If there’s ever a time that no self-respecting Leeds fan is going to come over all misty-eyed and nostalgic for, it’s any one of the last few January transfer windows. These post-Christmas peaks of excitement have been anything but for United fans in the past few years – and there are now just the vaguest stirrings of discomfort arising out of the growing suspicion that this one may, ultimately, be no different. In recent times, the diet for the long-suffering Leeds United support has been pretty lacking in variety come window time. Large helpings of reassurances, seasoned with well-worn platitudes and promises that melt in your mouth but do little to satisfy that incessant, gnawing hunger for squad reinforcement.
So far this January, we have been told that the takeover (still awaiting its “imminent” Football League ratification) will have no effect on the availability of funds for manager Brian McDermott to go out and get what we need. There have been two morsels landed, both traditional Leeds loanees, but with the possibility of permanence come the summer – depending on what league we’re in. We’ve also been told that Brian wants to get the deals done early, rather than waiting for that climactic final day, when Sky get all excited, fans of other clubs gather outside their stadia to heckle harassed TV reporters – and Leeds fans pretend not to care and that they have other stuff to do. The thing is, most of January has already slid by – with just those two wingers, the ones who looked so lost and lonely at Sheffield Wednesday, signed-up so far.
Still, the reassurances come. There are just i’s to be dotted, t’s to be crossed, before TOMA becomes a renewed reality. Work has been going on backstage and we are to hope the fruits of that will be seen “in the coming days”. But the main headline is of GFH blocking a move for a striker that BMcD wanted to bring on board, even though the measly half-mill required was apparently washing around in the club’s coffers. That’s certainly caused some consternation out here in fan-land, and it’s not difficult to see why. Have GFH blocked this one because we’re back in dare-to-dream territory, and aiming higher than the likes of the admirable Ashley Barnes? Or is it for some less palatable reason? Either way, the lad’s gone to Burnley and our Brian was presumably left less than chuffed.
We really have to hope that this isn’t going to be yet another transfer window where much is promised and yet very little is delivered. The icy fingers of doubt are beginning to make themselves felt, though, insistently tapping us all on the shoulder while a cold voice whispers in our ear “Haven’t you heard all this stuff before?”
The next couple of weeks might not be make or break for United’s promotion prospects – it may well be that those are doomed to dwindle for yet another season, and we’ll be invited to look ahead with optimism to 2015. Or 2016, or … well, you get the picture. But those same couple of weeks could be very significant indeed as far as the grossly over-stretched trust and confidence of the United fans are concerned. If nothing significant happens – yet again – after all those promises, hints and reassurances – yet again – then surely questions will be asked, not least the pertinent enquiry: “Are you lot taking the mick?” Because we’re fast approaching that time of the window when we start expecting to be told what a wonderful thing the emergency loan window is, or the summer transfer window, where plans are “already well advanced”.
Quite frankly, we have heard it all before. Please get real, United. Please don’t toy with our hopes and fears. This sort of thing really has happened far too often already – and it’s becoming rather boring.