The Leeds United Home Hoodoo TimPM April 10, 2012 Leeds United Leeds United’s ten home defeats this season is a joint club record, only equalled twice: 2006/7, and 1946/7. Leeds players do have something left to play for: personal and professional pride in not being part of two of this great club’s worst records. Clough’s would-be 77th birthday saw Forest put a record 7 past us; it’d be easy to blame the mythical gypsy curse of Elland Road, but I think there’s a more rational explanation. A minority of fans damn Andy Lonergan, but we should remember how important he was to a team seated in the playoffs before his injury. Leeds’ home hoodoo can be traced to his injury against Doncaster in November. Without him, Leeds’ goalkeeping mistakes cost 2 points deep in injury time to Coventry, and almost cost 2 more to Peterborough. The 0-5 rout against Blackpool in November was only our second home defeat of the season, and came as a bridge too far for a backup keeper in Paul Rachubka who had shown bravery to overcome the early uncertainties and recover some form with good performances against Cardiff and Birmingham City. Eventually, Leeds’ loss to Reading in a December that yielded only 4 points, would double our home loss tally to 4 home defeats in 11 games despite the loan of impressive Royals keeper Alex McCarthy. Leeds picked up incredibly lucky victories over Burnley and Ipswich with the old gaffer’s head on a block in January, before playing like an auto-promotion team for 60 minutes against Birmingham, but being routed by 3 goals in 7 minutes. Leeds lost to Brighton during our search for a new manager, and had to show real guts to keep fighting and defeat Doncaster under the twin leadership of Redfearn and Warnock. Before Warnock took over at Leeds, we had a home hoodoo – losing more than 1 in 3 at home, and (with Burnley and Ipswich) deserving to lose 1 in 2. The stats seem to have lied since then. A 0-1 loss to league leaders Southampton lacked nothing but 2 Leeds goals, and a 1-1 draw against second placed West Ham almost provided a first home victory for Neil Warnock. The record breaking 3-7 defeat against Forest seems the norm now, but it broke the mould of strong home performances under Warnock. The 0-2 loss to Watford and another 0-2 to Derby betrays for me a team that has either completely lost it mentally or (as Bates suggested) is simply turning up to take its money. Warnock insists the latter is not the case. In my opinion, the fans can’t be blamed for the current predicament. The “Bates Out” chants are said to put the players off while some fans blame “self-appointed experts” at Elland Road for poor home performances. The irony in such statements aside, perhaps we should look to the drab 0-0 at Hull, the scrappy 0-0 at Portsmouth, the 2-1 loss to then adrift Coventry and the 4-1 rout to Barnsley and admit that even Leeds’ away support (which is second to none in the country and the pride of the club) has failed to galvanize the current squad. Becchio’s tried to clean up the hoofs that he’s often had no right to get to. As usual, criticism will go on him for not magically extending himself like Inspector Gadget, while youngsters like Aidy White and Tom Lees have been criticised for not playing like 27 year olds. In my opinion, youngsters shouldn’t have so much pressure on them so early in their careers and their performances have been promising. As a team we’ve been woeful, but we shouldn’t tar everyone with the same brush. Despite a 3-7 rout in which the Leeds goal was all but abandoned, Lonergan has kept a strong head and has picked up some of his pre-injury form recently; Snodgrass’ sitters betray what have been dedicated and intelligent performances; McCormack’s done all he can amidst the desperate hoofball. In circumstances like these, a good performance is worth double because it shows the mental strength of a player not to give up and let his head drop. With many of our key players running out of contract, Neil Warnock has to convince Ken that sufficient funds won’t be raised by selling (or trying to sell) the dross that keeps failing us. Warnock said he was due to meet Ken Bates and Shaun Harvey on Monday and Tuesday. Just a glance at Leeds’ accounts for last year suggests extra funds will be difficult to find, but they need to be found. I’m sure if Ken read this he’d wonder how to fit a restaurant and conference centre onto the back of the mystery stadium pictured. But that’s the point, we didn’t need them then and we don’t need them now. Leeds’ home hoodoo is the result of pressures placed on Leeds by Ken’s unrealistic expectations of a squad paid mid-table fees. Pundits were unanimous in saying Grayson overperformed before his sacking, now Neil Warnock says the funding isn’t adequate for promotion. Talking budgets and offering contracts to Leeds’ stars in this dark period for Leeds, the next couple of weeks will be integral for next season. Here’s hoping for a lucky 2013 for Leeds United!