Hope is something that only comes when you exert some sort of control over your own destiny. That was not something that Leeds United did for the last decade. For so many years, Leeds United have been labelled as the sleeping giants of English football, the biggest team outside of the top flight, all this type of crap for the 13 that we have been sitting in the second and third divisions of English football.
Apart from that brief period under Grayson in 2009/10 when a team that looked good enough to complete back to back promotions, hope has been absent. Since then we have not graced the play-offs, instead being forced to witness a tirade of sh*t as we fail year in year out, as the players, board, owners and management fail to bring Leeds back to the promised land.
Leeds United have been through this before. We must not forget this. Before the Golden Years of Don Revie, Leeds had been on the brink of the old third division. After the 75’ European Final (which we were robbed blind of winning) we went back to the doldrums until Sargent Wilko took over. Within three years we were champions. But, in the years that followed Leeds fell away again.
After the brief period of being back near the top with David O’Leary, the financial troubles pulled us down. And for 13 years, Leeds United were devoid of hope. There were flashes that were killed as soon as they were noticed. The losses to Watford and Doncaster were false hopes. The promotion in 2009 was the best chance to build something, but it died when Grayson was fired.
Since Cellino took charge at Elland Road, hope seems to have quite simply evaporated. Chances that looked like they could take us up dissipated, players that looked like they could bring us home were sold to make owners money, managers were never given a chance. That all seemed to change when Neil Redfearn was appointed, a manager that knew the team and knew the club. That died on its arse after a run of bad results and Cellino’s axe came swinging.
This season, the appointment of Garry Monk and the signing of decent players (Roofe, Green, Bartsson) seemed to prep Leeds for a tilt at the top end of the table for the first time in seven years, but four points in the opening six games made it look like Monk was going to be the latest in a long line of Cellino sackings.
Four wins on the trot saw Leeds shoot back up the table and suddenly there was a new feeling around Elland Road. Combine that with rumours of Andrea Radrizzani’s takeover bid, and something truly special is now in the air around ER.
It’s seeping through the fans, the players, the management. That’s been evident in the recent games as well. As an Irishman watching the Liverpool game, all that could be heard was ‘Marching on Together’. And while that is usually the case, there was something more at Anfield. There was a belief in the voices of the travelling fans that this is truly where we belonged.
Look at the Villa game. We were rubbish in the first half. Villa had chances to win the game, but Leeds held on and scored twice. The second after 93 minutes. When was the last time we saw a Leeds team grind out a result without playing well?
For the first time in years, there is a real, tangible possibility that Leeds United will be promoted back to the Premier League. Soon days like this and this will be a thing of the present, not a thing of the past or a mere fantasy.
The players are repaying our endless faith with performances and Tuesday’s win against Reading put us two points off third in the table.
Come May, Leeds United will finish within the top six and come June they will be a Premier League side once again. Of that I can finally say: I am confident. MOT