John Carver is only Leeds' caretaker-manager for now but he made it clear after this much-needed victory that chairman Ken Bates has faith in him. "He's given me carte blanche. He's had nothing to do with team selection," Carver said.
That last sentence is significant because Carver has already made it clear that his football philosophy is markedly different to Kevin Blackwell's cautious approach. That will please Bates, who sacked Blackwell last week, as he welcomes the regular use of 4-4-2 that Carver prefers.
This display was as far removed from some of the dull days of Blackwell's 4-5-1 system as is realistically imaginable. A team that had not scored in open play for six games were suddenly carving open a side that were setting the pace, along with Cardiff City, at the top of the Championship. Birmingham looked overwhelmed at times in the initial stages.
Leeds' key player, David Healy, who scored twice, appeared liberated by Carver's gung-ho attitude as he left Birmingham's defenders disorientated with his sharp movements and quick feet.
However, it was Healy's fellow Northern Ireland international Damien Johnson, who ultimately cost Steve Bruce's side the match, striking Ian Westlake after a tussle and being sent off, just when the visitors were dominating.
Bruce accepted that discipline is turning into a major concern for Birmingham. "They're young and they're hungry and they're naive at times," he said.
Nicklas Bendtner equalised three minutes after Johnson's departure but the numerical disadvantage worked against Birmingham and Olivier Tebily's panicky headed own goal in the 85th minute ended their hopes.
Goals: Healy (6) 1-0; Warner og (13) 1-1; Healy (15) 2-1; Bendtner (74) 2-2; Tebily og (85) 3-2.
Leeds United (4-4-2): Warner; Kelly, Butler, Kilgallon, Crainey; Derry (Stone, 81), Nicholls, Douglas, Lewis (Westlake, 67); Healy, Horsfield (Moore, 77). Substitutes not used: Sullivan (gk), Foxe.
Birmingham City (4-4-2): Maik Taylor; Johnson, Jaidi, Martin Taylor (Tebily, 51), Painter; Danns, Dunn, Nafti (Larsson, 68), McSheffrey; Campbell (Jerome, 83), Bendtner. Substitutes not used: Doyle (gk), Forssell.
Referee: S Tanner (Somerset).
Booked: Leeds Derry; Birmingham Painter, Campbell, Dunn.
Sent off: Johnson (71).
Man of the match: Healy.
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