Feel The PainThe booing of our own players is one of my football pet hates, it ranks somewhere between goal music and stadium drummers on the TSS list of modern football irritations.

But there are times, like last Tuesday, when booing the team is not only understandable, but perfectly justifiable. In fact, it may even be healthy.

What’s the alternative for football fans when they’ve spent an entire season trying to support a group of players who continuously demonstrate a total lack of fight and passion?

Chanting support and cheering by it’s very nature is positive reinforcement and while there are plenty of instances when you should positively reinforce the efforts of your team irrespective of scoreline, applauding the efforts of a team 4-0 behind, who’ve let their heads drop and aren’t prepared to fight isn’t one of them.

Arsenal fans booing their team for failing to score, while still in the Prem top four and controlling a game, is an example of unjustifiable booing. It’s impatience more than anything else, but failing to support the footballing philosophy of your club only damages the confidence of players who are executing it well, if not perfectly.

But if Leeds United fans want to boo a team totally void of fight and character, knock yourselves out. They deserved it. What’s more, I’ll join you next time, because they can’t be allowed to think their recent performances are acceptable, there has to be consequences.

And therein lies the ultimate problem with Leeds United’s current situation. Brian McDermott seems a bit too pally with players and it’s hard to believe he’s reading them the riot act following poor performances, he seems the sort of manager who’ll look for the most tenuous of positives, pat his team on the back and ask that they keep working hard.

Which is fine when they’ve put the effort in. It’s a perfectly valid style of management that will work nine times out of ten and shouting at people when they’ve given it their best shot gets you nowhere.

But Leeds United are in that one out of ten situation where the players need the fear of something unholy put into them. Every management course in the world will tell you shouting creates a poor working environment and won’t yield long-term results, but what they don’t tell you is that used in moderation, it works like a charm.  Moreover, what’s the alternative when all else has failed and the players simply aren’t trying any more?

Think about it for a second. Someone who shouts constantly you’ll tune out quickly, it becomes their default setting and you’re so used to it, it has no effect.. But when that otherwise calm, composed and friendly manager you’ve come to like loses it, you know it’s time to get your act together. That’s the real trick to management. Encourage when they’re worthy of it, make sure they fear the consequences when they’re not.

It’s the same with booing. When used in moderation, unlike the Arsenal fans, it can serve as an effective wake-up call.

Footballers are so over-pampered and immune to the real consequences you and I face for poor performance, the only thing that stands between them and an effortless existence cashing five-figure cheques is the manager and the fans. I’d like to think there’s professional pride too, but I’ve seen little evidence of that recently.

You want to fire me? Go ahead, I’ll take the rest of my contracted salary and sign for another club.

You want to stick me on bench? Fine, it’s the best view in the house, let me just check my online banking to make sure that five-figure cheque you sent me has cleared.

I hate booing, I really do, but what kind of message are we sending these players when they can’t be bothered to put in the effort, show no signs of fight and are getting hammered at home while we continue to cheer them?

Comments Ross McCormack made in today’s press conference are telling. He accepts the players deserved to be booed at 4-0 down against Reading, admits they should have been performing better and thanks the fans for getting behind the team when they scored the two consolation goals.

Based on Tuesday’s performance alone, you could argue the booing served it’s purpose. The players didn’t like being booed (a consequence of their poor performance), so they got their act together (a little too late unfortunately) and the positive reinforcement every human-being seeks was provided to them.

In an ideal world, Leeds United fans would never be put in a situation where they felt booing was necessary. But this is a club built on a “keep fighting” spirit, a club with a history of teams who showed great character and knew what it meant to play for the badge. It doesn’t matter if we’re winning or losing, Leeds fans cheer the players through it all so long as they show the same passion for this club as we have.

If none of those qualities are being demonstrated by the eleven men on the field, fans have every right to boo. We’re not here to support the players, we’re here to support the club they have the extreme fortune of being selected to represent. The players should be honoured to represent Leeds United and fight for another opportunity to do so.

And if the players don’t like that and don’t possess the mental strength to improve their performance, they’re at the wrong club.

Too many of our fans hero-worship individuals who simply don’t deserve it. Fans aren’t here to pat players on the back and protect their feelings. Until such a time as the players demonstrate their value to the club, they’re nothing more than overpaid mercenaries sucking vital resources from my football club and I reserve the right to treat them with the utmost contempt if they think they can turn out in the colours of Leeds United, put in a half-arsed display and then head home to enjoy the spoils our great club provides them.

Don’t wanna be booed? Improve. Don’t like it? You know where the door is.

40 Responses

  1. Donal

    Couldnt agree more. The performances have been unacceptable lately and the fans who fork out money every week to be at Elland Road have a right to view their displeasure…

  2. Jonny

    Possibly the best written piece in many a year, thought provoking, interesting and quite comical in parts.

  3. Kath

    I agree wholeheartedly with what has been written above. I hate the booing, it upsets me, but if it gives them a kick up the backside then so be it. We spend our hard earned cash following the team, home and away, and the players should realise that, and at least put some effort in. Let’s home this is the final straw and from now on at least show some improvement.

  4. White Dad

    I have been going to watch leeds United since the glory days of the early 70s, and in that time I have been lucky to see some truly great players, also some lesser players who still gave thier limited all. Even from my Oxfordshire home, I have managed to embibe my son with a love of all things Leeds United, poor soul. We were at the game on Saturday for him to celebrate his 10th birthday, at his request. this was our 7th game this season and we are yet to see a win and witnessed only 2 goals but hope springs eternal. Waiting for the players and getting autographs, he is very excited but all I can see is a fear in the faces of our current crop and the thought that this lot represent the same club as Bremner, Giles, Batty etc etc is depressing. Game starts, goal on half time, never mind, 45 mins to go!! At 0-3 there were tears in my boy’s eyes at 0-5 we left and missed the goal. A 350 mile round trip and lots of money aside, I can’t do that again to him or myself and will not be going again until we have found some passion and a will to win. It may be unfair to blame the players and manager but in everyones life there is uncertanty, none of us know when that redundancy note may come but we still have to get on and do our jobs, is it too much to ask that the players don’t do the same?

    • Les Ives

      excellent main article and I totally sympathise with White Dad and his ten year old son. My son is 18 now and although he has vague good memories of the Bowyer, Kewell, Woodgate era even hes struggled to keep the faith.
      I was there on Tuesday watching that gutless performance and it was a new low.
      Back in the late seventies/ eighties I was ever present at ER and although we watched some rubbish (until the end of the decade) – you never felt that the players didn’t care and that the manager had simply run out of any ideas about how to tum things round.
      Booing is justified when you are watching a group of players who are “playing” for the biggest club in the Championship and perform as abysmally as they did on Saturday and Tuesday.
      Keep the faith white dad but at least I had to only drive back to Wetherby!

    • spellz

      Nice post White Dad, I hope you and your boy see a win soon providing you return to ER because judging by our current lot finding that will and desire it will be as hard as finding the secret city of Paititi, anyway we all share your misery I just wished we could play like a normal team for once and find some kind of consistency.

    • TSS

      It’s fans like yourself I feel sorry for the most and I don’t think players understand that it’s a special occasion or rare opportunity for some of our fans at any given home game.

      Only last week we had hundreds of fans fly over from Scandinavia for the match, only to see us utterly humiliated and show no fight whatsoever. For those of us with the “luxury” of being able to attend every week, you learn to take the rough with the smooth (though never this rough and there’s been a definite disparity between the two for far too long), but for those who only get to see Leeds United every so often, it’s something of a special occasion for them and costs a lot of money they could have better spent.

      I take my nephew every once in a while and he’s like an ADHD kid on speed for a week leading up to the game, totally unable to contain his excitement because he’s about to see his heroes play – much like I was at his age. To then arrive and see this disparate group of unworthy misfits fail to show any passion or fight is heartbreaking, not only for him, but for me too. It’s my fault he’s a Leeds United fan after all, I inflicted him with this curse.

      Honestly, is it any wonder the next generation of would-be Leeds fans are running around in City and Chelski shirts? What reason has there been to support Leeds United, this group of players simply don’t deserve it.

  5. Nick

    Excellent article, I was at the game Tuesday and could not agree more with you. I understand the importance of getting behind the team as I will be at Burnley on Saturday however performances like Tuesday are not acceptable and players need to understand when you put on that white shirt who and what you are representing. Us the loyal and paying supporters deserve much better than that. You can take a defeat when you know the players have given there all but to give up like they did on Tuesday night is totally unacceptable!

  6. Chris7286

    Does anyone know what happened in the Footbal League meeting today with regard to our takeover? Last I heard they were scheduled for a meeting toay.

    • TSS

      Yeah, Leeds United’s takeover was due to be discussed at FL board meeting today but there was no time announced and no news has been provided from it yet.

  7. Macca

    But why does it happen at or around this time every year. We have a goood first half of the season then it goes pear shaped after christmas. A reason under Grayson was that he played the same team every week and the players for some obscure reason were tired (How many did Revie use to win the Championship 14?). Is it that our tactics are so basic, never change and opposition teams sus things out and no longer fear the mighty whites. It’s a regular scenario that baffles me!!

    • Matthew

      A lot of the problem is that we lack the quality to rotate the squad. We have to play some players week in week out because we have no one better in that position. Then if they pick up a knock or simply burn out, their performance drops and the goals come flooding in. I don’t think its player nerves.

    • TSS

      Grayson always seemed to suffer an injury crisis in defence (Naylor, Kisnorbo, O’Dea, O’Brien, Lonergan) which led to rough patches, but we never failed to react to a humiliation and never went 15 games with only two wins.

      And it’s not like Grayson was working under better circumstances than McDermott, he had the constant chaos of Ken Bates to deal with, his key players sold and far less money in transfer windows (not that McD has had anywhere near enough.)

  8. Dfooster

    Some of our players are just not up to the task of playing for a big club though regardless of how much you shout at them. When was the last time out players went looking for the ball and controlled a game? Apart from in very small patches u bet you would have to go back a few seasons to see leeds players confident enough in their ability to put on a display rather than cowering away or punting the ball 70 yards and let McCormack do it all by himself.

    • Matthew

      I think there’s an argument there to start Michael Brown, he may be old, and lacking a little in pace, but he gets stuck in there. For all his faults he does give it his all.

      • TSS

        I agree. I said exactly the same thing at HT v Bolton, that however much he’s faded in recent years, at least you can rely on his fighting spirit.

  9. seaham white

    first game in 10 years….last one for a while till they show some bottle too! sat in lower east stand…was like a morgue…didn’t come to life till smithy came on and scored….were shit and were sick of it….

    • Chris7286

      I know exactly how that feels, moved away when I was 10 (now 27) and the last game I saw at Elland road (since 2003) was the one against Watford when they thumped us. When I used to go there as a young’n I watched us playing great teams like Liverpool when Ian Rush was playing and we’d win. This manager and these players talk the talk when referring to Leeds as a massive club with great history etc but do they really understand what they are saying? I don’t think they know at all what it feels like.
      After what I heard Tim Sherwood saying about his players today and not thinking twice about telling the under performers where to go in the summer I’d be happy to have that kind of manager at Leeds if Spurs let him go. This lot need a leader who can but the boot up the a** and actually care about giving it all you can for the club.
      I pump far too much of my money into the club every year without going to watch them, listening to Eddie Gray on LUTV match commentary is bad enough.

  10. yorxman

    I feel sorry for the likes of White Dad and understand his frustrations. You’d think if the players read that piece they’d buck their ideas up but they’re more likely to shit their pants. Malky Mackay as gaffer with Andy Hughes as his right hand man for next season please Mr Cellino

  11. spellz

    TSS after reading your pet hates of modern football I am surprised the vuvuzela was not on the list lol, on the matter at hand I know booing can be demoralising but for fuck sake your 4-0 down at home to reading after being hammered 5-1 at home to Bolton consecutively what left is there to do? I feel sorry for the fans of Leeds United we are constantly presented with shit play from the squad but still have a voice resounding with passion, the noise when we scored two back was phenomenal home or away we are always supportive by voice and where has that got us?

    I think maybe we need some tough love, so is it really good to cheer when we are getting battered from all directions? or worst to boo? I dont know.

    • TSS

      Honestly, I don’t know if I’m getting grumpier with age or football is becoming more plastic, but my list of pet hates grows longer by the week.

  12. Chareose

    I don’t think its just down to a lack of effort……..
    They (the players) don’t want to be here (Elland Road), they want to hide away, that’s why I think our performance against QPR was in stark contrast to the game at home to Bolton. A clue to this is the way Varney behaved…….
    These players were told publicly over Christmas by Brian McDermott that most of them were not good enough. This added to what they can read on the internet broadcasting the fans opinions on sites like this just underlines the fact to these players that they have no future at Leeds. BM had half a chance until he made that Gaff
    On sites like this fans like me, you and thousands of others have been in a frenzy for years because of take over after take over. We must be one of the most actively opinionated groups of fans on the web. 8 years of Bates, watching a good team dismantled, 10 years of lies, 12 years of bad owners……and throw into that a potent dose of expectation
    Back to BM….. With the ownership issues and lack of backing hes never had much of a chance, but hes simply added to that with poor decision making and I hate to say it but questionable coaching because at the best of times our team has looked static and un-expressive.
    As TSS has already alouded to, the players are no longer playing for their coach. Any positive reactions seem to be more inspired by each other – Huddersfeild, Smiths substitution, Butlands performance against QPR…..
    We need a new owner and a new coaching team that can teach pass and play football
    They are unconfident and demoralized, some want to do well but are broken men ( Wooton / Zaluikas), others just cant be that bothered because of the bad atmosphere and are just going through the motions ;
    Austin is consistently inconsistent……
    I think McCormack needs a rest

  13. Helen LUFC

    Brian just needs a little more time, time to plan the next steps for the club, money to spend in the transfer window, the backing of the fans, alongside the players giving 150% every game and he’ll have us back in League 1 in next to no time.

    • Chareose

      I don’t think he needs any more time to break records hes already broken for losing games !
      Why should Brian McDermott get away with worse than all our other managers have ??
      oh year the sympathy vote…….”good o’l Brian…he might be a bad manager but hes a nice bloke so lets keep him”

  14. john palmer

    I am like white dad travel frm Norfolk £35 ticket,petrol, parking etc leave 8am back home 10 pm £100 day out. I still get a buzz even though I 1st came watching Revie team , of course I’m going to shout & boo at being let down ,knowing the season has fizzled out ,and my trips will be half hearted ,all I ask for in return is to watch some decent football and have an interest for p. offs till last games NOT 12 games to go,by the way night games I’m home 3am like many fans out side of Leeds

      • telraff76

        What a ridiculous comment! Just because someone travels to see Leeds doesn’t mean they’re any less of a supporter than someone who lives there. They can be hardly classed as a glory hunter! I was born and bred in Leeds but joined the Army so have to travel to games when i get the chance. What’s happening hurts me as much as anyone living within the city.

  15. PAUL W

    Most of the Leeds players are a bunch of bottlers, who all talk a good game off the pitch and then freeze on the pitch.
    If the “shrinking violet” Leeds players don’t like the long suffering Leeds fans booing them, then they should either give 100% on the pitch or get the hell out of the club and go and play for a much smaller club.
    The overcharged Leeds fans will except defeats, but not every week and do all of the fans defending this terrible Leeds team and manager, realise that Leeds are dropping further and further down the table and will have absolutely no chance of staying up, if the club goes into administration.
    McDermott cannot motivate his players or get them fit and he does not know his best team, but to blame the pro-longed take-over is just a pathetic excuse for only 2 wins since mid-December 2013.

    • Chris7286

      Is 10 days from now before the court date for his ‘tax evasion’ as that is very key in the whole process. I suppose buying a yacht in the USA where he is a resident and paying on the purchase doesn’t wash with the Italians when you park the yacht you bought to sail around the world in over in Italy. Obviously I am of the belief this is the Italian judicial system trying to screw him out of money he doesn’t owe them. Problem is every sports writer and news paper “expects” the FL to wait until after this court date. Fed up with them trying to pressure and control peoples decisions. F*** what the media expects to to stand to attention because they say so just get it done. What if the court decides it isn’t happy with all the docs and delays the decision for another month or more? Suppose the FL will wait for the media to tell them how to deal with that as well eh? Rant over………..

  16. rob

    Completely agree with this article!! BMC needs to shout and roar once in a while. It’ll make the lads shit themselves and focus more

    • Helen LUFC

      I’d actually pay a bit extra to sit in the Bremner Suite to see the first eleven gather round the centre circle before kick off and quite literally ‘shit themselves’, as you so eloquently put it. Better than watching the proceeding 90 minutes, in my humble opinion.

  17. mrbigwheels

    1-0 wrong to boo. Did nothing for the team.
    4-0 boos all round. Team didn’t like it and responded.

    Problem here is what vocal negatives/boos to hail when in the situation of requiring 12/15 points to be into safety. We must not be on the wrong side of the line if a -10 loomed. I’m not taking DH promises to heart at the moment.

    Hell this team is making me nervous…

  18. PMH

    It is not about character or anything else vague and mystical. When a whole team collapses that is not because the individuals lack “bottle.” They are only playing football, for heaven’s sake: lives are not at risk. It is generally because the team lacks confidence in the game plan and don’t understand, or believe in, their roles. You have to put the blame totally with the manager and coaching staff for the problem. And BMcD should be blaming himself and not the “ownership” or the players, something I have yet to hear from him. Well this manager is a dead man walking, but he needs to look in the mirror and figure out what he is doing wrong, because this is his responsibility. The players won’t be helped by boos, but maybe Brian will if he realizes Plan A is not working.

  19. john palmer

    LEEDS are my life long team Helen but don’t worry I’ve been to Norwich when I’ve felt like it

  20. Rusty

    Boom. Leeds fan from Derby (now, once Kings Lynn in Norfolk). I also got a b*st*rd M1 speeding ticket as well as seeing us lose 5-1 at home. And my daughter saw it. She is a typical Leeds fan. 12 years old and she says… “Well number 9 was doing well. Why do all of the others keep stopping?”. #SmashTag #InOne
    Some people on here seem to think if you aren’t Leeds/Yorkshire born then you aren’t Leeds. 34 years (nearly) as a Leeds fan. I’m not from Yorkshire (although I do want to live there) AND I have to put up with D*rby C*unty fans who envy a big team. I’m Leeds because I know I am.
    Quite frankly I’d play, I wouldn’t be as technical but I tell you what NO ONE would get a cross in if I was full back and I don’t want a few grand for the privilege…
    @JohnPalmer … you went to see Norwich?? *shudder* Jesus… Lynn Town should’ve been your stop…. !
    @JamesLUFC:disqus … what? 100% is the maximum anyone can give. With respect to the comment to your fellow Leeds fan I think you’re being a bit of a twat, you should respect his thoughts and arguments as his are as valid as yours, if not more correct.


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