Thursday, 20 September 2012

Familiar Feeling



Article by Ben Dixon 

Leeds fans are well used to the feeling of disappointment in recent years. Whether it's poor performances on the pitch, players being sold or lack of funds. They've begun to expect the worst and savour every moment of success that there is. And even these are few and far between at the moment. Something that all Leeds fans know for definite is that we're going nowhere fast under Ken Bates. It has now been 113 days since Leeds United confirmed that talks were taking place about a potential takeover of the club, and the early optimism of fans thinking that Bates was finally going has slowly turned into tired pessimism, with fans getting more and more frustrated about the lack of information the club has given out and the length of time it's been going on for. Neil Warnock himself has admitted the club can't function at it's best while the uncertainty is hanging in the air, and it doesn't look like it will be resolved any time soon either with Bates saying in his program notes from Tuesday night's game that it is 'progressing slowly'. All this is bad news for fans who want  to see Leeds back in the promised  land of the Premier League as soon as possible.

Due to the uncertainty around Elland Road performances on the pitch have inevitably suffered, along with attendances. Tuesday's game saw just under 20,00 fans turn out. To any other club in this league that would be an impressive number, but not to Leeds. Elland Road was less than half full. And who can blame the fans that stayed away. Premier League matchday prices, with a very average squad aren't a good combination for pulling fans in. Does Ken Bates care? Not one jot. He still makes money. Just not quite as much. And until/if this takeover happens then I can't see it changing any time soon.

On the pitch it's not looking much better either. In times of trouble what you need is a bit of luck, which is something Leeds don't seem to have a great deal of at the moment. Right from the start of the season you worried about Leeds' strength in depth. An injury here or there and we would have issues. And so it's proved with Paul Green, David Norris and, most worryingly of all, Ross McCormack. 3 of our certain starting 11 all out injured within 4 weeks of the season. Which is all you want to see with a squad the size of Leeds's. McCormack was the biggest blow by a country mile. Our playmaker and creative hub of the team out for 6-8 weeks with a severely twisted ankle. Just how big a blow this will be to Leeds' season only time will tell, but with Neil Warnock finding it nie on impossible to find replacements in the loan market it isn't looking good.

So onto performances on the pitch and it's not great. 2 games since the international break and 2 losses. First was a trip to Cardiff which is a tricky encounter at the best of times. Add in the loss of McCormack after barely 3 minutes and it becomes near impossible. But we gave it a good go and kept the scores level up to half time. The 2nd half was all Cardiff with attack after attack quashed by a stubborn Leeds back line. Then came Bellamy and then came the first goal. A goal of Premier League quality that lit up the City Stadium. A rising free kick that hit the back of the net before many people had realised he'd taken it. 5 minutes later it was 2-0 in controversial fashion. Nicky Maynard, a summer target for Warnock himself, went searching for a penalty that was soft at best. Most would see it as Maynard running into Tom Lees and then falling over, which is what it was. But not the referee, who immediately pointed to the spot much to the disbelief of all Leeds players and management. Whittingham converted the penalty leaving Leeds with an uphill task to get anything from the match. There was hope 4 minutes later when a trademark Rodolph Austin thunderbolt went through everybody and into the back of the net. His first league goal for the club. But it turned out to be in vane as Cardiff held on to secure the three points and continue their dominance over Leeds. Now unbeaten in 14.

Tuesday brought Hull to Elland Road. And a protest against Ken Bates. Could Leeds shake off their mid-week demons with their last win being in late November against Nottingham Forest after Gary Speeds death? Well no, they couldn't. Leeds's woeful midweek form continued with a 3-2 defeat. It all started so well with Leeds United's Messi finishing a penalty won by El Hadji Diouf. Then it started to go downhill rapidly with some comical defending gifting Hull two goals in the space of 7 minutes. Michael Tongue the culprit for the first with an inexplicable clearance straight to the feet of El Mohamady in acres of space inside the Leeds box. He made no mistake and brought the scores level. The 2nd was just poor marking leaving Faye unchallenged to power home a header from 6 yards to put Hull into the lead. And that's how it stayed until half-time. The 2nd half was a relatively even affair until, with 15 minutes remaining, Hull doubled their lead and ultimately put the game out of reach with a Robert Koren tap in. Leeds did get their 2nd well into extra time, but it was too little too late with Hull recording their first win at Elland Road for 25 years. Fans voiced their discomfort throughout the match aiming it towards Ken Bates who wasn't in attendance #surprise?#

So another disappointing week for Leeds both on and off the pitch with 2 losses and the takeover still some way from being completed, if it's completed at all. All Leeds fans can do is wait and hope, something that they've become pretty accomplished at doing in the past few seasons. But their patience is running out and this is being shown by dropping attendances. Something has to change, and we all know what it is. And so does he. He just doesn't want to accept it. Killing Leeds United right to the bitter end.


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