It’s rare for me to come away from a defeat feeling quietly satisfied but that was my mood after the game against Leicester City last weekend.
There were big question marks hanging over Leeds United’s squad before that match but the doubts we had were answered by the way the team played and the way they competed.
I had no doubt in my mind that the lads were playing for Brian McDermott and I also thought he made a point to his critics with his tactics and his set-up.
The changes worked, the formation was pretty effective and let’s be fair, we should have won.
The chances in the first half were excellent and when all’s said and done, we limited the best side in the Championship to one attempt in the last couple of minutes.
Even Nigel Pearson didn’t pretend that Leicester deserved all three points. It’s a huge result for them, a big bonus.
With that improved performance behind the players, a result is the priority now. The Leicester match proved to the players that they are nowhere near as bad as they looked at Rochdale and Sheffield Wednesday. That really went without saying because they’ve had a decent season up until January but sometimes it takes a strong display to remind you of that fact.
But obviously this run of defeats needs to be stopped.
That’s five on the bounce now and each loss gives you more and more to do in the race for the play-offs.
Ipswich Town on Tuesday night is a huge fixture and I sincerely hope that the game against Leicester has given everyone the confidence they need to get the campaign back on track.
I was at Lorimer’s Bar on Monday with Ross McCormack, Noel Hunt and Dominic Poleon and I got chatting to them about the meeting they had at Thorp Arch after the thrashing by Sheffield Wednesday. The general view seemed to be that it was very necessary – a chance for the whole camp to speak their mind and get any issues out in the open.
Ross said he came out of it feeling a lot more positive and I thought that showed in the way the team reacted against Leicester. They were up for it from the start and brave in the way they attacked.
It interested a lot of people to hear Brian McDermott talking about the takeover afterwards, basically saying that the deal needs to be completed as quickly as possible to settle the club down and allow us to move forward.
Personally I don’t think he was trying to blame the recent form on the goings-on behind the scenes.
It’s a bit to easy to see uncertainty about ownership and assume that it’s having a big impact on the way the results are going.
In my experience, players take very little notice of takeovers and things like that. These processes are extremely complicated and it’s not always easy to keep up, not when the games come thick and fast and you’re training most days.
Football is their only concern and the truth of the matter is that for a bit of December and much of January, the team haven’t been playing well. But for managers, the situation is different. Whatever they might say, takeovers affect them. Unlike a player’s job there’s a direct link between how a club is run and what a manager can do. Any time a club is bought out, a manager has plenty to think about – transfer funds, stability, the security of his own job. It’s a difficult time.
Brian’s main concern about the takeover is probably the players he’s hoping to sign before the end of January. There seem to be funds available and he’s looking at potential buys but it’s far easier to get deals in place and over the line when you’ve got a certain ownership structure behind the scenes.
It’s fair to say that the situation at the moment and time it’s taken for shares to change hands is not massively helpful. But I’d still make this point – a month ago, things looked good. January’s has not been great by every stretch but it doesn’t detract from everything that’s gone before. That said, I’m sure a conclusion to the takeover would do all concerned a big favour.