Wow, that was an amazing performance and one that’s left me buzzing so much I still feel tingles through my fingers as I write this. How many times have we Leeds United fans had to sit through so called experts talk about the disarray at our club? Leeds United didn’t have a chance today, well that’s what everyone outside of our club thought.
I rarely write straight after a games finished but today it’s different. There was something fundamentally different during this game, everyone was playing for Leeds United and our new coach David Hockaday. The performance from players who have looked past it were a joy to watch.
I found myself getting annoyed listening to Pete Beagrie on Sky Sports but then again he was there to do that very thing, he hasn’t got one good thing to say about Leeds, why would he? The one things for sure, today showed the footballing world that we are not going to be relegated and secondly we have a coach who deserves the right to be allowed to coach away from the constant spotlight.
The players were fantastic and I’ve not jumped off my sofa in such a dramatic and emotion pumped way since Becchio netted our first against Derby in our first season back in the Championship. Football is back and despite last weekends disappointment my opinions in the set up at Leeds have not changed.
David Hockaday spoke sense and all three of his tactical changes worked. Warnock was rightly man of the match and Tonge controlled the middle of midfield with a degree of authority at his introduction to the game. All the players put in a shift and it was perfect to see Billy Sharp net the winner at the death, a perfect way to close out your debut.
We certainly have some decent match winners amongst our ranks and the determination to work the ball along the ground wherever possible was equally encouraging. The season is only two games in, but I’m certainly going to savior this feeling for as long as possible.
Well done today Leeds! Super Leeds United.
Saturday saw me and my friend Chris visit St Andrews for the “2nd leg” between our teams. After the totally unexpected 4-0 win for Leeds back in October the season has seen both of our sides struggle for any type of consistency. If anything Leeds record of 2 wins in our last 3 suggested we would go into the fixture as the form side. Either way Birmingham who currently have a European record of having the worst home form this season needed to win. Precariously positioned just above the relegation zone before kick off, it was a time for Birmingham to show some belief and fight for a result that their season depended on. In a strange twist to previous Away days, I found myself sat in the Home End, so saw the games events from a different viewpoint to normal.
Birmingham find themselves in a position that Leeds fans are all too familiar with. They are in an ownership quandary with Carson Yeung currently in jail for money laundering and are trying their best to keep the club running until the seasons end. The squad is unbalanced and there are a handful of players who are either young and inexperienced within the ranks or those who have been injured with very little playing time behind them. The fans that turned up today were very vocal in their support and managed to keep the 3,000 traveling support from Leeds quiet during a disjointed first half.
A half that was full of probing intent from Birmingham should of seen them score within the first 5 minutes, when put through on goal the young Adeyemi could only lift his shot over the frame of Butlands goal. That was a warning shot in the arm for Leeds and despite lengths of possession the home side couldn’t test former star Jack Butland in the visitors goal. Towards the end of the first half Leeds produced the first shot on target, when Michael Tonge tested Randalph with a low shot. As half time came around there was a positive feel amongst the Birmingham City support who had earlier displayed a flag showing their support for the club whilst venting frustration with the current regime.
Whilst drinking Bovril at half time the conversations between surrounding home fans suggested that this was the best they had seen Birmingham play in a while. From a Leeds point of view, I could see how by hounding the players, they were preventing us from having any real possession which in turn created rushed and hurried plays resulting in lost causes. The second half couldn’t be any worse and the feeling was if we could make some chances that a goal wouldn’t be beyond us. Quite how the second half would turn out following my brave +3.5 goal prediction before the game was a surprise to all.
The sun was out following a period of gloomy rain and the same confident, assured Birmingham side had suddenly appeared to have lost their game plan. The chasing down the ball and clean tidy passing had stopped and Leeds soon realised that there was an opportunity to take advantage of this. The home support could see what was happening and with Leeds first real attacking move of the game, Michael Tonge crossed to Matt Smith who duly headed past the stranded Randalph in the home goal.
Before the crowd could take breath and assess what had just happened, Leeds went straight back up and a cross wasn’t dealt with properly and Danny Pugh who I had earlier lambasted for being inconsistent drove the ball home from just inside the area to make it 2-0. These two goals in two minutes suddenly transformed the once positive St Andrews crowd into a frenzied vocally discontent bunch. Fans got up and left as a familiar ringing of Leeds fans started chanting “We’ve only come, to send you down” echoed around the ground. It was at this point Blackpool scored at Wigan to confirm Birminghams slip into the bottom 3.
As I sat there trying to show my concerns and frustrations, Leeds put together a passing move that felt like an eternity to the Home fans. Each pass was greeted with an Olay and it was at this point it was over as a contest. Leeds made it 3-0 when a McCormack cross was turned into his own net by Caddis and a farce of substitutions by a desperate Lee Clark caused a further wave of disgruntled home fans to leave.
It was at this point Macheda the most recognized striker who was brought on, scored a consolation with his first real touch. The frustrations were clear to see as Birmingham suddenly looked like a team who could play. A second goal nearly came, but as the game fizzled out after a nasty injury to Alex Mowatt (who required stretchering off) the game ended.
Being a Leeds United fan isn’t easy and this season has had far more downs than ups, but the world hasn’t stopped turning around. This was a great win and it’s when things like this happen, you truly appreciate the frustrations of other teams who are in similar situations. We are very very fortunate to have an amazing fan base and it is because of this that we finally appear to have attracted an owner with the financial clout to manage our demanding expectations.
I really hope Birmingham City avoid relegation and our 7-1 aggregate win can be challenged again next season in a rematch. Birmingham fans deserve better and their summer will be an important one, Wigan at home this Tuesday is also their cup final.
For us it’s been a solid end to a season of unfulfilled promise. A final day win at home to Derby next week would be an unlikely strong end leading into a Summer of excitement and change. I’ve seen 6 away games this season and was fortunate to see 3 wins at Charlton, Yeovil and this game at Birmingham. The defeats at Reading and Burnley were frustrating but the one beating we took at Watford was deserved.
Onto next season!!
As I sit down completing my usual Away prematch ritual, I find myself slightly more excited than normal. The drive down today was pleasant and parking the car a minimal exercise. I’ve had a lovely burger and ale at Mollonys along the High Street and the wander to the ground was not only paved by the golden shirts worn by tonight’s hosts.
The sunshine is out on a pleasantly warm Spring Evening and the buzz amongst the Leeds United faithful brings back similar memories of that Summer night Semi Final playoff at Elland Road against Preston. It’s been one amazing story since the news broke out on Saturday afternoon that Cellino won his appeal against the Football League.
Tonight as I headed towards Vicarage Road the news broke that Massimo Cellino had officially taken control, the promise this takeover brings is unknown but for one thing it’s come at the ideal time. Reports of the club declaring debts of £9.5m a handful of months before the Football Leagues fair play rules come into play confirms once again that this was needed to not only compete but to survive.
As I sit soaking up the inevitable vocal support that we bring to every ground we visit, I wonder what the future brings. Vicarage Road is a ground currently going through some development and the new stand being built to my left is a visual state of intent from the Pozza family keen to get Watford up to the promised land.
Since 2006 and that horrible memory at Cardiff it’s clear to see that whilst Watford enjoyed a year in the Premiership, Leeds United via League One are now competing on a level playing field. Tonight sees Leeds v Watford, Cagliari v Udinese, Cellino v Pozza, it’s Italy v The Football League.
So as kick off approaches let’s enjoy this moment a little longer. It’s fun being a Leeds fan!