Why Jack Harrison believes it's Leeds United against the world in the promotion race

Jack Harrison believes that if Leeds United can achieve their promotion dream it will be all the sweeter because of the constant stick the team receive from all other club’s fanbases. Graham Smyth reports

By Graham Smyth
Saturday, 20th June 2020, 6:00 am

Everyone is against Leeds, says Jack Harrison, but it will only make promotion all the sweeter if they achieve it.

The winger, on loan from Manchester City and nearing the end of his second season at Elland Road, is well versed in the jibes that are aimed at the Whites by all and sundry.

One of the most common refrains even has its own song, which is aired liberally by every other fanbase. You know the one, about an inability to keep it all together.

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Leeds United winger Jack Harrison. (Image: Bruce Rollinson)

Last season it was sung with extra glee as Leeds’ Premier League dream fell apart in the final stages of the season.

Their slump from automatic promotion contenders to play-off qualifiers was bad enough, but semi-final defeat by Derby County was crushing and provided plenty of ammunition for the club’s knockers.

With nine games to go in the current campaign, which gets underway again this weekend after a three month hiatus, Leeds know the slightest stumble, even a goal conceded, will be met with a rendition of that song and a barrage of social media mockery.

The club has come to expect it but attack as their best defence, both on the pitch and online.

They give it out, by suffocating opposition teams with a manic style of play and by taking the proverbial at every given opportunity through their Twitter account.

A tongue-in-cheek suggestion that Aston Villa should allow Sheffield United to walk a goal in, after the ball clearly crossed the Villains’ line yet wasn’t picked up by officials or technology, went down a treat with Whites supporters and Mateusz Klich alike.

Last season the Pole sparked pandemonium by finishing off a Leeds move while a Villa player was down and his team-mates stuttered and paused, waiting for a stoppage that never came.

Leeds, with the exception of Pontus Jansson, stood by and permitted Aston Villa to score an equaliser, as ordered by head coach Marcelo Bielsa.

Klich was quick to tweet a picture from the FIFA award ceremony where Leeds were rewarded for their act of fair play.

If you give it out, you’ve got to be willing to take it and Leeds do take their lumps with great regularity, from pundits, opposition fans and sometimes rival clubs’ social media admins.

“I feel like everyone’s against Leeds,” said Harrison, who is glad of the chance to play for promotion instead of being handed it on a points-per-game plate.

“The way people are, the feeling they have towards Leeds it only makes it better for us if we do it [promotion] the right way. We have that opportunity, we have to make the most of it.”

Should Leeds falter even slightly in the next few games, the talk of ‘bottling’ will return, at volumes no-one at Elland Road can ignore.

In the past some of it has centred around head coach Marcelo Bielsa himself, what some see as a lack of Plan B – he simply believes in doing Plan A better – and this theory that his teams cannot last the pace due to the rigorous regime he puts them through from pre-season right through to the end.

The data, the Argentine tells us, proves otherwise. But still the talk continues.

“We have to take it with a pinch of salt,” said Harrison.

“Everyone is going to talk and say all these things. If we just concentrate on what we’re doing, if we don’t take the opportunity it can only be our fault.

“We’re doing everything we can to make that Premier League dream possible. We all want it.

“We know people will be talking about Marcelo and all that stuff, but he’s a smart man, I’m sure he doesn’t take too many of those things to heart.”

Bielsa’s record as a coach who inspires great coaches and a former boss of the Argentina and Chile national teams, speaks for itself in Harrison’s estimation. Yet he does feel a responsibility to silence the talk once and for all by getting Leeds over the line, finishing the job and finally escaping England’s second tier to return to the top flight.

“He has a reputation around the world, everyone respects him, some of the best managers in the world have said great things about him,” said the winger.

“I don’t think he should be worried about some people saying he’s a bottle job or whatever. It’s all down to us as a club and how we manage these next nine games.

“He knows how to do it, it’s down to us now to get the job done.

“It’s nine finals.

“We have an opportunity in front of us. We know what we have to do.”