MAC GETS OFF TO A WINNER
LEEDS UTD ......2 SHEFF WED ......1
NEW boss Brian McDermott claimed he put his neck on the line by accepting the challenge of keeping Leeds in the Championship.
But after all but securing their status with victory over relegation – and Yorkshire – rivals Sheffield Wednesday in his first game in charge, he believes the risk has been justified.
Two Luke Varney goals in the space of six second-half minutes cancelled out Jermaine Johnson’s first half-strike and handed the hosts a valuable three points.
It was their first win in eight games, and former Reading manager McDermott – who was unveiled as the new Leeds boss on Friday – revealed the offer to take over at Elland Road was too good to turn down, even with the club embroiled in a relegation scrap before the weekend.
“What you first and foremost want to see is people that are moving in the same direction,” he said. “You cannot have any success otherwise.
“And that includes the board, the chief executive, the chief scout, everyone. People talk to me about the financial situation here. I will not be arguing with boards.
“We all need to be 100 per cent behind each other and I get the sense that is the case.
“I wouldn’t have come here if I didn’t get the right feeling. There probably isn’t a club that I would have gone to at this stage.
“I am putting myself on the line with five games to go. But it just felt right, and to be sat here as manager of Leeds United is fabulous for me.
“Sheffield Wednesday have been on a good run, so it’s a big win for us.
“We didn’t think we should have gone 1-0 down but it was a good response. I thought the players were brave.”
The visitors took the lead on 27 minutes as Stephen Warnock’s hesitation allowed Johnson to lob keeper Paddy Kenny. The Whites improved after the break as Ross McCormack’s 52nd-minute shot forced keeper Chris Kirkland to parry – Varney unable to follow up.
Substitute El-Hadji Diouf then saw his shot deflected over as Leeds continued to press.
The breakthrough came on 63 minutes as Ross McCormack’s inviting right-wing cross was headed in off the bar by Varney.
And the pair combined six minutes later as McCormack drove into the box before chipping in a floated cross for Varney to nod home.
Wednesday almost got themselves an equaliser nine minutes from time but substitute Steve Howard’s volley bounced back off the post.
Owls boss Dave Jones – missing from the dugout as he served the first of his twogame touchline ban – believed his side’s loss of concentration had cost them the victory that would have eased their own relegation worries.
“We should have won it. Full stop,” he said. “We switched off for 15 minutes and we allowed two goals that we should never ever allow.
“One, you have got to stop the cross and two, you can’t give players free headers. It was the basic errors that we made that have cost us.
“It’s frustrating because they’ve caused us no hassle apart from a ten to 15 minute spell where it was our own downfall.
“We switched off and then we go up the other end and we could have had not just an equaliser but also a winner alongside at the end.
“But that’s what happens in football. If you are not fully focused for 90 minutes then things like that happen to you.
“We should never have lost the game, it was there for us.”
HUGS ALL ROUND: Luke Varney celebrates after scoring the second goal
HANG TIME: Luke Varney scores the second goal for Leeds