In the immediate aftermath of Tuesday’s irritating (not disastrous) defeat at QPR, I wrote in anger about what I thought of Leeds United‘s performance – saying that, although we didn’t get the breaks, we also lacked bottle and class. I’d still stand by that, but possibly with the slight amendment that we seemed to lack bottle and class because we failed to show bottle and class. It’s a small but important difference.
In my heart of hearts, I know that this Leeds United squad is not short of courage or quality – they’ve demonstrated on many occasions this season, though not so much lately, that they possess both attributes. The comeback win at Aston Villa, hunting down a lone Wigan attacker like a pack of hungry wolves, late levellers in adverse circumstances as at Middlesbrough. Many such moments. I know all this and I’m proud of it. But I’m sure that no group of professional footballers would expect the fans to take this as read. It’s their job to go out and prove that they have the guts and the skill, game after game, over and over again, all season long. That determination to prove they’ve got the bottle and the class was missing at QPR. And it was right, even in post-defeat anger and hurt, to point that out.
I say this, because there are different schools of thought among Leeds fans, both in physical groups, in the pub post-game, perhaps, and online. Some feel they have a right to say what they like, however harsh, having paid their money – even to the extent of dismissing this or that player as “useless” or “should never wear the shirt again”. You see those tweets collected to make articles that purport to be the feelings of the fans as a whole but, in reality, it’s more representative of an extreme group of hypercritical malcontents.
Others hold the view that any criticism is A Bad Thing, and that we should all be totally positive as a condition of support, unwilling to hear or tolerate a bad word about anything to do with Leeds. Again, this is quite extreme, though in the opposite way – and it’s probably almost as unhelpful as the rabid critics referred to above. For me, there has to be the possibility of feeding back to the club when you honestly feel that standards are dropping. Some fans are knowledgeable, some are not – and some appear to feel they know better than the pros, be they on the playing staff or responsible for coaching and team selection.
But I firmly believe that the vast majority of fans know and love the game well enough, and have enough of a passion for their club, to be able to steer a useful middle path between the extremes, and vociferously support their club, defending them against attacks from outside, while reserving judgement when on-field performance dips.
I’m confident enough in my own regard for “my” club that I feel able to launch into them occasionally, without being thought of as negative or hostile. I wouldn’t be writing about Leeds United in the first place if I didn’t feel the highs and lows with as much pleasure and pain even as the players who trot out to the crowd’s applause. Like thousands of others, I was supporting United many years before any of those lads in the yellow shirts at QPR were born. So I wouldn’t like to think that anyone – players, staff, fellow fans or anybody else – would read what I wrote just after the final whistle last night, and think that I’m not a true fan, or that I’m disloyal or habitually negative. I’m not – anyone who knows me will know that I’m virtually defined by my abiding love for Leeds United.
It’s always a difficult situation after a disappointing defeat, especially in these circumstances, with the carrot dangling of going back top, and taking on a tired team who’d just reeled off seven straight defeats. But that’s no reason to hold back, so I said what I thought needed saying – and yes, I said it feeling bitterly angry. But that’s not to say I’m not a loyal and committed supporter – I went into print precisely because I am loyal and committed and because, loving the club and believing in the players and management, I have great expectations.
For what it’s worth, I believe that the players will be angrier and more disappointed in themselves than even the most gutted fan, and I think they will use that to bounce back at Elland Road on Friday against West Brom. I hope and believe that will happen.
But, if it doesn’t, and if we all have another bitter pill to swallow – then please don’t doubt my loyalty and commitment when, choking on that pill, I write another angry and critical piece. Because I really would be doing it for what I honestly see as the very best of reasons – to show that I care deeply. As we all do.
Two games in quick succession, and we are not able to rotate the team.
Not buying a goalscorer in Jan seems more foolish now Rob?
QPR were horrible, but we could not lift ourselves to score.
Time wasting and falling over was the QPR game plan, and it worked.
Marcelo is as low as I have seen him in recent weeks.
It’s not over yet!!
We’ll probably learn a hell of a lot about the team, the coach and the season on Friday night.
Great post Rob. I think supporting Leeds is like any long term relationship or love for family. Sometimes we feel so passionately, we can say things that whist true, on reflection are also hurtful or cutting (unlike our attack, currently !!) but it doesn’t diminish our love – I awoke this morning with my wife and two kids tip toeing around me because of my response last night ,anger, then upset, then despair. I’d also informed my 18 year old daughter last night that we wouldn’t be going on Friday and she didn’t need to ask for time off work, her response…..yeah right dad, Ill still ask just in case. We will of course be there, because like family, even after harsh words, I will support and defend them with my last breath. MOT
I’m afraid it’s the same old Leeds United; they build us up to knock us down. Leeds hasn’t been the same team since the start of the year, gradually getting worse. Not since Bielsa dropped Shackleton for out of form Ayling. Shackleton has pace to get forward and be a threat, unlike Ayling. We need a reaction on Friday now in a must win game. I won’t hold my breath.
I really hope the response is positive but right now i fear it will not be.
I have been amazed by what Bielsa has achieved this season, taking a bunch of mid table also rans to the dizzy heights. BUT many of us have always known that not even genius Bielsa cam make a silk purse out of a Sow’s ear and carry it to the end of a Championship season.
I love it when our youth gets it’s chance… but we rely on it too much. I said before the season started that we needed a centre back (Lots of links to FLINT but he went to BORO etc. etc.) With all the injuries we needed another proven goalscorer but we didn’t get one and there is a reluctance to play Brown (who was brilliant when UDDERS went up).
We keep lots of ball but don’t really create GOOD chances (replaced SAIZ with a Polish kid for tomorrow??? what about today???) and when we do we are not clinical enough.
I REALLY hope I’m totally wrong but I can see us losing a few from here and finishing 6th, play offs… no point turning up cos the team won’t. and then there will be pressure to sell the young guns (here we go again…).
Somebody please please please provide me with a pick me up, 3 points on Friday will do.
Oh!! before I finish this RANT…Just imagine what Bielsa could do if ORTA bought him some GOOD players.
Always difficult for me to read reports & watch highlights after a loss, but totally agree as usual with your latest analysis. There will be some defining moments that we argue over at the end of the season, Bamford’s injury, the loss of Saiz, Spygate, the James transfer & yes the QPR game ….. it’s not been plain sailing, but when has supporting our club ever been anything else! Never dull! MOT
A good article Rob, well thought out. I think I’m of an age where I can tread that middle ground BUT all these keyboard warriors that have probably watched a couple of matches live then sit back and watch Citeh and L’pool on S*y, compare the two then rubbish players left, right and centre push me towards the eternal optimist path. At the moment I feel like having a few quid on 5-0 on Friday 🙂 MOT .. ALAW
Like most of us Rob you’ve been supporting the mighty whites for years and years , that alone entitles you to vent your anger now and then.. I was hoping that brown would help fill an obvious gap in the Leeds attack, not sure he’s the answer either now.. MB says it wasn’t his type of game last night , what the hell does that mean ? It’s the championship, most games are like that , does his comments mean we can only expect to see him 2 or 3 games this season? I’ve settled my mind on the playoffs now and if has to be that way then I’m quite looking forward to another trip to Wembley, I know we all hate the playoffs, mainly because we always lose, but this will be the best team we’ve ever had in a playoff situation and as QPR proved last night , all bad runs have to come to a end at some point..
Got it off your chest now Rob you will be alright ,we all hurt after a loss and say things ,there is nothing wrong with constructive criticism, we all get criticized now and again we have to take on the chin, i would never criticize an individual player on any blogg but if the team played poor and they know they did we need to tell them.
I have loved this club all my life and will do till the day die, my Wife says that i am obsessed with my beloved Leeds and cant see anything wrong with that i am never going to change not at 77.M.O.T.
Stay strong Rob there are more bumps and roundabouts to come this is best Leeds team we have had in a while anything can happen we are all gutted by the result real supporters “Support through thick and thin or till the world stops turning around
I have supported Leeds for getting on 50 years and I treat it the same way as I do my family. We can say to each other exactly what we think and why but no outsider is allowed that privilege unless they know what is good for them. That applies to any fan in the world about their club. We the Leeds fans are passionate about Leeds and we all know last night was not one of their best performances. We need them to get their heads and feet around Friday and show us what they really can do, they have already done that this season no excuses go out there and do it again and keep doing it.
I threatened not to watch/listen again after last night but I will because that it is what I do. I love my club they are my only club, no other club exists. I do not do tw*tter, facebook, instagram or any other blog, just yours because I know I am reading good common sense and good humour but we all try to temper what we say and how we say it here.
So roll on Friday and give us your best we all know you can do it Leeds and we still love you.
“Football is about emotion” – Marcelo Bielsa! So, Rob, you are in good company with your feelings of disappointment and anger, as are all Leeds fans. The system Marcelo has Leeds playing is a joy to watch; the team play as an integrated whole. My growing concern is that the system discourages individual effort and makes us predictable in a way that opponents can prepare for and take advantage of. Siez was the kind of player who could change a game through his personal effort. Now he has gone (through mutual consent?) we have a team who are all marching to the same tune but the tune is becoming monotonous. Surprise is an emotion Marcelo might consider introducing into the remainder of the season.
Perspective that’s what we need. The next couple of opponents are exactly who we need to play to kick back into gear.
Remember Rio’s debut performance for Leeds. Not great was it. Izzy will get over it.
Since Derby we haven’t been great but we are still in a superb position.
We’ve come a long way since the dark days of Bates and League One etc. I never thought we would be where we are now after the finish of last season. Bielsa has raised the bar and with it expectations. We still have the capacity for promotion nothing has changed since last night on that front. MOT
Yes Rob, you were angry like the rest of us, but it was passion. We spend all day (week!) building up our hopes of a good performance, and are desperately disappointed when the lads fail to turn up. Inevitably we start thinking “here we go again”, but I do actually think that it is different this time. The commitment to succeed also comes from the top in the club, and it’s years since that was the case. The club should have done more to strengthen in the January window, and would have done were it not for the Swansea politics, and that may prove to be the difference if we fail to get up. Friday is important, and the fans desperately need a boost in confidence. So do the players……..
I didn’t see the game live but just watched the extended highlights at LUTV and I have to say we had a boat load of chances and very well worked chances at that. It looked to me like we were pretty unlucky on a couple of occasions with the keeper managing to keep the ball out somehow..but was that just creative editing? Stats say we had 13 corners to their 2..but of course no goals to show for it. My question is are we not all overreacting here to what appears to have been an unlucky loss? Think back to last season for truly bad performances and surely this loss would not have received the same level of vitriol it has this time. Anyway it is water under the bridge. I know we will get a reaction and we will give our all to beat West Brom. Onwards and upwards!
Well said Rob that’s what is special about our club the passion runs very deep. We all need to blow steem off now and then I hope all our players that run on to the pitch on Friday take note of the crowd and never say die for the club they are playing for that’s all anyone can ask for