While international hiatuses offer solace from the anguish of match day combat they are seldom shorn of incident. This time the Ridings throbbed with the vastly differing emotions caused by two men at the opposite end of the spectrum in terms of both age and distinction.
Those of us that had naively hoped to see Kenneth William Bates expunged from our consciousness were given a rude awakening with the news that the ‘odious old goat’ will be allowed to continue his morbid fascination with our club. Don Massimo had agreed to allow a new look Radio Bates a slice of match day commentary rights, in a bid to stave off the impending courtroom battle stemming from Uncle Ken’s sacking by former owners GFH. In a decade of bile soaked mismanagement our former leader had used the defunct ‘Yorkshire Radio’ to torment both supporters and former directors of a pensionable age and now used his new outlet to trumpet the announcement in typically self-congratulatory fashion. Many fans reacted angrily to the taunts amidst fears of a return but such thoughts appear unfounded. The club made no mention of the development and a source close to the president moved swiftly to assure the restless.
The highlight of the international break was without doubt the development squad’s gorgeous six goal demolition of Doncaster Rovers. It was a result that augmented the first team’s perceived improvement and enhanced the view that better times were ahead. The performance showcased the club’s impressive mix of local and continental youth and further embellished the reputation of a prodigious Brazilian teenager with the facial features of a pre pubescent tomboy.
Adryan Tavares de Oliveira’s arrival ‘on loan with a view to a permanent deal’ was precipitated by week of intense dialogue between agents and various clubs with every whisper enveloped by speculation and intrigue. Dubbed the ‘new Kaka’ in his homeland the youngster had struggled to adapt to such platitudes but had still attracted the attention of our wily Italian owner. Despite not kicking a first team ball in anger Adryan was already enjoying the divine status given to him by a devoted section of supporters keen to anoint a new messiah. Our growing legion of first team coaches had thus far resisted such hysterical overtures but the Donny display lead many to believe that a small town in South Yorkshire would provide the setting for the second coming.
Millers 2 Whites 1
In his ridiculously abrubt tenure Darko Milanic had proven himself to be a quiet and thoughtful man and under the circumstances it was just as well. Much of the noisy pre match build up had emanated from our Southerly cousins and in particular their belligerent and dislikeable manager Steve Evans. The Scot had spent almost two weeks stoking the cup final fervour with constant and almost deferential reference to a fallen giant’s glorious past and was keen to outline his desire to vanquish such an illustrious opponent.
To the disappointment of many our Latin American man-child was only good for a place on the bench but it didn’t seem to matter. By half time Rotherham appeared to have succumbed to the pressure of their leader’s verbal foreplay as a slick Whites breezed into a deserved lead. Our second half disintegration was as inexplicable as it was grotesque and the travelling hordes looked on in horror as flabby mascara clad Evans bounced around like a lunatic while his charges bullied our pitiful band. The final whistle sparked typical bickering between a bemused fan base keen to assess the merits of Darko’s continental style in a league allegedly brimming with long balls and physical presence. It was another sickening denouement that ensured another miserable weekend.
Canaries 1 Whites 1
A trip to Carrow Road is not the sort of journey relished by a little known manager without a win to his name. The ‘second biggest club in East Anglia’ are another whose supporters seem intent on manufacturing some kind of rivalry and it is one in which they have generally prevailed over the last few years.
Darko’s tactics and team selection caused the usual debate and allowed the conspiracy theorists their fun. When the self style Norfolk giants’ god forsaken goal music chimed after an hour we all feared for the worst until Adryan, Antenucci and Doukara crafted an immediate response. Most of us would have considered it a pleasing evening until the spectre of racism reared its ugly head.
Whites 1 Wolves 2
Don’t let it be said that Massimo Cellino doesn’t listen. Another ugly Elland Road experience left the old house chanting Neil Redfearn’s name and social media networks ringing to cries of ‘sack the useless twat’. By 6pm the call had been answered and another mid-term sacking had ensued.
The merits of Darko’s continental style had been a cause for much debate since the Slovenian’s arrival just thirty-two days before. A tame surrender at Griffin Park was disappointing but not unusual and two home draws that followed suggested improvement. It was a Friday night collapse in Rotherham that set the alarm bells ringing. Quite why Darko chose to conservatively protect a lead in a contest we had hitherto dominated was as inexplicable as it was submissive and invited an onslaught that bellied our opponents’ ordinariness. An unconvincing point in Norfolk lifted the gloom but another negative tactical switch against Wolves stole abject defeat from the clutches of heartening triumph and sparked an unforgiving president into ruthless action.
Don Massimo was quick to explain his reasoning and apologise for another mistake but it didn’t lift the despond. Albert Einstein once remarked that ‘insanity was doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results’. Such a rationale suggests il Presidente suffers more than most. We have learned to live with his love for camping out on the edge of legality but the constant procession of managerial casualties continue to upset and hurt. Those fans that weren’t involved in the usual navel gazing were left to spend Saturday night vulnerable to the derision of others. Most of our antagonists could only dream of our glorious history and untapped potential but the promised rebirth seems as far away as ever.