FORMER LEEDS United centre-back Matt Kilgallon has voiced his sympathy at the plight of his former club after enjoying another winning visit with Blackburn Rovers on Thursday night.
The 31-year-old came on as a late substitute for injured Rovers defender Grant Hanley in the Lancastrians’ easy 2-0 win at Elland Road – after starting his side’s similarly comfortable 3-0 success at LS11 in April.
That victory on Easter Saturday came at the end of another torrid week for Leeds after assistant-coach Steve Thompson was suspended, with then head coach Neil Redfearn admitting he was considering his own position.
Fast forward almost seven months and Leeds suffered another painful home defeat to Rovers towards the tail end of yet another excruciating week, which are sadly becoming endemic at Elland Road these days – with distressed fans turning on owner Massimo Cellino during the game.
Kilgallon has won twice at Leeds this calendar year, with his old side having triumphed on just ONE more occasion at the fabled old venue in 2015.
This despite November beginning on Sunday – such is United’s home malaise. The boyhood Leeds fan admits he struggles to comprehend the dysfunctional developments at his former club, along with a number of his mates who still avidly follow United’s fortunes on a day to day basis.
On his visits back across the Pennines, the defender has learned to understand his mates’ angst and spiralling emotions after a succession of desperate developments at the club over the past few years – with any elements of hope quickly extinguished.
Kilgallon, involved in a Rovers squad who have won on their last three visits to Leeds in successive seasons, said: “I come back and see faces I know and wish it was different, but I don’t know what’s exactly going on.
“I have a lot of mates who are Leeds fans as well and they come to the games and they say it’s either brilliant and they have a great day or they can’t speak for a couple of days.”
Focusing on his professional duties aside from his leanings towards Leeds, Kilgallon admits that he was surprised at how susceptible and porous United were on the night – more especially as it was Steve Evans’ first home match in charge.
In a Roses battle between a home side who simply can’t buy a victory at Elland Road and visitors who hadn’t won on the road since winning in Leeds in April, something gave, with Rovers ending their own poor sequence without barely having to break sweat.
Ahead of the game, Evans spoke of his players hurting at United’s scarcely-believable run of being without a win on home soil since the start of March and seemingly being hell-bent on rectifying it.
But a pumped-up response from United’s players didn’t materialise in anyway whatsoever. Quite the opposite, with all the intent, purpose and quality coming from Rovers in a powerhouse opening which sealed victory – albeit with a fair bit of help, courtesy of some torrid home defending.
Admitting he was surprised at how easily Leeds were picked off, Kilgallon added: “Maybe a little bit, yeah. I thought it might have been different with a new manager in his first home game.
“I know how they get behind you here, so I thought they might come out 100 miles an hour. But we got the first goal, they lost confidence and we played really well.
“We looked a good team; we’ve lost a few games we should have won but it was a matter of time before we put up a good win and it was unfortunate it was Leeds.”
Evans spoke prior to the game about leading Leeds out on Thursday evening representing the “pinnacle” of his managerial career – although after proceedings out on the pitch, he might wish to re-evaluate his opinion.
It was the toughest of baptisms for the Scot at Leeds, but Kilgallon for one is wishing him well as he somehow strives for some sustainability in a managerial hot-seat in every sense of the word.
Kilgallon added: “I don’t know him but I was on the bench for 70 minutes and was watching him; he was very enthusiastic and wants to do well and I wish him all the best.”