'It's a massive sense of pride' - Liam Cooper on Leeds United moment he and Whites team-mates crave
When Liam Cooper looks at his exhausted Leeds United team-mates at 5pm on Saturday he wants them to have the reward their efforts deserve.
At full-time in the Elland Road clash with West Ham United a number of Marcelo Bielsa's players sank to their haunches in a mixture of despair and sheer physical and mental fatigue.
The knowledge that the kilometres they ran and the sprints they produced in an often end-to-end game against the Hammers had come to nought was bad enough, without the result rendering fruitless their week of strenuous preparation at Thorp Arch.
Add the pressure and stress of going winless in six at the start of their second season in the Premier League and it was little wonder the emotion was hard for some to hide - Cooper himself stayed hunkered down in a prolonged moment of reflection as the two teams began to acknowledge each other's efforts.
When referee Simon Hooper blows for time this weekend, Cooper wants to share a moment that justifies the extreme weariness that follows a typical Leeds performance.
"It's a massive sense of pride when you get the win," he said.
"We know how hard we've worked all week for that moment and that win, so to be able to look at everybody after the game, and usually with the way we play everybody is tired and on all-fours blowing, and know what they have put themselves through that week and in that game to get it.
"It's a real sense of togetherness."
Staying together has been a recurring theme in Leeds United player interviews over the past week or so. They know the importance of maintaining a united front in times of difficulty, as this period has become.
That and sticking the ball in the back of the net are two of the keys to emerging on the other side of adversity.
"I don't know how many chances we've created on the pitch this season but it feels like a lot," said Cooper in a pre-West Ham interview that rang just as true after that game.
"We need to start putting them in. We all know how big it is in this league and to keep them out at the other end as well. We need to show more composure, which is something we are usually so good at."
Last Saturday as Cooper led his players on a lap of Elland Road, they were afforded the kind of reception that suggested the Leeds fans understood how much effort had been given in pursuit of a result, against a good side.
This weekend the captain and his team-mates will once again be counting on that support from the stands.
"It was an unbelievable feeling at the start of the season to have the fans back," he said.
"The Leeds fans are unbelievable, so proud and loud and in your face. It's a surreal moment when you think about it, and one you have to pinch yourself for every time.
"We have been starved of those emotions with the fans for so long, but now they are back we just thrive off them.
"We can look to them for a response and some energy at times, to give us a push and we get that every time with our fans."