Big Kev is a Project for Leeds, NOT an Unneeded Quick Fix – by Rob Atkinson

Leeds United fans who hailed the signing of Jean-Kévin Augustin as the coming of the Messiah, a Saviour for our season, may have been well wide of the mark. For it appears that Marcelo Bielsa, lately under fire from our online Legion of the Clueless, nevertheless is quite clear about his priorities and unshakeably confident in the ability of his squad to keep a slightly misfiring Leviathan ahead of other somewhat lesser Championship beasts.

It never pays to second-guess Bielsa, who is inscrutable at the best of times. He knows what he knows, and he’ll disclose Informand intentions to others on a need-to-know basis, according to his own judgement. We can also take it as read that he is aware of and utterly unaffected by a growing impression out there in Twitterland that he is “stubborn”, among less kindly epithets.

Will Leeds’ Unrivalled Matchday Support See Them Through? Or Will the Online Mob Spell Disaster? – by Rob Atkinson

leeds-fans

Leeds United matchday support – simply the best

With apologies to Charles Dickens: we have the best of fans, we have the worst of fans. We’re Leeds United, and it’s high time we acknowledged this essential truth. The dividing line is perhaps a bit blurred – but, broadly speaking, the matchgoing support, those who roll up home and away, providing that intense atmosphere and fervent backing, can have few if any rivals anywhere in the game. If the fate of the team was down to these lads and lasses, we’d be certs for promotion.
But sadly, these days, you have to factor in the virtual world, and the Leeds United presence there – if we can assume for a moment that these online fans really are genuine Leeds followers – are not of the same quality as those matchgoing heroes. The outpouring of negativity both last season (as acknowledged by several players who admitted that it does affect them) and latterly this season too, has become a real factor in the team’s nervous and jittery displays. The trolls of course will deny this, but then, they would, wouldn’t they? But the fact is that professional sport is a matter of fine margins separating success from failure – so that any diminution of support is a negative and unwanted factor. And sadly, that’s something that could well cost us dear.
I’m by no means convinced that the worst of these online offenders are genuine Leeds fans anyway – there’s a lot of recently-started Twitter accounts out there, and you have to assume that some, at least, have been created for – shall we say – mischievous purposes. That will be a minority, though – but, as ever, there will always be a number of the dimmer type of Leeds fan, always looking for a passing bandwagon to jump aboard, and thinking that departing from a party line of “Bielsa is God” makes them appear windswept and interesting. That scenario has been quite obvious recently too.
I’m no more aware than anyone else what to do about this, beyond raising our voices in objection to the negative posters and trying to rally genuine support. That’s what I’ve been trying my poor best to do, and I know others have too. Doubtless we’re all taking the same kind of stick, sarcastically being called “superfans” etc. It’s all water off a duck’s back, of course – and, anyway, a bit of stick from a few hard-of-thinking types would be well worth it if we could make only the tiniest difference to online behaviour. And I have noticed more positive and supportive tweets lately, which is encouraging.
Because, in a game of fine margins, the slightest positive effect can make the difference, and take us where we all want to be.
Marching On Together 

Are YOU a True Leeds United Fan? Find Out Here – by Rob Atkinson

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The Badge and Bielsa – two articles of faith for true Leeds fans

As it’s become quite clear that my guidance is needed out there, in terms of what precisely constitutes a true Leeds United fan, I’ve decided to respond positively and offer my help, in the earnest hope that some deluded and unworthy folk might thus find enlightenment.

Despite the tongue-in-cheek opening paragraph, this is not a joke. There are far too many negative voices out there, and it’s well documented that the players are aware of this and have admitted they’re affected by it. The know-all “fans” behind all of the concerted discouragement seem to feel it’s enough to say “man up and get on with it”, rather than mending their own ways and rediscovering what the meaning of the word “supporter” really is.

I’ve taken plenty of flak for continually pointing this out, and I care not a jot. Because I do think it’s important that there should be voices on social media making at least some attempt to rally the troops and cut out all of the damaging stuff that threatens to help derail our campaign. Happily, I’m only one of quite a few spreading a more positive message. But I do feel that there are people out there, masquerading as Leeds fans, with a definite agenda aimed at keeping us from achieving promotion. Check out how many of the Twitter accounts are of recent origin. There are some opportunists about, seeking to recruit the unwary to their campaign of defeatism.

The fact is that our league position is only dodgy if the poor run continues. It’s down to EVERY #LUFC fan now to do their best to make sure this doesn’t happen. Get behind the team and cut out all the whinging and negativity. If you really are a true Leeds United supporter, you’ll get right behind this, now, when it’s most needed. It’s as simple as that.

#MOT to the Premier League #WGUAFC

 

Marcelo Bielsa Weighs up Leeds United’s Crucial Championship Run In – by Rob Atkinson

Leeds United fans will need no reminder as to the importance of finishing inside the top two. The Championship playoffs are effectively cup ties and, no matter what the final league placings may have been, those three matches at the end of a long season can be reduced to a lottery.

Marcelo Bielsa’s side have stuttered at times this season and January’s final away fixture produced a disappointing 1-0 defeat to Queens Park Rangers. Hope, however, has been stirred by a string of poor results by league leaders West Bromwich Albion. Automatic promotion is within Leeds’ grasp but what will it take to get over the line?

Setting the Standard

Marcelo

All sides at the top of the Championship can be inspired by Sheffield United’s exploits this season. Promoted into the top flight at the end of 2019/20, the Blades were among the favourites to go down this year but an impressive first half of the campaign means that Chris Wilder’s men look perfectly safe. In fact, Sheffield United are now 6/1 in the Premier League betting markets for a top six finish.

The Blades should give Leeds hope moving forward, but firstly, they have to get into the top flight. Crucial fixtures lay in wait but perhaps the most important game of all is already out of the way. The third round FA Cup defeat to a second-string Arsenal side would have been disappointing but promotion is a priority and the knockout competitions can prove to be an unnecessary distraction.

Another positive is that Leeds have already played league leaders West Brom twice, picking up a useful four points in the process. Fellow promotion hopefuls Fulham and Brentford await but the majority of Leeds’ remaining fixtures are against sides in mid-table or in the bottom half.

Cutting Edge

Patrick Bamford’s penalty miss against QPR was blamed, in part, on the section of the crowd that are getting on the striker’s back. It was unfortunate and unhelpful but that miss does highlight one area that the club needs to address.

Bamford is the man charged with scoring the goals that will take Leeds United back into the top flight but with just ten strikes in his first 27 league matches of 2019/20, it’s a record that needs to improve. With Eddie Nketiah recalled to Arsenal at the start of January, striking options could make the difference between automatic promotion and another nervous battle in the playoffs.

The Verdict

It’s widely perceived that scoring is a concern but, going into the end of January, Leeds United had a healthy return of 43 league goals. That tally compares favourably with any side in the top six, but, so far, the defence has been key to the club’s progression. At the same point in time, Leeds had conceded just 24 goals – seven less than leaders West Brom.

Yes, Bamford does need to improve and, with Nketiah going back to Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal, his need for competition has now been met with the loan signing from RB Leipzig of Jean-Kevin Augustin. As for the fixtures, if Leeds United can avoid defeat against promotion rivals while picking off the sides at the bottom, another playoff horror show can be comfortably avoided.

As Some Leeds “Fans” Have Demoralised Bamford, Is It Time for Some Big Kev Swagger? – by Rob Atkinson

Bamford – trying to hear no evil

Even in the triumphant moments following his winner against Millwall in midweek, you could tell that Patrick Bamford has been got at by the relentless negativity and sheer destructiveness of a section of Leeds United’s “support” (for want of a more appropriate and descriptive word). Bamford had stuck away a diving header to complete the comeback from two down against one of our real bogey sides. His celebration was pointed – a strained, unsmiling face, ears covered in a defensive signal, not cupped in mockery. Despite his two goals, this was not a happy man. The famous Leeds United boo boys – mostly Twitter or other social media trolls, but there is a matchday gang too – might just be on the point of chasing yet another demoralised striker out of the club.

That would be a hell of a shame, but no real surprise, we’ve seen this sort of thing before. In Bamford’s case, I’ve been doing my best to blame online trolls, of which Leeds United have an ample sufficiency. But a picture of some vile graffiti aimed at our No. 9, daubed inside the South Stand by some witless moron, confirms that supporter stupidity is not confined to the Internet in all its various manifestations. Those critical of Bamford’s gesture might be described as “disingenuous at best”. Personally, I think that description has altogether too many letters.

Against Wigan this weekend, things didn’t go that well for anyone and, predictably, the self-appointed football experts were all over social media again, seemingly happy with the opportunity an unlucky defeat to a jammy goal affords them, and taking sideswipes at players and management alike, presumably in the name of constructive support. Such clowns don’t allow the fact that their knowledge of the game amounts to zero, to prevent them from having their vapid say and, once again, Bamford was the favourite target. Clearly, these bright boys and girls will not be happy until he’s relegated to the U-23s, at which time they can turn their fire on some other hapless individual.

Despite the fact that Patrick Bamford is a tireless worker, a goal scorer who never stops trying even when singled out for ritual abuse, someone without whom the side has usually struggled and who is clearly beloved of his team mates – despite all that, perhaps it’s time to take the spotlight off him for a bit. New signing Jean-Kévin Augustin is waiting in the wings, and – after a bit of indoctrination into the complexities of Bielsaball – he should be ready for his first team bow sooner rather than later. He also seems to be anything but lacking in confidence. Big Kev, as he’s known by some (and now by himself too, if you glance at his Twitter bio) could be the very man to allow Patrick Bamford some much needed “me time” during which he can get his head straight and rid himself of all the negativity and downright hostility some so-called Leeds fans seem to think it’s so cool to project. Lone man up front for Leeds is a big ask, and it may be that Paddy needs a bit of a break.

Not that I would presume to second-guess Marcelo Bielsa, it’s just that I hate to see a lad putting his body on the line match after match, only to be shredded by a few simpering idiots from the safety and non-accountability of their keyboards. It seems to me, from what I’ve been able to glean of Big Kev, that he may be a little more durable in the face of unqualified and clueless criticism. At the very least, he’d have a honeymoon period to allow him to settle in. Or so you’d hope.

I guess though that the famously steadfast Bielsa, who is actually starting to be questioned by some of these hard-of-thinking nonentities, will stick firmly to his own favoured approach – and he will know better than anyone else just how much or how little Bamford is being affected by the online chorus of disapproval. So far, Paddy’s reaction has been defiance, with a post-match comment about having a lot he could but won’t say, and maybe that should reassure those of us with the lad’s (and the team’s) interests at heart that he’ll be able to come through the slings and arrows being flung at him by the online Neanderthals. Let’s hope it stays that way, and that Bamford carries on with his job of shooting us to promotion.

But – if things do become intolerable – there is at least now an alternative. And I’d hope that Big Kev’s endearingly cocksure confidence, together with his evident desire to be at Elland Road and helping achieve Leeds United’s goals, will stand him in good stead if Mr. Bamford does eventually, temporarily, need to be taken out of the dumb clucks’ firing line.

“Are We There Yet?” How Leeds Twitter Fans Channel Their Inner Spoilt Children – by Rob Atkinson

Tantrum

The dumb end of the Leeds Twitter feed, in pictures

We’ve probably all had to cope with the tantrums of spoilt kids at one time or another, sometimes in particularly testing circumstances when you just need to get somewhere or accomplish something – and it has to be managed against this irritating background of immature whinging and tantrums. The car scenario is especially annoying, with the petulant classic “Are we there yet??” starting as you turn out of your street and continuing for pretty much the whole journey, as you grit your teeth and turn the radio up. Now, what could be more representative than this tiresome phenomenon, of my current major bugbear, the #LUFC hashtag on Twitter? Especially at this time of the year, when the dreaded January transfer window has these bleating inadequates giving full rein to their endless spoilt brattishness. The resemblance between a car full of screeching spoilt children and the Leeds Twitter feed in January is well nigh inescapable.

It’s embarrassing, too, for those of us who are more inclined to let those who know what they’re doing get on with their jobs. Not for us the tendency to clamour for attention from the likes of Phil Hay or Andrea Radrizzani, addressing them as “mate” or “boss” and demanding to know why United haven’t yet signed this, that or the other multi-million pound striker. There’s plenty who do, though, and – bandwagon jumping being in the nature of the dimmer end of the online Leeds support – more seem to appear with each passing day.

It must surely try the patience of the professionals concerned, just like that harassed Mum trying to drive safely as her infants squall in the back of the car. And yet there seems to be an expectation on the part of each and every clueless tweeter that their particular plea for attention and information will bear fruit – maybe in the form of “Hi, Shane of Beeston, we hadn’t thought of buying Edinson Cavani until you contacted us, but you’ll be glad to know that – because of your message – we’re right on it now. We’ll show PSG your tweet and I’m sure they’ll cave in. Marcelo says thanks.” A greater triumph of hopeless expectation over common sense you could not wish to see, and yet these eager dweebs are queuing up to make themselves look approximately that daft. Well meaning, but dim, just about sums it up.

The other sort are even worse. They don’t bother making suggestions, constructive or otherwise – they move straight on to the conspiracy theories, whereby the Financial Fair Play regulations are just a cunning cover story, so that all of the money invested by fans can go straight into the back pockets of Angus Kinnear, Victor Orta et al, prior to their abrupt disappearance in the direction of Rio de Janeiro. The problem shared by most of the Twatteratti is the apparently certain belief that they know what is going on, better than anybody else. Naturally, they feel the urge to share this superior knowledge with everybody else, repeatedly ad nauseam, until Twitter threatens to make your eyes bleed. It is not an edifying experience.

As I write, we’ve signed a new young goalkeeper, one for the future, and a promising winger from Man City who was courted by Torino of Serie A, and whose prospects of first team involvement may well be more imminent. The reaction of the Twatteratti has been predictably less than positive. The goalkeeper signing was greeted with “Oh, so we need a striker and we sign a keeper, suppose we’ll be playing him up front against Millwall, haw, haw, aren’t I droll”. There is this urgent need among these malcontents to be loved by their similarly-challenged fellow spoilt kids – the desire for lols, likes and retweets supersedes any fleeting thought of keeping their powder dry and seeing what happens.

For those of us with little choice but to trawl through all the Twitter dross in the hope of unearthing the occasional nugget of actual news, or even a Grade A believable rumour, the output of this Legion of the Thick is dispiriting indeed. I guess other clubs suffer from similarly clueless sections among their online support, but that’s quite frankly cold comfort. I’m pretty sure that, if it’s a question of degree, our petulant tendency out-numbers that of most other teams. I suppose that, in a sort of backhanded way, it’s an indicator of the mass appeal of this club. Still, it’s no wonder some call us The Damned United.

As of now, we still need that new striker to provide the competition for Patrick Bamford that any front man needs in order to keep honed the cutting edge of his game. And I’m sure it will happen, sometime in the next few days, barring some other “aren’t we clever” club doing a Swansea on us. But, even if that were to happen, I’m convinced that Leeds United will have done its best during a traditionally difficult window. For what it’s worth, there are some respected voices putting a similar opinion out there, the likes of Hay, Popey etc. So we should perhaps keep the faith, and keep on telling those spoilt kids to pipe down.

Meanwhile, though, it’s really very difficult not to think “Roll on February”…

Leeds United “Fans” Must Take Blame for Paddy’s QPR Penalty Miss – by Rob Atkinson

Bamford

Bamford – a victim of the boo boys

Some so-called Leeds United “fans” – mainly the type who spend most of their existences refreshing Twitter, rather than getting off their backsides to go along and support the team – have a distinctly warped idea of the meaning of the word “support”. It’s a word that should be close to the heart of any real football fan, but some of these tragic individuals appear to be utterly unfamiliar with the whole concept of getting behind a team, encouraging them, displaying some partisan fanaticism and alway, ALWAYS keeping the faith.

The Leeds United support base, for me, is divided between the match-goers – still the best bunch in the game – and the non-attendees, whose number includes a significant minority of people who attach themselves to United with the apparent purpose of delighting in any setback and doing their level best to demoralise and dishearten the players the rest of us support through thick and thin. Some of these will clearly be bogus online presences, but that doesn’t explain the sheer volume and levels of negativity out there. It’s not something I’ve heard anyone explain away, but it’s as irritating and damaging as it is inexplicable. And the damage I’m referring to is being sustained directly by the team and its prospects of success.

Football teams thrive on support – how often have you heard the saying “our crowd is worth a goal start”? In the days before social media, you didn’t need to know any more than that – it was your incentive to get along to the game, sing your heart out and support the lads. Those dear, simple days are far behind us now and while, as I stated earlier, the Leeds matchday support is second to none at home and away, the story on Twitter, Facebook etcetera, is markedly different. The LUFC hashtag on Twitter is best avoided for any supporter with a history of high blood pressure, which is bad enough – but the actual players should certainly be banned from ever even looking at such platforms. Any sports psychologist would surely agree with this position, as much of the output is as negative as it is clueless. The point is that the insidious effect of this drip, drip, drip type criticism is well known and widely acknowledged. So the concerted effect on Patrick Bamford of what he will doubtless have read on Twitter, will inevitably be less than positive.

Strikers, more than most footballers, thrive on confidence. Knock a lad’s confidence and, eventually, you will see a deterioration in performance and output. It’s not rocket science, it’s simply common sense. It may well be that some of these moaning Minnies on Twitter are too profoundly stupid to appreciate the damage they’re doing, but that won’t apply to all of them. Some of that dismal number will know exactly what they’re doing, and will enjoy the idea that they can have such an effect, something they surely can’t often experience in other areas of their lives. To them, I say – please go away, be a man united fan or whatever, just don’t darken our Twittersphere again. And I also say “j’accuse“. It’s your fault we lost at QPR today, just as surely as blame attaches to the appalling referee, so it also attaches to you. In a very real sense, you missed that penalty. Anyone who saw Bamford step up to take it would have been fearing he’d miss. The body language was not typical of confidence and self-belief, and it’s those qualities that have been drained away by these non-fans on social media.

Rant over. It’ll have no effect, of course. I’ll get the usual abusive responses, thin-skinned plonkers telling me that they have a perfect right to say what they like, to whom they like. And, sadly, it’s true. Just don’t think you can say these things in the name of Leeds United “support” – not without being picked up on it and challenged over your supposed attachment to a club that would be better off without you. But that’s not enough to deter people who seem to revel in United’s misfortunes, and who remain silent when things are going well.

If there’s one thing more than any other that can make me wish for the good old days pre-social media, it’s this. In many ways, things were better back then, although the likes of Terry Yorath and George McCluskey among others, who suffered greatly from some minority terrace barracking, might possibly beg to differ. But all that notwithstanding, there was an honesty about support in those days that is absent from large areas of the online LUFC presence. And what worries me is that this great club, which has always relied on the fanatical fervour of its support, may well pay a heavy price for the abominable attitude of some of its so-called fans.

If only we could all go back to “Marching On Together” – but seemingly, that’s just too much to ask.

Happy Birthday to Leeds Utd Legend Eddie “The Last Waltz” Gray – by Rob Atkinson

A dapper Eddie pictured in front of a dapper, all-standing Kop

A dapper Eddie pictured in front of a dapper, all-standing Kop

It’s “Legends Birthday Time” again, and today we almost belatedly celebrate the 72nd anniversary of the birth of Sir Edwin “The Last Waltz” Gray, genius winger, loyal Leeds man through and through and thoroughly bloody nice bloke, as Tim Nice-But-Dim might say – only this time, he’d be spot on.  It was Don Revie who once said of Eddie “If that lad hadn’t pulled a muscle, nobody would ever have heard of George Best”. That’s certainly fulsome praise and a hell of a tribute to a lavishly talented player, surely one of the very best ever to pull on a Leeds United shirt.

The memories of Eddie are many, mainly as that gifted player who would torture full-backs with a genial smile on his face, but also as a manager at Leeds, in charge of a precociously gifted set of youngsters who could have gone far with just that little bit of extra investment – sound familiar? Eddie has also served his time as a pundit, commenting on the latter-day performances of his beloved Leeds United, always straining so hard for impartiality and endeavouring to avoid accusations of bias – indeed, some out here sometimes feel he tried a little too hard in this respect.  But I’ve had the honour of meeting the man a few times, and one of these was on the commentary gantry at Elland Road – when he was preoccupied by the need to find me a chair to sit on, much to my bemused delight – so I’m well aware of Eddie’s professionalism as a broadcaster, just as was the case in his days as a player, manager and of course as the coach in those promising early David O’Leary days.

It is as a player that Eddie will best be remembered and revered by Leeds United fans of all ages.  Those who weren’t lucky enough to see him play in person may well have thrilled to video footage of his bravura performance in the 1970 FA Cup Final when, on an absolute pig of a pitch chopped-up by the Horse of the Year Show, he put in one of his greatest and most tantalising displays of sorcery out wide, reducing David Webb to a gibbering shadow of his normally efficient self.  Legend has it that Webb eventually had to be taken off with severe vapours and twisted blood – sadly he was to have his revenge in a replay gifted to Chelsea by the inevitable Sprake big-match cock-up.

Another vivid memory is of Eddie’s bewitching dance through the Burnley defence in a league match at Elland Road, when he took on and beat opponents just as he pleased before drilling a sublime near-post finish past a bewildered Peter Mellor in the Dingles goal.  It is this match that brings out Mr Gray’s slight perverse streak; he scored two that day and he always insists that it’s the other goal – a superbly-judged 35 yard lob at the Gelderd End – which he remembers as his best.  But nobody who has seen the way he destroyed a top class defence with that mazy run, will ever forget it.  It was a bit like the famous Ricky Villa goal for Spurs at Wembley – except much better.

More generally, it’s the characteristic hunched shape of Eddie Gray that you remember – never totally reliant on speed, he would beat his man with pure skill, manifesting itself in a variety of tricks, shuffles, stepovers and other sundry pieces of magic. His long-term thigh injury, sustained as a mere youngster, led him to rely far more on technique than pace and mobility, although he was no laggard either. But such were his sublime skills that he stands as possibly the last great example of the old-fashioned tricky winger, a man who could play an entire top-flight defence as a toreador plays a bull, a player of prodigious style, skill and élan.

Mere words cannot, of course, do justice to Eddie Gray the player or Eddie Gray the man. Leeds United have been privileged by the service and unstinting support of both, and they have not always played fair by him in his various roles at the club.  But Eddie Gray’s place in the Elland Road Hall of Fame is as secure as that of any other Legend in the whole history of the club; he is synonymous with Leeds, which is after all the place he has lived and worked for most of his life since the age of 15 – not that anyone could guess this whilst trying to understand his impenetrably Scottish accent.

It was my pleasure and privilege to watch Eddie Gray weave his magic for Leeds United many times between 1975 and the end of his playing days, by which time he had become a cultured full-back who also managed the team.  His long and illustrious career gives the lie to Brian Clough‘s infamous remark that, had he been a racehorse, he’d have been shot – a jibe at that long-standing injury.  This was surely the most oafish remark that even Clough – a quite legendary oaf – ever made.  Gray, that most mild-mannered of men, took exception – reminding Clough, who was his manager at the time, that his own career was ended by injury and that he should, therefore, know better than to say anything so crass.  I’d have given plenty to see Old Big’ead‘s face when that shot went home.

Eddie Gray – genius, magician, legend – and not least of these attributes, the nicest guy you could wish to meet.  A slightly overdue, just in time Happy Birthday, Eddie, and many, many happy returns.

Could Leeds United Seal Promotion AND Derby’s Relegation on April 25th? – by Rob Atkinson

Leeds derby

Leeds United and Derby County – not exactly the best of pals

Revenge, they say, is a dish best served cold. If it arrives for Leeds United in the shape of battered mutton cutlets and squarely amid the joy of our own promotion party then, cold or not, the taste of that dish would be exquisite and unforgettable.

Promotion, of course, would be enough and as good as a feast on its own account – but, if we are going to be greedy and demanding, then what could be better than seeing our heroes administer the coup de grâce to Derby County, and watch them spinning into League One, Wazza and all? And just as we finally ascend to the Promised Land, too.

It’s a scenario fit to tempt the palate of any Leeds fan who watched Derby celebrate as if they’d won promotion when our play-off campaign came to an abrupt halt at Elland Road last May. The fact that this represented a false dawn for our sheepish friends was cold comfort, although naturally we did enjoy seeing the Rams fail yet again with defeat to Aston Villa at Wembley. But that Elland Road night and the graceless cavorting of Lampard & Co left a bad taste that took a long time to fade away and, although Fwank has moved on, it’d still be incredibly delicious if Leeds and Derby were to leave the Championship in opposite directions at the end of this campaign.

And, do you know what? It could just happen, if only the football authorities can be trusted to do their bit, with the news today that Derby are being charged with breaches of the Financial Fair Play regulations over their dodgy stadium sale and lease back deal. A decent-sized points deduction for our erstwhile rivals, and they’d be plunged well and truly into the midst of the Championship basement battle – and who knows if they’d have the bottle to survive? Then there’d just be the small matter of Leeds managing not to bottle promotion themselves.

So, I’m beseeching the football gods tonight, not only for a trouble-free run in for my beloved Leeds United towards promotion back to the big time – but also that Derby do suffer the pain of relegation, with their fate finally to be sealed by defeat to the Whites at the incongruously named Pride Park just a day short of the 28th anniversary of us becoming the Last Champions. What with the play offs, Spygate and the Rams’ general “chip on the shoulder” unpleasantness, just how utterly satisfactory and cathartic would that be?

I won’t be counting any chickens, mind, much less any slaughtered sheep. But I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed in the hope of a hefty dollop of Schadenfreude coming the way of all of us three months hence. Almost a year on from that unforgettable night at Elland Road, it’d be the ultimate in revenge for Leeds fans, and the ultimate nightmare for those of a Derby persuasion. Surely, it’s not to much to ask?

Marching On Together – hopefully ever upwards and, fittingly enough, two leagues above those rightly terrified sheep.

Think Leeds Will Blow It? Wake Up and Smell the Costa Coffee – by Rob Atkinson