What The Locals Say.........
Problems continue to pile up for beleaguered Leeds United manager Peter Reid as the club ended one of the worst weeks in its history with a walloping, a bust-up and bottom place in the Premiership.
Leicester's defeat of Blackburn yesterday saw United slump to the foot of the table following their 4-1 home defeat against leaders Arsenal on Saturday. That loss may have been expected but Reid could have done without a row with moody striker Mark Viduka.
The Aussie was dropped for disciplinary reasons - reputedly being late for training and the pre-match meeting. Reports were rife that he left the ground 30 minutes before kick-off but returned before the match started.
"It is not nice to do but it was necessary," said Reid. "We are going to keep things in-house. I like doing this in private and I have to make those decisions."
Boss Reid has not seen eye-to-eye much this season with the man whose end-of-season goals bailed the club out of trouble.
Viduka's latest snub to authority is likely to hasten his exit from the club when the transfer window re-opens in January.
Viduka's absence had little to do with the result as Arsenal struck with the venom of a cobra to tear the Leeds defence apart on the counter-attack. At the hub of the Gunners' display was two-goal magician Thierry Henry, whose power, pace and precision unpicked the home defence at will.
Although Reid had briefed his players about Arsenal's lightning breaks, his side simply were not good enough to cope with them.
Henry expertly converted Ashley Cole's long pass after just eight minutes, Robert Pires doubled the lead after defence was turned to attack in the blink on an eye, then Henry knocked in the third after Dennis Bergkamp's shot came back off Paul Robinson's right-hand post.
When Gilberto side-footed in the fourth on 50 minutes Leeds could have collapsed totally.
But the home fans boomed out their encouragement and United, whose spirit never wavered, pulled a goal back just after an hour when Alan Smith flicked in teenage sub Aaron Lennon's cross from the left.
Smith then hit the bar, but by then Arsenal were in cruise control and wasted three late chances to have made the scoreline - the same as last season - more embarrassing.
Before the game, Reid had revealed he believed Leeds' next three matches - Portsmouth (away), Bolton (home) and Charlton (away) - would decide his future. So he must have been encouraged to hear his name being chanted by fans even when his team were 4-0 down.
Expectancy levels among Leeds supporters does appear to be realistic with Premiership survival seen as a real achievement for a club sinking in a quicksand of multi-million pound debt.
Whether the board show the same sense of realism remains to be seen. Should they show Reid the door he will depart with compensation money the club don't have and they will have to shell out more money if his replacement is already tied to another club.
Reid made it clear after the Arsenal defeat that he didn't intend to walk away from the job but he needs to get points on the board as quickly as possible - with or without Viduka.
He is limited to what he can do with the personnel available but sealing up central defence must be a priority as Roque Junior, World Cup winner or not, continues to look shaky.
Leeds have shipped 16 goals in the six matches he has played and the physios must work overtime to get skipper Dominic Matteo fit as soon as possible.
Barclaycard Premiership Leeds United 1, Arsenal 4(at Elland Road)
Leeds Utd: Robinson, Kelly, Camara, Roque Junior, Olembe, Pennat, Batty, Johnson, Sakho (Lennon 60), Bridges (Milner HT), Smith.
Subs (not used): Carson, Harte, Duberry.
Cautions: Batty, Olembe.
Goal: Smith 63.
Arsenal: Lehmann, Lauren, Campbell, Toure, Cole, Parlour, Gilberto, Pires, Ljungberg (Edu 71), Bergkamp (Aliadiere 76), Henry.
Subs (not used): Stack, Wiltord, Cygan.
Goals: Henry 8, 32, Pires 17, Gilberto 50.
Referee: Mike Dean (Wirral)