From the Press box

Nicole Carroll: A one woman mission to make a name in football

The damned United?

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Their season been going so well. Knocking out a Premier League heavyweight in the FA Cup and creating history as Alex Ferguson’s only third round loss in charge of Manchester United is no mean feat.

Leeds United’s season is going into freefall though. The loss at home to Walsall means a 26 home league run has been ended, and Leeds cling onto second place in league two despite being 9 points clear at the top of the table earlier in the season. The turmoil of Leeds United has not evaded the nation of football fans. This is a team who have gone into a freefall in league 2, possibly after having their heads turned by the possibilities a good cup run brings.

There is no doubting that Leeds United are desperate to climb out of League one and start the march back onto Premiership soil. This is a club who once had an enviable squad including the likes of now England captain Rio Ferdinand and recent Celtic signing Robbie Keane.

They almost managed to climb out of league one at the first time of asking, losing to Doncaster Rovers in the final after being loudly touted as most as being able to bounce straight back into the Championship. Last year they failed to make the finals, losing to Millwall in the playoffs and leaving their fans deflated for another year, staring at another long season in an ever competitive League One.

Play offs do not seem to be an option for Leeds this year. For the past two seasons, the play offs have simply spelt disappointment after what some would consider great seasons of financial recovery and strengthening of the squads.

As shown in the matches against Spurs and Manchester United, Leeds have a squad full of potential. Jermaine Beckford has been looked at with admiring glances from those in the Premier League, and handed in his transfer request over the Christmas period. Although an interest from Newcastle was made aware, Beckford eventually withdrew his request and stated his intentions to help Leeds get promoted.

If Leeds did secure promotion this season, those at Leeds would hope that Beckford would choose to stick at the club and push for promotion back to the Premier League. However, with Beckford’s contract ending in the summer, a lack of promotion for Leeds means their top scorer could potentially walk away from the club for nothing in a pursuit for football in a higher league.

Similarly, with Gary McSheffrey signing on loan, Grayson has a potentially fantastic signing ready for if they finally break past the League one barrier. He’s already shown good form for Leeds, becoming man of the match in his first league match against Colchester. As a former Championship player of the year, McSheffrey is unlikely to want to linger in League One too long, and a failure to be promoted will probably equal with the failure to get McSheffrey to sign on a permanent deal.

Leeds have 16 league matches to guarantee promotion back to the Championship. If anything, next season will be even harder, with the quality of the teams in the relegation places currently seeming very high. In their favour, at this time they have a game in hand on the team above them and below them. Another season in League One spells a long summer of squad rebuilding, and knocked expectations about whether Leeds will ever recapture their former glories. This is Leeds United, a team who were playing European football at Elland road less than ten years ago. Now this 39,000 stadium is hosting League One, and European memories are quickly fading.

Anything but promotion, automatic or otherwise, would have counted as a failure to capitalise on what is considered by many as a fantastic season.

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Written by Nicole Carroll

February 18, 2010 at 11:15 am

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