When Leeds fans sat down crying into their posset,as the 2014 portion of the 2014/15 Championship campaign drew to a close, you could have forgiven us our tears, gnashing teeth and general trepidation as to what faced us for the rest of the season.
Then, things changed as Coach Redfearn introduced Leeds' misery-ridden fans to his Christmas present for them - a brand spanking new tactical formation called the '4-2-3-1 Double Six'...with a promise that things would look up, bit like a midget stood next to a giant.
Before then, Leeds had clung to the '4-4-2 Diamond' like a drowning man clings to ever-decreasingly smaller pieces of wreckage - it was the stuff of desperation to witness. Constantly over-run in midfield, consistently outshot and forced onto the back foot so much that we started wearing number on the fronts of our shirts...nearly. 2014 with the 'diamond' was a car-wreck of four months. Quite simply we stank the joint out, we were bad...really bad. Yet, as bad as it got, as the stink continued to rise, we still stuck to the '4-4-2 Diamond'.
The thing is, under the 'diamond', were things really that bad? I mean was it just hype overkill in terms of fans foaming at the mouth, desperate for a glint of success. Were our eyes clouded somewhat?
Up to 31st December 2014:
- Leeds played 24 games gaining 24 points (1.00 points p/game)
- Leeds' record was P24, W6, D6, L12, F25, A36, GD -11: points 24
- Leeds' home record: P12, W5, D3, L3, F14, A11, GD +3, Points 18 (1.50 points p/game)
- Leeds away record: P12, W1, D3, L8, F11, A25, GD-14: points 6 (0.50 points p/game)
- Share of shot ratio 0.422 (42.20%)
- Leeds shots/shots on target 270/77 (28.50% total shots were on target)
- Opponents shots/shots on target allowed 369/114 (30.90% total shots were on target)
In honesty, the above figures are so bad, that if they had been left to putrefy and decay for much longer, that the malaise would have led to League One football next season. Thankfully Redfearn took the wrapping off his new-fangled formation and presented it to Leeds fans in the FA Cup defeat to Sunderland. It was a great decision to use that game, it was a game we could afford to lose. When staring into the murky depths of a relegation abyss, the FA Cup is a distraction; it's like wrapping gold leaf around a turd - pointless and only glossing over the surface.
So, the change in fortunes, is it real and is it really down to the adoption of a new formation?
I know it's only a small sample of 7 games that Leeds have played in 2015 under the new formation, but the question begs to be asked - are there any noticeable changes?
1st January to 14th February:
- Leeds played 7 games gaining 14 points (2.00 points p/game)
- Leeds record is P7, W4, D2, L1, F8, A4, GD +4: points 14
- Leeds home record: P4, W2, D1, L1, F3, A2, GD +1: points 7 (1.75 points p/game)
- Leeds away record: P3, W2, D1, L0, F5, A2, GD +3: points 7 (2.33 points p/game)
- Share of shot ratio 0.460 (46%)
- Leeds shots/shots on target 88/27 (30% total shots were on target)
- Opponents shots/shots on target allowed 103/19 (18.50% total shots were on target)
There is is, in the starkest of numbers, the '2015 variant' tactical formation trumps the 2014 diamond - even though it is in its infancy. The proof? Well there's the 'more points per game' (2.00 vs 1.00), hugely different 'away points per game' total (2.33 vs 0.50), better 'home points per game' (1.75 vs 1.50), a better share of the ratio/number of shots (46% vs 42.20%) and less opponent shots on target (19% vs 30.90%).
At first glance, Redfearn's unveiling of his Christmas present for us long-suffering fans is working; obviously we'll have to wait until the season's end to judge its full effectiveness. But, for this glorious moment, let's just agree to do one thing as the 'Leeds Family'.
Let's just bask in the glow of better football - it gives us something to look forward to when Saturday comes, rather than something to dread.