Are Leads United Losing The Plot Once Again?

Antony HerbertAnalyst IIIMarch 9, 2010

LEEDS, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 03:  Luciano Becchio of Leeds celebrates the equalising goal during the FA Cup sponsored by E.ON fourth round  replay match between Leeds United and Tottenham Hotspur at Elland Road on February 3, 2010 in Leeds, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

From a neutral perspective the collapse of Leeds United was a devastating occurrence.
For a team to go in only a handful of seasons from an intriguing unexpected semi final in the Champions League, to a third tier league playoff defeat was uncomfortable to watch.

In 2007 they were relegated to League 1, but from the offset of the following campaign presented their possible capability to bounce back to the Championship.

The 2007/08 season saw them recover a fifteen point deduction and earn a place in the playoffs, only to under-perform and suffer a soul destroying 1-0 defeat to Doncaster Rovers at Wembley. It was a start though.

Then their 2008/09 season started strongly, with an electrifying opening producing avid hopes of automatic promotion. Yet these were sadly undone by a poor run of form which resulted in the sacking of Gary Macallister and a second consecutive season in the playoffs. Their hopes this time were tragically ended in a lacklustre semi final defeat to Millwall. 

The teams rapid decline, although halted appeared consequentially stuck as they faced another year out of the spotlight.

The team licked their wounds before the following season as they thrashed into the 2009/10 season with an immediate bang. They raced into a positive and enlarged lead that edged them clear of the opposition and gifted their fans optimism of an early promotion. Their aspirations were there for the taking and such an seemingly secure inevitability would surely squash any recent depressing memories of failed accomplishments.

Yet lightning is in danger of striking once more.

Despite the historical team portraying dominating performances that begged us to question their inclusion in a division evidently too easy for them, they again began to falter. 

A comfortable predicted promotion was thrown into disarray as they surrendered their early lead. Their advantage over the competition was wiped clean and they instead began losing ground.

They now remain agonisingly close to losing their current second place promotion spot, lying just two points clear of the third placed Charlton Athletic.

And although they do indeed have a game in hand their opportunity to reaffirm and extend their gap over the current playoff positioned teams is not guarenteed.

If previous form were to dictate the rest of their season they will be forced into a desperate attempt of bringing back some celebratory conclusions to their demoralised followers. These were the supporters after all who had to witness the financial crisis and subsequent departure of many key players in the middle of the last decade, which resulted in unfulfilled continuations to follow their European triumphs.

At the time of writing this article the team will be embroiled in their game in hand against relegation threatened Tranmrere Rovers, as the team aim to end the assumption that they will once more head towards a third straight season where they choke when the heat is on.

As cliched as it sounds they will hopefully and readily adhere to the third time lucky moto that provides a great source of encouragement for a team in a fragile but possibly rewarding situation.

Otherwise their beautiful victory over Manchester United in the FA Cup will be left to hide the disappointment of another season in the third tier of English football.

It is now up to the team to turn their season around and improve upon the measly return of 11 points from their last ten league games. Such a run of form featuring only two wins since their cup heroics is not what you would expect from a promotion hunting team, especially when you compare the relatively larger tally of points being garnered by their closer rivals.

If Leeds can subvert the end season form of the last two seasons, and end their year on a high they can evolve back into the second tier of the English league and once again stake a claim to a return to the Premiership.

Consecutive matches against top six teams in Millwall, Swindon and league leaders Norwich will reveal much of their conclusion to the season. A late season trip to Charlton is also sure to provide an edgy climax to the season if they are unable to afford themselves a comfortable promotion.

For now it all hangs in the balance, and it is the team who must prove their worth, wages and respect for those who they may face in the Championship if their elevation comes into fruition.

Now as I finish this article they appear to have thrust their ambitions momentarily back into life in gaining an early 2-0 lead over Tranmere.