Sportingo.com’s Mark Rivlin is pleased to see Leeds moving onwards and upwards despite the hurdles thrown before them.
To paraphrase a previous generation’s rebuke: “If you haven’t got anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” I had plenty to say about the Dennis Wise-Gus Poyet combo last season as Leeds went hurtling out of the Championship and almost landed in the football recycling depot (or dump as it used to be called in previous generations).
Now the cheeky Cockney sparra (not forgetting the help received from and the Charles Bronson-lookalike Uruguayan) has been voted League One Manager of the Month for the second time in a row. Now I have plenty to say as Leeds sit proudly on top of the pile (even though football’s Gestapo have looted their points – hopefully a war-crimes tribunal will force them to give the points back). Even without the points, the way Leeds are playing they could get promoted anyway, so the Gestapo will have to find another form of torture for the fans.
I put this to you, I notice a Metropolitan club called, er West Ham United, who did far worse than Leeds in terms of inappropiate business practice and look what happened to them. A fine that the gingerbread-man owner paid off from money he keeps in the digestives tin, no points deduction and before you can say Iceland, they stay up. There you have it, unfashionable and unforgiven Leeds (although unforgiven for what, for God’s sake?), had to have their filthy Yorkshire noses rubbed in the Gestapo HQ’s mud.
But Wise, a player who muddied the waters of appropriate football behaviour in a career that pushed the boundaries of decency, has fought back. With astute signings and good housekeeping, and more importantly, a rallying call to the troops, he has literally helped Leeds crawl back towards a future.
And it would have been nine wins on the bounce but for referee Danny McDermid’s pathetic attempt to make a name for himself in the Gillingham game last week. I watch a fair bit of League One football and the good quality on show is inversely related to the lousy officiating. I suppose it’s a bit like the above-mentioned Gestapo; you put a uniform on a human being and he assumes a much greater importance than the good Lord has earmarked him for.
According to Wise, Mr McDermid told the Leeds boss to “f**k off” after the game, presumably the kind of language for which he had earlier dismissed Tresor Kandol and Jermaine Beckford. The FA are, of course, going to investigate and Leeds United once again will be frog-marched into a basement where their collective toenails will be pulled out by the ‘football authorities’. But when any London club with ‘celebrity fans’ breaks a rule . . .
I was against Wise’s appointment and I said what I had to say last season. But this season has seen a fabulous transformation of Leeds’ fortunes both on and off the pitch. It’s far better to have 30,000 happy fans than barely 10,000 miserable faces at Elland Road. So Wise and Poyet have done remarkably well in a few weeks.
And if you read the blogs and comment boards, you will see how much hatred there is for both Wise and Leeds. But what this shows us is that a city and fan-base with a proud history of success will pull together under outrageous circumstances forced on them by petty bureaucrats. So how is it that a cheeky Cockney sparra, who, let’s face it, was a bit of a thug on the pitch and is not blessed with an abundance of intelligence, is able to transform the club and fill empty seats by the thousand?
It might just be that some bosses are cut out to manage in certain situations and that League One/Two is Wise’s natural stomping ground, having had a modicum of success at Swindon before he came to Leeds. And that’s not disrespectful, it’s a reality check.
If he can get Leeds out of this league then he has done his job against all the odds. He’s like a seedy lawyer who takes on the clients nobody else wants and wins. It’s work that demands as much tactical nous as the Alex Fergusons of this world and it is to Wise’s great credit that he is succeeding.
So come on Dennis, win another eight MOTM awards, take Leeds up and you’ll be justifiably rewarded. Maybe even with a crack at the Championship, and who knows, beyond.