The highs and lows of a promotion campaign

05 Feb 2020 08:30 am, by YorkshireSquare

After the highs of the Millwall come-back came the lows of defeat to Wigan, this season is turning into a bit of a roller coaster ride. Leeds United are not making this easy. But any promotion push will have those ups and downs. Last season was a prime example but even successful promotion campaigns have those highs and lows too, we only have to look to the last time Leeds were promoted to the top flight, 1989-1990, to see that.

In 1989 after losing the first game away to Newcastle, a 15 game undefeated run including 10 victories saw Leeds well up with the leaders, and a 2-0 win at Middlesbrough in early December saw Leeds proudly top of the table. The arrival of Lee Chapman and Chris Kamara proved to be the final pieces in the promotion jigsaw for United as a three-way fight developed for the two promotion places between Leeds United, Sheffield United and Newcastle United. Quick exits from the Cups left Leeds with no distractions able to concentrate on the Second Division title race.

But there were a few signs of nerves to come. Having lost only three times in the first half of the season Leeds had a bit of a wobble in the new year. Ahead of the crucial the Easter Monday local derby with rivals Sheffield United Leeds had lost five times. But Leeds blew away the Blades 4-0 with two goals from Gordon Strachan, one from Lee Chapman and another from the young Gary Speed. United’s strength had been the way they dominated sides at Elland Road and so it came as a total surprise when Barnsley became the first team to beat Leeds on home territory with a 2-1 win. This left Leeds needing to win both their remaining matches to be sure of promotion.

32,597 crammed into Elland Road for the visit of Leicester City, who had brought Leeds 15 game unbeaten run to an end earlier in the season by winning 4-3 at Filbert Street. Mel Sterland thumped United into an early lead but the second goal just would not come and there was despair when Gary McAllister (Who played for Leicester) scored with a spectacular long range shot to make the scores level. With nerves of the crowd showing, Gordon Strachan saved the day with his 16th League goal of the season to send the fans home in raptures with a 2-1 victory. The win did not ensure promotion, but left United in the box seat. A win at relegation threatened Bournemouth would bring not only promotion but also the championship.

On the final matchday of the season with Middlesbrough already beating Newcastle, a point would have been enough to secure promotion, but Sheffield United's early goals at Leicester put them in command in the title race. Then with 41 minutes of the season remaining Chris Kamara crossed for Lee Chapman to rise and head the winner, and United had little difficulty in hanging on to their lead to win the championship with 85 points and with it promotion to the first division.

Promotions are nerve-wracking, even the faint prospect of winning promotion ups the stakes producing extreme highs and lows of emotions. Heck, anyone who was at Elland Road on Saturday 8th May to see Leeds beat Bristol Rovers to secure promotion to the Championship will tell you what a roller-coaster 90 minutes can be, never mind 17 games. Between now and 2nd May will not be easy, there will be highs and there will be lows. But whatever they put us through, it will be absolutely worth it if we are back in the Premier League next season.

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faaip wrote on 05 Feb 2020 07:06 pm

And Pablo very recently praised crowd participation and support

Irish Ian wrote on 05 Feb 2020 06:48 pm

Before we knock the crowd reaction remember that many of those guys were in London in a cold Monday night after having had to take at least one day off work.

These same guys were chanting Bamfords name at the end of the first half at QPR despite that awful howler.
They follow home and away faithfully but have many times been rewarded with panic from the team on the pitch. Key stone cops defending and an awful laxity up front.

Players need to accept the reality because in many ways they are the source of it.

Play well and get the plaudits, play poorly and face the brickbats.

Full houses every week show up not to to boo or get frustrated but cheer on the team.

But as we are in a trough, so we can rise to a peak. The fans will be there both at Forest and at Brentford to back the team

Let’s hope they are rewarded for
their faith. They deserve it.

gessa wrote on 05 Feb 2020 02:57 pm

I remember reading an article years ago on players reaction to the crowd and it being the 12th man, the ex pros, they interviewed said it does make a difference and it can have an affect on the opposition but so it can go the other way, the groans, non atmosphere can make players make mistakes, rush passes, snap at shots, miskicking clearances, not wanting the ball for fear of making a mistake etc. This then can give the opposition a lift.
Players are highly paid professionals but they are human, some won't let things affect their game but lets just look how many are coming out admitting they have depression, things like crowd hostility would certainly make a difference. The ones who don't let it affect them are the minority.

weasel wrote on 05 Feb 2020 02:47 pm

I certainly feel the tension in the crowd can get to the players and make them a little edgy rather than just playing naturally. You just have to look at Bamford's reaction to show that what the fans say, both on the internet and possibly at stadia, does get to the players.

mothbanquet wrote on 05 Feb 2020 02:17 pm

weasel wrote: Wed Feb 05, 2020 1:18 pm I remember that Wilko promotion season well and the despair at times when it looked like we were blowing it. So many ups and downs and there was still the recent despair of losing in extra time of the FA Cup Semi Final and in extra time of the Play-Off Final replay after leading 1-0 in the memory of fans. Losing matches that you shouldn't was just the way it was and the pressure was enormous. Same with the Grayson promotion season and so many ups and downs and times when it looked lost.
As a player, how much would fan expectation realistically affect your performance?