By Seán Ryan
After the Sheffield Wednesday game people were screaming out that we needed a leader in the team, but instead of finding one we lost one of our best in Bobby Collins, the man who can be credited with getting Leeds promoted in Revie’s time. It was an emotional week for all involved in Leeds United as we lined up a home game against League leaders Leicester City. It was, in my opinion, the perfect game to get us out of our slump. Nobody gave us a chance and all expected us to roll over and die and if there is one thing Leeds United don’t do it's roll over when the pressure is on.
BMAC stayed true to his word of going right back to basics with a 4-4-2 formation and the inclusion of Michael Brown showed he wanted a bit more steel. It was an emotional day in Elland Road as everyone paid tribute to one of football’s true leaders. The Leeds team that played with Collin’s was on the sideline at the start almost to remind the current bunch that a performance was very necessary. It was the time for this Leeds United team to really stand up and be counted. And they did.
From the off we hassled, harried and closed Leicester down, not giving them an inch, not allowing them to breathe. Nugent and Vardy were starved of chances and their frustrations were clear, especially when Nugent kicked out at Pearce and should have walked. Ross McCormack was like a man possessed. Header off the post, chip cleared off the line and Schmeichel with a tremendous save to tip a shot around the post. Lees headed just over and Kébé just wide. Pearce and Lees were dominating at the back, Byram and Warnock justified their inclusion with solid displays, Rudi Austin looked like a new man with the pressure of the captaincy gone, Kébé and Stewart showed flashes of quality, but need more time, Varney chased, harried and pressured and should have gotten a goal bar Kébé was to slow with the cut-back. Michael Brown was my man of the match. He was the leader that we needed on the pitch. He showed what we were missing against Wednesday with a thumping tackle on Moore about 15 minutes in. Poor lad didn’t know what had hit him.
The crowd loved it. The songs were flying and the players were taking it on board and pushing, prodding and slowly exposing the weaknesses of Leicester. Then came half time. How we weren’t one up I don’t know. The game should have been over. We were unlucky, but then when are we not. The second half was more even with Leicester starting to get a hold of the game, but there were still chances at each end and tackles flying in. Nigel Pearson seemed the more worried of the two and quickly made changes. Kevin Phillips being one of those introduced. And it was his moment of magic that led to the only goal of the game. A low cross form Moore from the right side was dummied into the path of David Nugent to scramble home into the Leeds United goal. It was a bitter, bitter pill to sallow, but there was one last positive in my eyes, one thing that made me proud to my core to be a Leeds Unite fan. The crowd was up belting out Marching On Together to urge the team on to get the equaliser. However, time was against us and it wasn’t to be.
While Leicester managed to hold on for a vital three points and as we slipped to a fifth straight defeat we do now have our two most important weapons. The fans are back singing and the players are playing with a bit of heart again. When we were at the very top people were afraid of Leeds United and of the fans. Elland Road needs to become a fortress once again. We may not have won, but there was enough there to be optimistic of better performances. The team did Bobby proud. Now build on it.
R.I.P Bobby Collins (16 February 1931 – 13 January 2014)