By Mark Rasdall
I first started supporting Leeds United in 1969 when I was nine years' old. That team were tough and uncompromising but they had a defensive platform that was the envy of every other club. From there, the midfield and attack could conjure, create and shape moves that took us to the top of the league and the most feared club in Europe.
Since then of course every manager has tried to blend defensive solidity with midfield cover and artistry, fused with attacking penetration. Few have really succeeded for any length of time and we don't need to repeat the history again here: we have to look forward and on what better day to do so than the eve of the new season.
Neil Warnock isn't here for the long-term - everyone knows that. Neither is Ken Bates. Eventually his price will be met and he will hand over to someone else. If Neil does get us promoted he will be mindful of what happened to him before at the Blunts and QPR and, for that reason as much as achieving a promotion record, he too will leave.
Does that matter? Do we really care that we are packing our midfield with big, uncompromising and essentially defensive players in front of the defence? To my mind, we always have to defend first. I remember 1990 when we came up before. Everyone talks about the Gary’s and Gordon - and rightly so - but our success was as much to do with the physical presence of Lee Chapman, Mel Sterland and, of course, Vinnie.
Who cares now if we played a more physical way and kicked our way out of the old Second Division. We were carpet-bombed with memories of the 1992 Championship success not the 1990 promotion campaign.
I do worry about the apparent lack of ingenuity and flair and where it's going to come from. I certainly have my reservations about Diouf and Piquionne. But I have to rely on Neil's judgement - as we all do. I have to remember that the Leeds team of the late 1980's had briefly flourished under Billy but we remained also-rans. We didn't win anything. It may have been more attractive on the eye but it failed as a strategy unless we just want to play pretty football and lose as often as we win. We lost a ridiculous number of games last season and the football was often dull so really the only way is up.
I want to watch a Leeds United team and manager that try as hard as they possibly can. If Neil and some of the players only have one successful full season with us, then fine, providing we go up. Once we're back in the Premier League there will be money to spend and someone can then build a team to do well in that league. We're not there yet so let's prepare to roar our team on, home and away, and let other matters take their course