Tag Archives: defeat

You Can Be Angry, You Can Be Critical, and Yet STILL Be a Loyal Leeds Fan – by Rob Atkinson

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Leeds fans United behind team and club


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.

MOT

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Leeds Lose Again With McDermott Hampered by Poverty of Options – by Rob Atkinson

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It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.  Pleasing results elsewhere involving those teams Leeds fans just love to hate could provide only the coldest of comfort as United slipped to defeat as well – the bitterest of pills to swallow against a club and fans who are the very antithesis of what football should be all about.  On days like this, you just have to look elsewhere and get what consolation you can from defeat for both Sheffield clubs, for Barnsley, for West bloody Ham and, best of all, for Man U, the archetypal scum club themselves.  All very well and good in its way – but football is about winning. There seems to be no immediate prospect of that at Leeds.

So – Leeds United went to Millwall and lost 2-0.  Millwall, a nasty, horrible team with nasty, horrible fans from a nasty, horrible part of London.  Surely, the worst of times.  We can but hope so; things can’t get much worse than this third league defeat on the trot – 4th in a row if we include the midweek cup tie in Newcastle – and fingers will be crossed that our early season form has now bottomed out.  Derby away though loom after the home clash with Bournemouth – not the most promising pair of fixtures to start our revival and charge towards promotion.  I jest.

Then again, it’s Derby that we’re nestled up against in the twilight zone of mid-table Championship anonymity, along with Wigan – all three of us on 11 points as those imprudent, financially reckless clubs who actually saw fit to invest in their squads race ahead at the top.  Where’s the bloody justice, eh?   Answer me that.  A bare couple of weeks ago, things had looked much rosier.  Brian had just reaffirmed his commitment to Leeds United, and the lads promptly went and won at Bolton.  It’s been all Bleak House ever since; now we find ourselves 9 points off the automatic places and – much more relevant, this – 7 off the play-off zone.  The owners’ attempts to quash any expectations of promotion notwithstanding, it’s not good enough.  Not for Leeds United and not, you suspect, for Brian McDermott.

The fact is that, even if the GFH Master Plan (what a document that must be) doesn’t require promotion this season, it must at least demand some evidence of progress; and the customer base, or “fans” as they used to be called, will be in just the mood to let GFH know that it’s their cautious approach to investment that is holding the club back from even looking like potential challengers.  If the support is unhappy – and they are – then GFH are on the edge of a precipice in terms of the latitude they have to run Leeds the way they want to.  There will be too much pressure, too many people voting with their feet, for the investment they’ve made to promise any return in the foreseeable future.  That’s a scary thought for any investment banker.

Things have to look up for Leeds, and soon.  An influx of quality is needed, as the manager frankly admits.  McDermott knows he’s being asked to hold back the tide with a wall made of Saudi sand, and he’s not daft enough to carry the can for a situation that’s not his fault; not of his own making.  We have the man for the job – that much should not be doubted. But like anyone else, he’ll struggle to succeed if he doesn’t have the tools and the other backing anyone needs from above in any chain of command.  Struggle is not what Leeds fans are paying over the odds to witness, but it is the scenario that’s unfolding before our increasingly horrified eyes.  This situation simply has to be nipped in the bud.  GFH -it’s over to you.