In a season of extremes, Leeds just seem unable to find any middle ground this campaign. It is either emotion filled with euphoria or despair, and rarely anything in between. Heroic cup wins against Everton and Southampton will see the Whites appear in their first League Cup quarter final clash in a generation later this month when they play Chelsea in an eagerly awaited contest. Yet, until little more than a week ago, Leeds were a club seemingly on the verge of a crisis, and were sliding down the Championship table at an alarming rate, all this after actually making a decent start to the season.
With the takeover saga dragging it’s heels and a run of seven games without a win which saw Leeds temporarily hover worryingly over the relegation places, the mood was downcast at Elland Road and rightly so. Leeds were appalling on the pitch, and arguably in an even worse state of affairs off it. Yet incredibly, within the space of eight days, the takeover finally neared its conclusion and the side have continued the upwardly mobile trend by winning three successive Championship games for the first time in two years. From depression to elation all in such a small time span, if there was ever a perfect example of the up and down nature of football this was surely it.
First, Leeds saw off then league leaders Crystal Palace with a fine display at Elland Road. Three days later, and another home game against another high flyer in the shape of Leicester, Leeds again obtained maximum points courtesy of a third minute penalty by Luciano Becchio. Those who are aware of Leeds’ diabolical midweek record in the past four seasons will have been stunned by this result, and it offered hope that the midweek hoodoo may finally be lifting, just like the gloom that had been well and truly set over Elland Road during the last twelve months.
Leeds then replicated their successes away from home at the weekend, winning 4-2 at neighbours Huddersfield, who, of course, are now managed by ex-Leeds boss Simon Grayson. Warnock classed the week as his greatest since his appointment in February, and it is tough to disagree with that assessment. The takeover and the upturn in form aren’t the only positives that can be taken. With an apparent cash injection offered by the new prospected owners, Leeds were able to bring in both Alan Tate and Jerome Thomas on loan deals, and it is no coincidence that an improvement in form and results has correlated with these two additions.
Throw in Ross McCormack, a player who Leeds have desperately missed since his injury in September, making his first start in three months at the weekend, and Leeds’ squad suddenly has options in a number of positions it previously lacked.
In typical football fan fashion, Leeds supporters, who feared the worst when a defeat at Millwall saw them stumble to 18th place in the Championship, are now counting the points deficit between themselves and the promotion places. With Leeds on this form, and the unpredictable nature of the Championship, anything remains a possibility, especially if Warnock is financially backed by the new owners in January.
It is remarkable that in such a short period of time, such negativity can be so readily be replaced by such positivity and excitement, but then this is why we love the game so much. Leeds’ next three fixtures include league games against Derby and Ipswich before that aforementioned League Cup clash with Chelsea. Were Leeds to emerge with another three victories from those matches, then optimism would really start to flow from all corners.