One Game at a Time: You're Only Here for the Pasties The Damned United (A) November 11th | PASOTI
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One Game at a Time: You're Only Here for the Pasties The Damned United (A) November 11th

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pafcprogs

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Apr 3, 2008
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One Game at a Time: You’re Only Here for the Pasties

The Damned United (A) November 11th

In a week that saw the launch of a revised Five Year Plan for Argyle that spoke of ambition and desire to become a club that competes at the very least, at the top of the Championship we saw a game that, if nothing else, underscored what progress we have made, but also what we still need to achieve.

The visit of Middlesbrough, last season’s play-off semi-finalists, and led by bundle of fun Michael Carrick, produced a game that was the very definition of pulsating. Argyle, shorn of their two best line leading options were still able to field a full international as their replacement.

Boro, finding their feet after a very poor start, in part too because of their attacking options being removed from the squad pre-season, arrived sporting a similarly young striker leading the line. The irony of course that, had things panned out differently Josh Coburn might well have been sitting the game out, watching his parent club against his loan club.

The match itself, played in conditions that ranged from sublime to Broom-esque by the end, was the very definition of pulsating. An incisive move from Argyle was a good Dieng save, or more tellingly, a good Mumba pass to the tyro Waine, away from seeing Argyle in front.

The equivalent Boro move resulted in their taking the lead, when whatever derivative of the Immutable Law of the Ex that has evolved to cover failed loan signings, resulted in a tidy near post finish by Coburn.

To realise the ambitions of Chairman Simon and his team requires the ability to take some adversity and channel it into a response. It was going behind, and that purple patch that seemed to inspire Argyle to demonstrate that, whatever else we might fear about being competitive in this League, scoring goals, even when shorn of two potent strikers, need not be one of them.

A sweeping crossfield move, with an exquisite dummy included, released Azaz, who place the ball again into the path of Mumba, and needing no second invitation Argyle were level.

Azaz then continued his current high level of form when a Miller/Mumba combination fed him the ball on the edge of the area. His twenty-yard shot was caressed, curving into the side netting of the far post, despite its trajectory starting at least a yard outside of said post. Dieng dived forlornly, but I guess he had to. It made no difference and Morgans goal of the season effort at Ipswich was displaced after only a week.

A half time lead, however, rapidly became a second half deficit as Boro demonstrated their skill. Argyle will be frustrated that the first came from a clumsily conceded penalty when Scarr, attempting to prevent a chance his own loose pass had created, wiped out Greenwood. From the spot Coburns weakish effort was stopped by Cooper, but the rebound ran kindly to leave Coburn with a two yarder with no keeper for his brace. Minutes later Greennwood finished off an incisive move whilst a queue of Argyle subs waited on the halfway line as Schuey went to change the system and wrest back control.

Boro (and based on his post-match comments, their cheerful boss) thought they were on course for a second 3-2 win in Devon in the week. Argyles changes however meant they were still in this, and as torrential rain swept in, so was a free-kick from Morgs. This time Dieng opted not to dive, at least not in time, perhaps distracted by the failed attempt of his central defender to try and clear, and once again the ball nestled in the side netting. Argyle survived a penalty shout against Miller, which cost him his fifth booking, and so he is Morsy’d for the Leeds game, and the game ended honours even.

If competing with Boro is a measure of what this team can already achieve, there is no doubt that the trip to Leeds United and Elland Road, their home for their entire history is one marker of change. It is not just the novelty of the trip there, or the fact that they have, after an iffy start, hit their straps under Daniel Farke, winning at the home of Champions elect Leicester City last week, but also being the only side to have beaten Ipswich so far, leaving them in third place.

Leeds are undoubtedly one of the teams on the fixture list that underscore the difference made by promotion, and as a trip to Greens on Screen will show, it is not a trip Argyle have made with much success over the years, with only five other away fixtures in their history having a worse outcome.

Neither is it, however, as so many clubs seem to think, our cup final. The impressive numbers we will take to Elland Road are a function of what is happening at Home Park, not some adulation of the history of the opponents. What is a badge of honour for Leeds Leicester and Skythampton fans to have made the trek to Home Park, is everyday meat and drink to a fanbase that has taken larger numbers to a lower tier game at Peterborough in its history.

It is also fair to say that until the mid-nineteen sixties the relative merits and successes of the two clubs were pretty much on a par. If either club had then pioneered premium rate call lines ( had they existed) they could have shared the number 0800 10 10 10. Won nothing, won nothing, won nothing.

Both clubs arrived in the League in 1920, United as a result of the collapse through financial mismanagement of their effective predecessor Leeds City. In this case professionalism was the crime as they were found to have made illegal payments to players during World War One. The club, then managed by Herbert Chapman were disbanded. and in fact Elland Road was sold to a club called Yorkshire Amateurs.

United took the place of the Leeds City reserve team in the Midland League, founded after a meeting in the non-conformist Salem Chapel, and funded by a loan from the then Huddersfield chairman, of £35,000, to be repaid when they won promotion. Yorkshire Amateurs stepped aside and allowed the fledgeling club to take over their now spiritual home, and a year later the club were elected to the Football league.

And then, well, meh. A promotion to Division One was short-lived, and the club by and large ticked along in the Second division, with Argyle paths crossing theirs occasionally. One League match pre-war was until the 1940’s the only time we visited Elland Road, and that finished goalless.

In the fifties, despite the presence of the man many regard as the greatest player to have worn the United shirt, John Charles, and who was sold for a record fee at the time to Juventus, the club made little impact on the record books.

In the early sixties the club were back in the Second tier, and it was in this spell that, in 1962/3 Argyle managed their only win at Elland Road, a 3-2 win in a match where the United line was led by a Charlton wearing number nine. Jack Charlton, a youth prospect, scored one of United goals that day, playing as a centre forward.

The manager at this time was one Don Revie. He had become the player manager after relegation to the second tier, when the then Chairman offered after Revie, realising his playing days were soon to end, had asked for a reference to support his application for the vacant Bournemouth and Boscombe job.

It is impossible to understate the importance of Revie to United. His changes were sweeping. He changed the clubs’ colours, which had traditionally been blue and yellow, after Leeds City colours, to the all-white of today, reflecting his admiration of Real Madrid.

Next to go was the old nickname, and the club badge. United were known as the Peacocks, after the pub which faced the ground, the Old Peacock. Revie removed this, and also the Owl on the club badge as, being highly superstitious, he regarded the Owl as unlucky. Wednesday fans may be coming to similar conclusions about this as well. In the bird nickname heavy Championship of today, one would never think of calling Leeds fans peacocks. Partly because of Revie, but in the main because in this case the pea would be silent.

Finally, he cleared out the deadwood and began promoting youth players including the likes of Charlton, Bremner, Sprake, who along with important signings like Bobby Collins and Johnny Giles began to transform the clubs horizons. Promotion and a cup final against Liverpool were followed by a period where Leeds became the dominant side in the First Division.

Revies methods were considered both revolutionary but also on the edge of fair play. He fostered a family spirit in the club, with card and board games sessions for players, and even bingo, but he also ensured they stayed at high quality hotels and took an interest in their personal well being.

He also gave the players detailed dossiers on the opposition, and the side had a hard edge to them. One match at Everton was abandoned for thirty five minutes due to the amount of fouling by both sides, causing the referee to take the players off to cool down. Leeds inherited the nickname “Dirty Leeds”, and whilst their play could be sublime, one match against Southampton featured a seven minute passage of play where no Saints player touched the ball, until Leeds scored in a seven nil romp, the players could, in the vernacular of the day, look after each other.

Revie also tried other elements of gamesmanship. In a match against Torino in Europe, he changed the players numbers in order to try and confuse the Italians. He also ordered the fire brigade to flood the pitch before a Fairs Cup semi-final against Real Zaragoza but to no effect.

United started winning trophies, with the League Cup followed by the Fairs Cup and League title. In the FA Cup, they lost after a replay to Chelsea in 1970 (in a game that if refereed today would have ended six a side), and beat Arsenal in 1972. In 1973, the club looked set to retain the trophy but, despite pundit Brian Clough stating there was no way Sunderland of the Second Division could beat Leeds, an Ian Porterfield goal and a Jim Montgomery super save meant they did precisely that, gaining a winners medal for Mick Horswill who later joined Argyle.

In 1973 Clough demanded Leeds be relegated for their misdemeanours. There was no doubt that the game was more physical and Leeds players have argued that they simply ensured they could not be bullied. Alan Peacock, later to join Argyle said when he joined Leeds in the mid sixties that he was pleased as he would not have to play against them.

Having won the League in 73/4 Revie was appointed England manager. His replacement, somewhat surprisingly, was his arch critic Brian Clough, who in a 44 day reign, alienated the players, telling them they should bin their medals that had been gained by cheating, and spent more in transfer fees than Revie had spent in thirteen years.

Clough was replaced by Jimmy Armfield, and under him they reached the European Cup Final, where Leeds paranoia about European refereeing was confirmed in a one-sided display against Bayern Munich, when a goal was controversially ruled out, and two blatant penalties were denied as Franz Beckenbauer led Bayern Munich too a two-nil victory in Paris. Leeds fans caused huge damage to the stadium as a result, and the zenith of Leeds as a club had, unknowingly to them at the time, almost been reached.

After a reconstruction of the side, and a relegation, the club changed managers with regularity, including running through a number of the ex-stalwarts of Revies side, including Bremner, Clarke and Eddie Gray. Ironically they never tried Jack Charlton, probably the most successful of the side to transition to management, or Giles, who was offered the job prior to Cloughs taking charge, but having accepted, found the offer withdrawn after Bremner, his midfield partner, complained at being excluded from the process and consideration.

The club won their only other title under the dour Howard Wilkinson in 1982, but as results declined he departed, along with youth manager Paul Hart. The even dourer George Graham arrived, but the next telling arrival was David O’Leary, under the Chairmanship of Peter Ridsdale.

O’Leary spent the money Ridsdale raised against future earnings from TV rights and built a team that regularly finished in the top five without ever seriously looking like winning the title. They reached the semi finals of the Champions League, but in the end the financial structure could not survive a slump in form, and successive failure to qualify for the Champions League led to the forced sale of Rio Ferdinand to Manchester United. In the fall out between O’Leary and Ridsdale, the manager was dismissed and Terry Venables appointed.

With continued player sales, Venables was replaced by Peter Reid, and when Ridsdale was ousted as the depth of their financial woes became apparent, presumably for an extended walking holiday, Reid was in charge for a year or so before being replaced by Eddie Gray. As we all know the Riddler and Reid were to reunite at Argyle in similar dire circumstances, where their Leeds experience may actually have been our benefit.

You know your club is in trouble when it is bought by an insolvency practitioner. And that it is even worse when said practitioner Gerald Krasner sells to Ken Bates. After a brush with HMRC the club hit its low point when relegated to, horror of horror, League One. Oh the shame of it.

The club has climbed back, and after an assortment of Italian ownerships of various reliability, appointed Marcello Bielsa, management guru to the likes of Pocchetino and Guardiola, who took the club back to the EPL and built a side that looked on the up.

A disappointing second season saw him replaced by Jesse March, but he was unable to arrest the decline, despite healthy investment in players, and last season saw the club slump back to the Championship.

As a club we have relatively few links through players, other than the dire loanees of Lee Chapman and Jim Beglin, although John Sheridan played for United before falling out with Howard Wilkinson.

Manager wise, apart from Reid, there were also Kevin Blackman, Neil Warnock (because of course) and John Carver, who coached here before heading to Newcastle. Somewhat bizarrely in amongst the Cloughs, Revies, Venables, Bielsas and Allardyces, no-one ever remembers Neil Redfearn, who managed to manage the club four times!

So we take on Leeds,Leeds,Leeds, a club so big they have their own mnemonic slogans, ALAW (All Leeds Aren’t We) and WACCOE ( We are Champions, Champions of Europe ) which other than the Fairs Cup, they aren’t and never have been.

So it’s the Pasty Munchers against the Mighty Whites, a chance to avenge Derek Rickard not getting a famous draw at the Champions ground in 1973, before we can all calm down for an international break (again already??).

The first step on the five year plan.

COYG!!!!!!!!
 
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