Leeds United V West Ham

Post Match Comments
Audio Match ReportSaturday 18th October 2000
Elland Road

Nigel Winterburn made Leeds lose sight of their Premiership ambitions as David O'Leary's side showed they have one eye on their Champions League dream.

The unlikely figure of Winterburn scored his first goal of the season to end Leeds' run of three successive league wins at Elland Road and give West Ham their second away win of the campaign.

What's more, they did it without their 2 mercurial talents Paolo di Canio, who was ill, and Joe Cole, whose ankle is still troubling him.Harry was delighted with his team's performance after the 1-0 victory at Elland Road and said:

"It was a very effective performance, we set our stall out to play and it worked very well. I had eleven players out there who were willing to graft.

"Freddie Kanoute was almost unplayable against Radebe, he worked very hard and was awesome. He has strength, pace and skill and catches the ball on his chest when most people would want to head it.

"He destroyed Manchester City last week but couldn't get the goal his play deserved."

Confirming the reason for Paolo di Canio's and Joe Cole's absence, he said:

"We were just about to leave yesterday when Paolo said he had a stomach upset. He felt that if he got on the coach, he might be sick so we had to leave him behind which was a shame.

"I've got a horse called di Canio which is being gelded. I said to the trainer's wife 'can I cut his bollocks off myself!?'

"But hopefully he will be OK for Southampton. I don't know about him coming to the match, I'm sure the lads would have loved to have had him in the dressing room, but I haven't spoken to him."

Explaining why he left Suker on the bench and gave Kaba Diawarra his first start for West Ham, Harry said:

"The system I played needed someone on the left and although Davor is left-footed as well I just felt Kaba would balance the team out.

"They have two wide full-backs and I just wanted to cancel them out and keep it tight in midfield.

"It is going to be very hard to change things at Southampton next week when Joe and Paolo should be back. Those eleven have come in, worked hard, and done a job for me and I have got to be fair to people. I couldn't fault any of those eleven."

And he called goalscorer Nigel Winterburn and fellow veteran Stuart Pearce "almost a dying breed."

At times this season Leeds have shown themselves to be a Jekyll and Hyde outfit, and this was one of those occasions when their beautiful football looked depressingly gaunt.

Home defeats to Manchester City and Ipswich, and a goalless draw at Coventry were the three results which sandwiched that 4-0 mauling in Barcelona in their opening game of the first phase.

O'Leary will surely be hoping this is not another lull before a potential storm against Real, the Spanish giants and reigning European champions.

For West Ham, though, it was a case of who needs Paolo di Canio as Winterburn's goal was enough to give them their first win at Elland Road since 1978.

Hammers' top scorer di Canio did not play because of a stomach bug - probably after being force-fed humble pie.

Di Canio claimed earlier this week that Rio Ferdinand was not good enough for the England team, comments he stubbornly stood by after the 22-year-old's superb display against Italy in the midweek friendly.

Ferdinand, of course, remains the subject of a £15million bid from Leeds which has been on the boardroom table at Upton Park since the summer.

It was again evident why the Hammers obstinately refuse to sell their star centre-back and why Leeds manager O'Leary is refusing to give up hope of ever clinching his signing.

After his peerless performance during the 1-0 loss in Turin, Ferdinand then gave O'Leary a bird's-eye view of his blossoming talents with another commanding display at Elland Road.

Flanked by the Pearces of Stuart and Ian in a three-man backline, Ferdinand kept Mark Viduka and Alan Smith serenely quiet, despite both having enjoyed a midweek rest after their withdrawals from international duty with Australia and England respectively.

But for Viduka setting up Smith for an overhead kick inside the six-yard box - which flew over Shaka Hislop's crossbar - Leeds were forced to resort to long-range chances during what was a disappointing first half.

Olivier Dacourt stung the fingers of Hislop after just 64 seconds with a 25-yard right-foot drive, and then flashed an identical shot narrowly wide two minutes later.

But it became apparent this was one of those days when too many Leeds players were having an off day, not least because of West Ham's hustle-and-bustle style, as the mistakes then started to mount up.

Two in quick succession from Dominic Matteo and skipper Lucas Radebe in the 23rd minute finally allowed the visitors to create their first opportunity.

Michael Carrick took advantage of the South African's slip to set up di Canio's replacement in Kaba Diawara for a run at goal and a 14-yard drive which was smothered by Paul Robinson.

As Leeds struggled to make any impact, Redknapp's side began to grow in confidence, eventually taking the lead on the stroke of half-time.

Diawara's ball out wide to the right found the overlapping Trevor Sinclair who whipped in a curling cross and there was Winterburn with a downward header beyond a rooted Robinson and despite the desperate attempt of Radebe to clear.

Leeds' lethargy continued after the break allowing West Ham to come close to doubling their lead, but Robinson kept United in the game with a full-stretch save in the 55th minute to parry Kanoute's searing drive.

Just five minutes later it was the Frenchman who was then fed by a slide-rule, defence-splitting pass by Sinclair, but with just Robinson to beat his 15-yarder was rifled over the bar.Shortly afterward, Steve Potts replaced Ian Pearce who has tweaked a hamstring.

After that Leeds then dominated the closing stages in terms of territory and possession as West Ham found themselves encamped in and around their own area.

But United could not find a way past a resilient Hammers side who packed themselves in front of Hislop, and other than two free-kicks they never looked like scoring the equaliser.

Hislop saved well from Dacourt's low curler in the 81st minute, and although beaten by Harte five minutes later, the Irishman's anguish as the ball flashed inches past the left-hand post told its own story.

Last word to Harry:

"You don't come to Leeds very often. In fact, some people don't want to come to Leeds at all, do they?"