From the outset, let me say this. We're all fans here at SB Nation. None of us cover a team for the money (there is none), none of us do this as a full-time job; we're fans, just like you. And sometimes, it sucks to be a fan. This doesn't mean you give up on being a fan. It doesn't mean you leave your team, choose a front-runner to cheer for, and piss on all your memories. It's just fair to admit that, sometimes, it sucks.
As a fan, my weekend absolutely sucked. If you're reading this blog, yours probably wasn't much better, but I posit that I had it harder than most. Leeds United lost on Saturday (more on that in a bit), and yesterday, the Carolina Panthers lost what we here in the States call the Super Bowl (men throw an oval brown ball around and hit each other while wearing elaborate pads... you know the one.)
I won't dive into that here, the folks at Cat Scratch Reader do that far better than I could, but as a Charlotte, North Carolina resident that literally walks to the Panthers home ground for games (and was at the semi-final, the NFC Championship, two weeks ago, in the sixth row), it hurts. This doesn't mean you give up on your team, ever, but it seems alright to take some time to acknowledge the pain before moving on.
So back to Leeds then. I think, as a fan, that after the Whites ran through December undefeated and with the January Transfer Window looming, I had too much hope for this season. Making the top six was a conceivable goal, right? Instead, the writing was on the wall as we sat in the middle of the table, and everyone knew Sam Byram was gone after Cellino came out with some not so glowing words for the young man back in 2015. For some reason, I still had hope that we'd bring in three or four starters (ha!) and make that run for promotion that Steve Evans repeatedly talked about.
Saturday disabused me of those dreams. In case you missed the recap elsewhere, Leeds lost to Nottingham Forest 1-0 at Elland Road on Saturday afternoon.
The first fifteen minutes were all Leeds. Antenucci had a chance, Doukara another, Dallas got in on it too, and Cook made some beautiful passes, and of course, there was hope. We knew that Forest sat higher in the table than the Whites, we knew that both teams struggled to score all season, and yet we still hoped that my FIFA Playstation result of 3-0 would be closer to reality than what would eventually come. The first fifteen reinforced that hope.
So everyone knows, Leeds United just beat Nottingham Forest 3-0 on @jwCLT's FIFA 16. Goals by Dallas, Bridcutt, Cook. That's his prediction.— Through It All (@ThruItAllLUFC) February 5, 2016
The final 75 minutes reminded us of what we all knew: Leeds United of the 2015/16 season are middle-of-the-table at best, relegation-threatened at worst. Forest ruled the rest of the first half. Jamie Ward had a little spat with Lewis Cook, diving and exchanging "friendly" words before taking his chances on net, Gary Gardner had one off the crossbar, Robert Tesche put a volley just over that he should've put in, Eric Lichaj with a chance. The score was 0-0 at the break, but Leeds had downshifted from the first 15 and could never get in gear again.
In the second half, Eric Lichaj crossed to (an offside?) Nelson Oliveira, and he poked the ball past Marco Silvestri for the game's only goal in the 60th minute. Silvestri was able to get fingers to it, but it bounced off the post and in, and the Whites were left to complain to the referee, without any hope of reversal.
Leeds couldn't find that scoring strike in the remaining 30 minutes to level the game at 1, and the Whites lost three points to the visitors at Elland Road for their third defeat in six games.
Another Saturday, another disappointing Leeds United performance. Full time, 0-1. pic.twitter.com/0JFvHQIrO3— Through It All LIVE (@ThruItAllLIVE) February 6, 2016
After the game, Steve Evans defended the team's performance, and said the unbeaten-in-13, 10th place Nottingham Forest played boring football.
Evans not having criticism of that display. Said Forest's style is "like watching paint dry" and claimed they scored with their only chance.— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) February 6, 2016
He later admitted that it's a "results business," and if Forest hadn't had their "offside goal," and if Leeds had been able to score one, we'd be praising him and the team for their gritty result. Obviously, neither of those things happened. If Leeds had scored 17 goals, we'd be making him King of England too.
Beyond it being a bad result though, and beyond Evans living in denial over this one, the team just looked dull. Rumors that the players aren't happy with the squad or the January window flew around social media after the game, and their effort on the pitch on Saturday led many long-time fans to announce (as they often do) that they'd never support the club again. Even the kids got in on it:
@alexlicense unfortunately that conversation happened in my house at lunch time. My 8yr old cried because it was time to go.— Scott Crabtree (@ScottCrabby) February 6, 2016
@Radebe_Leeds let alone seeing fans of 20/30+ years debating whether they should even care about Leeds anymore. Scary stuff mate— #TeamRedfearn (@apoloryhs) February 7, 2016
So clearly the Twitter response after a game like that isn't entirely sensible. Fans will be fans, they'll be upset. Kids won't want to go to games, this happens. But it has been a disappointing month for the Leeds United faithful.
And that's part of it.
I didn't want to write this recap or even think about the game, but I came back, as most of us likely will to the team we love. We need to acknowledge the pain, realize that these results happen, and move on. We're not asking who we should cheer for instead; we're all Leeds, aren't we?
The question instead should be: where does Leeds United go from here? Will the club continue to have mediocre talent, mediocre results, and be a mediocre club in the Championship? Is that what we should expect to hope for? Maybe? Evans certainly wasn't hearing the criticism. And without hearing it, it's hard to change.
Evans on fans' thoughts of game "They can't say we didn't have desire, they can't say we didn't have passion or commitment" #lufc— I'd Radebe Leeds (@Radebe_Leeds) February 6, 2016
I think your fans are indeed saying that, Steve. I'm saying that after Saturday's game.
So what's going to change?
We'll continue to support LUFC, "through it all together," as I'm sure you will. But, Saturday was rough, and we shouldn't pretend otherwise. An FA Cup win over Watford next week would be a nice pick-me-up, and an emergency loan of Kyle Lafferty (looking to make it a more permanent deal in the summer) wouldn't hurt either. But something needs to change, or we'll have more of Saturday to look forward to for the rest of the season.
This weekend sucked, but there's always the next game/season/owner/coach/hope for the future. And there's always the FA Cup, where "Anything Can Happen."
Thanks for reading, sorry for the honesty. Let us know what you think in the comments. #MOT