When the last issue of Leeds Student went to print before Christmas, a tone of positivity and expectation came with it. What a difference a matter of weeks can make. Despite heading into the Christmas break with hopes high amidst the takeover, Neil Warnock and his men found themselves on Santa’s naughty list, with defeats to Nottingham Forrest and Hull City in the fixtures immediately after Christmas and an embarassing loss to bottom of the league Yorkshire rival Barnsley a couple of weeks ago.
The old adage that “it’s the hope that kills you” also proved to be true, with a 45-minute period of torture at the hands of arch rivals Chelsea following a 1-0 lead at half time coming in the Capitol One Cup, leaving fans to look on bitterly as neighbours Bradford book their tickets to Wembley.
In terms of the football, it can only be described as negative, with long-balls seeming to be the go-to tactic and “passing the ball” an alien concept. As well as this, Leeds’ takeover was not all their fans hoped it was, with Leeds displaying the same worrying lack of financial clout under GFH Capital as they did under Bates.
Whilst signing Ross Barkley on loan was a statement of intent, the purchases of Michael Tonge and Ryan Hall have left fans underwhelmed. Yet it’s not all doom and gloom in Beeston. Leeds proved they can actually beat a team at the bottom of the table, with McCormack firing Leeds to victory against Bristol City.
There are also exciting transfer rumours, such as the imminent arrival of the amazingly named Habib Habibou and creative midfielder Chris Burke, both in areas Leeds desperately could do with strengthening. In terms of departures, fan favourite Luciano Becchio has handed in his transfer request, with rumours of a move to Wigan or Norwich. Warnock has also stated that he hopes to remove a few fringe players from the squad.
If Twitter rumours are anything to go by (and granted, they usually aren’t, but as a Leeds fan I’m desperate) Leeds are also close to pulling off a “massive coup” of a signing, though it may be a bit too soon to get ‘Ronaldinho’ printed on the back of my shirt. Sunday’s fixture is a cause for excitement.
The Whites entertain the Lilywhites at Elland Road and Spurs are expected to be greated by a near-capacity crowd in what is a homecoming for former fan-favourite Aaron Lennon. For a team in the second tier of English football, Leeds have a decent record against Premiership teams, beating the likes of Manchester United, Everton and Southampton and drawing against Arsenal and their visitors on Sunday, Tottenham.
Given Leeds’ performances of late a positive result seems a million miles away, yet stranger things have happened this season and a win wouldn’t be totally out of the realms of possibility. Leeds’ combative nature, added to the crowd and condition of the pitch following the recent torrential snowstorms, mean it won’t be easy for Spurs to leave Yorkshire with smiles of their faces.
Finally, under the tenure of new owners GFH, Leeds United have announced that in February students can get tickets for the home games against Peterborough and Blackpool for just £10. This has been something that Leeds fans and students alike have campaigned for years, and is a perfect time to get more out of the city you live in. If the take up is decent enough perhaps a mini bus from Parkinson Steps could be organised to take you to and from the ground. You never know, we might actually win!
By Kyle Hulme