Internet forums are strange places inhabited by strange people. The Square Ball forum is no exception.
As The Square Ball magazine began to decline from ca. 2005/6 onwards, it was largely composed of content lifted from the forum of the same name, albeit then found at leedschat.com. Despite glorious beginnings, for a variety of reasons, some interconnected, the magazine disappeared from Elland Road and the forum slowly disintegrated with a dodgy server, a steady haemorrhage of users, and an absent sysadmin. At one point, in late 2007, a strange group of people with silly names moaning on the internet were all that was left of The Square Ball name (cue sorrowful music, if you will).
Four of those silly-named people from the forum decided to do something about it and The Square Ball media empire you see today — glossy, full-colour mag with original content, fortnightly podcast, blog-on-the-side — is a far cry from that beleaguered state mentioned above. However, it seems to me that the forum is now the forgotten corner of said media empire. This is a shame because, while the forum isn’t for everyone, it’s also — for my money, at least — the best source of LUFC-related debate and discussion on the web (other forums are available). In order to rectify that somewhat, in the style of the dying days of the first run of The Square Ball mag, I’m going to excerpt some of the forum’s best bits here on the blog.
This weekend’s big talking point, of course, was the 3–2 defeat away at Millwall. If you want an in-depth analysis of the game, do look out for Battylad’s regular White Watching series in the mag or listen to TSB’s Four Yorkshiremen pick the game apart in the latest episode of the podcast. In the meantime, here’s the forum’s reaction, hot off the press…
Many fingers were pointing at the increasingly rotund figure of Kasper Schmeichel after two horrifically poor goals left United with a mountain to climb at the New Den. dirty leeds said “Kasper should have saved it. The second goal was a terrible defensive cock-up – again – and we’re 2-0 down when we really shouldn’t have been.“, while the flying pig added, “For some reason [even though he seems like an ok player in most respects] Lichaj’s reaction to the goal really annoys me, as does Schmeichel’s reaction to the first – my dad always insisted to me that any direct free kick scored was the wall’s fault. Perhaps KS was subscribing to that theory but to me it just looked like a shortarsed keeper who’s not nearly as good as he thinks he is letting in a softish shot.” Unfortunately, United have been conceding soft goals all season and the weariness was evident in mustafaster‘s reaction: “That second goal scales new heights of crappery, even for our defence…“
Others criticised Simon Grayson’s team selection with the omission of recent loanee Barry Bannan being a particular sticking point:
Rob: “Why didn’t Bananaman play from the start ? Every month we seem to sign a new loan player, in he goes almost immediately and then team gets unbalanced again etc. Oh for a regular eleven, with the occasional change to freshen it up (i.e., Batty being rested on the run in during 89/90 for Kamara) Too many alterations give the impression the management doesn’t know what it’s doing or have confidence in the players + we can never really get a settled side where all know the jobs.“
Indeed, Bannan’s direct replacement in the side, fellow loanee Jake Livermore, received mixed reviews with dirty leeds reporting “Well, the short version is he doesn’t waste it when he has it – good passer — but I’m not yet sure about his ability to read the game.“
The players on permanent contracts at Elland Road fared less well with one or two sharpening the knives for a summer purge:
MightyWhite: “We need some f**king character in the team. We’ve all been saying it since the Barnsley and Preston debacles earlier in the season and nothing’s changed. How many players do we think we should be after in the summer? Five? Six? Obviously it’ll be nice to get 5 players that are better than what we’ve got, but it’s no use if they’re all wimpy, big game/atmosphere bottlers like we have now. For example, I would happily take a midfielder who is technically inferior to, say, Howson, but who would stamp his authority on EVERY game and guarantee you a 7-8/10 performance every week. There’re too many players in our team who look great against the Scunthorpes of this world, but as soon as anyone a bit good comes to town, they crawl in to their shell and find a shady spot to hide in.”
tommydski: “We still basically need replacements for BJ and NK. A couple of nasty bastards who fit the above descriptions. Also, we need a solid, dedicated left-back. I’m now of the opinion that we need one more striker in for McCormack, Paynter, Grella (I just don’t think they’re ever going to get enough time to prove they can do it) and Watt (who will presumably return to the Arse or be sold on). A natural goalscorer with pace and power so we can sporadically play with two up front or use him when Luciano has knackered himself. I like Somma but he’s not a destroyer and that’s basically what we need up there sometimes.“
Not surprisingly, there wasn’t a lot of cheer to be found at all with some looking pessimistically at the run-in:
MightyWhite: “As I mentioned earlier though, I don’t think I’d be too upset if we dropped out the play offs. I can’t forsee anything but a heartache.“
Soho White: “I think it will be touch and go now to make the play offs. It feels like we have been found out, and sadly, there are better teams around us.“
The other big talking point was the behaviour of Millwall’s fans, who decided waving banners and shirts relating to Galatasaray and Turkey around was particularly classy. Soho White spoke for more than a few when he posted:
“I’d love to hear the thought process that thinks it’s clever to celebrate the death of other people by holding up Turkish flags. Utterly pathetic and beneath contempt. Then there was the not giving the ball back for our throw ins fiasco. It actually worked, as it badly disrupted our flow at the one time in the second half when we looked like getting back into it. Nothing from the hopeless stewards who just allowed various neanderthals to wander down to the front to scream abuse and spit at our players. Millwall as a club should be told to do something about this; no announcement or anything. Disgusting place, disgusting fans and disgusting club.” The issue has now sparked a spin-off discussion of its own on the perils of trying to occupy the moral high ground.
However, the final word this time should probably go to burnleyinexile who summarised the afternoon — and possibly the season — rather neatly:
N.B. A word of caution: As I said above, in my opinion, the TSB forum is the best around. However, it should probably be noted that it is largely unmoderated. Occasionally, people swear at each other. Sometimes, they even mean it. If you don’t appreciate being called rude names just for being new, it’s probably not for you. Otherwise, head on over.