By Mark Rasdall
Looking forward to Leeds United's next match I was thinking today about 'Into the Valley.' This was a song written by Richard Jobson (I don't think he was related to our Richard Jobson of the mid-Nineties) and Stuart Adamson of The Skids. Released in 1979 it was their biggest hit and got to Number 10 in the Charts. Fans of Bradford City will remember it being used as their theme
song in their Premier League days and it's still used by Dunfermline Athletic and Redditch United today.
It is of course used by Charlton Athletic and LUFC head for The Valley on Saturday in our next Championship match. It's also our first match since Neil Warnock left the club. Into the Valley is hugely symbolic for Leeds as we will have a mountain to climb to get out of there and a relegation battle if we don't get at least a point. Even if we do, we're going to be looking over our shoulders for a few games yet. Last night I was hoping that Bolton and Brighton would do well whereas just a few matches ago I was willing them to drop points. There is no such thing as mid-table in the Championship it seems. From the crest of a promotion wave that didn't quite carry us to the golden sands we are now on the crest of a slump that could dump us all behind the broken sewage pipe that leads to the dark, open seas of uncertainty.
For Leeds United fans this is nothing particularly new. The lines:
Why so uncertain
This culture deceives
Although written by Richard Jobson, it could have been written by anyone 'in charge' at Elland Road. We were deceived by the Ridsdale regime and the deception continues under GFH. I actually think their balanced investment plan is less likely to lead us back to the financial chaos of El Goldfisho but the attempt to brainwash us ordinary fans into parting regularly with huge amounts of money (though the various discount schemes are hugely welcoming) in order to travel to the middle of nowhere to follow our team is the same as it ever was. In the desert that was Ipswich last weekend I felt deserted, let down and very, very angry. And next Saturday could be the latest demise.
On the other hand it might not be. Neil Redfearn has one mission only: to help to guide us to safety this season. That's it. What the owners have to do is plan a route beyond that which may meander and take it's time to get to its Premier League destination. Surely that is preferable to sneaking in through some murky back door and falling through the first trapdoor we come across like Warnock's teams did previously? The PRs and the Journos are having a field day on who the next manager will be and we Leeds United fans, quite rightly, are having our say.
For me, it is laughable and fundamentally flawed to now consider Howard Wilkinson who delivered us the title but then ran out of steam (I will never forget Wembley in 1996 and sincerely hope Villa get relegated this and every season), David O'Leary who spent more money than any Leeds United manager in living history and won nothing, or the Warnockesque dinosaurs of O'Neill or McLeash. Brian McDermott did a job at Reading and gave youth its chance but what else has he done? Paul Lambert was fantastic for Norwich but has he tried to create a youth team too early at Villa Park and facing the fallout from that? I'd still like Gus Poyet to come back and finish what he started but those same PRs are now putting compensation stories out there to muddy the waters. Perhaps they work for Mark Hughes who would be as popular in Elland Road as Ken Bates or Dennis Wise: not the correct place to start from.
No, the owners need to take stock properly, end the uncertainty that has run through our club like a poison and tell us what their plans are. We need to get behind the new Neil and the players - whatever we may think of them and whoever we hope to be rid of quickly or desperately want to stay. We need to
get it right this time and then we as fans need to be patient and give it time. For one brought up on the Leeds United of 1967 onwards it's really hard, I know, but no pain, no gain. The quality of football, the sensible, timely and flexible tactical changes, the encouragement of youth aligned with experience and know-how, the flair and creativity and the fight and resilience will together soon inform Leeds United fans if the business and coaching teams are on the right track or not.
Out of adversity, this is a real opportunity to change things for the long-term improvement of all of our lives as dedicated LUFC fans. And, finally, for those 'fans' slagging off Chris Dawson this week after his debut in the debacle against Derby on Monday, shame on you. I can only assume it is just overall frustration with Warnock and the Varneys, Browns and Kennys on the Leeds United Retirement Plan. You can't have it both ways. We absolutely have to embrace youth and that fantastic talent coming through the system that Howard was so influential in putting together. David O'Leary had the first opportunity to take advantage of Howard's vision and he and the 'Board' blew it big time. The new manager will have a second bite at the cherry and what a fantastic opportunity that truly is.
We head into the valley, singed but still singing. Marching on together, let's still aim for the peaks beyond but do it properly this time.
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