Tag Archives: loyalty

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

leeds-fans

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 Utd’s Luke Murphy Puts Loyalty Before Pounds Sterling   –   by Rob Atkinson

  
Luke Murphy has seen his stock rise dramatically among the demanding constituency of Leeds United fans of late – and not just for his markedly improved form during the latter part of last season. That upping of his game, to more nearly approach what is rightly expected of a man with a seven-figure price tag, was certainly welcome enough, and warmly received by the Elland Road congregation. The resulting blast of approval must have been music to the ears of a man whose tepid earlier displays had earned him more brickbats than bouquets. But these recent accolades have, of course, resulted primarily from Murphy’s willingness to sign a new deal – reportedly on significantly lower terms. 

Just run that by yourself again, with the stereotypical modern, mercenary, grasping footballer in mind for the purposes of comparison. Take Raheem Sterling, for example. That young man’s surname bears more than a coincidental similarity to the unit of currency in these islands. This is a young lad of sublime talent who has proved himself, by his actions of late, not big enough to play for a club like Liverpool FC, much less their rabidly fanatical fans.

Sterling will have benefited greatly in financial terms from his move to Man City. He may even win a Cup or two in the seasons to come, as he sits on the bench for Manchester‘s premier club. But he has lost far more in terms of reputation and respect – though exactly how much that means to today’s young, deeply shallow, relentlessly materialistic Princes of Association Football must be open to grave doubt.

So there you have Sterling on the one hand. And there’s our own Luke Murphy on the other. You might wonder what options there were in front of young Luke, before he committed the next four years of his career to Leeds. It’s a fair bet that there will have been an agent hovering somewhere close by, whispering blandishments of temptation into those callow ears. It’s good, after all, for agents when footballers move on – and if Murphy could be persuaded his future lay elsewhere, then you can be sure that Leeds would have been looking to recoup their £1m outlay. And that’d have meant some wedge for Luke – and any agent – quite apart from the terms he might expect from a prospective buying club. 

But Murphy has opted to stay, and what he has gained in increased security by the greater length of his deal, he has largely lost by virtue of a reduced weekly wage. He’s still remarkably well-off, clearly, compared to other lads of his age – or mine, come to that. But it does warm the cockles to see a young pro prioritising where he wants to be, over what he wants to be paid. 

The contrast between Sterling and Murphy is stark, and it goes way beyond matters such as ability and potential. Sterling has – it’s blindingly obvious – had his head turned to a degree which makes that poor young lass out of The Exorcist seem comparatively stiff-necked. It is a pity that such a major talent should have been so poorly advised as to treat the greatest club and the greatest fans he will ever play for, quite so shoddily.

Luke Murphy, in that precisely identical situation of playing for the greatest club and fans he’ll know in his career, has chosen to show respect rather than contempt, humility rather than arrogance. It’s an attitude that deserves reward, and this blog wishes him a triumphant season, crowned with success. As for Sterling, we wish him not too many splinters in his arse as he bench-warms his way to cups and titles with Citeh. 

It does rather beg the question of whether we Leeds fans should perhaps be wary what we ask for, the danger being that we might get it. Obviously, we all want promotion, followed by establishment as a Premier League power, with silverware and continental domination, for preference, as is surely our Don-given destiny. But, should that come to pass, will we really be able to relate to and respect the wearers of those iconic white shirts? You do have to wonder. 

Sadly, when Leeds do become successful again, the squad we’ll be supporting is likely to contain rather more Sterling-like characters – eye on the main chance and sod the supporters – than it will the good, honest Murphy type. That, we can assume, will be part of the price of success. And we all crave success – don’t we?

The thing is though, this story of two young footballers, Sterling and Murphy, leaves me wondering if that success would really be worth the price we’d most probably have to pay. 

Happy New Year to All Leeds Fans; the Best Fans in the World – by Rob Atkinson

Spontaneous reaction from an awestruck Derby fan

Spontaneous reaction from an awestruck Derby fan

Amid the doom and gloom of 2014, let’s all remember that we still have one massive asset – the incredible support that Leeds United is struggling vainly to deserve. The support is the lifeblood of any club, and we have simply the best around. This is not just the biased ravings of a Leeds lunatic with white-tinted spectacles on. It’s the view of other fans too, even some of those who hate us the most. The picture accompanying this paragraph is of an awestruck reaction from a Derby County fan after last night’s debacle (I don’t endorse ALL the text of this, by the way). And below, I reproduce without embellishment the views of a Cardiff fan who attended a United away game at Blackburn, which make for edifying reading, to say the very least. It’s quite long, not totally approving of ALL the antics of United’s travelling army – and many of you will have seen it before anyway. But it’s useful to remind ourselves of the high esteem in which this club’s support is held in certain parts of what might be deemed enemy territory:

I used to hate Leeds United.

I’d gleefully join in with ‘We all hate Leeds scum’ chants and sing about how they weren’t famous anymore. If there was no derby game that season it would be the first fixture I looked for and would anticipate it like a cup game.

Then I grew up a bit. I went to Leeds University for three years and saw how passionate the city is about their local team. In most cities without a team in the top flight you are just as likely to see people in Man Utd, Liverpool, Arsenal or Chelsea shirts than whoever the local team may be, but it couldn’t be further from the truth in Leeds. If you’re from Leeds, you support Leeds United – end of story. I can’t imagine what the punishment is for someone from Leeds supporting Manchester United, but I imagine it involves some kind of public stoning before being beheaded by Lucas Radebe.

As I developed a more reasoned outlook on football I began to wonder why just so many teams hate Leeds United with such a passion. Their location means they have a higher number of geographical rivals than most, but this doesn’t explain why football grounds around the UK reverberate to the tune of ‘We all hate Leeds scum’ from supporters of clubs that Leeds couldn’t care less about. From what I understand from my experience of Leeds fans (and feel free to correct me in the comments if I’m wrong), they hate Manchester United, Galatasaray and Chelsea, dislike Sheffield Wednesday and couldn’t really care less about anybody else. So why do they anger the footballing public so much?

The answer for the older generation is presumably the fact they used to be good. Really good. During the 60’s and 70’s they won several domestic trophies and deserved to win the European Cup, denied only by some ‘interesting’ referee decisions in favour of Bayern Munich. However, the last time Leeds won a trophy was 1992 and they were relegated from the Premier League in 2004, even dropping as low as the third tier for a short time. So if jealousy isn’t the reason for the widespread Leeds hatred, what is? I joined 7000 or so Leeds fans at Blackburn Rovers to see if they deserved the title of ‘Dirty Leeds’.

As soon as I arrived in Blackburn you could tell that this was more than an away day, this was more like an invasion. The streets of Blackburn were absolutely filled with Leeds fans, with a large section of them heading to the Postal Order pub. This was the place to be for the next hour, as the visitors from Yorkshire produced a fantastic atmosphere inside the local Wetherspoons, better than most teams can create inside a stadium. The only people inside the pub not having a great time were the overworked bar staff and the couple who had chosen spectacularly poorly when picking a venue for their first date. Safe to say they didn’t stay very long, and date number two doesn’t seem particularly likely.

Two large tables turned into a stage, with the Leeds fans taking it in turns to play the part of conductor. “On the table for the lads” would be chanted at the individual of choice, who would then climb up onto the table and start a song, or be booed mercilessly if they refused. One particular visitor whose size would probably most politely be described as ‘Extra Extra Large’ was encouraged onto the table a number of times, refusing each time until he was bought two pints. After downing them both in one go, he took a run up, sped towards the table with determination, leapt through the air like a salmon and…made it about six inches off the ground, crashing into the table and falling on the floor. They didn’t ask him again after that.

While the away support did have plenty of humour, there was also a touching side to a number of their chants, paying tribute to Richard Ismail, known as ‘Moody’ to Leeds fans. Moody was a lifelong Leeds fan who recently passed away after spending over a year in hospital following an assault in Sheffield. “We’re all Moody aren’t we” was chanted throughout the afternoon, with the same phrase written on a flag displayed proudly at Ewood Park.

As the visitors got drunker and drunker, the chanting got wilder and wilder. Starting at “Number one is Michael Brown”, they made it all the way to “and 100, is Michael Brown” before insisting that they all dreamed of a team of Michael Browns. I’ve seen him play, and one Michael Brown is bad enough, never mind an army of them. It was at this point that things got a little out of hand, as the Leeds fans chanted “Let’s pretend we scored a goal”, counted down from ten and then went absolutely mental. Beer flew through the air, tables were overturned and pint glasses were smashed. The pub decided that it was probably time to close and the bell for time at the bar was rung at about 1:45pm. As fans filed out towards the ground or a different bar, it looked like a bomb had gone off. In fairness, many Leeds fans apologised for the damage and helped to turn the tables back over before they left.

Normally in my reports I would spend a great deal of time writing about the game itself, but honestly, it was just awful. Not so long ago Leeds and Blackburn had wonderful sides which would have made this fixture a joy to watch, but these days have gone due to the curse of the modern-day football club owner. The Venky’s have run Blackburn into the ground, while a combination of Peter Ridsdale and Ken Bates have done their best to kill off Leeds United.

Leeds had one chance of note, a beautiful flick from Ross McCormack setting up Danny Pugh who looked certain to score – only denied by a wonderful save by Blackburn’s Kean (not that one). Blackburn had a few more opportunities, forcing Paddy Kenny into making some good saves, but in all honesty it was a game worthy of being 0 – 0, and that would have been generous. The winner came just before half time, Tommy Spurr sweeping the ball into the net from a corner after some lacklustre defending.

The real story of the day was the Leeds fans. More than a third of those in attendance were from the away side, and they were also responsible for 95% of the noise. A small pocket of Blackburn fans to the right of the away end did their best to create an atmosphere, but attempting to take on 7000 Leeds supporters in an atmosphere contest is like attempting to storm a US military base with a plastic spoon, you’re not going to get anywhere. There were effectively four away ends, with the Yorkshire side bringing so many fans that they had taken up the entire stand, usually segregated to contain both home and away fans.

They sung and supported the team for 90 minutes, and didn’t do anything worthy of the ‘Dirty Leeds’ label as far as I could see. I was starting to realise that the reason so many people hate Leeds is because they aren’t Leeds. Leeds United are a reminder of how good English football used to be and the atmosphere which made the country the envy of Europe. These days are long gone, surpassed by Germany, Poland, the Balkans and many more, but the passion of Leeds United remains. When you watch a Leeds game, you don’t feel as though you are in the stale and sanitised world of English football. It almost feels as though a Leeds United away end belongs in a museum, a reminder to fans within England that watching football is something to be enjoyed, rather than endured.

Now, these Leeds fan are by no means perfect, the destruction of the pub was uncalled for and some of the chants about Sheffield Wednesday manager Dave Jones were tasteless at best, but arguably no worse than the kind of thing you’d hear at countless other grounds around the country on a Saturday afternoon.

I think far too many people fall into the trap of hating Leeds because that is what they are told they should do. Leeds fans have continued to show fantastic loyalty to their club, despite the fact they have suffered an even more spectacular fall from grace than Miley Cyrus. I have no doubts that the Leeds team of the past was well worthy of hatred, and in the old days of hooliganism being rife across England the damage done by their fans to various cities and towns is well-known. However these days are long gone, and hating Leeds United is now a fashion statement for most, rather than anything tangible.

One incident long after the game had finished demonstrated the commendable attitude that Leeds fans have to supporting their team, despite the fact that they are, more often than not, terrible at the actual football side of things. I was amongst 300 or so Leeds fans waiting at Mill Hill station, waiting for a connection back to Blackburn Central to head home. First of all a train arrived on the opposite side of the station, heading towards Preston. Several of the more drunk Leeds fans got on this service anyway, despite the fact it was heading in completely the wrong direction. Those who remained on the platform began doing the conga up and down the outside of the train, singing “do do do, you’re getting on the wrong train!” This was followed by a reworking of their earlier chant, as they bellowed “Let’s pretend our trains arrived”, counting down from ten and leaping around the platform like they’d just won the European Cup.

The author then challenges his Cardiff-supporting fellow fans to state why they hate Leeds, if not for the spurious reasons he’s cited in his piece. Again, I don’t agree with every last syllable – but to me, it’s remarkable how a fan of another team so completely “gets” what supporting Leeds United is all about. Take that quote from midway through: “I was starting to realise that the reason so many people hate Leeds is because they aren’t Leeds. Leeds United are a reminder of how good English football used to be and the atmosphere which made the country the envy of Europe.” Doesn’t that sum up perfectly the Leeds effect on the game as a whole? Could it be better put? I couldn’t do it.

These two snippets of enemy intelligence are, if you think about it, independent verification of what we all know to be true, deep down. We are United and we are the best. And it’s us, the fans, who truly are United. We’re the lifeblood of the club, the essence of Yorkshire’s Number One. That’s something to be genuinely proud of, when so much about the club is shamefully inadequate.

So – a very Happy New Year to the best supporters in the world. Maybe 2015 will after all bring us a little closer to what we all desire with every fibre of our being: better times for our beloved club. Whatever happens, we’ll still be here, we’ll still be the best. We always knew that – but it’s good to know that others know it too.

Keep it loud and proud in 2015 and beyond. Keep singing and shouting and being The Best.

We Are Leeds.

Newcastle Bid for Leeds Skipper: Might McCormack End Up at “Any Old Club” After All? – by Rob Atkinson

Those loveable Geordies

Those loveable Geordies

As a statement of intent and a welcome expression of loyalty, Leeds United skipper Ross McCormack’s tasty little soundbite towards the end of the season would take some beating. “I think about the feeling of being at Elland Road on the last day of the season, winning promotion and being captain,” said United’s 27 year old, 29 goal top-scorer. “That would surpass just playing in the Premier League for any old club and I don’t say that lightly.”

It was indeed a weighty statement, neither to be made nor taken lightly. McCormack was letting us know of his burning ambition to play at the highest level, whilst at the same time telling us that it would take a special club to tempt him to do this in any other but the white shirt of Leeds United. Ross is happy here, he can see himself achieving much at Elland Road – if the club’s ambition is seen to match his own. And if not, then he is well enough aware of his own value as a potent striker to be sure that he could command a move to another club in the same bracket, reputation-wise, as Leeds.

All of which on-the-record disclosure makes me feel that the rumoured interest from Newcastle might be just the start of what could develop into a bit of a clamour for Mr McCormack’s valuable services – that’s if his one-to-one with Signor Cellino has left him thinking that his future would be best spent elsewhere. If he is to leave, then this one rumoured bid could spark off an auction – with, presumably, more feasible suitors waiting in the wings.

It’s not as if McCormack will necessarily be on the radar of the “Big Four”, after all – but you’d have thought there might be interest from the likes of European make-weights Spurs and Everton, just below that élite level and pushing hard. To see our Ross go to a Newcastle or a Man U or a Southampton, though, would be somewhat perplexing. Such a transfer would put him smack in the middle of the “any old club” territory that he’d appeared conclusively to rule out. There are even rumours of interest from yet further down the food chain, with relegation fodder West Ham and Joke League Champions Glasgow Celtic reported to be sniffing around.

As far as this week’s alleged bidders Newcastle are concerned, they do have prior form as stalking horses. Their enquiry to Everton about the availability of Wayne Rooney led directly to the then-effective forward making his move to Man U – back when they were a leading club. So you may well surmise that mention of the long-trophyless Geordies, as prospective employers of the talented McCormack, might spark more serious interest among bigger, more serious clubs.

The more you look at it, then, the less likely it might appear that McCormack will end up in those oddly humbug-esque black and white stripes. And if he did go to the Wonga Stadium, you’d have to question his motivations – an area that he’s been at some pains to elucidate to those of us Leeds fans out here who have looked for ongoing reassurances of his commitment to Elland Road. Has it become a case of any Premier League port in a storm for Rossco? Or is he actually still committed to achieving success at the club to which he’s time and time again reiterated his loyalty and commitment? This blog thinks we should be informed.

Time, as ever, will eventually tell. One significant factor is the length of time left on our leading scorer’s contract. That would tend to drive the price upwards should an auction commence – and then it would rapidly become a question of where lie the best interests of Leeds United Football Club.

And whatever the priorities and motivations of Mr Ross McCormack – whatever the level of interest out there from Premier League clubs of whatever status and calibre – it is those best interests of our beloved Whites that should be the deciding factor. Not even our top goalscorer, our heart-on-the-sleeve inspiration in that No. 44 shirt, is bigger than the club – and that, my fellow vile animals, is the real bottom line.

Loyalty Is a One-Way Street in Alex Ferguson’s World – by Rob Atkinson

Taggart:  Why I Was Always Right, by the waaaaaaaayy.

Taggart: Why I Was Always Right, by the waaaaaaaayy

After nearly half a season of relative silence from their much-missed guru, hero, source of inspiration and occasional bête-noire, the media breathed a collective sigh of relief last week. The Ego Had Landed. Fergie was back, at least in print, and those fangs were still bared and ready. The latest autobiography of Alex Ferguson has shown the old curmudgeon has lost none of his ability to dispense vitriol, none of his elephantine memory for anyone who has ever annoyed him – and certainly none of his oddly unilateral approach to the issue of loyalty.

Apparently, during Fergie’s tenure, loyalty was a word much bandied-about behind the scenes at the Theatre of Hollow Myths. That it was evidently used to specify the absolute need for a slavish adherence to the Govan Guv’nor’s every wish goes almost without saying. This requirement extended beyond the confines of Man U. Should a rival manager ever have the brass neck and utter nerve to question or criticise the great man, a familiar growl would issue from his lair along the lines of “After all I’ve done fae him…”

Fergie was not a man to be crossed, not by subordinates, not by rivals, not even by his nominal superiors. Criticism was not to be tolerated. Resistance was futile. His was as near to an absolute rule as existed at any football club anywhere, certainly in the 21st century. Fergie’s Man U was the last autocracy in the professional game – a factor upon which, extending as it did to terrified administrators and wary match officials, was founded their unprecedented success.

The latest in a series of literary self-portraits has, in the august opinion of respected sportswriter Patrick Barclay, little new to offer in terms of revelation – the longed-for “blowing the lid off” the game, or portions thereof. What we do get is a series of little packages of poison as Alexander the Great reviews the vast canvas of his career and delivers his venom to those he believes were found wanting. The loyalty so prized by SAF in his managerial career is evidently a currency he does not feel it necessary to repay. This will come as no surprise to the likes of Brian Kidd, now the Manchester City assistant boss, or Gordon Strachan, now manager of Scotland. Each of them have had both barrels between the shoulder blades in the past, and to their credit they’ve largely maintained a dignified silence. But Fergie was in his Man U job then, and there were certain perceived perils associated with biting back at a figure who had managed to create for himself a tyrannical position whereby he held sway over most of football. Will he benefit from such forbearance after this latest raft of assassinations?

In this latest addition to the former manager’s stable of autobiographies (the whole possibly to be known as “Why I Was Always Right, Vols. 1-5”), the less-than-likeable Alex has turned his baleful gaze on, among others: David Beckham (the football boot in the eye incident, marrying a pop star and wanting to move to a bigger club); Arsene Wenger (Pizzagate and being offensively intelligent); Roberto Mancini (failing to sell Tevez when Fergie thought he should and then going on to win the Title with malice aforethought and a 6-1 tonking of Man U on their own manor); Rafa Benitez (for having the sheer bad taste to tell it like it was and also, with no evident irony, for being a “control freak”); then, last but not least here, the Rio Ferdinand drug-testers whose fault it apparently was that the former defender “forgot” to provide a sample when required. It’s an impressive list, but not exhaustive.

At least one other target, casually denigrated in the course of this epic litany of nasties, wants to have a word in Fergie’s ear. Ex-goalkeeper Marc Bosnich, described as a “terrible professional” by the man who nevertheless signed him twice, is putting a fairly stoical face on it, but appears not to be best-pleased and has hinted that he’d appreciate a frank discussion face to face.

The over-riding impression, delivered with all the subtlety of a Royston Keane tackle, is that anyone in his club who fancied himself bigger than the boss would have to either learn the error of his ways and that right swiftly – or get out. Keane himself is one who was moved on, in some haste, after “disagreements” with Ferguson. Keane it is now who remarks that his ex-manager, for all his preaching about loyalty, doesn’t know the meaning of the word, a sentiment which will be echoed by many of the men who served Ferguson well and have now been left bullet-riddled by the former chief’s paranoid rhetoric. The latest proof of this anomaly runs to many thousands of words, is available from this week, imaginatively titled “My Autobiography” and will cost you a decidedly prettier penny if you want your copy signed by lifelong socialist and latter day profiteer Sir Fergie himself.

It seems likely that the Ferguson Factor is what is missing from this season’s pallid Man U; the fear that gave them that edge seemingly gone with the wind. But on this most recent evidence of the choleric and treacherous nature of the man, who – other than the many millions of Man U fans from Torquay to Jakarta and back again, plus a few sensation-staved tabloid hacks – just who will really miss him now he’s gone?

Brian McDermott’s “100% Commitment to Leeds” Puts the Onus on GFH to Back Their Man – by Rob Atkinson

Brian - Aiming High at Leeds United

Brian – Aiming High at Leeds United

This week’s speculation, in the wake of Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni’s sacking, that Leeds United boss Brian McDermott might be the anointed replacement, could so easily have turned into a lengthy “will he, won’t he” saga. Quite possibly, this might have ended in more grief and disillusionment for Leeds and its fans, who have been through this sort of thing before. What actually happened was that Brian used the earliest possible opportunity, his pre-match press conference ahead of the Bolton fixture this weekend, to confirm his 100% commitment to the Leeds United cause, his appreciation of the relationship he enjoys with the fans and his acute awareness and pride that he’s in charge of one of English football’s true giants. Carlsberg don’t do affirmations of faith, but if they did….

There is absolutely no reason to doubt one iota of McDermott’s sincerity in anything he said at that press conference. He went beyond the strict dictates of frankness by acknowledging that yes, he would love one day to be Ireland manager. He has always, he admitted, regretted his decision to align himself with England as a player. His family connections to the Emerald Isle are strong; you get the distinct impression that, if he were not already committed heart and soul to the restoration of Leeds to the game’s Top table, Brian McDermott would be quite willing, eager and even able to swim the Irish Sea in order to secure the honour of being Republic manager. But Brian is so committed; indeed, heart and soul would seem to be a masterly understatement of the depth of that commitment. This confirmation that he’s at Elland Road to do a job, along with his earlier, only half-joking, thanks to Reading FC for sacking him and thus affording him the chance to reign at Leeds, sends out a massively positive message to all with a love of Yorkshire’s sole giant. At last we have a man who talks the talk, seems equipped to walk the walk, and will not be deflected even by the call of his lifelong ambition. It was a banquet of a press conference for Leeds fans, a veritable feast of reassurance.

But after the feast comes the reckoning – and Brian has not been slow to nail down the advantage his stated position has given him. This is not to say that, Rooney style, he’s seeking further to enhance his own remuneration on the back of turning down overtures from elsewhere. Instead, he’s been swift to speak out in the press and beseech the ongoing support of owners GFH. Brian’s version of putting the squeeze on is strictly altruistic, totally dedicated to securing the tools he needs to tackle the job in hand. He doesn’t want a cushier position, he just wants to be able to look at the possibilities – currently limited to the loan market – and shop around with an unerring eye for a player or two and the enhancement of his squad the only objective in mind.

GFH must be well aware of the extreme impracticality of keeping a want-away manager against his will. Contracts, in those situations, are about as much use as a penalty spot in the Man U 18-yard area. The fact of the matter is that, had McDermott wanted to head off to Ireland to take up any offer made to him, then he would almost certainly have been able to do so. It would simply have been a matter of haggling over compensation, a scenario that’s been played over time and time again as managers and players theoretically tied down to a deal basically proceed to do as they like. That Brian McDermott has chosen to stick to his current task, running the possible risk of losing any chance of fulfilling his heart’s desire in the future, speaks volumes for the man and for his honesty. GFH should be looking at the leader they’ve got at the helm, and asking themselves what possible excuse there could be for failing to stretch a point or two, for failing to make the effort to dig down the back of the settee and find a few bob to fund his recruitment drive. Principles like “shipping one out before you can bring one in” are all very well when you’re talking to an accountant, but not likely to cut much ice with the Leeds support, who see their manager nobly keeping his mind on the job – and who will want to see him given every chance of succeeding.

Brian McDermott has played this very, very well indeed – which is not to say he is being sly or exploitative. He’s simply made his mind up to succeed at Leeds, and has made his position clear: that he expects everybody to pull together in achieving that end. Strong as his position at Elland Road may have been a week ago, it is now very much stronger; the Leeds owners would do well to respect that, respect their manager’s professional judgement – and dig deep for victory.