Sadly, the decisive victory indicated in the title tells the story of the differing levels of support enjoyed by the two teams – not the pallid battle, deservedly edged by the visitors, on the pitch. Leeds United did little to show they merit such loyalty and patience from their unfailingly magnificent support – while Cardiff City showed enough to make them feel that their fans have been a little uncaring, sending them alone into what is normally an intimidating arena at Elland Road.
In summary, naive defending and a lack of ideas and execution up front cost Leeds dear – as has too often been the case in the last few seasons. A bright spot was a home début goal for young Kal Phillips as well as his promising performance, one that gained him a generous round of applause when subbed shortly after the hour. There was, quite frankly, little else to shout about.
The away goals were greeted by an eerie silence, with none present inclined to celebrate them; mute reproach for the en masse decision of the Bluebirds fans to stay home. An odd occasion altogether, one that provided far more questions than answers.
One particularly burning question has to be about the wisdom or otherwise of getting rid of an assistant manager in SteveThompson, who had been doing well in the job and who had been pursued vigorously and recruited by Neil Redfearn as the very chap for the job and the right hand man he wanted. Thompson appears to have gone for the crime of using a disrespectful word about one of the United hierarchy, Nicola Salerno, a man who has also, apparently, since departed. So Leeds have ultimately cut off their nose to spite their face, not for the first time, isolating their manager, frustrating their long-suffering fans and generally screwing up big time. The man who will ultimately carry the can for the team’s performance, the unfortunate Redders, was not consulted and remains thwarted and disappointed. Such is the crazy and unimpressive way of things at a world-famous football club which is slowly dying for lack of care.
At the moment, Leeds do not deserve the loyal and fanatical fans. They do not deserve the jewels now being polished in and around the first team after the Academy unearthed them – and they don’t deserve the professionals trying to do a professional job – while hampered at every turn by clueless amateurs.
It’s difficult to say, right now, what the future holds – as this season fizzles out into yet another damp squib of mediocrity. But it’s clear enough what we need. Someone who cares for the club, someone who will do what is right for Leeds United instead of pandering to their own ego. Whether we will get that, or anything like it, has to be an area of immense doubt.
Time is not on Leeds United’s side. The legacy of glory and global renown will not sustain the club’s profile forever. Already too long in the shadows, a renaissance is urgently needed and somewhat overdue. A couple more humdrum seasons of empty promises, crudely-practised expectation management and barefaced lies – and it will probably be too late to salvage that big club aura.
One day, scarily soon perhaps, Leeds United might be a club whose fans think, “Sod it – we’ll not bother today. We’ll boycott it and browse the aisles in B&Q instead.” It can happen – we saw that yesterday.
If Leeds United are to be saved from becoming just another Cardiff, Huddersfield or Blackpool – things need to change, radically for the better. And soon.
Before it really is too late.