Goodbye For Now Elland Road TSS April 1, 2012 Match reviews Despite the Neil Redfearn fiasco and a slow start under Neil Warnock, plenty of fans were still holding on to the belief that Leeds United could somehow make the play-offs. This incredible epidemic of optimism, so uncharacteristic of Leeds United fans, had certainly lessened since 33,000 turned up to see us play West Ham United, but the majority of those that remained were still clinging on to hope. Perhaps mercifully, the wake-up call came early. It didn’t take long for everyone inside Elland Road to realise that the players had given up hope and that the 2011/12 season was officially over. For me, that realisation came the day Simon Grayson was sacked. It’s hard not to be cynical when no investment is forthcoming and your manager is sacked as the January transfer window closes, with no replacement in place despite the proverbial writing being chiselled into the wall weeks previous. That doesn’t make it any easier to see hope sucked out of your fellow fans however. It’s like watching innocent people being tortured for repeating the same mistakes time and time again, never learning that the rules simply haven’t changed – there’s only one winner in this game. Who knows, perhaps change will take place this summer? Maybe the thousands upon thousands of fans that are now refusing to play the game – by not turning up to Elland Road – have forced the hand of the controlling powers? Maybe Neil Warnock is a new variable – one that can force the rule changes we so badly need to see this club successful (ie. investment). Personally, I’m not convinced. I’ve become far too cynical of Ken Bates and his ulterior motives over his painful 7 year reign that I simply refuse to play again until I’ve seen evidence of change. I’ve seen an extremely capable League One squad stripped apart and sold to the first bidder, or simply cast aside as their value increases and their wage demands become (allegedly) unaffordable for a club with the fifth highest ticket prices in the country. I’ve seen different managers all confronted with the same problems, I’ve seen ticket prices rise and a whole host of absolutely pointless building work erected around Elland Road. I’ve heard excuse after excuse after excuse, yet seven years later the reality is, this is the worst Leeds United side I’ve ever seen. And that’s not really surprising when the entire squad was assembled for peanuts and our wage bill stands at around one third of our turnover – less than any other side in the division. It’s not that this side is totally devoid of quality, but I strongly suspect that the truly gifted players will follow in the footsteps of their predecessors and head elsewhere (probably Norwich). Meanwhile, we’ll be given the same excuses we hear every time – that they want Premier League football and are unwillingly to show patience. And who can blame them? We’re not making any progress, and they don’t believe a team constantly selling key players and replacing with frees will get promoted any more than I do. We’re stood still and the rules haven’t changed. The players are going through the motions, the fans have now given up hope completely and Neil Warnock is already demanding investment as he starts to come to terms with the grim reality of the situation. Warnock has already set out his stall. Bates will either offer the investment this club has desperately needed for the last seven years, or our new manager will walk. He’s not about to become another excuse for Ken Bates’ failures. What’s more worrying than Warnock walking away is that Snodgrass, McCormack, Becchio et al and another 4,000 fans – myself included – will follow. No one wants to play this game any more, we want to take part in one that we have a chance of winning. Until I see evidence that we’re being given a fair shot at success, I doubt I’ll be returning to Elland Road. I didn’t renew for next season for various reasons, but one of the biggest was that I simply don’t enjoy it any more. That’s never been the case before – even when relegated, it was part of the “ups and downs” and the defiant nature of our support spurred me on. On Saturday, I was at the bar after 30 minutes of the first half and paid very little attention to the second, eventually leaving early because it was absolutely dismal. I was bored to tears. Football is supposed to be entertaining, not a weekly ritual I take part in out of habit. Ken Bates is right that supporters aren’t investors in Leeds United, we’re customers that pay to be entertained. Soul-destroying hoof-ball is not what I had in mind. I’m not being entertained any more, and I can no longer stare at the pointless vanity projects money is being wasted on whilst the quality of football on display continues to deteriorate. It angers me, and I’m far too young to be wasting my life getting wound up by this nonsense. It’s irrational – I’m paying ridiculous sums of money for something I very rarely get any joy out of these days. I made the decision in January that it’d be away games only next season, but after completing a round-trip from London to Leeds to witness the woeful display we put on against Watford, I’ve decided to bring that forwards and am seriously reconsidering whether I’ll bother with any games at all next season. For now, instead of wasting my bank holiday weekend at the Majeski and then travelling to Leeds for the Derby match, I’m going to jump on a plane to Italy with my girlfriend and have some fun, whilst also saving myself the pain of watching our massively underfunded team be humiliated. I just can’t waste any more time, effort and money on a hobby that I no longer enjoy. MOT As an aside – If any season ticket holder is interested in writing home match reports for The Scratching Shed next season (and the remainder of this one) please email me.