There’s no doubt that Leeds United have fallen from grace in the past 10 years or so. We were a Champions League side in 2001 and now we’re lodged in the Championship.
But in spite of that our popularity is massive and our fanbase is still huge.
I know this among many other reasons because when everything was kicking off at Elland Road on Friday night I was getting phone calls from people as far away as America asking me what the hell was going on.
As a club, Leeds cannot act the way they did last week. The whole situation was shocking. It was common knowledge that takeovers were being talked about and that a few different bidders were in the ring so a bit of uncertainty was inevitable but we had no warning at all about the events of Friday. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.
A lot of credit should go to Brian McDermott for the way he’s handled himself. He could have walked away from all this and I don’t think anyone would have blamed him if he had.
But from the moment the news broke, he and people on his side of things handled the whole situation with dignity and patience.
He didn’t come out shouting his mouth off and he didn’t fan the flames. Basically, he was big enough to work towards a solution.
The fact that he’s agreed to stay on and steer the ship is absolutely crucial.
To a point – but not entirely – it’s restored calm at a time when things could really have got out of hand.
If he’d given up and left the club behind, I’d have been desperately worried about where this was going to end. You’d have seen complete panic.
But players and staff who respect Brian have got the manager they want and for that reason alone I’m at least hopeful that our season will tick along without blowing up.
Brian has my sympathy because he clearly had no idea about what he was taking on when he moved up here in April.
I think the size of the club and the passion of the supporters has surprised him but I also doubt whether he understood the sort of problems he was going to face.
The win over Huddersfield Town on Saturday was a real bonus for the club. If we’d lost that game, the situation would have been far worse. You’d have seen more anger at full-time and we’d have been looking at a total implosion.
But in that game, the team’s performance showed how much they wanted Brian back, and the result proved to everyone that sacking him was wrong.
Clearly, however, some very big decisions need to be taken now – decisions that are in the best interests of the club. I don’t think anyone can pretend now that the ownership situation is in order or under control. Nobody seems to be clear about what’s going on – not even the people who want to buy the club.
The thing that worried me most about Friday night and Saturday morning was seeing how easily the club fell apart in 24 hours. That’s a serious concern. You want stability at your football club and no club with stability crumbles like we did last week.
Elland Road on Saturday was a strange place to be. Everywhere I went people were asking me to fill them in on what was happening. I genuinely had no idea what to tell them. Nobody did. We were all in the dark, hearing whispers and rumours, and wondering what on earth was going to happen next.
Over the coming weeks there are going to be lots of discussions about how the club’s going to move forward, who’s going to complete a takeover and what the long-term plan will be. The current owners will be involved in that and so will the Football League and all of them have a responsibility to make sure that what happens is best for Leeds United.
The reality of a night like Friday is that it could lose you supporters for ever. Our fans have put up with an awful lot over the years but, really, there’s only so far you can push people.
This mess needs to be sorted and it needs to be sorted quickly.