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Clarkyboys Comments - Where the Hell Did That Come From

4-0 home wins, Leeds playing sublime football, three centre backs, flying wingbacks and a giant striker banging in goals - It's certainly been a strange week at Elland Road. Stephen Clark expands on a surreal Sunday at Elland Road. And on the subject of unexpected things, he has a revisionist look at England's newest superstar.

Il Gigante Buono Lite makes it 3-0 and ends a superb 45 minutes
Il Gigante Buono Lite makes it 3-0 and ends a superb 45 minutes
Nigel Roddis

The events of Sunday afternoon at Elland Road have slightly stolen my thunder this week as I was about to launch into a rant regarding the ridiculous tales of "pressure" being on Brian McDermott after a couple of less than impressive performances.

However, given a little time to work with the team away from the grind of three games a week, McDermott showed that he is capable of making a decent fist at turning a sows ear into a silk purse, once again having the Elland Road crowd chanting his name. Although there were some players brought in by Neil Warnock in the side, the majority of those were either McDermott signings or had been at the club before Colin was given his year in charge.

From back to front Leeds were massively impressive. Paddy Kenny was solid in goal, producing a couple of decent saves. The back three were superb. Scott Wooton is the quiet defender that you barely notice is there, doing everything required coolly and calmly. Tom Lees looked the best he has for ages, producing a superb headed clearance and capably looking after our nemesis Nicola Zigic. Most impressive of all was Jason Pearce who looked composed and difficult to pass, rather than the nervous wreck who had a total inability to pass that we had become familiar with.

The midfield offered great hope for the future. Luke Murphy had his best game in a white shirt. After a difficult start, where he may have been burdened by the £1m transfer fee, the time away from the spotlight appears to have done him the world of good. On Sunday he showed what he can be, the type of gliding midfielder who will keep the ball moving with either short or long passes. Alongside him was the shining light that is Alex Mowatt. The youngster reminds me of Neil Kilkenny in the way that he is always demanding the ball, but offers so much more in terms of using possession once he gets it. The cross for United's 4th goal was a moment of sheer class.

In front of those two, Rodolph Austin was at his rampaging best. The experiment as a holding player and as a wideman should be discarded for good. The Jamaican roamed around the field, hunting down Birmingham when they were in possession then driving forward when Leeds had the ball. His commitment to get into the area after spraying an accurate (for once!) ball out to Mccormack on the left was richly rewarded with his superb header to put Leeds 2-0 up.

With funds tight to bring in the winger we have been crying out for, McDermott was much more resourceful, pushing forward the full backs. Stephen Warnock has always been impressive going forward, but with Sam Byram back in the fold we now had options on either flank. The youngster was superb, causing problems from the word go and enhancing his growing reputation in front of a watching nation.

With the bullets being supplied it was time for the strikers to step up. Ross McCormack was impressive in all aspects bar the one that counts, finishing. In chances where he had time to think he was wasteful, three time shooting straight at the keeper, fortunate that Matt Smith was on hand to tap in the rebound from one of them. However when it came to an instinctive strike, McCormack showed his class, cleverly lifting the ball over the defence into an empty net when Darren Randolph handed him the opportunity to open the scoring.

The biggest surprise on a day full of them was the performance of the aforementioned Smith. "Il Gigante Buono Lite" as he has been superbly named on Twitter by @ephemeraljoy because of his passable likeness to the great John Charles, produced a superb display as the target man. Good in the air, surprisingly good on the ground and showing an ability to finish which many thought was beyond him, the summer freebie from Oldham ended talk of signing a new striker for an hour or so at least.

Leaving the ground, I crossed paths with Peter Lorimer (CLANG!) and asked him the question that I'm sure was on everyones lips as we watched the game. Were Birmingham just crap or had we made them look that bad. He said it was us that were that good, and in part I agree with him. However there can be no doubt that in the first half we were treated to the most inept defensive display I have ever had the good fortune to watch. The giant number six, Dan Burn was hopeless at best, but Leeds deserve full credit for being able to constantly put him and his colleagues at the back under constant pressure. Let's hope its a sign of things to come.


Talking of where the hell did that come from, there can not be any Leeds fans who expected to see Andros Townsend become the hero of English football with his displays in the last two World Cup qualifiers at Wembley. Those of us that witnessed him in the White shirt of Leeds would never have believed that he would ever wear the white shirt of England, never mind pick up a man of the match award and become the next big thing (unless that thing was his forehead!)

However was he quite that bad? He was man of the match in his first game against Burnley, assisting in the dramatic late winner with a long range shot, and he scored against Doncaster. Was it the way that he left that has soured our memories of him?

As we all know he packed his bags and left for Birmingham once Neil Warnock arrived, without really saying why, just that he was unhappy at Leeds. It's that feeling of rejection that hurt us all, moving to another Championship club obviously a step down in our opinion.

As it turns out he may have been a good judge of character. Who amongst us now would not think about walking away from the club knowing that Neil Warnock was going to be in charge? Townsend obviously has the gift of foresight in that huge forehead and knew that if he had stayed at Elland Road he would be entering football purgatory. Maybe just maybe he was ok all along, after all being shunned by Neil Warnock hasn't done Ross Barkley any harm!