NEIL WARNOCK admits Leeds United need to develop a ‘Plan B’ when things are not going their way.
The Elland Road club are on a six-game unbeaten run in the Championship and sit just one point outside the play-off places.
However, Tuesday night’s draw at home to Charlton Athletic saw United put in a below-par performance against a visiting side who had travelled to Yorkshire intent on grinding out a point.
Following on from last Friday when Warnock’s side were fortunate that Sheffield Wednesday were unable to profit from creating a host of chances, United’s inability to break down the London side caused their manager sufficient concern to sit his players down yesterday and devise an alternative plan to revert to when things are going awry.
“The performance hasn’t got any better over the last couple of days,” admits Warnock about the draw with the Addicks. “October and November, when the drizzle starts and it gets damp, can be difficult and you sometimes get horrible games like Tuesday night.
“But I do think the atmosphere was a bit of a reaction to what happened at Sheffield Wednesday, if I am honest.
“The carry-on (at Hillsborough) knocked a lot of us. By that, I mean the ordinary fans. Right from when we came out before kick-off, I felt the atmosphere was strange and subdued.
“I thought we were flat and never really got going. Luciano Becchio isn’t having a good time at the minute. He is working hard but things are not coming off for him.
“What we have to do at times like this is have someone like (the injured Ross) McCormack around to change things. I haven’t quite got confidence in Ryan (Hall, new signing from Southend United) yet to put the responsibility on him.
“That is what we worked on (yesterday). We do need to have the ability to change and win games – rather than just be prepared to accept a point here and there.
“We need something different up our sleeve for when games like Tuesday are petering out to a draw.
“I would rather go try to win a game and then lose it, than not try to win it. We have to have pace and a different system to change things round, rather than carry on as we are for 90 minutes in the hope we get the rub of the green.”
The arrival of Hall from Southend on loan with a view to a permanent deal going through in January does, at least, give Warnock the option of speed from the bench.
A Crystal Palace Academy graduate, Hall netted 14 goals and created another 25 – the highest number of assists in the Football League last season – as the Shrimpers reached the League Two play-off semi-finals.
Warnock said: “Ryan is one element of a possible Plan B so (yesterday) we ran through what I expect of him in certain situations.
“We also have a number of other players who can change things. I have been working with the lads on having something up our sleeves.
“I know what I would do if I was playing against us. But I am not going to tell you so you can put it in the paper.
“On Tuesday, I did think about bringing Ryan on, but I wanted Michael Tonge on as well. At times, we can have both of them on together but the Charlton game probably wasn’t one of them.”
Leeds laboured for long periods against Charlton, who, but for a stunning double save from Paddy Kenny in stoppage time, would have returned to London with all three points.
Warnock did try to inject a spark into his team by sending on Tonge, Aidy White and Andy Gray from the bench during the second half but to little avail.
The United manager said: “I sent instructions on but Aidy, who has been with us all season, didn’t really know what I wanted. He was trying to do too much work, helping the defence – when I didn’t want him helping the defence.
“I can’t fault him for working extra hard, but since Tuesday I have shown him and the other lads what I want.
“We sat down and had a look at a couple of incidents but then we went out on the training pitch to work on it.”