The Mangle: Our love-in with the opposition Gary October 17, 2011 The Mangle 14 Comments You know what I said in my first column about us going up as f***ing champions? Well yeah, it’s still pretty ridiculous, but, well, you know… What’s for certain is we’re certainly doing the good side of ok; definitely better than most since management realised that left backs perform well at left back, right backs at right, and so on. But all the while, I’ve noticed an odd trend creeping in amongst various strands of LUFC fan-to-fan communication: we’re getting into the habit of seriously over-rating our upcoming opposition. It’s not just the Leicesters and Brightons of the world we’re viewing as world-beaters, as we stew in economic jealousies, oh no. There was plenty of noise last week along the lines of Doncaster’s potential to give us more than a game – and it’s cropping ahead of games with other blatant inferiors too. This is not the kind of inverse logic that goes ‘they’re sh**, they’re nonentities, so knowing Leeds, we’ll probably lose.’ This would be reasonable – the Herefords of yore laying solid precedent for such pessimism. We’ve actually moved on to suggesting that sides we should be routinely beating have weapons that could do us serious damage. To use Donny as a case study, quite a few of us, and I admit to falling into this trap a bit myself, found ourselves citing such reasons as Dean Saunders’ inspired nouveau hoofing regime and a few loan signings as reason enough that we could find ourselves getting a turning over at the Keepmoat. But let’s analyse this logic: Herita Ilunga is rubbish. Chris Kirkland is rubbish. Dean Saunders is Dean Saunders. And as my QPR-supporting mate wisely summed up, Pascal Chimbonda is “the only man who cites family reasons for not training or being good at football anymore.” And then there’s the fact that Richard Naylor makes their starting XI. Sorry Richard, you were totally ace for a time, but now is by no means that time. One of the prime reasons our club still gains column inches these days – aside from the love life of our manager of course – is that we’re known to be a pig-headed arrogant bunch with a superiority complex unaffected by what level we happen to be playing at. Let’s be honest – this is something we can and do embrace to our collective bosom. It does seem that we need to cling to it a fair bit harder though, and stop suggesting that [insert average-to-poor outfit] might be ripe to smash us up. They could, of course. But let’s be rational leaning towards cocky in these matters, yeah? Let’s take an upcoming fixture as a worked example. Peterborough – do we rate them? Are we citing a raft of father/son ribbon-wrapped loans as evidence that they’ll run us ragged? The 7-1 against Ipswich perhaps? The reality: we’re better than Peterborough. Darren Ferguson is still the guy who plummeted previously stable Preston out of the Championship. Youngsters on loan, no matter what ‘giant’ they call their real home, can be systematically stifled by hardy pros of the Danny Pugh/ Andy Keogh ilk, if the pressure of playing in front of more than your youth coach and 30 fanatics isn’t enough. There’s obviously no problem with having a good look at the strengths of who we’re up against – but perhaps we’ve been recently veering towards not seeing them as comparative to our own. For all our righteous grumbling the squad is more than half-decent, and if you were to look extremely selectively (and by that I mean probably at our striking options alone), it could be viewed as absolutely epic for the level we’re at. It’s ok to be negative – it’s a Yorkshire thing we’ve got going. But hell, let’s stop giving so much advance credit to so much of the dross that makes up the numbers in our slightly odd league. One thing we surely don’t want is for people to start viewing us as magnanimous, even-handed and modest to excess. Where’s the fun, and more to the point, the Leeds in that?