By Mark Rasdall
It's hard to say the word Barnsley in an upbeat kind of way isn't it? Even for those people trained to smile when they speak on the telephone, it's almost impossible to say it without invoking thoughts of grim scenes on the South Yorkshire coalfield of old. It's a bit like Goole. You try saying that and remain smiling...
For Leeds United supporters it's even worse. Never mind that we finally managed to beat Barnsley at Elland Road this season, our away form at the mighty
Oakwell Stadium has been truly shocking. The 5-2 was bad enough - especially with such huge away support that evening and having taken the lead so early on - but last season's 4-1 defeat was almost worse. We simply didn't play and, regardless of what was going on in Simon Grayson's dressing room at the time - whether he'd lost it or simply substituted it for a cupboard - a number of senior players just couldn't be bothered.
Nothing galls (try saying that and Goole at the same time) followers of LUFC more than players who don't try. We have had many bad days and heavy defeats like those down the road but as long as we do our best, then it may be worrying but it's not (and never is) terminal. Grinding out results is acceptable, even though we'd rather see quality football, but throwing in the towel and just not bothering to justify your vast wages or those of so many of us ordinary souls, who pay so much to watch the team, is unforgiveable. On that note, good to see that, according to Sky, Paul Connolly is being sought after by other clubs as I write this. For me he just didn't care about our club enough.
Keith Hill has gone now, of course, and I felt a bit sorry for him. Miracles aren't just for Christmas and he was trying to perform them every week on half-a-crown and a cup of Bovril. Sean O'Driscoll has apparently turned them down already, probably because he fears that going on a winning streak might get him the sack. It's also reported that Terry Butcher has preferred to stay at Inverness Caledonian Thistle. Maybe Barnsley is just too short a name?
Marlon Hairbrain is likely to be leading their line against us tomorrow and hopefully Tom Lees et al will emulate Terry in giving literally blood for our cause. I don't buy the idea that poor results will force our owners to spend money on new players. I believe that all Leeds United fans want us to go out there and perform to our best and win every game. I also believe that, if we can't actually win, we should travel back hopefully up the motorway, out of the gloom and into the kind of white light that Barnsley could only dream of.