There was a perceptible trepidation about messages and comments on the various football forums before Leeds United's home game with Cardiff City yesterday. We lost of course. As with the likes of Millwall and Derby away there seems to be some kind of hidden asterisk against these fixtures. If we could actually scroll down to the bottom of the list when it is published at the start of each season the small print would state clearly 'LUFC to lose.' Cardiff also do pretty well at Elland Road, as they did again yesterday.
Don Revie's superstitions would probably have run not just to gypsy curses but some kind of exotic disease carried on ships blown into Cardiff Bay by the trade winds. The trade winds are always there, as is the temptation to take a fatalist stance on these matters but it needn't be like this. Our losing streak to the Welshmen was there to be halted every bit as much as was our winning home run in the league.
Last week few people gave us much chance against Tottenham in the Cup and we played our hearts out within an excellent game plan to get a great result. I posted immediately afterwards that we could now build on this and bring the same kind of passion and hopefully consistency into our league performances. I have also written recently that if Neil Warnock was losing his passion or tactical cutting
edge then he should admit it and we could try something different.
Cardiff came to Leeds yesterday with a similarly robust plan and they stuck to it. Leeds matched them pretty well for an hour and then an unfortunate mistake enabled Cardiff to go ahead. Sadly, during that last half hour, the realities of our entire season was exposed: Ross McCormack was played out of position on the wing and struggled; Austin lumbered around throughout and appeared to not be match fit and yet was not substituted by Norris or, at least, Green; we resorted to a long-ball game that the poor attendance following a massive Cup victory and a game against the Championship leaders showed again is not what we want to see - win or lose, promotion or not - and one which would be simply annihilated in the Premier League. None of us want to be Stoke City.
It's fine for Warnock to praise Lee Peltier now but that didn't stop him playing him at left-back over and over again when it was obviously not working. He brought Poleon back early from his loan spell and we haven't seen him - not even for fifteen minutes or so. He blamed Becchio for his own lack of tactical insight by not being able to make the hoof ball work; I really hope Morison won't get the same treatment but suspect he might.
Instead of explaining why he didn't try to bring some energy into the team or at least attempt something different, Warnock preferred to talk about refereeing decisions that went against us. We're Leeds United - they always do.
We've loved blaming Bates for everything and probably with some justification though I'm sure it's much more to do with 1970 than 2013. We are already complaining about GFH, whilst conveniently forgetting about the Peter Ridsdale years when we lived the dream and woke up to the nightmare. We blame the players coming in and love to find fault with each and every one of them when we think they're not performing or don't care. We're entitled to do all of this because we care more about Leeds United than any of them. For most of us, love always comes before money, even if the relationship gets a bit strained from time to time and we wonder if we're just being taken for granted again.
I don't think we played badly yesterday against a team that are now ten points clear at the top. My issue is that not only were our expectations from the game matched, which is a pretty sad indictment in itself, we simply never really looked like winning the game and at the point where we really needed to turn the
tide we blamed the lighthouse for not shining its light strongly enough rather than changing course to avoid the rocks that everyone knew were there beforehand.