Leeds’ shambolic collection of bottlers predictably meandered to yet another defeat at Elland Road as Charlton picked up a rare three points on the road. No surprises there, merely a hint of something to raise the eyebrows as United kept it down to one, making a welcome change from the lavish generosity of their defence over the past few games. It’s not even that upsetting when Leeds lose any more – it just adds to the cumulative weariness of a season long ruined by dishonest and self-seeking men off and on the field of play. The magnificent Leeds supporters have carried off all the laurels due at Elland Road this campaign. They have been there through thin and thinner; the highlights have been few, the disappointments and betrayals many – and yet still they turned up, those amazing members of the White Army, raucous and indomitable everywhere Leeds have played, startling fans on away grounds into an awed and respectful silence.
The Charlton game will not have added appreciably to those fans’ suffering. Their preoccupation is with off the field matters, as it has been for some time. It’s become more and more obvious that the one man out there honest enough to see how things are, and outspoken enough to lay it on the line as to what needs doing, is the man currently waiting to see if he will be allowed to set about saving a famous old club. Massimo Cellino has ranted his way into the hearts and minds of United’s fans, fans who notoriously love a nutter with passion in his heart. The decision as to his ownership of the Club will be made known in the next few days; on that decision, it is not fanciful to say, rests the whole future of a club that has been massively let down over the past few years – by just about anyone you care to name, aside from a select few players and staff. And, of course, those phenomenal fans.
The real losers coming out of this latest defeat to Charlton are, in fact, two clubs whose fans normally wish Leeds United no good at all, but who will have been on their knees praying for an unlikely Whites win. If there’s a crumb of comfort out there, I’m in the mood to seize on it – and the fact that Barnsley and Millwall would have been hoping for three points for Leeds does provide more than a hint of satisfaction. A glance at the league table makes this quite clear. We were looking at a group of death in the bottom four of the Championship, but it was noticeable that Charlton had a good few games in hand due to their Cup exploits. The win at Leeds has seen them open up a three point gap over Barnsley, despite the Tykes’ recent good form, and a comfortable FIVE points over a hapless Millwall side. And the Addicks still have a game in hand over Barnsley and two over Millwall. So Leeds’ abject failure against Charlton has done a power of no-good to two clubs whose fans’ attitude towards United leaves them deserving no favours from our part of West Yorkshire. I have to admit, that leaves me with a slightly malicious smile on my face. The fact that the normally-reliable Ross McCormack missed a late, late penalty to ensure the full three-point hammer-blow to the Tykes and the Bermondsey Scum, just added a slightly piquant touch. ‘Ave it, I thought.
As far as this blog is concerned, the priorities for the rest of this wretched season are few and simple. First, we need to have Cellino approved; this immediately changes the whole picture at Elland Road and provides a foundation upon which to build. The alternative, quite frankly, doesn’t bear thinking about. Secondly – let’s not have this latest defeat go to waste. Let Charlton Athletic use their three easy-gained points at our expense as a springboard to survival, and let’s see Barnsley and that odious, horrible club Millwall consigned to the lower leagues where they belong. And thirdly, on a totally unrelated plane, let Bayern Munich finish the job against Man U next week, before losing in their turn in the next round. These are relatively simple and realistic wishes; let them be granted. After this horrible, horrible season, I deserve no less – and I would hope a good proportion of my fellow Leeds fans would also draw some comfort in the fate of others, whilst celebrating a new era for ourselves, under our passionate, committed and insane Italian lunatic.
If that little lot comes true, then perhaps we can look forward to better times next season. A Championship that would be all the more fragrant and lovable without the likes of Millwall and Barnsley. A club under strong leadership, with money available to fund the big-club aspirations a big club should rightly have. That will do for me, as a starting point. If we can take the first step towards realising such a scenario in this fateful, historic week – then things will look, suddenly, not so bad.