Things have been a little quiet on The Scratching Shed lately. Mostly that’s due to the end-of-season lull we’re all experiencing. There’s very little to celebrate, and at this moment in time, it’s difficult (for me personally at least) to see much to look forward to.

But, being a ‘live and let live’ kind of guy, I decided it best not to urinate on too many bonfires and keep my proverbial mouth shut.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t resist the temptation any longer…

At this stage of the close season, our support is split between the ‘been there, done it, t-shirt already paid for’ variety whose perfectly honed defence mechanisms refuse to allow for optimism (that Ken Bates can later shatter) and their polar opposites – the perpetual optimists who will insist that “this time, it’s different…” (“ last time?” The rest of us respond in unison…)

True, Neil Warnock made a strong start by snapping up Jason Pearce from doomed Portsmouth and if the rumour mill is to be believed, Joel Ward will follow suit. Both positive signings that should improve the squad.

Despite this, the alarm bells are already deafeningly loud. When Ken Bates isn’t telling us about every football agent in the entire world all going on holiday together at the same time, he’s explaining to us that we could have signed Jermaine Beckford but that would be a step-backwards – by which I can only assume he means, to a moderately successful team with a 30 goal per season hitman. Better make sure that Max Gradel doesn’t get any ideas about doing a u-turn as well then! Didn’t you just hate it when we knew how to win?

Every interview is littered with the same excuses we heard last season, so much so, that I was almost tempted to check back through The Square Ball archive to make sure Ken Bates wasn’t recycling his rants. Sure, Bradley Johnson’s name has been edited out and replaced with Adam Clayton and the East Stand project has become the West Stand project, but the rest is standard “lower your expectations” Bates.

There is some truth amongst the excuse-heavy rants, but it’s nothing to inspire the majority. For one thing, football players’ contracts always expire on June the 30th meaning the abundance of free agents Leeds United will be waiting to snap up are unlikely to arrive until early July.

Maybe the perpetually optimistic are right? I desperately hope they are, and it’s not totally unthinkable, is it? As the old saying goes, ‘even a broken clock is right twice a day’.

If only there was a sure-fire way to make us all believe that this time, it really is different. What if Leeds United managed to convince our key players that things are different this time? What if the likes of Robert Snodgrass signed a new contract that signalled his newly-discovered confidence in the clubs ambition? Preferably one without a get-out clause for when we fail (again).

It’s unlikely I know. After all, there’s the inevitable bid from Norwich City that our chairman will be unable to refuse, especially when Robert Snodgrass signals that he has no intentions of signing a new contract that is “the best the club can possibly offer”.

It could be the post-season depression sinking it, but it feels a lot more like deja vu. Club find it impossible to negotiate a new contract with a highly-rated midfielder – check. Excuse-ridden radio interviews with Mr. Chairman – check. Manager singing from same hymn sheet – check. More talk of building work than transfer targets – check. Club captain leaves after questioning the ambition of the club – halfway there… 

Chin up though, I’m sure Euro 2012 will give us something to cheer about…

Football Blogging Awards 2012: If you’ve enjoyed (or appreciated) the site this year, please vote for us in the 2012 FBA’s by clicking here. We’re also backing The Square Ball and Glory Glory Leeds in the best podcast category .