Football: Graham has more surgery to perform

Coventry City 0 Leeds United 0

Coventry City 0 Leeds United 0

The verdicts seemed to be contradictory. Gary McAllister sensed that Leeds still have some way to go to reach the standards Elland Road expects, whereas George Graham detected a great improvement on their demise at Coventry in his first match in charge.

In fact, the Scots both had a point, which was as much as could be said for either side after a barren stalemate. On one of those rare Premiership days when the managers and captains were all from north of the border, Coventry and Leeds failed to set the heather alight at Highfield Road.

That was always going to be as difficult in figurative terms as it would have been literally; the surface was so slippery from a pre-match watering that the players often resembled clog dancers on ice. But while Gordon Strachan felt a draw reflected credit on his makeshift Coventry team, Graham saw Leeds' failure to maintain the pressure on the 40-year-old Steve Ogrizovic as an opportunity missed.

Hard as the Sky Blues' manager may strive to change the culture of settling for survival, he knows that all connected with Coventry would regard a 32nd consecutive season among the elite as an achievement. Graham, in contrast, is under no illusions that a Leeds public spoiled by the championship to which McAllister and Strachan contributed so stylishly demand more.

Although patience is a virtue they acknowledge grudgingly, Graham claims his inheritance (from Howard Wilkinson) necessitated more protracted rebuilding than he anticipated. "A lot of surgery had to be done," the Leeds manager said pointedly. "But we've got a wonderful team spirit now. That was a big improvement on the same game a year ago."

McAllister agreed that Leeds were a different proposition from the side Coventry beat twice last season, but questioned whether they were ready to challenge again. "It's going to take time - they've made massive changes. You can see the George Graham influence and they'll be very difficult to beat. But they don't throw men forward like, say, Chelsea would have."

Graham's need to recruit half a team for what it cost to buy Gianfranco Zola - allied, one suspects, to a Lanarkshire man's innate reluctance to throw money around like Ruud Gullit - led him to gamble pounds 2m on Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink. The Surinam-born striker sent a free header against the bar early on, beating Ogrizovic for the only time in his club record- breaking 488th match, and has not scored since the season's opening day.

Without a midfielder of McAllister's cunning to exploit his eager running and clever touches, Hasselbaink's frustration is likely to continue. He looked forlorn by the time he trudged off at the bench's behest for, while David Hopkin is growing in authority, his passing lacks the range and precision of his national captain.

McAllister, who was moronically boed by many of his former fans, and Hopkin, setting aside their date with World Cup destiny when Scotland face Latvia, tangled several times. Once, when the Coventry man crumpled faster than Tony Banks' credibility after his compatriot accidentally caught him in the face, he leapt up like Lazarus on speed. "I didn't want my fellow Scot sent off," he reasoned with a grin. "If it'd been someone else I might've stayed down."

Coventry City (3-5-2): Ogrizovic; Shaw, Breen, Burrows; Boland, Soltvedt, McAllister, O'Neill (Ducros, 25; Haworth, 84), Nilsson; Dublin, Salako. Substitutes not used: Johansen, Gavin Strachan, Hedman (gk).

Leeds United (4-4-2): Martyn; Halle, Radebe, Wetherall, Robertson; Kelly, Haland, Hopkin, Ribeiro; Hasselbaink (Lilley, 84), Wallace. Substitutes not used: Harte, Gray, Bowyer, Beeney (gk).

Referee: A Wilkie (Chester-le-Street).

Bookings: Coventry Breen. Leeds Wallace, Radebe, Hasselbaink.

Man of the match: Ogrizovic.

Attendance: 17,770.

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
News
news
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
New Articles
i100... with this review
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Sport
footballTim Sherwood: This might be th match to wake up Manchester City
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
New Articles
i100
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
News
Blahnik says: 'I think I understand the English more than they do themselves'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey
TVInside Downton Abbey series 5
Life and Style
The term 'normcore' was given the oxygen of publicity by New York magazine during the autumn/winter shows in Paris in February
fashionWhen is a trend a non-trend? When it's Normcore, since you ask
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Research Manager - Quantitative/Qualitative

£32000 - £42000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam