Traditional yet shiny new Leeds United have every chance of beating want-aways Manchester United - David Prutton
THERE is always enough spice to any fixture between Leeds United and Manchester United as it is.
But this week’s European Super League fallout means that the game will now be re-cast as the staunch traditionalists of the fabric of British football against the want-aways, the breakaways and the ones who wanted to take it into Europe and away from what it’s always been and what we have known and loved.
It’s way more intricate than that. There is fallout every single day and every hour about who said what and who is doing what because of what some other team is doing.
It was a truly staggering few days and the absolute chronic misjudgement of the fans’ mood is staggering and utterly surprising.
But the fallout and the reaction to it was swift, it was just and keeps that particular notion at bay for the time being.
Whether or not in the long term it will fend off something that may happen in a different incarnation further along the line and down the years we don’t know.
But right now it’s a victory for a certain way of life and a certain type of football that we have always known, loved and grown up with.
Leeds fell to a 6-2 defeat in the reverse fixture at Old Trafford in December, after which there was plenty of chat and questions – do they change their style of play, did they face a Red Devils side that was clinical on the day or did they defend well?
I think it was a bit of everything. It was a bit of Leeds doing their utmost to stick to their game but, defensively, they left themselves wide open.
The good thing now from Leeds’ point of view is that you can look back on it and it was just a little bump in the road. It wasn’t the start of a deterioration of their season where by now they are hanging on for dear life and thinking we are staring down the barrel of going straight back into the Championship.
It was something to learn from, something to move on from and then you beat Man City, you draw with Liverpool and suddenly the season balances itself out.
There is also an irony about this game in Leeds themselves being a big force traditionally in English football.
Even the Man United fans and the Liverpool fans are begrudgingly going ‘we don’t really like them but we love having them back in the Premier League, especially when you get to Elland Road and it is absolutely bouncing’.
That’s what it’s about and the irony is not lost on the possibility of what Leeds might have done since if they hadn’t spent 16 years meandering around League One and the Championship and if they were still chewing down at the top end of the table having maybe won the Premier League and a Champions League.
It’s so very hypothetical but, on Monday against Liverpool, there was a sense of it being the traditional against this bright new shiny thing that nobody really understood, wanted or really appreciated.
The Manchester United game feels a bit like that too.
It’s a simplistic notion, it’s probably a little bit fanciful and sounds a bit twee but I can sense Leeds fans absolutely revelling in being that club in that position to be something authentic and true and reflective of the people that they represent.
The personnel might have changed slightly but, if Leeds can beat Man City and draw with Liverpool, then they can beat Man United.
When they have been at their best they have been fearless and committed to the task laid down by Marcelo Bielsa and, more often than not, they have come up trumps so I don’t think for one second that they should fear anything at all.
It’s another game for them to prove how far they have come over the course of the season and how far they have come, quite honestly, since getting spanked at Old Trafford.
That’s as chastening as it comes and it’s a slight irony but the only good thing was the fact that there weren’t fans in the stadium and that Leeds weren’t jeered to the rafters by 75,000 Manchester United fans.
There is obviously the backdrop of everything that has happened over the course of this week and the intricacies and the deep dive into it.
But, do you know what?
It’s Leeds against Manchester United and it’s up to Leeds to get one over Man United because that’s what every single Leeds fan wants to see.
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Thank you Laura Collins