What The Locals Say.........

Last updated : 10 November 2003 By Kevin Markey
This is what the Yorkshire Post wrote;

This humiliation on the South Coast is almost certain to serve as the final failing of Peter Reid's troubled Leeds United reign and the gutless players who let him down so badly at Fratton Park on Saturday should hang their heads in shame.

Yet only two men are likely to pay the price for a truly pathetic performance.

The manager and his assistant Kevin Blackwell must wait to see if they still have a future at Elland Road following a seventh Premiership defeat in eight games.

It can only be hoped the players responsible for such a shambles will understand the consequences and feel some semblance of guilt.

It is hard to see how the management team can survive following such an inept display against a side United would have expected to beat, or at least pick up a point against.

While the plc board, and new chief executive Trevor Birch in particular, had wanted to give Reid time to improve the team's position, this defeat will prove too much for them to stomach.

The manager reiterated his stance that he will not quit, but he can expect to be given the sack in the next 24 hours.

To watch them at Portsmouth on Saturday it was hard to believe they were fighting not only to move off the bottom of the table, but also to save the manager's job.

They talk all week about how they want to hit back at the 'snipers' who criticise the team and how they believe Reid is the right man for the job.

But when the weekend comes they lose their bottle, desire, passion – and ultimately they lose all respect.

It is difficult to see how a fresh face can turn these players into a side capable of holding off the threat of Division One football.

Few players escaped the crowded hall of shame on Saturday and Reid could not bring himself to defend them.

"The players have not earned their money and as a manager it was embarrassing for me," he said.

"The white flag came up all too easily all over the football pitch. It was worse than anything we did at Everton or Leicester.

"I sense the players don't actually realise what a desperate situation we are in.

This football club is going through bad times and you can accept defeats, but the manner in which we got rolled over in that last 45 minutes was embarrassing.

We are supposed to be fighting for our lives and there was nothing there. No fight, no spark, no desire and no character."

It must be difficult, even for the most positive of Leeds United supporters, to accept such a humbling defeat.

To put it into perspective Leeds were simply outclassed by a side which, having won promotion last season, has since packed the team full of Premiership experience with the sole aim of staying up.

After 90 minutes it was clear which of the two sides is now favourite for the drop.

The heart of United's midfield was weak as Brazilian Roque Junior and the returning Jody Morris failed to cope with the powerful running of veteran Tim Sherwood and youngster Gary O'Neil, who was making his Premiership debut.

James Milner looked lost in his new role just behind lone striker Alan Smith while the defence looked uncertain throughout in the face of Portsmouth's slick attacking play.

That said, there was little sign of the impending humiliation in an evenly balanced opening half. United were unfortunate to go in a goal down, but they capitulated after the break.

Former Sheffield Wednesday defender Dejan Stefanovich had given Portsmouth the lead with a powerful header after just 16 minutes, but Alan Smith clipped in an equaliser soon after to trigger an impressive 25-minute spell from Leeds.

However, Portsmouth scored before the break when Gary Kelly's poor clearance dropped invitingly for O'Neil to strike on the volley past Paul Robinson via a deflection off Dominic Matteo.

Through the guile and midfield running of the outstanding Patrick Berger the home side took control soon after the interval.

Defender Hayden Foxe volleyed the third from the edge of the box, O'Neil finished off Berger's run to make it 4-1 and the former Liverpool man himself made it 5-1 when he picked up Teddy Sheringham's neat pass to round the goalkeeper and roll the ball over the line.

A sixth compounded the misery as Yakubu poked the ball past Robinson at the second attempt after the Leeds goalkeeper had made a decent first save.

The game had been delayed 30 minutes due to a floodlight failure, The lights now, it seems, are about to go out on Reid.

Portsmouth: Hislop; Schemmel, Stefanovic, Foxe, De Zeeuw; Stone (Taylor 84), Sherwood, O'Neil, Berger; Yakubu, Sheringham.

Leeds United: Robinson; Kelly, Matteo, Duberry, Olembe; Pennant (Sakho 56), Morris, Junior (Bridges 72), Johnson; Milner; Smith.

Referee: C Foy (Merseyside).

Leeds man of the match: Seth Johnson