Speaking With The Enemy – Leeds Utd
(Leeds 2 -3 Chelsea)
1. So – why Leeds United?
Growing up in Essex I wasn’t surrounded by a lot of Leeds fans, but my dad was a huge Leeds fan and he is the sole reason now spend most weekends in despair.
He had a video of the 91/92 league winning season review video, it was the first thing of football I had seen and I never thought of supporting anyone else.
2. There has been a long standing animosity & rivalry between Chelsea and Leeds, do you think that it has lessened at all since Leeds dropped out of the Premiership?
I think over that last few years Leeds have been in a strange place as far as our rivals go. The teams we traditionally see as our main rivals, of which Chelsea and Man Utd would probably be the main ones, have been so far above us you start to think they don’t even remember who we are.
Teams like Huddersfield, who traditionally have more of a one way hatred towards us, now seem to be closer to our level.
But there is no doubt that Leeds fans still see Chelsea as a main rival, not a home game goes by without a rendition of “shoot the Chelsea scum”.
I think the rein of Ken Bates has brought more animosity as far as Leeds fans are concerned. Most Leeds fans refuse to accept him and, they see him as a Chelsea man who has held us down for far longer than we should have been.
There is a lot of excitement ahead of this game, it’s the first sell out of the season and I don’t think many other clubs would have got that response from the Leeds fans.
3. What kind of season do you expect Leeds to have?
I think we could sneak into the play offs, I’m predicting a much better second half to this season.
We are in the midst of a takeover which is due to be signed off on Friday. It has been dragging on since May and there is no doubt that having it hanging over us has had a terrible effect on our season so far.
Before that takeover was officially announced we hadn’t won in 7, we dropped to 18th and we were looking at a relegation fight.
There was a lot of apathy around the club, attendances fell and the atmosphere Elland Road was known for was all but gone.
As soon as it was announced the deal was to be done last month we picked up 2 new players on loan and we have won 4 out of the last 5 and we are looking up again. The crowds haven’t yet returned, but that should come.
4. Ken Bates – discuss?
And here we come to what most Leeds, myself included, think is the sole reason we have festered in the lower leagues for so long.
He claims to have saved our club when no one else would, preventing us from going into administration.
He came to the club in 2005 with us sitting mid table in the championship and full of promises of buying back Elland Road and our training ground as a main priority, along with getting us back to the premiership.
Seven years later we don’t own our ground, we don’t own our training ground, we are 12th in the championship.
In between that Bates put us into administration, we had 25 points deducted over 2 seasons, we dropped into the third tier of English football for the first time in our history, and he threatened to liquidate us unless the club was sold back to him following administration.
Over the past 3 years we have consistently sold our best players and the money for their transfers has mysteriously disappeared.
Bates tells us that all of our best players want too much money and it’s for the best they go then claims agents and rival clubs want to much for players.
He picks fights with supporters groups, and last season blocked the ticket buying accounts of the leaders of the Leeds United Supporters Trust, a trust which has around 8000 members. He has also used programme notes to call fans “dissidents, sickpots and morons”.
When the takeover goes through he will be replaced as chairman, which was welcomed by almost everyone, but we were told he will become the club president instead.
Ken Bates will be the President of Leeds United. F*ck. I could go on but I’m sure you have the idea.
5. What affect did Leeds financial implosion have on football as a whole?
It has had so many effects, at first it was almost disbelief that we could implode so quickly. For a while it galvanised fans and players together to bring Leeds United back to “where we belong”.
But now our time in the wilderness has now gone on for so long, that for fans of my generation [in their 20’s or younger] we have been out of the premiership for nearly as long as we were in it, I think particularly in the last couple of seasons the club has lost some of its identity, home crowds have dropped and there is no real confidence at Leeds. The fans are divided by a campaign of divide and conquer by Bates.
We have had a few good players in the last few years, Snodgrass and Max Gradel in particular, but you always fear they will be, and all have been, the next ones to leave.
As long as Bates has been in charge you can expect the player of the season to be sold on, normally to Norwich.
The news of the takeover has raised hope that the last few, very tough years could be coming to an end.
6. If you could choose one Chelsea player to join Leeds, who would it be & why?
I think I would have Juan Mata. Having a player who can do anything from anywhere on the pitch would be brilliant. I personally hate watching long ball football, and we are shit at it, so someone who thrives with the ball on the floor would be ideal.
7. Which Leeds player should Chelsea be wary of?
We have Jerome Thomas on loan from West Brom and in all four games he has played we have won and he has picked up 2 man of the match awards. If not Thomas I would have to say El Hadji Diouf. He was booed by Leeds fans on his first appearance, but a string of solid performances has turned that around. He is clearly playing in the championship due to his personality rather than his aility.
8. What’s been your greatest high as a Leeds fan?
When we beat Roma 1-0 in 2000. It was the UEFA cup and a knock out match. It was the start of a few years of great nights in Europe for us, when we were all blissfully unaware of what was to come. Totti was unbelievable, but a long range Harry Kewell effort sent us through. The atmosphere in the ground was incredible.
On a par is also knocking Man Utd out the FA cup a couple of years ago. It was our first win in the Theatre of Shit for over 20 years, and it was all the sweeter as we were a League 1 team at the time and I suspect they were prepared to turn us over.
9. What do you think of Neil Warnock?
I’m a fan. I really liked Simon Grayson before, he had no money but consistently got the team playing exciting football. His sacking was very harsh.
Warnock’s league positions and general style of play have probably been worse, but most fans lay the blame at Bates’ door. If Warnock was able to keep Snodgrass and given funding to get the team he wanted we would be a lot better off.
What he does well is speak his mind, and against a chairman like Bates you need that. As fans we know more where we stand than we have before. His record in the league is the best there is, and with some funding from the takeover I think he could get us up.
10. The police have cut Chelsea’s allocation for this game from 5,000 to 3,000 – do you think that’s justified? Do you predict trouble?
That’s really hard to answer. You would hope that there won’t be any trouble, and I suspect the Leeds and Chelsea fans wanting to fight will be in or around the ground regardless. Unfortunately every team has their dickheads.
I think it’s unlikely that the extra 2000 Chelsea fans would all be looking for a fight. There is no doubt that having every seat filled would make the atmosphere electric, so it’s a shame that won‘t happen.
I have already seen Chelsea fans on twitter saying they will be disappointed if they don’t see any Turkish flags on Wednesday, and I have no doubt some Leeds fans have similarly stupid ideas for the game so trouble from the minority is possible.
11. Who is your favourite Leeds player & why?
I think Ross McCormack, he works hard and is one of the few good players we have who has committed to a new contract. He was our top scorer last season and is one of the most exciting players we have.
He is also brilliant on Twitter.
12. Finally, how do you expect the game to go & what’s your score prediction?
I think we have as good a chance as ever with your boys getting back from a demoralising final in Japan. With most of your squad battling jet lag we could make advantage of being more fresh.
I think the anger Chelsea fans have towards their own manager will help us as well. Leeds fans know better than most how an unhappy fan base can effect what happens on the pitch.
We are on the best run we have been all season, and will go in confident. The atmosphere will be better than it has been for a long time and hopefully our players will feed off that.
We have already put out Southampton and Everton, so it’s possible.
I’m going for 2-1 Leeds.
Posted by Trizia