STRIKER Clayton Donaldson is familiar with sides who have not won at home for some time.
Upon joining Birmingham City in July 2014, it had been nine months since the Blues had savoured victory in the league at St Andrews.
It’s been seven months since Elland Road witnessed a home triumph and Donaldson can tell, “you can feel the tension – it’s an away side’s dream” he admits.
But Birmingham’s Bradford-born striker believes Leeds will eventually get it right under Uwe Rosler insisting, like at Birmingham, when one home win arrives plenty more will follow.
Donaldson played a key part in extending United’s winless home streak to 10 games on Saturday, setting up the superb Demarai Gray for the Blues opener and being a constant menace as part of City’s counter-attacking prowess.
Should Leeds fail to beat Brighton a week on Sunday the Whites will set an unwanted new club record of going 11 consecutive fixtures without a win at Elland Road.
And while Donaldson was quick to take advantage of Leeds’ home hoodoo, so too does the targetman empathise with United’s plight whilst also insisting the spell can be broken.
Born in Bradford and growing up in Manningham, Donaldson insists he has a “soft spot” for Leeds for whom his brother Jahsiah signed schoolboy terms before injury cut short his professional career. Several other members of the Donaldson family also support Leeds with some even present at Elland Road on Saturday but left rather unimpressed with the game’s outcome. Yet tellingly Donaldson says his Birmingham side travelled to Elland Road with confidence, admitting the current predicament at Elland Road is providing the perfect recipe for visiting teams.
Asked if his side purposely set out to accentuate United’s home woes, Donaldson told the YEP: “Yes, you do.
“You can feel the tension and they haven’t won here for seven months or something like that.
“That’s every away team’s dream to hear that – coming here knowing that they haven’t won here for a while and there’s obviously something wrong if the players are going to be nervous. I remember when I signed for Birmingham it was the same story with us, we didn’t win at home for 13 months or something like that – an amazing run and you can feel the hostility in the ground.
“Leeds are going through that experience now.
“But I think Leeds will be fine as they’ve got good players, decent players and their away record is not too bad.
“As long as they can find that home form, I think the home form is the most important and if they can get good home form and a good home run then that stands you in good stead.
“They have got quality players here – it’s just that little bit of confidence at home that is lacking a little bit but once you get that first in that’s it and I think they will climb up the league.”
That’s been exactly the case for Donaldson’s side who are now up to the dizzy heights of fourth after their Elland Road triumph.
Yet the 31-year-old goal-getter can still remember the Blues battling with the same hoodoo that Uwe Rosler’s Whites are currently experiencing.
After beating Millwall 4-0 at St Andrews on October 1, 2013, the Blues went an abysmal 18 consecutive home league games without a victory.
After Donaldson signed the following summer, that terrible run was ended when City won their first home game of the following season.
“With us, we got our first win a few games into the season under Lee Clark and you could see the change and the relief in the players,” said the striker.
“You are not nervous to make mistakes now and having that record on your back I think there are a little nerves kicking in with some of the team at Leeds. We played on that and that’s good for us but from a Leeds point of view the sooner they can change that the better.
“Away from home, coming here, it can be a difficult place because the fans are amazing here. We just knew we had to have a game plan and frustrate Leeds to a certain extent and try and catch them on the break.
“I think it was a good team performance from us all round and since Gary Rowett has come in we’ve been on the up and there’s no stopping us.
“We’ve kept that going this season and our away form is up there with the best in the league to be honest.
“Since Gary has come in he has put across what he wants to do and we’ve all taken to it. As you can see it’s working.”
Ten games without victory is proof of the opposite at Elland Road with Donaldson one of the latest villains of the piece.
The forward was naturally delighted with Saturday’s outcome but admits to having plenty of time for the hosts. Donaldson continued: “A few of my family came to the game and there’s one or two Leeds fans in the family which I’m not too happy about.
“It’s good to be able to go back and rub it in their faces. It’s a good win for Birmingham and, for me, that’s the most important thing. But I was brought up not too far from here and I’ve got ties at Leeds as well with my younger brother playing for Leeds.”
Expect the Blues no 9 to have half an eye on matters at Elland Road a week on Saturday with Birmingham at home to QPR the same afternoon.
St Andrews is no longer the unhappy stomping ground it once was and in Donaldson’s eyes, if Birmingham can turn it around then so too can Leeds.
After all, the striker can well remember Birmingham ending their 18-match winless home run. The opponents? Brighton.
Donaldson added: “It’s sad to see and hear the run that Leeds are having after starting the season so well but they have got a good manager and a good squad of players. I think they’ll be fine. It’s a big club and I want Leeds to do well – not as well as us but I do have a little soft spot for them.”