Despite traveling full of optimism to a side who had won just one of their last 15 league games, are without a manager and have sold their best player this week, Leeds were totally outclassed by a Barnsley side who patently wanted the win more than us.
Neil Warnock once again continued with his tinkering with the side, another seven changes made from the side that drew with Birmingham City in the FA Cup last weekend. Adam Drury was inexplicably dropped for Lee Peltier, Rodolph Austin and Michael Tonge returned to the midfield alongside new signing Ross Barkley. However the team selection left heads being scratched as to what the formation would be, the only certainty that Luciano Becchio would be on his own up front.
With an obvious lack of width, it was clear the tactic was either to play the ball through the middle, or to lump the ball forward, and it was always clear which route Warnock would take. Right from the kick-off Leeds were out fought and out played showing no composure on the ball, no ideas as to what to do with it when they did have it and a distinct lack of passion to compete to win the ball back when they did lash the ball forward.
Leeds should have been at least three goals behind at the break, Paddy Kenny made a couple of decent saves, and the post was hit twice as Barnsley ran rings round us. When Marlon Harewood is looking like a world-beater you know you are in trouble and Jason Pearce and Alan Tate were struggling to contain him.
When the manager is making another two substitutions at half time its pretty clear that he had got his initial selection wrong once again, Paul Green replacing David Norris and Ross McCormack coming on for El-Hadji Diouf. Initially it was a little better, McCormack at least getting on the ball and trying to play and Barkley working hard to get things going. The loanee looked the most likely to kick start United, hitting a shot wide before getting on the end of a Becchio knock down and crashing an effort against the crossbar.
Minutes later though Barnsley were in front when Dagnall was brought down inside the area by Sam Byram, the striker picking himself up to send Paddy Kenny the wrong way. A couple of minutes later the game was up when Harewood and Dagnall combined inside the area, Dagnall arrowing a strike across Kenny to double the lead.
The rest of the game meandered to it’s inevitable conclusion with the 5000 Leeds supporters in the crowd venting their anger not only at the team but also with the first real sign of mass dissent at the manager.
With a cup replay on Tuesday, there is little time for there to be a major turnaround in confidence and pattern of play and it is difficult to see where we go from here. One thing is for certain it will not be upwards to the Premier League.