Once Mighty Leeds United Face Third Season In Third Tier Of English Football
Tonight, preseason promotion favourites Leeds United slipped to a 2-0 reverse at relegation-threatened Hereford United, a result that probably sentences them to a third season in English footballs' third tier.
Leeds have failed miserably to live up to their preseason tag as favourites for promotion and deservedly sit off the pace in eighth place in League One.
Frailties were first exposed in a horribly inept performance away to Rotherham in the Johnstones Paint Trophy, where Leeds lost 4-2 and, in truth, the result may have been much worse.
A humiliating 1-0 reverse at non-league Histon pretty much ended Gary McAllisters' reign as manager. That result was a part of a run of five straight defeats which culminated in a 3-1 reverse at the MK Dons in front of Monaco-based Chairman Ken Bates. Bates wielded the axe next day.
Simon Grayson has since been appointed as manager, and whilst less goals have been conceded, results have continued to be inconsistent, with Leeds winning five and losing four of his ten games in charge. The manager, of course, needs more time in charge to effect meaningful change, but that means more pain for the long suffering Leeds fans.
In the last four seasons, Leeds fans have seen their team lose in two playoff finals, sink in to administration, relegated to the third tier of English football for the first time in their history, fight through a fifteen point deduction, and now suffer a season of abject disappointment.
Quite simply, it is not good enough.
It seems inevitable now that Leeds' star striker, Jermaine Beckford, will leave in the close season as he has only one year left on his contract and has obvious ability to perform at a higher level. Leeds will surely seek to cash in on what they can as they probably won't be in the Championship next season, a minimum of what Beckford should be seeking.
Sitting in League One will not sit easy with Leeds fans, most of whom will recall more glorious days allied with seeing Leicester scything their way through League One at the first attempt. It will make frustrating viewing for the Elland Road faithfull who may well diminish in number from the current 23,000 average attendance in coming weeks.
Ken Bates has called for the fans' continued support to increase the clubs chances of keeping Beckford and wonderkid Fabian Delph. However, the serious realisation is that Leeds will not get promoted this season, crowd attendances will drop, and Beckford will be sold. Delph may follow, but he does have a longer contractual tie to Leeds and will command a greater fee for any potential suitors.
It will take a good run of results for Leeds to reach the playoffs, and they face tough games soon, at home to Scunthorpe and away to Oldham, both in the top six. Both of these fixtures follow a "none too simple" home game against relegation threatened Cheltenham. They all have to be must-win games before Leeds season spins out of control.
Leeds have now lost 13 games out of 31 this season, and automatic promotion is almost certainly out of their reach as a result of this statistic.
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