It’s very easy to think that players are robots, immune to everything that’s going on around them.
I promise you they’re not. We weren’t immune to the chaos when Leeds United got into big trouble 11 or 12 years ago and the squad there now will be worried about what’s going on around them.
There was doubt all week about whether they and the other staff at Leeds would be paid their wages this morning and in any walk of life, that’s a problem.
A professional footballer at Championship level earns enough to keep a bit of money tucked away, and non-payment of wages is far more of an issue for the basic staff at Leeds who don’t earn as much. But all the same, it’s a massive distraction in and amongst an on-going season.
The Professional Footballers’ Association will have been in touch with the players throughout the uncertainty at Leeds and they’ve probably had a few meetings to discuss the situation. When that happens, the focus turns away from football and suddenly there’s more to think about than merely preparing for the next match.
As well-off as footballers are, they still have costs – mortgages, car loans, nursery bills, general expenses. And I have to say too that while they’ll be worried about their own situation, they’ll be unhappy too about the fact that other people at Thorp Arch and Elland Road might not get paid. You become friendly and close to a lot of staff and it’s not pleasant to see them suffer.
All in all it often adds up to a slight drop in performance levels. It might only be a small difference but on any given day, it can make a massive difference. At Bournemouth on Tuesday, Leeds weren’t at the races and Bournemouth cut them to pieces. It was a total mis-match but given the events of this week, perhaps you can see a reason why.
Brian McDermott is going to hear criticism after performances like that and he has to be big enough to take it but sacking him now, which some supporters are calling for, would achieve absolutely nothing.
For starters, you’d have to pay him off. Without being funny, who the hell is going to provide the money to do that? Then you have to fund the wage of a different manager so from a financial perspective it would be absolute lunacy to make a change now.
But from a footballing perspective, it’s virtually impossible to judge him. Would anyone else really be doing any better in the circumstances? I’m not saying McDermott is Jose Mourinho and that’s a stupid comparison anyway because managers of Mourinho’s calibre don’t work in the Championship, but he’s had a ridiculous amount to put up with and a lot of pressure to bear.
I’m sure McDermott will be deeply frustrated by the way the team are playing. However bad things are around him, it’s hard for a manager to accept poor results or bad performances. He’ll want to do something about it. But in truth, he’s got no chance for as long as things are this uncertain. At any moment you fear that the whole place could blow up.
He knows the players, he knows the other staff at the training ground and he’s been in charge of the place for almost a year now. Given that Leeds aren’t going down, I think it would do everyone good to have some continuity and keep him there. The time to judge him is when Leeds come out of this mess – hopefully before the summer arrives.
A mess is exactly what Leeds are in. I don’t care what anyone says about the situation or the future – the place is in a state.
The way I see it, Gulf Finance House should never have been allowed to buy the club. That was a very poor decision because clearly the bank didn’t have the money or the business plan to make a go of things. No-one at GFH could claim now that they had a long-term vision or one that would work.
It’s reaching the horrible stage where you feel like the only thing you can do is pray that everything will be all right.
I hate to say that because we’ve been here before and every time a crisis develops, we’re told that it’ll be the last at Elland Road. The club and the supporters really don’t deserve any more nightmares.