By Keith Ingham
It all started so well, Luke Murphy sneaking a shot under the prone body of the Brighton goalkeeper and sending the crowd into frenzy. I remember it well and still grimace at the hangover I had the day after. We'd got a few new names in, Hunt a proven striker but not a prolific goalscorer and spent the first million pounds since 2005 on a skilful midfield youngster Luke Murphy from Crewe who in their time have brought several players through your youth system. Add a striker who scored against both Merseyside teams in the FA Cup last season. Matt Smith was generally seen as one for the future but Brian McDermott had done his best with the limited budget he'd been given. The old guard was still there and the thousands of pounds tied up in their contracts given to them by 'Colin', it still grates that a man who only came for a season gave players two and three year contracts. We followed the first win with a rarity, a Michael Brown thunderbolt in the Carling Cup game v Chesterfield, a creditable draw at Leicester and on our travels we also gained victories at Ipswich and Bolton.
New blood came in before the loan window shut, Scott Wootton a no nonsense centre half that boosted the team in the centre back department. It was going so well until the wheels came off at Millwall and especially at Derby when for the tenth time in a row they beat us, it wasn't the fact of the run of defeats it was the way the team gave in, much to the annoyance of the manager. Burnley dinted the home record when they defeated us but in all honestly they were the best team I've seen in the theatre of hope.
We burst into life when much to my agreement when Brian McDermott tried a 3-5-2 in a behind doors friendly and it worked. Ross McCormack back to his mercurial best scoring goals of quality and being all round our best player of October and November. Other players worthy of a mention are captain Rudy Austin and born again wing back Danny Pugh who came in at Charlton where Ross grabbed four goals and has played like he's never been out of the team. Matt Smith weighed in with a few goals and made one of the front two positions his own and even Michael Brown steadied the ship when needed. Jason Pearce improved and showed why he won so many club awards at his last club. The signing of Marius Žaliūkas was in my opinion Brian's best he is a assured centre back who has done enough to earn a new contract with the club. The emergence of academy product Alex Mowatt was another bonus, bursting into the team much as Sam Byram did the season before him. Tall, dark haired and a little like Gary Speed in the way he plays.
The last month hasn't been the best but as I write Leeds stand seventh only out of the top six by goal difference because Ipswich have scored more goals than us. The future looks better and it could be improved even more if the proposed takeover is completed in the early weeks of January giving Brian McDermott the necessary funds to improve the squad and get in the players he clearly said were needed after the Forest defeat.
So a old year rings out and a new one comes in and who's to say that come May Leeds may well be 'in the mix' for a place where this great club and it's fantastic supporters deserve to be.
A Happy New Year to Leeds United fans everywhere.
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