tom-leesSo predictable and tiresome had Neil Warnock’s excuses become by the time we lost 3-0 to Ipswich Town last month, it’s a wonder anyone was still listening when he inexplicably blamed Tom Lees for defeat.

“We’ve got one lad who’s let everyone down. He’s let me down, the team down and the fans who travelled here. It was one stupid moment.”

While there’s no denying the effect Tom Lees’ dismissal had on the match, the response from the former Leeds United boss helped nothing. ‘Young players make mistakes’ most Leeds United fans reasoned, ‘no one will feel worse than Tom does’.

It’s at moments like these the manager and the rest of the team need to step-up and have his back, not hang him out to dry and pin all of the blame for another dreadful performance on one player.

But this is what had become of the Neil Warnock era. Tom Lees was just another one of those “fine lines” preventing Neil Warnock’s masterclass of anti-football from delivering the results we needed.

It wasn’t the negative football Warnock had us playing, the distinct lack of width, players played in the wrong positions, an inability to create enough chances or convert the ones we did. No, it was Tom Lees’ fault. Or the referees fault. Or lady luck. Or the guy who stared at “Brown-eh” in a funny way causing him to lose concentration.

The excuses went on and on, and as they did, they grew ever more inconsistent. One week Warnock was happy with the team he had and felt it was good enough to finish in the play-off spots, the next week he had a squad which was 2-3 players short of being play-off contenders.

From “can’t fault the players” to singling one out to blame, it was standard Neil Warnock, and the Leeds United fans had heard enough.

Within a few minutes of Warnock’s rant #BlameTomLees was trending on Twitter. The “stupid” Leeds United centre-back was being blamed for everything, from hangovers to potential wars;

Fat North Korean kid with a bad haircut trying to start a nuclear war? Blame Tom Lees.

Drank too much last night and don’t feel like going to work? Phone your boss and blame Tom Lees.

Traffic congestion on the M62? Damn you Tom Lees!

Silly though the Twitter trend may have been, it highlights how intolerant Leeds United fans were of Neil Warnock’s blame game and how badly he’d misjudged the people he was speaking to.

Leeds United fans didn’t care that we’d lost, we were expecting to. What really grates is the lack of effort, the ease at which Warnock was dismissing such results and finding targets to blame it on. You could see it in the body language of every Leeds United player, they’d already accepted their fate. The second Tom Lees was sent off, they gave up. They had their excuse to quit.

Where was the “keep fighting” mentality that has seen Leeds United through so much adversity in the past? If Simon Grayson had reacted to a red card like Neil Warnock and his team did, we could still be in League One right now.

Down to ten men against Bristol on the final day of that infamous League One season, the players stepped up. They didn’t let their heads drop and accept the perfect excuse they’d been handed, they re-grouped and fought on to spark the craziest celebrations I’ve ever seen inside Elland Road.

That’s the mark of a good team. Players who continue to fight for each other no matter what the circumstance, players who don’t make excuses and refuse to give up even when the odds are stacked against them. It’s a trait they’d had drilled into them by their manager, a man who didn’t understand the concept of a “lost cause”. And the fans knew that. We could be 3-0 down at half-time and no one was heading home because we knew the team would come back out and throw everything at the opposition.

Even at their worst, when they got complacent and recorded silly results, no one was blaming individuals. They lost as they won – as a team.

It’s an approach Brian McDermott is now looking to adopt, quickly recognising the mistakes of his predecessor and the blame game culture Warnock left behind. “If I had a philosophy in life, it’d be Marching On Together” said the new Leeds United boss today, explaining that it’s the perfect metaphor for how a football club should be run.

Win, lose or draw, we’ll do it together, “there’ll be no blame game” McDermott insisted as he tries to instil a long lost sense of unity in his Leeds United side. Viva la Revolución.