Right - thought about putting this one in at the start of this season and then the notion went off me after a disastrous run! Was then encouraged to give it another rattle when someone put the thread up about which soccer team you supported/followed, and Leeds appeared to be joint third behind Liverpool and Manure. So there's a few other fools out there like Billys Boots and myself!
There used to be a show on Sky Sports called 'Hold the Back Page', in which three soccer journalists would sit with chairman Brian Woolnough, around a small table in a darkened room, and discuss in detail all the football issues of the day. It has been replaced in recent years by Jimmy Hill's Football Supplement.
Back in August/September 2001, Paddy Barclay of the Guardian (I think) stated on Hold the Back Page that Leeds were the next great thing. At the tail end of the preceding season, they had lost a Champions League Semi-Final to Valencia, with a young and ever increasing squad. Barclay's prediction looked about right as Leeds approached Christmas 2001 first in the Premiership. Indeed, if the results for the Calendar year of 2001 had been rattled up for every team, Leeds would have finished top by twelve clear points!
Early in the New Year of 2002, Leeds were away in the 3rd round of the FA Cup to Cardiff City, and despite taking the lead, lost two one. It was to be the start of a long downward spiral that continues to this day, with Leeds on the verge of a visit outside the top two leagues for the first time in their history!
After that Cup defeat, Leeds fell away badly in the league and missed out on the lucrative Champions League. The writing was now on the wall, as this Champions League qualification was essential to pay the huge debts. The following season they just stayed up by winning the second last game of the season away to Arsenal, but all the squad continued to be sold off, much of it for a pittance, and relegation followed the season after.
The first season in the Championship was mid table safety under a new manager, Kevin Blackwell, who had started the season with one professional player on the staff - Gary Kelly! The following season, last year, saw a push for promotion that resulted in a play off place and a heavy defeat to Watford in the play off final. This year the wheels have come off totally. Blackwell has got the sack and been replaced by Dennis Wise and Gus Poyet. That legend
Ken Bates has come in, bought the Club and invested sweet FA - the impression I get is that he wants to get another pay off like Chelsea, as there is no doubt there is great potential with Leeds, i.e. Leeds is the biggest city in the UK with only one football team.
Players are coming and going at an unbelievable rate. Leeds are about to acquire a new keeper who will be their fourth of the season but many of the players brought in are patently not good enough and as a consequence results continue to be dire. Throughout all of this, the family china continues to be sold off for a pittance,; witness Kilgallon's sale to Sheffield United for little over a million. It has reached the stage now where the assistant manager, Gus Poyet, looks like he might be in line for a run!
This season was always going to be very difficult. This is the last season that Leeds continue to pay the wages (part of) of Robbie Keane and Robbie Fowler. However it coincided with the first season outside the Premiership without the parachute payments. Still and all, I could not see the season that is panning out, and for the first time I believe that they will probably go down, as they are currently six points off safety (effectively seven when goal difference is considered). The situation seems hopeless - new players are required and they need to get to know each other - unfortunately there is no time, and still no sign of replacements for problem positions such as centre half!
The future? Well I would be a bit more optimistic. If Leeds do go down, I feel they will have reached such a low that someone somewhere will decide enough is enough and hopefully Bates will be bought out by people prepared to invest in the squad. There is huge potential within Leeds for those looking to speculate and I would hope that that might happen. Unfortunately though, it is likely that Leeds will need to reach a new low before that happens!!
Any other Leeds fans out there with a view?