosion. It is a fact recognised by United’s Scottish midfield general, Darren Fletcher, who will start the match in central midfield on Sunday.

“You do try and stay focused and treat it like any other game but the atmosphere brings it to a point where it can’t happen,” said Fletcher.

“You realise how much it means to the fans because of bragging rights and past rivalries.

“The atmosphere builds up around the ground and you just sense it is not a normal match – and cup tie atmospheres tend to lend themselves to a more frenetic pace at the best of times.”

“You hear about the rivalries with Liverpool and Manchester City but the Leeds one is just as big. The fans sing songs about it. Having played in a couple of the games I can testify as to how fierce it is.”

Despite Leeds’ lengthy absence from top-flight the club still garners the support of more than 30,000 United-hating fans each week, many of whom will make the trek over the Pennines for the match. While the club continues to recover from the £100 million debt-fueled ‘dream’ chased by former Managing Director Peter Ridsdale, the tie provides a taste of the big time that younger supporters will now barely remember.

“I was quite surprised at the intensity of the Leeds games when I first came down here. I didn’t know where they came from,” Ferguson said of the rivalry.

“It emanated from the 1960s when Denis Law used to cause all those problems, punching players. There was that great photograph of Denis with Jack Charlton, Denis’ strip is ripped right off him and they are all piling in.

“So obviously there was some intense feeling back then and I used to say to the players to make sure we behave properly on the pitch. We don’t need to add to the problems and the police obviously had a difficult day.”

A comfortable win for the home side Sunday lunchtime will do much to diffuse any tension.

FA Cup pairs United with Leeds

November 29, 2009 Tags: , Shorts 7 comments

Manchester United may face Leeds United in the FA Cup third round at Old Trafford following today’s draw. Sir Alex Ferguson’s men will play their great rivals from across the Pennines if Leeds overcome Kettering in a second round replay. The sides have not played since a 2003 Premier League draw at Old Trafford – Leeds relegation season.

Should Leeds win its replay the sides are likely to meet on Sunday 3rd January with a full FA Cup ticket allocation offered to the visiting side. Ready your Eric Cantona masks and velcro gloves now!


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