By Andrew Butterwick
Negativity seems to have finally engulfed Planet Leeds after a season of frustration, mildly false dawns and the usual rabid over expectation. Leeds will enter the West Yorkshire derby on the back of a six match unbeaten run that has included three clean sheets but more tellingly four draws and only two wins.
In recent years a comparable run would have had begrudging smiles returning to the gnarled faces of the battle weary Leeds faithful in the hope that this was a platform for the return of that long lost mistress, Mrs Success. So with only five miserly points between Leeds and the precious sixth spot why isn't everybody eagerly awaiting the chance to reduce that deficit against our West Yorkshire neighbours who are currently flirting with the relegation?
The simple answer to that teaser is that the majority of fans who have had the pleasure of watching the mighty whites this term have long since recognised that this team is just annoyingly short of the quality that's required to convert draws into wins and defeats into draws. Unfortunately we seem to have an unerring ability to do exactly the opposite especially on this recent run where the curse of conceding late goals has become expected rather than a frustrating surprise. My only real surprise is
that we are still statistically in touch with the play off bun fight which reflects the wafer thin difference between the top and the bottom in the very competitive Championship.
On a more positive note the new owners again showed this week that they are listening to the fans as they announced reductions on season ticket prices for next year. Another initiative will precede the game against Huddersfield as the Elland Road crowd will be urged to "Paint it white" in the shape of white shirts and white placards around the famous old stadium. This should ramp up the atmosphere, not that it should need ramping for a derby, but I suspect I'm not the only fan hoping that this isn't the thin edge of a wedge that includes other cringe worthy ideas such as club bands or drummers and the dreaded goal music?
So back to the West Yorkshire derby. Town fans are even more depressed than their Leeds cousins as
a season that started so encouragingly for them has spiralled out of control and into the fringes of the murky whirlpool of the relegation dog fight. The managerial merry go round in Kirklees has failed to halt the slide down the league for the Tesco Bags so they will arrive at the Theatre of Frustration with expectations as low as a Pot Bellied Pig's belly button. Maybe it should be billed as the "nobody's going to win derby"? Yorkshire folk are well known for being dour and slightly critical of the ones they love................this game could write a new chapter in Yorkshire folklore with both fans taunting each other with songs such as "We're shit and we're worse than you" or even "there's only one shit team in Yorkshire"
Finally I had a new experience this week in my long association with Leeds United. I watched my first match on Twitter. Exiled away on business in Venice I scanned the social media cyberspace in between my Antipasta and Il Primo whilst watching Barcalona spank Milan's bum in a Messi inspired 4.0 win. The outpourings of Leeds United's keyboard warriors mixed with my sheer amazement at the skills of Barcalona accompanied by sumptuous food washed down with a fine glass of red was certainly a heady mix. Such a mix of emotions as Leeds struggled to beat Peterborough whilst in the presence of two stellar teams that used to feature on the mighty whites radar such a short time ago. A disappointed Milan fan enquired what was distracting me from the game and the wonderful food. When I told him he poignantly enquired in perfect English "ahhh Leeds United what ever happened to them" "that my friend is a very good question, bring that bottle of Chianti and I will try to enlighten you. When I've finished you will be grateful you've just watched your team lose 4.0 to Barcalona"
Can we beat the Tesco Bags and creep nearer to illusive 6th spot? Course we can. Will we bridge that 5 point gap? Very much doubt it.............but that won't stop me dreaming of the impossible. Don't you just love football!