Clarkyboy's Comments - The First Step on the Road Back - Welcome to Brian McDermott

There's a new man in town. - Dean Mouhtaropoulos

After being stunned into silence by the disaster that was Leeds United over the last few weeks Stephen Clark is back with an warm feeling of optimism as Brian McDermott takes the helm at Elland Road.

I have been a bit quiet on here in recent weeks, mainly because the events at Elland Road have left me speechless. Leeds United were becoming a shambles from top to bottom.

At the very top, the silence emanating from the boardroom made it seem like we were a rudderless ship drifting listlessly to the end of the season, when we could be broken into scrap and sold off in pieces to any one with a bit of spare cash lying around.

On the field we were being"led" by a man with absolutely no interest in being there. To all intents and purposes Neil Warnock had resigned, and was working with all the enthusiasm expected of anyone seeing out a notice period at a company they had no love for.

His charges on the field were also going through the motions. Knowing that they were pretty much guaranteed a game no matter how badly they performed there was little in the way of effort and commitment to the cause, their dreams of promotion long gone and mid-table mediocrity seemed like a formality.

That was until the sides at the bottom began to hit a bit of form, and all of a sudden Leeds were slowly being dragged into the relegation battle. A pathetic collapse at Ipswich saw Warnock commit the cardinal sin of attacking "one of our own". His vitriolic attack on Tom Lees, sent off for a challenge following a poor clearance by Paddy Kenny and a disappearing midfield, was as shocking as it was unwarranted.

The home defeat against Derby County was the final straw. Another dismal display, briefly brightened by the appearance of Chris Dawson and a stunning goal from Ross McCormack, saw Leeds collapse to another late goal and finally saw Warnock either fall on his sword as he would like us to believe or, as has been widely reported, he was dismissed in the tunnel before his final press conference.

For weeks, I for one had advocated Neil Redfearn and Richard Naylor to take the team through to the end of the season, and that seemed to be the decision GFH had come to prior to the Charlton Athletic game. However another disappointing defeat, with the concession of yet another stoppage time goal, Leeds were thrust right int the relegation mire, sitting just five points clear of the drop zone, with a difficult run in to come.

That result forced Messrs Haigh and Patel to react, and to their credit that it was they did.The news broke on Wednesday night that Brian McDermott was on the verge of being appointed, and despite another enigmatic press release from the club on Thursday, the former Reading boss was unveiled on Friday.

His influence on the players will have been negligible on the coaching front, but whatever he has said and done in the brief time he had before kick-off on Saturday, seemed to have worked. Leeds came out looking positive and more importantly intent on playing the ball on the floor, rather than looking to launch the ball forward at every opportunity.

Despite falling a goal behind, thanks to the terrible starting position of Paddy Kenny which allowed Jermaine Johnson the opportunity to get in behind Stephen Warnock and lift the ball into the net, Leeds played some good stuff in the opening 45 minutes, a fact that is all relative given the paucity of play in recent weeks under Warnock.

With the introduction of El-Hadji Diouf, Leeds had a bit more composure in the second half, and with the home fans reinvigorated by the spectacle of their team playing the high tempo football we have been craving, the noise levels increased inside Elland Road as United pushed forward.

McDermott showed his ruthless streak, hooking Steve Morison after he wasted a golden opportunity when clean through one on one, his second bad miss of the afternoon. By bringing on Aidy White and pushing Luke Varney into the middle, the new manager brought a bit more balance to the side, with White more capable of filling the gaps defensively than the much derided Varney.

I for one was made to eat humble pie by Varney's two goals. After abusing him for most of the first half, I was celebrating a little bit sheepishly after his towering headers turned the game on its head and earned those three precious points which were so needed.

Leeds rode their luck a little in the closing stages as Wednesday suddenly decided to play and came close on several occasions, Kenny redeeming himself with a couple of fine saves to preserve the victory.

The crazy nature of the Championship this season saw Leeds go up seven places in the table after the win, and despite sitting in 11th place are not yet completely safe as a clutch of sides at the bottom all won to keep Leeds just six points clear of the drop.

A point on Tuesday should be enough to ensure Championship football for next season, the time when we will really see what McDermott can bring to the table. Is he good enough to work without money and turn this collection of journeymen into promotion contenders, or has he a long term plan to turn Leeds United back into the force we all wish they were?

12 years at Reading where he filled almost every role at the club show he knows how a club should be run, and as a former chief scout, he has an eye for talent. With a collection of promising youngsters champing at the bit there is hope for the future. This club still has the potential to attract players, as long as it is seen to be being run on the right lines. After 12 months of chaos and uncertainty, the appointment of the laid back and relaxed Brian McDermott may be the first step on the road back to the Premier League. It may take a while, but for the first time in three years I feel confident about the future of the club.

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