Tag Archives: EFL

Leeds United’s Promotion Has Ripped the Life Out of the Football League – by Rob Atkinson

The Champions celebrate at the home of the play-off losers

For ten years, Leeds United has been the jewel in the EFL crown, a gem of a club amid the various also-rans, has-beens and nonentities which made up the Football League roster in any given season. Leeds was the fixture they all looked out for, everybody’s Cup Final, the club they just couldn’t stop talking about. That jewel in the crown status was always undeniable, everybody knew that United represented the biggest asset in the sub-Premier League game.

But Leeds were a diamond that was neither treasured, valued nor lovingly polished – instead they were continually chipped away at, treated with little or no respect, sniped at routinely, whenever the opportunity presented itself. Minus 15 and the golden share, Spygate, over-celebrating. The trumped-up charges kept on coming, a run of 59 games without a penalty exemplified a corrupt organisation’s determination to cling on to its biggest asset and favourite whipping boy. For the EFL, it was good while it lasted. With perennial TV stars Leeds United as its most famous, infamous and notorious member, the League retained a certain cachet, despite the sparkling allure of the Premier League.

Now Leeds United has disappeared from the English Football League and, bereft of its biggest draw, that sorry organisation must now reflect on what it has left to recommend it. And, whatever efforts might be made to talk up the spectator and viewer appeal of Derby County, Nottingham Forest or even, comically, Brentford, the inevitable conclusion will be that, without Leeds, the cupboard is pretty bare.

There was a certain karmic satisfaction, inevitably, in seeing United celebrate at the home ground of one of their most envious and resentful rivals. Binoculars of the mime variety were brandished by Leeds personnel on the pitch after United’s 3-1 success at Derby confirmed that our hungover reserves were more than a match for anything the EFL has to offer, with the pressure off and the title in the bag. Off the pitch, a jubilant Victor Orta had thoughtfully sourced some actual binoculars to help him cavort with the unrestrained joy of winners against the odds, for this title success has been the story of a club winning a league that wished them anything but success. How teeth must have been gritted, how bile must have been swallowed in the corridors of power as those scenes unfolded at Pride Park.

A guard of honour had been reluctantly formed prior to the game, with the Derby players, who had gleefully rubbed United’s noses in play-off defeat a year before, now having to applaud the Champions. The attitude of “we’ve got to do this, but we hate it” was exemplified by one silly young man in the Rams line-up who thought it cool and edgy to slow-time his clapping. He came across as a sulky kid, but his demeanour neatly summed up the attitude of the whole organisation that Leeds were now, gladly, leaving. A charge of “over-celebrating” followed, petty but typical. We reflected that, a year previously, Derby had escaped censure despite one of their number defecating on the Elland Road dressing room floor in a typically disgusting gesture of disrespect. One rule for Leeds, another for the rest. The game’s rulers were staying true to type right up to the bitter end.

Derby, of course, went on to play-off defeat against Villa, leaving that solitary win at Elland Road, after three previous defeats in the same season, as the highlight of their recent history. It’s still celebrated across their social media with unconscious irony, a determined focus on winning a battle before losing the war. A turd on the dressing room floor is such an apt symbol for that club.

But will I now feel moved to gloat over the reduced status of the Championship? Will I laugh triumphantly over the fact that Derby are currently preparing to host Barrow as United look forward to a visit to Anfield? If you think I’d be ready, willing and able to indulge in such blatant Schadenfreude – then you’d be absolutely, one hundred percent spot-on correct.

Marching On Together

‘DIARY OF A CHAMPIONSHIP FAN’ – PART ONE: WHEN ALL FOUR SEASONS BECOME ONE – by Patrick Hogan

Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything is always happy to publish quality writing when submitted. On this occasion, it’s a pleasure to present a reflective piece from a regular follower of this blog, Patrick Hogan, whose Facebook author page can be found here. Many thanks to you Patrick for an entertaining and illuminating read, and all the best with your endeavours.

-o0o-

24_Championship_badges

The Championship’s roster of 24 clubs

It usually happens about the middle of May. You start to go out more and stay off the laptop. You begin to notice the small things like the withering bluebells; the brightening mornings, the lack of the necessity for your ‘big coat’, and, oh yes, that your wife left you the previous August and you hadn’t noticed.

You are aware of the changing seasons now but all you see are empty weekends. And why is that? Because it’s an odd year. Not as in peculiar, but as in not even. Therefore there’s no World Cup or European Nations to fill the otherwise empty summer. Might as well get out and about then and enjoy the weather.

A walk? What’s one of those? Surely a time outdoors spoiled by a lack of football, casual glances at the Sunday League variety of playing or training on local pitches notwithstanding? And who wants to be accused of ‘Spygate’ however low the level? But something has to fill that vast void left by the culmination of the Championship play-off final. Of course, there will always be some plastic Premiership shenanigans on in the pub by virtue of Sky throughout the summer but that’s not the real thing. Soulless and uninspiring; corporate and toxic, and not something to get the dander up about. And crucially, it won’t involve YOUR team.

You’ve tried holidays abroad before but there’s a snag. It’s abroad isn’t it? Remember that time in Greece when you and your mate watched two domestic teams pirouetting about and displaying consummate ball skills on the taverna TV and you were almost hooked? That was until your mate said, ‘No one’s putting his foot in.’ And it was true. They weren’t. You had felt there was something missing and that had been it. Being given the space to showboat? What was competitive about that?

Such a palaver wouldn’t do for the fervent faithful back home. ‘They’, you knowledgeably informed your mate, ‘wouldn’t fancy it on a freezing January night at the Riverside.’ And that bolstered your belief in the hope that your home-grown talent would bring promotion to the promised Premiership land. And why? Because the overpaid and mainly foreign prima donnas that came down from there every year would not be able to cope with the physicality and lack of tabloid exposure of the Championship. In short, they didn’t like it up ‘em. Not one bit. They either wouldn’t perform or they’d be off – which would narrow down the list of teams that could achieve the promotion dream; yours being a likely contender in your eyes.

But somehow this comforting nugget of obvious information never seemed to translate into a realistic promotion drive for your team despite how baffling that seemed. For successive years your underfunded yet morally superior outfit did not seem to rise above the skewed financial impediments set by the Premiership to preserve their elite status no matter how much you tried to convince the now long-suffering wife that one day it would.

But as each summer dawned you knew it would begin again. The new and right manager; the promised cash injection and subsequent quality transfer incomings. Well reports of such. And this time it would be THE year. It always was. And as far as you could see always would be. And once again you’d have the bit between your teeth and absorb avidly every report of every player incoming and outgoing; training update, minor pre-season game, promising youngster, fitness bulletin – and it could all begin again.

Autumn would beckon like a long lost friend but you wouldn’t care. The nights might draw in but you would be back in the swing and glued to your screen for the latest titbit of news every day – even reading those nonsense articles that plied hooking headlines skimmed from fans tweets.

Christmas might come and be an annoyance – a bit like the unnecessary two-week international breaks – but there would be no irksome presents to worry about buying for that now errant, wife; unless she had returned and you hadn’t noticed.

It might get cold but you could always get your ‘big coat’ out again and dream of once again sitting on a draughty terrace instead of having to sit inside a draughty terrace.

And when the clocks went forward the one in your car would show the correct time again but you’d be embroiled in the endgames which would produce the final four play-off contenders. At least you might be involved – but your team would long have ceased to be. Yet you might find out what it takes to be there at the finish.

And throughout there will have been snowdrops; crocuses, daffs, and later bluebells, and they will have all passed you by, glued as you’d been to the promotion marathon.

And soon it will be mid-May again and the wife might have left once more; or not. And four seasons will have passed before your unseeing eyes. That’s because for you my friend, there is only one season. And it’s the most important one of all.’

FA Has Strategy to Keep Leeds’ Pontus Jansson OUT of Play-Offs?   –   by Rob Atkinson

 

jansson-and-co

Pontus Jansson – a marked man?

Speculation is rife ahead of Leeds United‘s home clash with Wolverhampton Wanderers that – as well as the obvious necessity to take 3 points from the game – United have prioritised the disciplinary dilemma over their inspirational defender Pontus Jansson

Jansson will face a 3 match ban with his next caution, and the feeling around Elland Road is that it might be no bad thing if that caution happened today. This would rule Jansson out of the last three games of the regular season, but he’d be back for the play offs – should United qualify. 

With Liam Cooper only part-way through a long suspension for a similar offence to the one the Pride of Devon’s Marcos Rojo got clean away with, United’s defensive resources would be stretched thin if Jansson were to be suspended. But there are good back-up options at full-back, and Luke Ayling can play central defence if needed. So, for Pontus to get a ban after the Wolves game would be risky – but it’d be a calculated risk. Or, so some are saying. But are they reckoning without the beady eye of the football authorities? 

Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything has managed to get the point of view of an anonymous FA official – we shall refer to him as Mr. Lee D. Shater (because that’s the git’s name). Mr. Shater was intrigued at the idea of “getting the suspension out of the way”. He laughed, mirthlessly, adjusted his Sheffield Wendies club tie, toyed with his Huddersfield Town kennel-club membership card, and remarked, “You people need to be aware that we’re on the lookout for this kind of thing. If Jansson serves a ban, and is back for the play-offs, our people will be after him from the first whistle. If he so much as raises an eyebrow at an opponent, he’ll be off – and it’ll be goodbye Wembley and Sayonara Premier League, you Yorkshire suckers”. 

When asked if this rather blatant admission did not in fact constitute undue prejudice against Leeds United, Mr. Shater replied, “No more than usual. You live by the sword, you die by the sword. You want Jansson available, we’d rather he wasn’t. Stop whinging and suck it up, you grimy Leeds oiks”. 

Watch this space.