Our YEP Jury have their say on Leeds United’s 1-1 draw at Preston.
Over the years, many of Leeds United’s seasons have ended in tears, both literally and otherwise. Smith and Robinson in 2004, the Ipswich pitch invasion in ’07 and a jubilant Andrew Hughes in 2010 are all iconic images that have come to represent the recent ups and downs of the club.
The sight of Steve Evans sobbing at the idea of losing his job after Saturday’s game is not one to be added to the list. It doesn’t capture the raw emotion of a famous victory or defeat. This was a pathetic, run of the mill, end of season game with the precise amount of passion you’d expect from two sets of footballers ready to hit the beach.
What Evans’ tears did provide, on a day with few talking points, was yet another chance for the football world to point and laugh at our comedy club. A club that takes grown men, stuffs them in a tracksuit, ties a metaphorical hand behind their back and then disposes of them in the most unseemly of ways.
I was as horrified as anyone when a man with as little pedigree as Dave Hockaday was appointed manager in 2014 but his treatment by our club from that day onwards was completely unacceptable, as it has been with all of his successors right up to Evans this weekend. If Evans is to be Cellino’s sixth victim in 24 months then please just tell him and be done with it.
Years of mistreatment have served to make Leeds United fans a compliant bunch, grateful for every morsel of good news they can find and Evans has been given time, patience and goodwill by the faithful. It was the Leeds fans at Deepdale who allowed him to retain some dignity by staying behind to applaud him and his players for what was a tepid campaign hamstrung by things mostly beyond their control.
Clarity on Evans’ future is not only the right thing for him but for the club and players as well. There has been no plan forthcoming for pre-season and we must, at all costs, avoid the horror show of last year where a new manager was presented to the press before the old one was even told.
Season ticket refund incentives are all very well as a PR and sales device but the real show of intent needs to come from Cellino’s actions.
It need not necessarily be in huge transfer fees but some professionalism and decency would be a very basic start. Without it, I fear we’ll be in for another season like this one.
Man of the match: 5,500 Leeds United fans.
Leeds United ended the 2015/16 season with a 1-1 draw at Deepdale, the result was slightly annoying as into injury time they were leading only for another defensive mistake gifted the home side a equaliser.
Chris Wood so nearly gave Leeds the lead but his intelligent lob just cleared Kirkland’s bar and nestled on top of the net, while Garner’s late effort went over the bar before Cooper was injured with a clash of heads with the same player.
Due to the injury Cooper had to be replaced by Scott Wootton in the second half, Garner again wasted another chance as Silvestri saved his tame effort. Leeds went ahead after 78 minutes, Wood netting a penalty after Murphy was brought down by Kirkland. The home side so nearly went level but Silvestri superbly saved Woods shot, just as the 5,000 plus fans were about to celebrate the win a ball that Wootton tried to watch going out for a goal kick was retrieved by Hugill, his first effort was blocked but his second flew into the net.
So that’s it, another season that started positively but as usual went from the sublime to the ridiculous. Something has to change and it is no wonder the club finds it hard to move forward in a positive way due to Massimo Cellino’s ‘maverick’ way of running it.
Man of the match: The fans.
I guess we shouldn’t have expected the season to end any other way! I have lost count of the number of times this side has teased us that we were on the threshold of a memorable moment only for it to be given away through total ineptitude or snatched from us through bad luck.
For 14 minutes we held a one goal lead and looked forward to going home with our final memory of the season being a positive one.
We’d enjoyed pre-match drinks in the sun, watched a lad crowd surf in the Bill Shankly Kop and seen Chris Wood score from the spot. If that lager firm really did do match days – that was pretty much how it should be.
But there was something inevitable about the way we gave up possession and then we watched open-mouthed as Wootton handed Preston a last gasp equaliser. It’s just what we expect these days.
Man of the match: Marco Silvestri.
Yet another “self inflicted” injury time equaliser meant United finished one point and one place outside the top half of The Championship at a sun-kissed Deepdale on Saturday lunchtime.
A quiet first period saw the hosts have the majority of possession in a half of few changes. However the second half saw better from the Whites roared on by in excess of 5,000 loyal hordes and an unlikely victory looked to be on the cards when Chris Wood converted a penalty conceded by Chris Kirland just twelve minutes from time.
The late poor concession was disappointing but only too familiar for fans who deserve so much more, especially off the pitch.
We now await a decision from the man who has so far “in his own mind” recruited five unsuccessful managers in just two seasons. Let’s see if “in his own mind” that will be six.
Man of the match: The entire away support: always there, always loyal, always honest.
It started full of hope, but was a grind for the most part. There was a goal for Chris Wood to put Leeds ahead, rubber stamping his position as top goal scorer in his first season at the club, but even that joy was tempered by signs of infighting amongst the playing staff. Mirco Antenucci had to be prised off the ball by his skipper, and showed extreme petulance in not celebrating the strike, in fact actually pushing away a team mate as he stormed off sulking.
Then just as Leeds looked to be heading to victory, a Scott Wootton error (and how many times have we said that this season) handed Preston an equaliser to mean that we end the season stranded in the middle of the table.
And for the third season in a row we end it with a coach having no idea if he will be in place next season. Steve Evans was emotional after the game and it seems clear his time is done. Once again we have no idea where the club is heading over a no doubt turbulent summer.
Under Massimo Cellino chaos seems to be a constant, but there is one other constant about Leeds United and that is the magnificent support of the team on matchdays. 25K last week, and over 5K at Preston backing the team when it doesn’t really matter. Imagine what it would be like if there was really something to cheer about. On a weekend when Leicester City have reached the pinnacle of the game, our owner needs to take a long look, a deep breath and decide that if that is what he wants to achieve, he needs to start planning now. The Premier League champions are not an overnight success, but they have proved that success can be achieved through hard work and a footballing philosophy, not on a whim and a prayer. At the moment that seems like a different world to the one that our club occupies.
Man of the match: The supporters get the credit this week.
The game summed our season up. We took the lead late on then threw it away in the dying seconds through one of our own mistakes. It was emotional seeing Evans waving goodbye. We need to give him a shot as I think he’d create a promotion contending side.
Man of the match: Lewie Coyle.