Over the years you may have noticed that a lot of the articles I write are highly reliant on statistics to make a point. I’m a sucker for that kind of stuff, possibly a little obsessive, but there’s very few arguments you can’t validate with numbers.

There was a good one on Sky Sports yesterday for example, which I think softens the blow of a 5-1 defeat to Chelsea. It stated that Leeds United have made 100 signings since June 2004 at a total cost of £20.1m. That’s ONE HUNDRED players for about 40% of a Fernando Torres.

My obsession with numbers isn’t limited to football. I play Texas HoldEm Poker quite regularly, as I’m sure a lot of the people reading this do nowadays. As any half decent poker player knows, the game is almost entirely about numbers. If you can do the math, you can figure out your odds of completing the hand you’re looking for and whether it’s worth calling the pot to see an extra card. In most cases, you can also figure out the odds that the hand you’re holding beats that of your opponent.

Once you can figure out the odds you’ll be caught out very rarely. But this is where poker gets interesting. You’ve done the math, you know the odds, and every player in the world would be betting at this stage. Only a 1 in 1000 hand could possibly beat what you’re holding, you’d be stupid not to play. It’s basically a dead cert. You call. You lose.

Trying your best to accept defeat gracefully while fuming on the inside, part of you knows that it’s these unexpected, almost impossible results that keep you coming back for more. And the same is true of football.

However unlikely victory over the European Champions was, 30,000 Leeds fans turned up hoping we could defy the odds. I was one of them, despite the fact every part of my body was telling me it was a 1 in 1000 chance of victory and that we’d probably lose by quite a considerable margin. Yet I couldn’t wait to reach Elland Road.

There wasn’t to be any upset, Leeds United couldn’t defy the odds. But in reaching a League Cup Quarter Final against Chelsea we were reminded of those “what if?” moments that made us fall in love with the sport in the first place. No matter how many heartbreaking moments we have to endure, it’s that one unifying thing that keeps us coming back for more. Hope.

It’s the same feeling we used to take for granted at the start of every season, the “what if this is our year?” dreams we’ve all experienced at some stage. I can’t speak for all Leeds United fans, but I lost that at some point during Ken Bates’ reign. I expected nothing better than mid-table at the start of this season, I’d have given you far higher odds than 1000/1 on us getting promotion and I’d not even considered the possibility of a cup run.

It wasn’t a case of “what if this is our year?”, I’d been dealt a 7 2, there was no need to do the maths. I folded pre-flop.

Yet here we are. Five months since my gloomy predictions and whilst our league position needs improving on, there’s no denying we’re on the up. Since the takeover was announced we’ve won 4 out of 5 league games and played the European Champions at a packed out Elland Road.

Sure, we may have taken a bit of a hammering against Chelsea but we went into that game dreaming of the possibilities, and that’s all I want from football.

No matter how long the odds, we just want to believe that we have a chance. That maybe, just maybe, we can achieve something special. And that’s exactly how I felt in the week or so leading up to the Chelsea game.

It may well have been Ken Bates’ leadership that took us to that Quarter Final, but it was the GFH takeover that made me believe. It’s also the GFH takeover that has me believing this could still be our year. I no longer think Leeds United will finish the season mid-table, I genuinely believe we’re good enough to make the play-offs.

The truth is, I can’t help but wonder whether we can achieve an even higher finish? I don’t know what the odds are on that happening or what the statistics may tell us and the truth is, I simply don’t care. I’m following the advice of LUST Chairman Gary Cooper, taking my newly found sense of hope and channeling it into that “dare to dream” idea he’s been pushing at us for so long.

Got to admit, it feels pretty damn good. Marching On Together!

 

  • henrymouni

    We can build a real momentum now.
    It has taken so long, it is almost an anticlimax.
    While the new owners have stated that january is not the best time to bring players in, it is all we have, if we are to go up this year!
    We must get a quality left back, and maybe a right back, moving Sam up the field.
    A creative midfield player, would help too.
    If we don’t sign the loanees we have now, we will have to replace them too.
    While it is difficult to slot players in, half way through the season,( and they have to be match fit from the off), we have no choice.
    We have to push on all fronts, or wait another year.
    Let’s really back the new owners and turn this season into something exciting!!
    We deserve it!!!

    • Irving08

      We have a perfectly good left back – good enough anyway for Arsenal in the summer to ponder signing. But – for reasons yet to be made clear – a certain Manager tried to turn him into a right-sided midfielder, and then cast him aside when the blatanlty obvious became – well, obvious. Byram, I agree, is wasted at right back; likewise, to some degree, Green on the outside. A mobile creative midfielder would be a great asset – Tongue is too easily by-passed.

  • tim campbell

    I think the statement of the owners about not spending crazy money is right in this case. Any money we spend must be spent wisely – but you as a poker player TSS should know you dont let your opponents know the strength of your hand. Im sure it has’nt escaped the attention of most clubs and agents that this takeover has occured, and they will be looking for the maxium they can get on any player we want to buy

    • TSS

      Agree that no club with any sense would declare themselves loaded and looking to buy, it’d be stupidity. Even if Warnock has £10m sat in the bank, it’d be madness to admit it.

      But my main concern is that January is entirely panic-buying and clubs end up being sold duds every year. I tend to agree with Warnock – that if we can sign up the players we have, and with the likes of Rudy and Somma returning from injury, I think the squad is strong enough. Or very close at least.

      If someone exceptional and proven is available – Gradel for example – then you have to move for him, but there’s a real danger of panic-buying in January and ending up with a team full of journeymen has-beens.

      • henrymouni

        I agree about the Jan’ window TSS, but NW has some targets from his original list, which he may now try to bring in. No duds or panic buys.
        We are not talking big money here. Wages was the stumbling block.
        If we are prepared to pay a good wage, it will open the door to some better, proven players, that NW knows.
        As NW and the new owners have been talking for some time, you can be sure a list is in place already.

  • bash

    Great article! Im all for trying to improve the squad in an attempt to fibish as high as possible, but with the current crop of players (even with a few additions) we are by no means ready to go up. We need a solid side that are hard to beat and win games 1-0 not 3-2. We have had trouble shaking the fact we often need to score 3 to win since earlu in the grsyson tenure! By all means add to the squad but it would take a miracle summer even if we did go up to keep us in the prem. I dont want to yo yo, when we get there it needs to be for good.

    • MarkoLUFC

      If you look at our last 5 victories – 2-1, 2-0, 4-2, 1-0, 2-1 – we’re actually not doing so bad. To say many of those the players have been riding on hope and optimism rather than confidence, and that confidence is only beginning to build, I’d say that’s a pretty decent turnaround.

  • I feel the hope again too but can’t help being cautious. 3 weeks ago it was “no reasonable target refused” & now it’s don’t judge us on January.
    I have however ended my self imposed exile and attended a couple of games, & will be at today’s game. Hope is a wonderful thing!

  • Shazzan

    Great that the new owners seem to be on our side. Haigh especially seems to be very excited about the future. If they all look after the club and are ambitious to improve the team they will have a great ride alongside the best fans in the world. Personally I am looking forward to the great atmoshere coming back to Elland Road. It brings shivers to the spine and we have support that makes me proud to be a Leeds fan.

  • kev raunds

    lets get behind these people,we deserve a good finish to the season for a change,have faith ,we are not far off a good squad.january will tell where we are going to be.i personally cant wait to see how we get on.mot

  • leedsusa

    Nuff said MOT

  • What Leeds need is an educated man like David Haigh onboard. He’s a breath of fresh air. Speaks confidently, a Conservative and a Leeds fan. A great mix. I think there’s real promise with this new direction.

    • My wife was so disappointed when she found out he was a Tory. The wife said they’re all ‘frail minded and impotent.’ I remember, she said: ‘If he can’t get it up he won’t get us up that’s for damn sure’. After observing that David Haigh had a fat head and his upper body was too ‘girthy’ but I suppose that’s neither here nor there.

      ‘Let’s hope he doesn’t follow his government’s lead on the running of the club otherwise we’re well fucked’ she concluded. ‘and let’s hope no one politicises a football club on a messaging board either, because that’s just irritating.’

      • henrymouni

        Merry Christmas Matt and missus!

        I assume your lovely wife is saying that if he was Labour he would be good?

        Or Liberal?

        They are all the same.

        Same lies, and fiddles.

        Twas ever thus.

        • Me and the wife agree wholeheartedly with henrymouni and wish everyone a very Merry Christmas!! Scum fans and conservatives too, because we’re all probably people deep down :).

    • Irving08

      Colin: you are a generous man.
      A minor public school and a law degree from anm average University Faculty does not an educated man make.
      I am afraid also to say that most of the brains in politics are in the Labour Party.
      Why would a clever man who was not also (for whatever reason) Labour inclined to go into politics.
      Anyway successful entrepreneurs do not need to be educated, just bright, optimistic, ruthless and perhaps greedy.
      White caucasian Middle Eastern fund managers are pretty low down in the feeding chain.
      The other fellow seems more promising though.

      • Irving08

        As you see from my typos I went to University before essays were handed in typed let alone word-processed.

  • goodriddance

    £224m worth of players Chelsea had on the pitch – more than Leeds have spent on transfers in their entire history. It does stack the odds a bit against you doesn’t it?

  • chippy1919

    Whats the odds on Darren Bent on loan in January??? UTW

    • henrymouni

      500-1

      I think his heart is set on Mikael-Smith?

      Lambert would be very nice.
      Bent would be excellent!