Whites 0 Seagulls 2, Hornets 4 Whites 1
One of the many issues that befall a club like Leeds United when languishing in the Championship, is the division’s collection of combatants with scant repute whose followers attempt to manufacture a ‘rivalry’ in order to justify their existence.
Brighton fans don’t generally interest themselves in such folly but recent times has seen a minority of their number travelling to Elland Road determined to cast us all as moronic homophobes. The pursuit of equality in society is an honourable aim but those from ‘Sussex by the Sea’ ought to remember the rather stereotypical welcome their pro Thatcherite town of the 1980’s gave to visiting Northerners and how the Goldstone Ground regularly serenaded us with songs about slums and signing on.
Watford supporters take their fascination with the Red Ridings to a bizarrely unhealthy level. Despite the cavernous gulf between the history and size of both clubs, there has been a desperate ploy by those in sleepy Hertfordshire to engender some kind of mutual antipathy with their West Yorkshire ‘rivals’. This is quite a strange concept for many of us and it’s a struggle to find a reason why. Even after our trouncing in Cardiff there was little anger shown to our opponents as we instead chose to vent our frustrations at the pointlessness of the Blackwell regime. Perhaps the demise of their so-called historical agitators Luton Town has left the Hornets feeling empty and aimless and in need of a fillip from further afield.
The faithful returned to the old house for our match with Brighton in fairly upbeat mood and with good reason to do so. The Middlesbrough victory had given us enough to believe that steady progress was being made. What transpired was another in the litany of Elland Road debacles in which an unperturbed visiting side were allowed to stroke the ball around at nothing more than training pace, while their befuddled opponents chased aimlessly. The second half improved slightly with at least an attempt to adhere to the passing principles that Mr Hockaday is said to champion but we were largely hamstrung by a lack of speed in both body and mind. The coach later acknowledged a truly ‘painful’ experience.
Those of us that weren’t at Wembley on Saturday afternoon were at nearbyVicarage Road witnessing another humiliating afternoon that left the Head Coach hanging by a thread. Many Leeds fans could luxuriate in the consolation of a Challenge cup victory but there was no such solace for those of us of a black and amber persuasion. Don Massimo was reportedly so incensed by the manner of the defeat that rumours of the coach’s demise began to circulate from the most reliable of sources. The cyber ghouls found their thirst for misery and misfortune suitably quenched, while Talksport’s Stan Collymore expressed his anger at ‘the waste of a huge club’.
Twenty four hours of depression later Don Massimo publicly announced a stay of execution for his beleaguered employee in typically dramatic fashion. “Blame me. It’s my fault. I am the manager maybe I should sack myself” barked the President admitting to his own shortcomings. “I want to do everything too fast – I want 15 new players, I want to be in the Premier League, I don’t want the old coach, I want a new one. I want to build Rome in 12 hours but it doesn’t happen. If another coach comes in and we have the same problems, we are back in the shit. So I’ll wait.” He then went on to admonish newcomer Giuseppe Bellusci for the sending off that precipitated a desperate capitulation. It was mistake that the Italian defender subsequently apologised for.
For those of us that would like to see our colourful owner succeed the whimsical public musings and desire to micro manage every facet of the club sits uneasily. I doubt that any reputable coach worth his salt would feel comfortable with the prospect of working in such a restrictive and emotional environment. It is true that the current system is in its infancy but I think we all realise it is unlikely to succeed in its present form. There are times when there appears to be no system at all.