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Wednesday, 17 February 2010

"Eternal Bridesmaids"

I'm not sure at which point during the 1970's that this accusation was levelled at Leeds United but its well deserved! Perhaps it was shortly after the club lost 3 F.A Cup Finals, finished runners-up 5 times (including 3 consecutively) in Division 1 (The Premiership), lost a Charity Shield, a European Fairs Cup Final (Europa League), a European Cup Final (The Champions League) all in the space of 15 years!! During this time, the clubs most successful period in its history, they collected 6 pieces of Silverwear, including 2 League titles but the feeling of 'What might have been' was unavoidable and has plagued the club ever since...

Fast forward a decade or so and Leeds were at it again, after 5 years in England's 2nd tier Leeds met Charlton in a Play-off Final for the chance to return to the top division. After a two-legged tie finished level and a replay went to extra time, Leeds took the lead and had to hang on for 20 minutes... They lost 2-1 and were left to wonder 'What might have been' again. That defeat was the first of 3 Play-off Final defeats the club has suffered since 1987, two of which I have been in attendance and suffered the pain of another 'stage fright' from United first hand. Infact, in the 3 finals I have seen Leeds United 'contest' I have yet to see them register a single goal!

An all too brief period of success under Howard Wilkinson saw two League Championships in 3 years but a sensational return to form the following season saw the League Champions barely escape relegation after failing to register a single away victory all season. Several years, 2 European Semi-Final  heartbreaks and a League Cup Final defeat later, the club still struggles to deal with the pressure of the occasion...

For those that witnessed the game last night, the latest abysmal display in Leeds' attempt to throw away promotion after being a massive 12 points clear, will realise that we're at it again! In 90 tedious and painful minutes we managed 1 decent effort on goal, a comfortable 20 yard shot from a stretching Bradley Johnson in the closing minutes of the 1st half. Our goal was a 'freak', a Mis-hit  Gary McSheffrey cross (one of about 6 during the game) caught the 'keeper totally off guard, it gave Leeds parity and a platform to build a winning display on... But again we're left wondering 'What might have been' as Walsall scored again from a ball into the box from a wide position, our 4th such concession of a goal in 3 games.

Unfortunately I think the problem this time is more than nerves. In my opinion the Jermaine Beckford saga has had a huge affect on the team and his petulant signalling towards the Kop last night after they bemoaned another half-hearted flick into the box told me all I need to know, Jermaine's future lays elswhere. Quite how this sits with his team-mates is unclear but they're not putting together any case that they can cope without him. All that said Mr Beckford has the ability to win games on his own so we'll just have to hope that any damage done is managable.

I think, by far the most serious problem is with the natural dip in form of certain players and the recruitment of new talent, Simon Grayson no longer knows what his best 11 is. This situation, at any football club is a disaster but the thought of Leeds missing out on promotion this season is catastrophic. I'm not suggesting for a minute that Grayson's position is under any threat, he has been great for Leeds United but we need to get a settled team again ASAP.

Anything but victory in the upcoming home games with Brighton and Oldham is unthinkable. Should that nightmare scenario become reality, we can preapre for another Leeds United collapse of titanic proportions as failure to reach The Championship will be the end of the club as we know it. The current team is a pinnacle of what any club can expect from a spell in this division and with the likes of Snodgrass, Kisnorbo and Beckford attracting National attention we're sure to be looking for sub-standard replacements come the Summer. I'm sure Kilkenney, Becchio and the like won't be short of suiters either...

Personally I think/hope that we'll be better than at least 3 of the 5 teams who might contest promotion over the next 12 weeks but the thought of another 'What might have been' is unthinkable - unfortunately our record speaks for itself.



  1. You're right I've seen more disappointments than I can remember but I'm sure we'll make it out of this league for the simple reason that there isn't 2 teams who are better than us!

  2. FA Cup aside, the start of 2010 has been the blip that we all expected to happen at some point, Us & Norwich will go up, Charlton have ran out of steam and so will Colchester & Swindon, we may go up as the bridesmaids but were going up, we can keep the backbone of this current team, add to it and strengthen and hopefully the only way is Up.


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