It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Pleasing results elsewhere involving those teams Leeds fans just love to hate could provide only the coldest of comfort as United slipped to defeat as well – the bitterest of pills to swallow against a club and fans who are the very antithesis of what football should be all about. On days like this, you just have to look elsewhere and get what consolation you can from defeat for both Sheffield clubs, for Barnsley, for West bloody Ham and, best of all, for Man U, the archetypal scum club themselves. All very well and good in its way – but football is about winning. There seems to be no immediate prospect of that at Leeds.
So – Leeds United went to Millwall and lost 2-0. Millwall, a nasty, horrible team with nasty, horrible fans from a nasty, horrible part of London. Surely, the worst of times. We can but hope so; things can’t get much worse than this third league defeat on the trot – 4th in a row if we include the midweek cup tie in Newcastle – and fingers will be crossed that our early season form has now bottomed out. Derby away though loom after the home clash with Bournemouth – not the most promising pair of fixtures to start our revival and charge towards promotion. I jest.
Then again, it’s Derby that we’re nestled up against in the twilight zone of mid-table Championship anonymity, along with Wigan – all three of us on 11 points as those imprudent, financially reckless clubs who actually saw fit to invest in their squads race ahead at the top. Where’s the bloody justice, eh? Answer me that. A bare couple of weeks ago, things had looked much rosier. Brian had just reaffirmed his commitment to Leeds United, and the lads promptly went and won at Bolton. It’s been all Bleak House ever since; now we find ourselves 9 points off the automatic places and – much more relevant, this – 7 off the play-off zone. The owners’ attempts to quash any expectations of promotion notwithstanding, it’s not good enough. Not for Leeds United and not, you suspect, for Brian McDermott.
The fact is that, even if the GFH Master Plan (what a document that must be) doesn’t require promotion this season, it must at least demand some evidence of progress; and the customer base, or “fans” as they used to be called, will be in just the mood to let GFH know that it’s their cautious approach to investment that is holding the club back from even looking like potential challengers. If the support is unhappy – and they are – then GFH are on the edge of a precipice in terms of the latitude they have to run Leeds the way they want to. There will be too much pressure, too many people voting with their feet, for the investment they’ve made to promise any return in the foreseeable future. That’s a scary thought for any investment banker.
Things have to look up for Leeds, and soon. An influx of quality is needed, as the manager frankly admits. McDermott knows he’s being asked to hold back the tide with a wall made of Saudi sand, and he’s not daft enough to carry the can for a situation that’s not his fault; not of his own making. We have the man for the job – that much should not be doubted. But like anyone else, he’ll struggle to succeed if he doesn’t have the tools and the other backing anyone needs from above in any chain of command. Struggle is not what Leeds fans are paying over the odds to witness, but it is the scenario that’s unfolding before our increasingly horrified eyes. This situation simply has to be nipped in the bud. GFH -it’s over to you.