Simon Rix: The present at Leeds United looks fine - and the future looks rosy
March 7 will be the anniversary of the last time most of us set foot in Elland Road, writes Leeds United fan and Kaiser Chief Simon Rix.
Another win ticked off, all of us celebrating that scorching volley by Luke Ayling, [not least Luke Ayling himself] but most of the talk was about if and when we would be able to do this again. I continued to hang on to the thread of hope that we might get the season finished, but looking across to our former EU friends in Italy, it was plain that we were in for some sort of unwelcome disruption.
Safe to say a lot has happened since then but in recent times, in terms of Leeds United, we seem to be approaching something resembling tranquillity. I don’t ever remember feeling like this as a Leeds fan. Is there a more content group of supporters in the Premier League? The other promoted teams are both in more than a spot of bother at the bottom of the league, and fans of everyone else from Crystal Palace to Liverpool are screaming for more from the their assembled group of players (or a new group of players). Arguably the Man City fans are probably quite happy right now, but with expectation levels so high for the richest team in Manchester- can they be content? Probably not.
The almost smug contentment party, partly stems from our position which seems out of harms way. But its also because win or lose (we never draw) Marcelo has taught us there’s more to football than winning. Will it last? Who knows. But at least for the moment the entertainment value of Leeds United during these strange times cannot be underestimated. The routine win against Crystal Palace was a great win and sign of progress, but nowhere near as enjoyable as the loss to Everton. Even away at Arsenal, the comeback to 4-2, together with a couple of other decent chances means despite being 4-0 down after 50 minutes i came away thinking, it’s fine. Nothing to worry about.
The quietest January on record probably added to the feeling of serenity too. The transfer window came and went and despite investment coming in from the 49ers, there was no real clamour for new signings. Even as our £100m of summer signings continued to drop like flies - it’s ok we’ll just play the championship team - no worries everything will be ok. The pitch is like a ploughed field - that’s fine we’ve bought an ice rink from Spurs to replace it - just get the rugby studs out.
In many previous seasons I’d be up in arms about this sort of mid season indifference. I remember one season of surrender, when after replacing Simon Grayson in January, promotion specialist Neil Warnock declared the season over in February. My Elland Road commute at the time was over 400 miles and it grew increasingly difficult to justify the hours of travel to watch Browny plod about with not even a sniff of glory on the horizon. These days the commute is a couple of metres from the kitchen to the sofa, and in this first season back in the Premier League- not getting relegated was the primary aim.
Despite still only having 32 points, we look a long way off getting involved in the relegation battle and the more hopeful aim of finishing somewhere between 10-14th feels absolutely achievable. Onwards to summer, Bielsa seems keen to stay, another new pitch, finally buy Jack Harrison, and get back in Elland Road to actually watch Raphinha in the flesh.
All sounds weirdly achievable - the present looks fine. The future looks rosy.