It’s been a shocking and distressing day for all of us – many out here are thinking back to this morning when we were grumbling about another dull deadline day in prospect. And now – we’re wishing we could turn the clock back.
The last couple of hours have been depressing and humiliating. For God’s sake, even Gary bloody Neville feels sorry for us. Brian McDermott, the voice of reason in the Elland Road asylum, has been sacked – although there isn’t the courtesy of a statement from the club to confirm this. A couple of hours before this, the club turned down a bid from Cardiff for captain and top scorer Ross McCormack. Ross then gave a statement to pisspoor TV station Sky Sports, saying he was happy at Leeds and looking forward to playing for McDermott. A tinge of alarm there, that solidified into an icicle of dread when the axe fell on poor Brian’s honest head.
The thing is – you don’t just play for the manager. With all due respect, Ross, you play for the fans, for the shirt, for your team-mates, for the club. Managers come and go as we all know. It’s sad – tragic, sometimes. But it happens – and when it does, then the senior players are under a moral obligation to stand up and be counted. That is what the Leeds fans out here now desperately need of the Ross McCormack they’ve watched scoring goals and kissing that badge this season. Don’t take the easy road and opt out. Don’t lose that fight and defiant professionalism that has marked you out as star man this season. There’s a derby match tomorrow against Huddersfield, and as usual they will play it as a Cup Final. For once – instead of succumbing to that smaller-club chip-on-the-shoulder motivation, the Leeds players need to respond in kind. They will need their skipper and talismanic striker to lead them in this. They will need YOU, Ross. And the fans will need you, too.
When the going gets tough, the tough get going. They don’t come over all prima donna and let themselves be persuaded by the disgraceful Sky TV that the only option is to flounce in and demand a move. It’s been such a horrible, horrible day – but Captain Ross McCormack and the rest of the lads in those shirts – shirts that any of us fans out here would give a year’s salary to wear – can start the fightback tomorrow. That’s what the big players do. That’s the professional thing to do. You have a contract, guys, but what’s more than that – you have a duty of trust to the fans that have stuck by you through a decidedly average season. They kept the faith after Rochdale and after Sheffield Wendies, and they cheered you to the rafters as you lost unluckily to Leicester. Please don’t abandon them against Huddersfield. Pride is at stake here, and it’s about much, much more than an individual player’s unhappiness. Rise above it, fight and win, if at all possible.
The time to sit down and think things over is in the summer. Things may be clearer by then. Now, in the heat of the moment, is not the time to act in haste. It’s not a time to forget the fans who worship you, and head off to the the very bottom of the Premier League, where Vincent Tan awaits. Out of the frying pan, and into the fire? Bite your lip, Ross, and roll those sleeves up. You can be the hero we need in very dark times.