Football: Leeds United 0 Derby County 0 - Leeds' lack of firepower exposed
His team had quite a dangerous one until Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink's grubby departure left them with only the lightweight, unproven Michael Bridges and Alan Smith, neither of whom, according to O'Leary, were fully fit.
Leeds missed Hasselbaink's niggly, muscular aggression terribly. Bridges, pounds 5 from Sunderland, but overshadowed last season by Niall Quinn, was a peripheral influence, despite O'Leary's praise for some "lovely touches", while Derby's Spencer Prior and Jacob Laursen had far too much strength and guile for Smith.
It had all began so well. An impressive statue of Billy Bremner was unveiled outside the ground, while inside, in a private ceremony, the old warhorse's ashes were scattered on the Elland Road pitch. Even the cloudy humidity which ensured there would be no traditional first-day- of-the-season sunshine, could not assuage the crowd's not entirely unjustified optimism that O'Leary's young team of great, white-shirted hopes might just be serious title contenders. Then, the match began.
At the end of this mean-spirited, hard-fought dour draw, where Nigel Martyn was simply an interested bystander, the optimism had all but evaporated. "Look," said O'Leary, "people are getting carried away. I don't think even Brian Clough could have won the title in his first year."
So bereft of striking firepower were Leeds that their only real chance was a gift from Derby's dozing Rory Delap, whose sloppy back-pass put Harry Kewell through on Mart Poom. Kewell froze and Poom collected with ease. Derby, often defending with eight men behind the ball, restricted Leeds to long-range drives from Lee Bowyer and the impressive Danny Mills, both of which Poom fumbled, and a crafty Ian Harte free-kick which whistled past the left-hand post.
The Derby manager, Jim Smith, rightly praised his team's "work-rate, endeavour and aggression", before explaining that Dean Sturridge had played with an injured hamstring and had been substituted at half-time for being "frightened". They stuck to their grim task with relish, especially Seth Johnson, a pounds 3m signing from Crewe, whose shocking lunge through Lee Bowyer was the only unquestionable caution in a staccato contest which somehow saw eight.
O'Leary can take heart from Mills's bright debut and a reasonably solid defence. "At least we didn't lose," he shrugged. True, but the lingering suspicion is that his team had lost two points and Derby County had proven one.
Leeds United (4-4-2): Martyn, Mills, Radebe, Woodgate, Harte; Bowyer, Batty, Hopkin, Kewell; Bridges, Smith (McPhail, 52). Substitutes not used: Haaland, Robinson (gk), Hiden, Duberry.
Derby County (5-3-2): Poom; Carbonari, Laursen, Prior, Dorigo, Delap; Powell, Johnson, Eranio (Borbokis, 77); Baiano (Beck, 67), Sturridge (Burton, h-t). Substitutes not used: Schnoor, Hoult (gk).
Referee: G Barber (Tring). Bookings: Leeds: Batty, Kewell, Bowyer. Derby: Dorigo, Johnson, Powell, Delap, Eranio
Man of the match: Mills.
Latest in Sport
A tight game could be in prospect here. Northampton have been keeping things very tight of late and ...
by Gareth Purnell
18 May 2013 02:01 AM
I can’t ever watch games of football or rugby without wistfully wondering what it must be like to be...
by Martin Ayres
16 May 2013 05:10 PM
Since PSG’s exit to Barcelona in the Uefa Champions League quarter-final in April, PSG have been sur...
by Matthew Riding
15 May 2013 02:37 PM
Tears and cheers as David Beckham ends glittering career after helping PSG to final win
Video: Emotional David Beckham leaves the pitch for 'the last time' with PSG
Malaga manager Manuel Pellegrini has pedigree to be success story at Manchester City
Tottenham face nail-biting finish as Arsenal look to secure Champions League place on final day of the Premier League season
Boxing: Carl Froch slams fellow Brits for sparring with Mikkel Kessler
- 1 Heading for America? Prepare for the longest US immigration queues ever
- 2 Notes from a small island: Is Sealand an independent 'micronation' or an illegal fortress?
- 3 You thought Ryanair's attendants had it bad? Wait 'til you hear about their pilots
- 4 'Swivel-gate': Cameron goes to war with press over 'swivel-eyed loons' slur
- 5 It’s official: thanks to Stephen Hawking's Israel boycott, anti-Semitism is no more
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.
£28000 - £31500 per annum + benefits: Randstad Education Newcastle: Permanent ...
£50000 - £58000 per annum + Benefits and Bonus: Progressive Recruitment: SAP F...
£30000 - £40000 per annum + BENS: Progressive Recruitment: Drupal Developer A ...
£45000 - £50000 per annum + bens: Progressive Recruitment: C# WEB DEVELOPER Le...