The past year has witnessed a great level of change at Elland Road. There has been an unfamiliar positive attitude around the ground from fans and staff alike, after what can only be described as a decade of sheer and utter misery. This new found positivity has been shown on the pitch, with Leeds sitting sixth in the table and unbeaten after four games.
‘The past is the past, let’s be United’ is the message that new owners GFH Capital are circulating, with cheaper ticket prices, better sponsorships and the removal of controversial president Ken Bates to back it up. Not to mention the arrival of the already adored manager Brian McDermott and his regime that has managed to improve all levels of the club, from training ground facilities to player fitness and organisation on the pitch.
Despite failing to capture all seven of his summer targets, McDermott has got four new players to put pen to paper, including Leeds’ first £1m signing for seven years; Luke Murphy. This is another rarity to us fans, with the transfer window usually marking the departure of one or two of our best players who are normally replaced with other team’s loose ends.
The new recruits aren’t the only ones who have impressed fans, the whole squad seems to have adopted a new mentality under the manager, and are putting in 100% to solidify their place on the team sheet, it’s becoming more and more clear that Leeds United and Brian McDermott are a perfect fit.
This couldn’t have been more apparent on the opening day of the season, where 33,000 of Elland Road’s finest spectators watched the team romp to victory against a strong Brighton side, a game many expected us to lose. Although getting off to a slow start and conceding first, we managed to regain control of the match before Middlesbrough and Blackpool target, Ross McCormack, evened the score. As the game was nearing its close, it was down to 23-year-old new signing Murphy to show his worth, and he did with his 90th minute winner which illuminated the packed Elland Road and quashed any hopes Brighton had of opening day points.
A goalless draw at the King Power came next, with Leeds holding their own in what can only be described as a classic Championship game. Neither team could capitalise on their opponents with a points share being the fair result. It was a similar story against local rivals Sheffield Wednesday. After woeful defending from a Wednesday corner on 37 minutes we went behind, but it didn’t take long for front man McCormack to show a bit of class and get us back level to claim a point.
Portman Road is a place not many Leeds fans like to go, not only does the journey mean an early wake-up call but we’ve failed to leave the stadium with maximum points for 12 years. Town got off to an impressive start, which was marked by a goal after 12 minutes. If we wanted to continue our unbeaten streak we’d have to come back from behind again. Leeds improved throughout the middle of the game with McCormack creating one goal and scoring another to seal all three points, proving that when in the right position he will score goals.
After four games I am very impressed with Leeds. We’ve shown resilience and have come from behind to secure points. Even in games where we’ve looked the weaker side or haven’t played well we’ve continued to fight until the final whistle and have been rewarded. Brian McDermott has got the team looking strong and confident and, although definite improvements need to be made – particularly with our defending from set pieces – we’re shaping up to be a team that could be up there at the end of the season.
To strengthen our squad even further a winger has to be a priority. The team lacks pace and as a result look vulnerable on the counter attack. Keeping McCormack is also a necessity. He’s got off to an outstanding start, netting three times in four league games and will be vital if we’re going to challenge at the top of the table. If we continue to keep hold of our better players, manage to recruit a winger and nurse wonder boy Sam Byram back to health it could be a very good season for Leeds United.
You can find Leah on Twitter @leahwallerx – and don’t forget to follow @FanZone too for links to all the latest blogs!