Tuesday, 23 October 2018

The sacking of so many managers didn’t give us the stability I craved, but with Bielsa being brought in now I like what I see: Leeds vs Ipswich Match Preview

After the international break, the games are coming thick and fast for Championship sides - having lost to QPR at Portman Road on Saturday, Town now travel up to Leeds United for a midweek game and then down to London to face Millwall.

Blues fans head to Elland Road looking for, but not really expecting, only their second win of the season. It feels a long time since Mick McCarthy walked out of a post-match press conference and times are tough under new boss Paul Hurst - as shown by their position rock bottom of the league.

Meanwhile, their opponents have been flying high with some good results leaving them fourth in the league and looking like a competitor for the automatic promotion come the end of the season.

They have hit a bump in the road though, an unexpected defeat to newly promoted Blackburn at the weekend as dented their confidence a little, but the bubble hasn't completely burst as United fan Heidi explained when I got in touch to ask for her views.

Heidi is a home and away season ticket holder and has supported Leeds for over 50 years. She didn't miss a game for seven years in both the seventies and eighties and also went abroad to see them play:

'Leeds United were the local team even though I lived 30 miles away in between Goole and Selby. In those days the FA Cup was the big thing on TV and I started supporting them in 1965 after the FA Cup Final against Liverpool. I am privileged to have been there to see the great Don Revie side, Billy Bremner was - and always will be - my hero. 

Winning the FA Cup in 1972 will always have special memories for me, especially seeing Billy lift the cup from Her Majesty the Queen. Tommy Steele (he was wearing white so he was supporting Leeds!) singing Abide with Me and The National Anthem with the whole stadium joining in was awe inspiring and the memories will stay with me forever.

I notice you run a blog, would you like to tell me about that too?

Follow Me and Leeds United is the name of my website and the blog I post after every game, including photos of the fan experience at games which is shared around the world with all the Leeds groups I am in. 

I am the author of five Leeds United books, the first one - Follow Me and Leeds United - is based on a diary I kept in the seventies and I was a girl in a man’s world. It includes all the issues my friends and I had as girls following our team plus stories of loads of the troubles we encountered, including one of being ambushed in the Sporting Farmer pub at Ipswich! 

Once I wrote my first book I started the website and Facebook/Twitter group to raise the profile of the book to encourage sales. As I have always enjoyed taking photos at games and have included many in all of my books, I started writing the blog too as per the diary I kept in the seventies. 

It is a match-by-match report of what I see on the pitch and is about the fan experience at games where I take loads of photos. The majority of my followers like the way I write as I always give an honest account of what I see. I also get fans now actively asking to have their photos taken so they are included in the blogs.

Leeds go into this game off the back of a defeat at Blackburn, was that a big disappointment? 

It was a big disappointment as we didn’t really get going. We were bullied in the first instance when Blackburn scored within two minutes and that was then I noticed they had giants playing for them. Our players looked minute in comparison.

We played into their hands by not playing to our strengths at times, with some high balls that we were never going to get.

We showed what we could do just before half time when we equalised: with 13 
passes and no Blackburn player touching the ball, we had it in the back of their net! I think their second goal could have been prevented if we’d had a player on each post as Billy Bremner and Paul Reaney used to do.

I have to say, before the start of the season I wasn't expecting Leeds to do so well, did you expect it?

My aim every season is always to aspire for the top two and automatic promotion, although I am realistic enough to know it may not happen. Last season we started in the same vein but by the end of the season we ended up demoralised.

The sacking of so many managers didn’t give us the stability I craved, but with Bielsa being brought in now I like what I see. I know there will be ups and downs but I feel the club themselves are now on the same wavelength as me, i.e. wanting promotion.

What are your predictions for the rest of the season?

I don’t have any specific predictions as I like to wait until nearer the end of the season to see where the land lies. I just want us to keep winning as many points as we can and keep aiming for that automatic promotion. The play-offs are a waste of time for us as we never turn up for them!

What are the assets that could help you go up and what are the potential hazards that could hold you back?

Stability is the main thing and the club having the ambition to want promotion. For 15 years I don’t think promotion was on the cards at all, but that seems to be in the past now - that would definitely have held us back.

Are there any players I should keep an eye out for on Wednesday?

Not really although Bielsa doesn’t tend to change the starting line up by more than a couple of players, he wants them all to play the same way so if they all gel at once, we will be on fire.

Moving on to Ipswich, what are you expecting from them on Wednesday?

I take each game as it comes and tend to make my mind up by what I see on the pitch at the time. I don’t think there are any easy games in the Championship as anyone can beat anyone on their day. I only focus on Leeds United so don’t tend to know where anyone is placed in the league until someone mentions it.

For instance as soon as anyone says the opposition haven’t won a game or are near the bottom of the league, I know that goes out of the window when they play us. Everyone raises their game against us but I would rather you didn’t please!

I'm interested to get an outsider's point of view on our recent managerial changeover - do you think we did the right think letting McCarthy go? And what are your impressions of Paul Hurst.

To be honest I don’t think I realised McCarthy had gone, he was one manager I did know about. He always managed to get your team to get the better of us though.

I don’t really know anything about Paul, but as my friend’s husband comes from Shrewsbury I seem to recall them saying he had something to do with them getting out of the doldrums.

In recent years, there have been similarities between Leeds and Ipswich in terms of the discontent that fans have with the owners - but things have settled at your place now. Can you explain to us what has changed under the new management?

The club are now talking to the different fan groups, which is great progress, but they know they cannot take the support for granted.

After having years of different owners getting a great quantity of players in who were not fit to play for the club, they have realised that we need quality over quantity. Getting a first class manager in shows they have ambition too. Having stability will be key and to know not to panic if things don’t go as we want it all the time.

Finally, I've written a (tongue-in-cheek) blog about how 'we all hate Leeds' and wondered what you think of the impression that some football fans have of Leeds fans? Do you find it frustrating? 

I think we are used to everyone hating us so we just get on with it. Some clubs don’t even register on our radar but all of a sudden we find there is a hatred for us which seems to be like sheep following a crowd.

The media played a big part in this during the seventies, they portrayed Leeds as dirty when all teams had hard men at the time. We played to win and there was nothing wrong with that and the football I saw at the time was absolutely fantastic.

It was that team that has made me the Leeds fan I am today and we just end up with the gallows humour taking over. The -15 season for us galvanized our support as it was us against everyone else but you know something that really was a great time to follow our team despite relegation to the third division!

Thank you ever so much for taking part in this guest post Heidi, I'm off to order you book as I'd love to read more and if anyone would like to check out your blog they can click here.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the opportunity Amy which is appreciated