David Prutton: Leeds United will overcome Millwall setback after stuttered start, but it doesn't mean it's easy to take

It’s been a frustrating few days for Leeds United and all I have is sympathy for them.

Leeds United players at full-time at The Den.
Leeds United players at full-time at The Den.

Speaking as a former player, there isn’t anything worse than that feeling or sense of injustice after a defeat. I think generally as professionals you can take it on the chin if you have an off day, but it takes longer to get over it when you’ve had the game taken out of your hands, like they did at Millwall.

The decision to give a penalty against Gaetano Berardi last weekend was compounded by the card that was given.

He was in a bad position, yes, but that doesn’t mean he should be punished by a wrong decision from the referee for it. I still haven’t seen an angle that shows any contact.

It’s unfortunate and over the course of a season it will hopefully balance out for Leeds but it doesn’t make it any easier to take. Millwall is a tough place to go at the best of times so to have that mountain to climb after 14 minutes was never going to be easy.

There is plenty to admire about how the team responded to that adversity, they completely dominated even with 10 men which shows the quality and belief they have under Marcelo Bielsa.

It doesn’t matter who you’re playing or where, playing with a man less is always tough for that length of time and especially at a place such as the Den.

They’ve obviously got two weeks to reflect on it which isn’t ideal, but maybe the international break actually comes at a good time in one regard as it will give the players who haven’t gone away a chance to rest up along with those in the treatment room.

If a few players have gone away with their international team and it’s gone well then that’s great. Ultimately, though, they’re at the club for the greater good and that’s getting Leeds back up and running.

I think stuttering is probably the perfect word to sum up the start to the season, writing that while they’re two points off the top of the Championship sounds a bit odd but it shows how much we all believe there is to come.

It’s been an up and down start, but it doesn’t feel like they’re very far away from a complete performance which might come along with a bit of luck falling their way.

Leeds fans don’t need much to galvanise them in the ‘us against the world’ thought-process and the reason why they are viewed that way is because of the success they’ve had in the past.

The fans are loyal, partisan and very proud of their history and heritage. You talk about clubs belonging in certain places, every team is where they are because of their own recent history and approach.

But there are a lot of people out there who have begrudging admiration for the following Leeds have and they would see them as a very worthy participant in the Premier League.

We can blame refereeing decisions, but you can also look at the spurned chances in front of goal along with the defence being a little naive at times too – as much as they will be miffed at the decision at Millwall they have to put it into a little perspective.

Chasing promotion was never going to be easy this season, especially when you’ve got that target on your back. But I firmly believe they will be where they are come May due to their own performances, they have to go out and earn it.

It’s a big week for the club as attention starts to turn towards the centenary and everything that it will bring around the Birmingham City game.

It’s a phenomenal amount of time for an institution such as Leeds United. The club has teetered on the brink at certain stages, which I was at the coal face of witnessing, but what a celebration for everyone.

When you think back at some of the custodians of that white shirt over the years you think of some of the real legends of the football world. They’ve all passed through the doors at Elland Road.

Whenever someone asks me what it’s like to play for Leeds it almost staggers and humbles me. To be a part of that history, no matter how small, will live with me forever and I’d like to wish everyone at the club a happy birthday.

Let’s hope the next 100 years brings the results we all want and everything that those fans deserve.