Why do we always self-destruct?
09 Apr 2015 08:31 pm, by YorkshireSquare
Why do we do it? Why when things are going well do we always press the self-destruct button? We are favourites to beat Cardiff with the bookies this weekend but the football has taken somewhat of a back seat in the past two weeks.
From the very origins of the club we support today we have had the propensity to unravel everything that is good. Leeds City having established themselves in the second division were expelled from the Football League for making illegal payments to players during the war. A harsh sanction indeed, especially when you consider it was common practice (The Football League’s always been corrupt) but failure of the directors to co-operate with the FAs investigation and hand over financial records lead to the severe punishment.
In July 1974 the most successful era in our clubs history came to an end when the great Don Revie left Elland Road to become England manager. During his 13 year tenure as manager we were Second Division champions once, First Division champions twice and runners up five times, we won one FA Cup and got to the final four times, we won one League Cup, Charity Shield and two Fairs Cups. The boards reaction was to replace him with Brian Clough, an outspoken critic of Leeds United and Don Revie. How did he introduce himself to his new squad;
"Gentlemen, the first thing you can do for me is throw your medals and your pots and pans in the dustbin because you've never won anything fairly. You've done it by cheating."
Safe to say it didn’t go well and after Leeds United’s worst start to the season for 15 years he was sacked, only 44 days into his career as Leeds United manager. That could have been said to be Leeds’ most disastrous managerial appointment, until this season that is when Darko Milanic succeeded Clough as Leeds’ most unsuccessful permanent manager. Thankfully for Leeds Clough was replaced by the gentleman Jimmy Armfield who gave Leeds one of their most famous nights in the Parc des Princes.
In more recent times we have seen the great O’Leary side packed full of home grown talent vying for the Premiership title, competing with the best teams in Europe, reaching Champions League semi-finals torn apart and destroyed due to greed and financial mismanagement. Peter Ridsdale and Allan Leighton overspent, borrowed and mortgaged the club to the hilt to earn success and when we failed to make the Champions League it all fell down around them. It would be fair to say they got carried away; £7 million for Seth Johnson, £12 for Robbie Fowler. Money we didn’t have, players we didn’t need. The £103 million we owed when Ridsdale seems paltry now compared to the debts some clubs but back then it was massive and it ultimately lead to our fall from grace and relegation to League One.
League One however was the starting point for our next self-destruction. Simon Grayson put together a great young side, the likes of Howson, Johnson, Snodgrass, Gradel and Beckford. The most exciting squad we has seen for years and the potential for the future was massive. With Leeds still aiming for the Championship play-off places in 2012 Grayson saw his captain Jonny Howson sold from under him, the dismantling of the squad had started. After a poor run of results but still within touching distance of the play-offs Grayson was sacked. The club said “with the transfer window now closed we needed to make the change at this time in the belief that a new managerial team will be able to get more out of the existing”, a kick in the teeth for a manager who had had his best players sold from around him.
And here we are, about to do it again. I’d been looking forward over Easter to writing a story about resurrection. From the shakiest of starts Neil Redfearn and Steve Thompson have saved our season, have saved our club. We’ve won eight games this year and have climbed to safety from the perils of a relegation battle. The most exciting thing though is our young squad. Taylor, Byram, Mowatt, Cook, Murphy, Phillips all home grown players with more to come, managed by the man who has mentored them through the academy who knows how to get the best from them.
Now it all looks in jeopardy though. Matt Child, a Leeds fan in the boardroom credited with rebuilding relationships and creating some stability was the first to go. Next, Steve Thompson, for reasons still unclear. Redfearn’s shoulder to lean on and the man responsible for Luke Murphys revival this season. Thompson is not only a loss in himself but also casts doubt over Redfearn’s future, undermined and uninformed why would he want to stay? It seems ludicrous that the man who saved our season and is up for last month’s Manger of the Month award should be unclear or unsure of his future. And this week there is uncertainty over the future of Nicola Salero too, the many who sacked Thompson.
The failure to tie our young players to new contracts is a major concern, especially when there are rumours the likes of Liverpool and Manchester United are sniffing round Byram, Cook and Mowatt. Why why why do we do it? Things were going so well, we were all feeling positive and now it’s on the verge of being destroyed again. God it’s frustrating being a Leeds fan!