Leeds United’s victories over Palace and Leicester proved that this season is far from over.
They also proved that Leeds on their day can beat any team in the Championship. I was impressed with Palace and surprised by their talent but they came up short at Elland Road. So did Leicester.
Not for the first time, Leeds rose to the challenge of playing against the stronger teams in the division. We’ve seen a lot of that this season – excellent performances at home to the likes of Wolves and Blackburn and some cracking displays in the League Cup. For whatever reason, the players seem more likely to struggle on days when they’re expected to win.
Is that pressure, anxiety or just an example of how tough and even the Championship is? Personally, I see much more freedom in United’s play when they’re second favourites in a two-horse race. I can’t pretend that they weren’t under pressure against Palace because the seven-game winless run was starting to bite but the occasion suited them somehow.
The atmosphere inside Elland Road has been better too: more hostile for the visitors and more supportive of Leeds.
I doubt whether anyone came away from the ground on Tuesday thinking the season was dead. All of us are looking at the table with perspective now and reminding ourselves that we’re not even halfway through the season. There’s everything to play for and not a runaway team in sight.
Without question, the mood of the club has been helped by the takeover. After such a long period of uncertainty it feels like we’re about to move forward again.
I met the new owners at Elland Road on Saturday and they seem like really good guys. They were right into the game and I could tell from their reaction when the goals went in that they’re genuinely excited about the opportunity in front of them. But make no mistake, this is a business they’re going to have to learn about.
Banking is their game and it’ll take them time to adjust to the workings of professional football. When you think about it, it makes sense to have a transitional period in which they learn the ropes and get to grips with everything that a football club entails.
In the meantime, I’d ask everyone to avoid putting too much pressure on them. Of course we want success and promotion as soon as possible but there’s an old saying about acting in haste and repenting at leisure.
They’ll find out soon enough that football and banking are very different. There’s risk involved in both but I’d say it’s much harder to make calculated gambles in football, particularly when it comes to signing players.
The new owners are lucky that a lot of football-minded people are already involved at Elland Road – Neil Warnock, Shaun Harvey and so on – and I’m sure they’ll take guidance from them.
I’ve been on the board at Leeds for a long time and I’m hoping to stay in the job. I’d be delighted if that was possible. But at the same time, the important thing is that the club moves forward. It’s not about personalities or individuals and that goes for me as much as anyone.