leeds fansIn the history of its existence, I can’t remember feeling anything but dread when attention turned towards a January transfer window.

I’m sure it provides intense thrills for supporters of other clubs, a level of anticipation and excitement akin to Christmas as a 9-year-old that justifies Sky Sports’ Americanesque sensationalism of the whole sorry affair, but as a Leeds United fan, the possibility of losing key players has always been more likely than us signing new ones.

At best, we sign a new player to fill a position we’ve been desperately lacking in, then sell the players who would make our new signing useful. It’s a bit like getting an Xbox One console for Christmas but having the TV you intended to play it on stolen the night before. And then the store closes before you can buy a new TV and won’t open again for another 5 months.

But things have changed a lot at Elland Road over the last year and this time around, I’m confident that when the January transfer window closes, Leeds United will be a stronger team.

Maybe I’ve caught the blind optimism bug so many fans seem to get infected by at this time of year. When Ken Bates was at the helm, I used to find people infected by the bug intolerable because in spite of all the evidence to the contrary and past experience teaching us to expect the worst, a couple of “war chest” quotes and some half-hearted assurances from the Master himself and everyone was willing to believe that this time would be different.

It wasn’t, of course. But it wasn’t hard to understand why so many fans wanted to believe something had changed.

And maybe that’s where I’m at at now. Unable to consider the possibility that nothing has really changed and the patterns of the last eight years will continue to repeat themselves because, well… because its too damn depressing and a positive outlook is all that stands between me and a straight-jacket.

You see, the reason I can’t categorically state that this time will be different is because things are so vague and up in the air at the moment (which is always the case with new investment and not a criticism). The “new owners” we’ll have by January feels a lot like when Ken Bates put the club into administration and an anonymous company with absolutely no connection to Bates (honest) took over and decided Bates was the only man alive qualified to be our chairman – because he’d done such a good job leading us into admin, obviously – insofar as the face of this takeover (David Haigh) is already at the club working for the current owners and very few faces are likely to change.

Clearly there’s some new money behind David Haigh, but if he’s heading this consortium (as seems to be the case) and GFH will retain a share as planned, then the same people who’ve improved things considerably over the last 12 months will still be running the club. Which, in my opinion at least, is no bad thing.

We could all pick faults with the current owners, but can anyone really fault their efforts? Communication between fans and the club has improved tenfold, the mood around Elland Road is much healthier, the players seem happy, we have a great manager and everything finally feels like it’s coming together for Leeds United. It feels like we’re heading in the right direction for the first time in a decade.

And this has all been achieved without a great deal of money to throw at our problems. In fact, this has been achieved while the current owners worked to plug a black hole in our finances which Ken Bates left behind.

Come January however, we’re led to believe that the new investors will be providing McDermott funds to further bolster a squad which has already performed above expectations and, with the right additions, could become serious contenders. Not just play-off contenders either, depending on the level of funds available to McDermott and the willingness of clubs to part with the quality of players we need midway through a campaign, we may even be able to dream of an automatic spot – a suggestion I’d have laughed at in August.

I can’t begin to describe how refreshing it is to feel excited by Leeds United’s prospects again and while we’ll undoubtedly hit a few bumps in the road (because we’re still Leeds United, and that’s just how we roll), I truly believe that when we stop to repair and upgrade our battered ship in January, the flashy, over-commercialised land of Premier League football will come into view on the horizon.