Leeds United animosity is melting into begrudging respect - David Prutton

LEEDS United can definitely beat Liverpool at Elland Road tonight on the back of what we saw in the Manchester City game and United’s approach to it.

Monday, 19th April 2021, 5:45 am

There is always a sweet spot between being fearless enough to go out and do your own bit and also having that little bit of luck.

But it was a wonderful result for Leeds at City.

When Stuart Dallas peels off after scoring the winner, that’s when you want to be head first into the first row of the crowd with fans singing your name.

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STAND IN SKIPPER: Leeds United's Luke Ayling, right, who is among the Leeds United players to have experienced a rapid rise up the ranks. Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images.

That’s not the case at the moment but it was a wonderful win for Leeds.

There has been an unusual gap between that game and the games coming up but I presume Marcelo Bielsa will have used his time extremely wisely and Leeds go into tonight’s game fearless.

Liverpool seem to be grinding into gear as the season draws to an end but with nowhere near the stellar performances that we saw from them in winning the league and the Champions League.

But there should be absolutely no fear from Leeds going into this game because, against the ‘big boys’, that approach has served them well.

Leeds have been nothing short of wonderful this season. I have always maintained that first and foremost it’s about being able to be in the division next season.

But what Marcelo has managed to do has been fantastic - the evolution that we have seen and what he has managed to get from a relatively similar bunch of players, and from the lads who have come in and taken a while through injury and form to find their feet but seem to be coming to the party now.

Yes, Marcelo has been helped in the transfer market, as he should have been helped.

He worked himself into a position where the hierarchy and the board trusted him with what they were going to do with players.

Leeds are now chasing four Premier League wins in a row for the first time in 20 years and David O’Leary’s side were the last Leeds team to achieve that back in 2001.

We can’t get carried away with where this team stands just yet but the current crop and current carnation are a very likeable squad, a very likable football team and one that emanates down from the manager who has set the tone and set the vibe and created the culture.

I look at Leeds with a slightly vested interest in what they are about and you try and wonder what the neutral would say.

But I get the sense and the feeling that the animosity that perhaps a lot of people felt towards Leeds United for a long period of time has melted way not into love but a begrudging respect for the way they have gone about approaching the Premier League.

That is to be lauded and applauded.

Liam Cooper will now be suspended for the next three games following his sending off for his tackle on Gabriel Jesus at City.

But, on Saturday, I sat watching two games side by side and there were two very similar challenges, one in the Norwich game for which a player got a red card and you look at it and go ‘probably yes’.

But it was almost simultaneously in the Wolves and Sheffield United game where Rhian Brewster looked as if he had been topped and ended up getting booked for it.

That’s where the frustration and the discrepancy comes in.

I just think we are at a stage where every single full-blooded challenge, that perfect challenge where it is a show of power, we are in territory now where, sadly to a certain degree, things like that get questioned.

That big ‘oohh’ that you would have got from the crowd 15 years ago seems to have melted away somewhat.

But you feel for Coops because of what he has managed to achieve getting to the level this year.

He is one of many players that you can talk about in that sense and the same with Luke Ayling who will now take over as captain.

When you look at this Leeds team, some big jewels have been bought but, no matter how much they have cost, I think it is still a team that is greater than the sum of its parts and that’s the greatest trick that Marcelo has managed to be able to pull off.

I say ‘trick’ when it has taken a shed load of hard work and dedication from him and the players involved.

But to get players that have spent a long portion of their careers at a certain level to then go and perform as a team in the Premier League, that’s the real key to what he has done.

That’s why I think there is that sense of looking at that club and that team and what they have done and the starting XI and the players involved and kind of going ‘fair play to you lads’.

A lot of them have gone a very, very long way around to the Premier League but, over the course of a season, you can’t say they have looked out of place.

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Thank you Laura Collins