David Prutton: Why Leeds United were sent a timely reminder of football's dark humour as hectic Christmas period looms

Yorkshire Evening Post columnist David Prutton pens his latest thoughts

Saturday, 21st December 2019, 6:00 am
Leeds United look on after throwing away a three goal lead against Cardiff City. (Getty)

There’s some dark humour somewhere in Leeds United’s draw against Cardiff City that is the essence of being a fan of this great club.

Whites supporters will have been once again gazing adoringly into the eyes of football and feeling all of the intense love, lust and passion that comes with the game before it turned round and whacked them in the nether regions.

It has a nasty habit of making sure you don’t get carried away.

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I do think it is a tremendous kick up the backside and going into Christmas it’s probably a good thing no matter how disappointing the result will have felt afterwards.

At 3-0 up and cruising you would expect most teams in the Football League to see that through – especially with United’s defence this term – but then at 3-3 you are sort of just staring into space wondering what exactly has gone on.

Some of it is credit and testament to how Neil Harris has got his Bluebirds squad up and running – and that assist for the equaliser was a thing of beauty from Lee Tomlin. It can be that little touch of magic that takes a game away from you.

I know Marcelo Bielsa said he couldn’t really explain it and he’s probably quite right. Weird things do happen in football.

The way Leeds have been seeing teams off even when they’ve not been playing at their best has been very impressive which made it all the more baffling.

If you are airing on the positive side then you say yes it is a wake up call. If you’re a cynic you want to make sure that doesn’t happen again.

Our beautiful game always seems to throw up these kind of results just to plant those little seeds of doubt as you think you have it all sussed out.

I’ve said it in recent columns that it has all been wonderful this season but ultimately it will only matter if it comes to fruition in May.

It’s better to have these reality checks now at this stage when they have a healthy lead rather than later on in the campaign with teams breathing down their necks.

This weekend is the halfway point of the season, with Fulham the last opponents to face Leeds as we start playing everyone again on Boxing Day.

The way that the table is sitting at this moment in time with Leeds enjoying a 10-point lead over third place is a wonderful spot to be in and you can’t forget that.

Even if you’re not a Leeds supporter, as a neutral or observer you’d say West Brom and Leeds are the two best teams in the Championship. But with the way the division is and the great nature of it, more than half the teams can randomly turn up and beat you on their day and that’s the way Leeds have to approach it.

It’s been a good eye opener to see where they compare to the other teams and they should hold that confidence. Now they need that determination to kick on from here and make sure that results like the Cardiff one don’t become a regular occurrence.

Fulham will be a tough away game, regardless of their recent results.

It should be quite an expansive clash with the two sides boasting similar playing styles but Scott Parker’s team are prone to inconsistency – not only in results but also in games themselves.

I saw them against Queens Park Rangers in November and they were poor but Aleksandar Mitrovic dug them out and he’s been a really big asset for them at this level.

I think that universal opinion is that he is too good for the league and he has the goals that can fire them back to the Premier League if they can find some form.

Bielsa has said in the build up that he thinks it’ll be Mitrovic and Patrick Bamford who hold the key to victory and it’s an interesting way of looking at it, both have been in brilliant form.

Bamford’s role is a bit more all encompassing because of the way Bielsa wants to play football but Mitrovic has that habit of scoring goals.

It makes it sound relatively straightforward but it’s a wonderful trait to have. He just has that knack and Fulham play in a way that facilitates that. I do firmly believe that if both teams turned up at their best Leeds would win.

Christmas is a busy time of year and Leeds now face four games in 12 days.

There’s an element of going into auto-pilot as a player at this stage of the season, and that’s whether you’ve been a player for 10 or 15 years. It’s more because of the nature of the run both mentally and physically.

I always enjoyed it because it was a great test at a wonderful time of year. You feel at your fittest. You’re lean, athletic and dynamic and it’s a joy to behold.

It’s only when you’re sat halfway through a bottle of wine on Christmas day feeling a bit sluggish that you remember what a great time it was as a player.

Of course, you’re just as thankful for sitting with your feet up doing whatever you want but the festive season goes hand in hand with football and they’re memories every player will cherish.