The Mangle: So this is Christmas… Gary December 15, 2011 The Mangle 2 Comments …and what have we done? Well, evidently not so much, if the sort of league position you tend to hover around is the meter of doing summat. A decidedly non-Leeds mate of mine can’t mention our club without dropping the word ‘seventh’ into the mix with as much sadistic pleasure as possible. ‘Falling ever so slightly short – derivative of seasons past: three stars’ would be the thrust of our arts critic’s review. Another year over…and a new one just begun They’re all more or less the same though really, aren’t they? We now even get exactly the same FA Cup tie every year. The life of the modern Leeds fan essentially involves oversized expectations against our better judgement, oversized pricing structures, oversized corporate facilities, what’s tragically starting to look a bit like an oversized stadium, and undersized investment in playing staff. This year has seen us officially become over-achievers. Will this be the New Year the wallet opens? Would this only serve to make us underachievers again? All bets are off. And so this is Christmas…I hope you have fun Will we though? Do we ever? We all know it’s not about such facile concepts in the LUFC family. Looking at the four festive fixtures, you could hope wildly for seven points at least – but we are Leeds, and more specifically, we are Leeds in a league where inconsistency is the norm: we’re positively being egged on to confound our fans week-on-week. Expect to be drunk on rage and exultation in roughly equal measure, with a little confusion as a mixer. Even if we somehow scrap and batter our way to promotion against all the stifling aspects working against us, it won’t be a fun kind of promotion; that much you can be sure of. Above all, it’s not the Yorkshire way. Fun is for the soft-headed Southerners. The near and the dear ones Speedo gone without getting halfway through his fifth decade; Ken steaming into his ninth decade in fine fettle. Yes, Christmas’s suggested philosophy of justice, health and good will for all really sits better this year than ever before… We get dearly attached to the idea of glorious returns to the club of former doyens. With much certainty, there will be heavy sighing, slagging, and romantic odes over names such as Delph, Smith, and Keogh in January. The old Which would lead on nicely to our glued-on octogenarian Santa lookalike – but then you realise absolutely everything’s been said, and we’re losing the stomach for the in-fighting. Erm, what else? Dead wood is old. We like to venerate the old and offer it long-term contracts, but this method of showing respect may need to be abandoned – the absence or presence in February of our cherished wood may determine whether the good ship United keeps vaguely successfully bobbing or not. ..and the young A break from relentless doom is needed. Here, we have it. Lees, White, Taylor, and yet more promising noises of progress under the eye of Neil Redfearn from below. The ‘conveyor belt’ may have slowed, but decent products are still dropping off, at least more than they have been of late. But when the spectre of relegation-threatened and desperate Premier League sides looking to add to their feeble squads (that’s at least 13 of them) constantly looms and the Daily Mirror still exists, perhaps ‘product’ is not a useful term, even in this month of rampant consumerism. And what of our next generation of fans? We may be reaching the tipping point when it becomes tragically commonplace that proud Whites stalwarts catch their sons pestering mothers for Man City shirts. Ok, this has definitely returned to doom. Sorry about that. War is over Ha f***ing ha. Leeds v The World, Leeds v Leeds, Leeds v Bates, Leeds v Common Sense: there are far too many wars on too many fronts to make such rash promises just now. Hell, we’ve even got a chest prepared to fund the fight on all fronts – if only someone finds the damn key. Let’s face it, we’ve chosen a disagreeable weapon to fight the battles required in the life of a football fan; one with a tendency to combust and recoil with disastrous effect at any time. But it remains a fairly spontaneous way to waste our time, at least. Rest well, brethren – it’s gonna be an inevitably rocky five months. Have codeine and a defibrillator close to hand at all times.