Pablo Hernandez, cometh the hour cometh the man
12 Jul 2021 09:14 am, by YorkshireSquare
It hardly ever feels easy being a Leeds United fan but I wouldn’t want to be anything else. I wouldn’t want to support another team but they sure as hell get the heart pounding and the stomach churning. As if it’s not difficult enough as it is, Sky Sports and the EFL contrived in our promotion season to make it an even more excruciating experience. Playing after our nearest rivals in the promotion race every single game shredded my nerves, I became a nervous wreck come kick off!
The Tuesday before we played Stoke on 9th July 2020, Brentford faced local rivals Charlton. Lee Bowyer’s men took an early lead. I’ll admit to having got a little excited, I know I shouldn’t have but I did. They say it’s the hope that kills you, and sure as hell Brentford pop up with two goals in the last quarter of an hour to take the points. Would Derby do us a favour at West Brom on the Wednesday, absolutely not! A two-nil victory for the Baggies and the pressure firmly back on Leeds. Looking at the oppositions scores really isn’t good for you!
I hardly slept Wednesday night, Thursday was a blur but one that seemed to drag on for weeks, come 5.00pm I was a bag of nerves. The early shot saved from Roberts, the chances from Bamford and Roberts cleared off the line, I thought our opportunity had gone. As half time came the anxiety was insufferable, I expect Leeds fans across the country were losing their cool. Thankfully though it was not the same for everyone involved in Leeds United.
Smith's wild lunge on Costa handed Leeds a chance from the spot and up stepped Mateusz Klich, cool as you like to slot a penalty home. The goal settled the nerves and the introduction of Pablo Hernandez in the second half gave complete control of the game to Leeds as they went on to record their biggest win under Marcelo Bielsa. This was not the same bunch of players that were weighed down by the pressure of expectation the season before, they were unbridled, playing with freedom answering any questions Thomas Frank had posed them two days before with style.
Friday was a joy, buzzing with energy and excitement again, dreaming of promotion, but it wasn’t to last as Brentford kicked off before us on the Saturday. Watkins scored early on, but Derby got one back before the break. False hope yet again and by full time Brentford were breathing down our necks, the gap cut to three points for the second time in a week. Fearing third place beckoning us. But West Brom slipped up, a draw, two points dropped, anything but a bad loss would see us remain top of the table on Sunday evening.
Leeds headed into Sunday 12th July’s game against Swansea with a chance to put a bit of distance between themselves and West Brom and restore the six-point gap to third. But the doubts creep in again, lose and we could be third come next weekend. After all we’ve fumbled in the final few games of the season before. The first eighty-eight minutes were excruciating, Leeds had the better of the game, but it looked unlikely they were going to score. A point wouldn’t be a bad thing, but it would make the last few games unbelievably tense.
Pablo Hernandez had other ideas though. Cometh the hour cometh the man, our talisman, the heartbeat of our side delivered the vital goal that would seal all three points. As his 89th minute goal trickled towards the goal in slow motion, promotion was all but secured! This team were another year wiser, burned by failure the previous season they would not let it slip again. The relief was clear to see; Bamford hoofing the ball a mile in the air, Harrison clenching his fists in joy, Pablo celebrating shirtless with the substitutes, joined by Illan Meslier who had run the length of the pitch to join him. I'm was a bit worried about Gaetano Berardi though, I feared he might actually kill someone with his incredibly effusive celebrations when promotion actually came!
Four points in our last three games, less if Brentford slip up, would be enough to seal promotion, seven to seal the title. Enough to put the demons of last season, hell the last fifteen years to rest.