The agony and ecstasy of being a Leeds United fan
16 Jul 2020 09:12 pm, by YorkshireSquare
I keep trying to tell myself to enjoy every minute of this, to cherish ‘El Loco’ and the fantastic feeling he has brought back to this club but let’s be honest that was bloody awful! With Brentford keeping the pressure on after the victory over Preston on Wednesday night I was already feeling anxious going into the game and that ninety minutes of football did nothing to make me feel any better. A horrible heart attack of a football match, nerves hanging by a thread, feeling sick to the stomach until Jarred Gillett’s final whistle blew. I’m still not sure I’ve fully recovered now!
I’ve rarely seen a Marcelo Bielsa Leeds side have so little of the ball, I don’t think I’ve ever seen them sit so deep and defend so much. Credit to Barnsley, they certainly turned up and gave it a go. It would have been difficult for any neutral to tell which team was sat atop of the Championship and which was adrift at the bottom. Their persistent press and the absence of Kalvin Phillips handed control of the midfield to Barnsley for large parts of the game. With Phillips missing Marcelo Bielsa had to reshuffle the pack, Ben White stepped into the role but it wasn’t quite working.
Without the control Leeds usually exert on a game it was end to end, Mateusz Klich pulling the strings going forward for Leeds with defence splitting passes. It was one such pass, cut back by Bamford which was diverted into his own net by Michael Sollbauer before the onrushing Helder Costa could get to it. The first goal usually settles things down for Leeds, but it wasn’t to be so. Barnsley were already coming at us hard and going a goal down wasn’t going to stop them.
Half time came and on came Pablo Hernandez but his calming influence did not have it’s usual effect. Things were made slightly worse for Leeds just four minutes later when Costa had to depart the field on a stretcher after a vicious attack from that nasty young man Alex Mowatt (Joking Alex). Broken ribs, bruised at best, surely another set to watch the end of the season from the side-lines. Marcelo Bielsa it seemed had gone ‘full Bielsa’, was it three at the back or four, who knows, it didn’t matter to Barnsley as they crafted yet more chances.
The deck shuffled again, Pascal Struijk on for Jack Harrison, the young Dutchman taking up position in the centre of midfield rather than the centre of defence. An odd move maybe but it did help Leeds regain a certain amount of control in midfield. With Harrison off attacking options were limited as Leeds piled men behind the ball to keep Barnsley ay bay. Leeds did have some chances, Struijk creating one of them as his through ball release Alioski who in turn crossed to Bamford who forced a good save. Could he have done better? Possibly, as is ever the way.
Leeds defended resolutely, Cooper blocking chance after chance. Meslier, rightfully retaining his place between the sticks, tipping one over the bar. No doubt Barnsley would be safe from danger if only they could finish, their performance belies their position in the table. As the ninety minutes ticked by, I withdrew further and further behind the sofa, it was insufferable, intolerable. But then it happened the whistle blew, 1-0 to Leeds, three more points on the board and one point from glory!
If either West Brom or Brentford drop points before we play on Sunday we are promoted, if both do we are Champions. Saving that we could seal out own fate against Derby on Sunday and wouldn’t that be special? From the agony of play-off defeat last season to the ecstasy of promotion at Pride Park.