By Mark Rasdall
I am not a football manager and, no, I don't pretend to be by playing computer games. Neither do I think anyone should play games with people's minds when they are simply doing their best to play football or manage footballers.
I am a football fan though. I have supported Leeds United for more than forty five years and am loyal to the club despite so many 'ups and downs' over all those years. Two thousand LUFC fans went away to Brighton last night and many of them will also have made the five hundred and fifty mile round trip to Yeovil and back just three days earlier. No other team in the Championship and few in the country can command the level of continuing support that Leeds United do. The Leeds United label has come to mean many things to many people: 'dirty,' 'financially inept' and so on but the most applicable word for what it really means to be a Leeds United fan is loyalty.
Like so many others I have been refreshing various browser screens this morning to see if there any updates on the takeover and, even under GFH, it appears that financial mismanagement or brinkmanship at the very least has accompanied all of the good things the owners have done in terms of reducing or freezing admission prices and great outreach initiatives into the community.
Brian McDermott came in to try and harness fans' loyalty to an absolute requirement for owners, management and players to all pull in the same direction. Don Revie did much the same when he arrived fifty years ago and, yes, I guess each and every Leeds United fan craves for another glorious period of sustained success. Brian is a really nice guy and, has said the right things and I, like so many others, have been a true believer in what he has and is trying to do.
There is an impatience among LUFC fans too though and, although I thought a draw at Brighton last night would have been a really good result, I was disappointed that we simply didn't have enough ideas to compete with a side who are better than us, as were Leicester, Burnley, QPR, Derby, Forest and - in the end - Reading. Those teams also have more quality players than we do, as we all know, and more capable squads to make real promotion challenges.
I am not a football manager. I have seen Pugh do a job for us on occasions but have yet to see Kebe make a real difference - apart from fleetingly against Huddersfield. I do not know why Ariyibi does not get any game time at all when Brian is so keen on wingers. I do worry whether or not Tom Lees is really going to be able to make it at the highest level and whether Murphy is the real deal. Mostly I wonder what would happen if Ross got injured. I am not a football manager and do not have an insight into the ins and outs of financial requirements or injuries or other off-the-field problems.
I have just read the piece by James Brown where he questions whether Brian is the right man for Leeds United after all; there is of course the usual bickering on Facebook groups and other social channels. We are lifelong fans and have the right to ask these questions. I for one have always supported the view that the Bates/Warnock (and maybe also GFH) damage will take longer than one season to clear up. The 'better' clubs than us have had periods of continual growth and improvement and, let's face it, QPR have also benefited from the 'rich man's play thing' kind of investment that puts them in a different league to most of the rest of us to start with.
I do still really hope Brian will turn things around with a board that backs him and his decisions for the long-term. As with the England team though, I do worry about getting older and, with each passing year, not seeing Leeds really and fundamentally progress or get near to a major trophy again. I am still patient and still a believer in Brian but I do have to say that I worry when Leeds United players seem devoid of ideas or the management do not seem to be able to change things tactically. We had this with Simon Grayson in the end and Kevin Blackwell before him.
I don't ever want to attend another play-off game like that one in Cardiff against Watford but I would like to feel that if we got there again we'd know what to do to make the difference.