Fellow Leeds fans, let’s face it this season is all but over for us bar the shouting. Another season of promise that never quite delivered – apart from the usual mediocrity that is.
Another season where events off the field seemed to take precedence to proceedings on it. Owner banned again (pending appeal), fans against the owner protesting in numerous ways and, as expected, head coaching casualties.
Let’s be realistic for a moment, where we find ourselves now, nuzzled in 13th place in the Championship, is likely around where we’ll find ourselves come nine games time. Give or take a place or two, this is where we’ll end – another season of mid-table mediocrity for us to pore over.
The next logical step is to look for someone/something to blame – a scapegoat is needed and must be brought out.
Blame Cellino: he hasn’t invested deeply enough in quality, he breathes instability and he’s a canker to our great club. Blame Rosler and Evans: for not bringing the best out of what’s at their disposal, for tactical ineptitude and for not being up to the job. Blame the players: their hearts not in it, they’re simply not good enough and they don’t gel as a unit.
Enough of the blame game though, what about the three questions?
1. Should Steve Evans stay?
I’m ready for the backlash, I’m prepared, yes he should stay. Not because he’s Pep Guardiola, he clearly isn’t, but because it would be a sign of something more important that our club is crying out for and something no amount of owner money can buy – stability.
Keep Steve Evans at Elland Road and it brings a sense of stability in what are often tumultuous times what with court cases, potential owner bans, protesting fans etc. Back him, let him have his say in what comes in player-wise, give Steve Evans a Steve Evans Leeds United.
As he’s said before, he’s had success at getting teams promoted when he’s had time and input – Cellino needs to give him both of those. Changes do need to be made and Evans needs to play his part too – get a system sorted Steve and get the players for it.
2. Will the fan protests bring about owner change?
No. I’m sorry to be brutal, but I don’t think that they will succeed in their ultimate aim in convincing Leeds United’s owner that it’s ‘Time To Go, Massimo’. Protests need three main elements to succeed: an identifiable cause, a groundswell of support and a realistic chance of an outcome.
The TTGM collective have a cause, and a noble one too – the removal of a man they see as causing the necrosis and withering of the club they love. There is a groundswell of support for their views, both at their demonstrations and in the larger Leeds United fanbase. A growing number of Leeds fans are aggrieved at the disrepute Cellino’s extra-football actions are bringing to the club. However, they fall down on the third element – realistic chance of an outcome. That’s the sword on which they will have to fall down on I’m afraid.
Cellino is an obdurate and stubborn man, a figure that seemingly will not be moved. To him a fan protest is likely more of an annoyance rather than a threat. Remember this is a man who threatened to lock a broadcaster out of a televised game and has no qualms in taking the Football League to appeal tribunals. Projected images, symbolic funeral marches and advertising audiences are likely the punchlines to what he sees as jokes. My wonder is how long will the backers and funders of the protest continue to give generously when the outcome continues to defy what they are putting in for? Not long I guess.
3. Is the team good enough?
No. Brutal again, but it is evident that they aren’t the unit that will take us forward. They have the core that could do just that, be a threat, but there needs to be a few changes – that is beyond doubt.
It’s not just the 13th place in the table that tells us that, it’s not even the string of results that inform us. It’s the manner of the defeats, the way that Leeds seemingly weren’t at the races. Games like Blackburn at home, Brighton away and Huddersfield at home spring to mind – I’m not even counting the Middlesbrough game at the Riverside!
Players do need to be brought in, and quality players too. Not on the scale of the first influx that Cellino’s reign brought, that was a scheme of throw it and let’s see what sticks. A much better strategy would be deciding on a set scheme to play, assessing what players fit into the scheme and bringing in those who will fit the style of play we intend to set our stall out with.