I couldn’t believe how quickly my new book The Sleeping Giant Awakens 2016-17 has ended up being published as I’d only done the final proofreading the other week. Leeds United’s Club Shop got their quota yesterday and I’d agreed to go in and sign them all for them. My own quota arrived today and I managed to sell one to a neighbour as soon as I walked out of the door! I dropped my daughter Emily and granddaughter Laura at the White Rose Centre whilst I signed all of my books that were in the shop ready for sale. A would like to say a big thank you for the hospitality given to me in the shop and also for sorting out my tickets for me. In the middle of signing the books, realisation dawned on me that I had left my season tickets at home. As I was leaving the house my bum bag broke so I transferred everything to another bag, or so I thought. I didn’t look in the pocket where the most important things were kept! It was nice to have plenty fans come and speak to me in the shop and even buying my new book so a big thank you to them. I also got called a legend by one fan which was nice to hear. Before I forget I’d better give a shout out for Hungry Duck and Stutcha who I met in the Peacock and took their photos.
Today was called the Team Toby day; Toby Nye aged four is fighting Neuroblastoma and his family is trying to raise the £200,000 for his treatment which isn’t funded by the NHS. With all the staff at Elland Road donating their wages from today and fans raising money too, hopefully the family will get the amount they need. I decided as my books had arrived that I should donate one of them towards their fundraising and a copy was handed to the family tonight by my daughter Michelle as every little helps. I was so glad to see that Toby along with his brother Ollie were able to lead the teams out for tonight’s game. Everyone also gave Toby a round of applause on four minutes which was good to see. Good luck with your fight little man.
The team today was Lonergan, Anita, Ayling, Pennington, Cooper, Saiz, Alioski, Phillips, Lasogga, O’Kane and Vieira. Subs were Jansson for Cooper (56), Hernandez for Alioski (70) and Grot for Anita (83). Attendance was 34,504 with 2,533 Sheffield Utd fans. Leeds lost 2-1 with Phillips scoring our goal (34).
The game kicked off and with more or less Sheffield’s first attack they found themselves a goal up. As the ball came to the middle of the goal right in front of us, it came to Billy Sharp (ex-Leeds) on his own and there was no way he was missing that one. That wasn’t a good start to the game for us and not a good start for my camera as it turned out the memory on the SD card was full! It looks like I’ll have to have some rearranging of files and backing things up on both my computer and camera before we play Derby. For the next 20 odd minutes we found ourselves at sixes and sevens as Sheffield swarmed all over us and we didn’t get much of a look in. With us passing back a lot, Lonergan was nearly caught out when he held on to the ball too long and nearly had it whipped off his toes. With the ref not booking their players for the fouls they were committing left, right and centre it meant Sheff Utd continued doing this for a long time before they got their first booking. We eventually started to get an attack together when the ball came over to Phillips near the edge of the box he struck the ball into the net to equalise on 34 minutes. We were lucky not to go behind again before half time as Lonergan made a fantastic double save to deny Sheffield Utd another goal. I did think that Sharp handled the ball twice with one attack though.
At the start of the second half, Leeds upped their performance as the Leeds fans really got behind their team. Saiz started causing Sheff Utd all sorts of problems and was fouled so many times. With another attack it looked like a goal all the way from Saiz only for the ball to rebound off the upright. He set up Alioski with a great cross but his header was saved by their goalie. With one free kick we were trying something different in front of goal with four of our players grouped together in the middle of the penalty area behind everyone else. As soon as the ball was to be kicked they all went back into an onside position. Unfortunately the free kick from Phillips went wide and didn’t test their goalie. We had been putting pressure on the Sheff Utd defence for most of the second half although not really testing their goalie. When Hernandez came on as a sub I was disappointed that Alioski was brought off. I feel that by subbing him all the time (well it seems that way), as happened with some of our younger players in the past, that he needs to play for the whole game to get the best out of him in the long run. We started to lose our shape again and within three minutes of bringing on our final sub Grot, Sheff Utd took the lead once again. Whilst I thought we still had time to get something out of the game, it was disappointing to see the reaction of many fans. I was surprised to see that they just seemed to accept defeat and whilst many left, many were left in stunned silence. Whilst I appreciate it was a knockout blow, our fans normally get straight behind them and for some reason they didn’t. Okay they were right, because we didn’t do anything else that looked like we might sneak another equaliser. At this stage I would have taken a draw, especially when I heard their fans singing they were top of the league. That took me by surprise as I don’t really taken any notice of other teams exploits and wasn’t aware that they were doing well as newcomers having been promoted at the end of last season. One thing Leeds, can we please have the scores shown on the scoreboard for the whole game and not just when we score? It might make the players realise we are losing too!
Reading the message boards after I’d got home, there were lots of scathing messages from fans. Personally I accept that after our great start to the season things have taken a downward spiral. I realise that things are not going to happen overnight for us either though. Once Sheff Utd went into the lead for the first time, for some reason instead of playing to our strengths we resulted to passing back to Lonergan time and time again who ended up hoofing the ball out of defence. When we started playing to our strengths the game changed. Whilst disappointed I’m not down hearted as last season it took a while before things turned in the right direction and I still have hope that things can work out for us in the long run. With Tuesday’s home game against Derby coming up before our visit to Brentford next week, we really do need to win and get the three points. See you then – LUFC – Marching on Together!