Implausible drama and intrigue at Southampton, but at least yesterday it was on the pitch. With 19 minutes remaining, the home side were 3-0 up and seemed to be coasting to a comfortable victory; a quarter of an hour later, they had conceded four and were heading for a ludicrous defeat.
Harry Redknapp denies that Simon Clifford's departure and the subsequent rancour has had an impact on his side, but they collapsed at the slightest prod.
Southampton had not scored three goals in a League game this season, but, aided by the return of Marian Pahars for his first start in 17 months, they had managed that by half-time. Pahars headed the opener after 27 minutes, and by the time he departed with a knee problem in first-half injury time, Nigel Quashie had added a second. Within a few seconds Southampton's captain had made it 3-0 from the penalty spot.
Dennis Wise and Claus Lundekvam departed injured at half-time, but Southampton were still when on top when Paul Butler headed in Garry Kelly's corner after 71 minutes. "We're going to win 4-3" chanted the Leeds fans, and it seemed that Southampton accepted the inevitability of that prediction.
"They got nervy. Who knows why?" said Redknapp. "But the team was still dominating. They didn't start suddenly to hammer us. We had corner after corner and they had four attacks and scored four goals."
Robbie Blake tucked home David Healy's low cross after 77 minutes, and six minutes later Healy converted a penalty. Within another two minutes, Liam Miller had applied the coup de grâce. "We've been waiting for something to trigger this lot into believing how good they are," said Kevin Blackwell, the Leeds manager. If yesterday's improbable comeback doesn't do that, nothing will.Reuse content