By Mark Rasdall
Like most Leeds United fans I was sickened by our defeat at Reading last night. To lose in the 96th minute of the game was devastating and I was inconsolable for a long time afterwards - such is the passion we all have for LUFC.
The first things I thought about when I woke up this morning were how we conceded that late goal, how Pearce's late header could have made such a difference, whether I could face breakfast yet or not...
I then started to read reports from Leeds fans and football reporters. Almost nobody could explain why there had been more than the four minutes of added time signalled by the officials. Almost everybody seemed to be blaming Warnock (where have we all heard that before?) and one or two long-standing fans like myself were urging caution..
I did think we would get something at Reading but also recognised that Nigel Adkins was going to be looking for a reaction from his team after another abject display at the weekend. We have narrowly lost to Reading and QPR - two of the teams who were in the Premier League last season. We weren't thrashed. We weren't played off of the park. We could easily have drawn these games and, let's face it, it's very unlikely we would have done so with the previous management in place.
Stephen Warnock made a mistake and, unlike his namesake, was honest enough to admit it. He will make errors again but he will more often show us what a great defender he is. Matt Smith is rusty and clumsy and lacking in confidence. With game time and great coaching from Brian and his team he will come good. Brian made his name as a scout: do not believe for one moment that he has suddenly and inexplicably lost his woggle. Noel Hunt is already frustrated by his lack of goals and is almost certainly trying that bit too hard because he is not relaxed. For most of us we can take our bad days to bed with a stiff drink. Leeds United players have to suffer from their own temporary lack of self-confidence in front of thousands of passionate fans, week in and week out. Yes we have a right to offer our opinions - we pay for all of this after all - but good players do not go bad overnight.
We can all see that there is a lack of pace in the team. Again, I have no doubt that efforts are being made to address this and it isn't just about money. I would like to see Ryan Hall at least get a chance. Remember when Poleon was recalled from his loan deal and then Warnock, quite inexplicably, still refused to play him? There must be some other reason why Hall does not even get on the first-team bench and yet does play for the Development Team. I also think White will get a chance on Saturday now. It may be the perfect opportunity to try a few things out. They may not work out but surely it is worth a try? We might lose but the Leeds United world will not end if we do. The world keeps going round. It didn't feel like it this morning but, of course, it does now.
Brian McDermott is trying to build something new and long-lasting for our club. The last person to try to do this was Howard Wilkinson and, of course, the great Don Revie before that. David O'Leary reaped the rewards of Howard's 10-year vision and investment in youth and it may be that Brian has moved on before his vision is fully realised at Elland Road. These things can take a long time and let us not forget the corporate damage that has been done to our club, ensuring that future investment is, like Brian's coaching decisions, made cautiously.
When I was young I used to play for hours with Lego. I built some fabulous houses with wall-to-wall windows but they were flimsy and often broke (usually at bedtime, causing untold childish rages especially if Leeds had also lost on the radio the same evening). My Grandad was a real builder and he showed me how to build solid foundations and strengthen walls. Once I learned to do that I was able to build even more fabulous buildings and with the added advantage that they lasted for as long as I wanted them to (sadly, I usually decided to build an aeroplane or marbles factory almost immediately after completion).
My laboured point is that of course we all want to see fabulous football in the Premier League but surely none of us wants to have a taste of that and then eat the humble pie of relegation once more because our new house is built on quicksand? We have to build this thing brick by brick. Brian cannot do it on his own. The owners need to help but so do we, the fans. Yes we can debate and criticize selections and performances but we have barely started on the re-building. I don't believe this will be our season but I'm pretty sure it will be next season. Let's not allow every crack in the rendering become a source of damp tears or destructive icy slagging off of everything and everyone who moves (or doesn't). We can do this and we will do this but only by marching on together.