Football isn’t just about winning, if it was we would all be off supporting Manchester City right now rather than feeling absolutely gutted about last nights result. Supporting a team is more than backing a winning side it’s about having a connection with a club. For many that is the city they were born in, for those of you not fortunate enough to be born in Leeds it could be a family connection, a link to a lost relative, most people don’t get to choose. We support our clubs with our hearts, not our heads and we experience the ups and downs that come with that.
Leeds United have provided me with a few ups over the years but they have been specialists at the downs and last night was right up there with the worst of those. I’ve seen them lose in the League Cup final, lose two play-off finals and witnessed relegation twice but last night was as gut-wrenching a loss as any of those. As much as Derby brought the game to us last night, through moments of madness, we ultimately cost ourselves a place in the final and that is such a Leeds thing to do. After such a good season we just didn’t perform in key games.
But all is not lost, through heartbreak there are positives. Football clubs are a big part of the communities they exist in and the connection between the club and the fans is key. For too long the club hasn’t engaged with the fans, or worse as under Bates, the fanbase has been fractured. The laying out of 35,000 scarves on the seats last night was a symbolic gesture of the rebuilding of that relationship over the past two years. The fans have always cared about the club but now the club actually seems to care about the fans again.
Week in week out, since Derby away we have had hope going into every game. The season has ultimately not ended as we would have hoped but it was fun a long the way. The fanbase is reconnected with the club and Elland Road is packed again. The club is rejuvenated and we must build on everything put in place this season. Bielsa staying is key but he will need assurances, we need to keep hold of our key young players and strengthen the squad but if we can do that then next season can be every bit as fun as this one. Though hopefully with a better ending.
It hurts like hell right now, but there are reasons to be optimistic about next season, I promise.