There’s many of you who have no idea where the phrase, “Dad, I fink I got it wrong again” comes from. The picture above comes from 70s time machine, and is of the late, great Dick Emery in one of his many guises, this time of Gaylord, the Bovver Boy. Yes – that was his name and yes Bovver Boys were, well, Bovver Boys. Bad lads +/- knuckledusters.

Ah, the 70s, those were the days. When hardly anyone ever took offence to anything that was said in jest, especially things that were said on the telly or in magazines. When there were more important things in life to worry about. Like having a job and earning a wage.

If you think inflation is bad now, just imagine how bad it was in the 70s, when it got to 20%+ at one point. Mind you, not everyone had a telly, let alone 3 tellys, 2 laptops and 5 mobile devices in the house. So you weren’t reminded how bad it actually was 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

There were 3 day weeks, power cuts, miners strikes and a proper winter of discontent. We had freezing winters – also known as winter weather, and boiling hot summers – also known as summer weather. At school, we were taught that it was the dawn of the New Ice Age too. So there! Science eh?

We had the Troubles in NI, Mrs Thatch, unemployment and the threat of bombs, spies with  poisoned umbrellas and nuclear war hanging over us from behind the Iron Curtain. But we also had flares, Mr Benn, the Clangers and Bob Marley.

The 70s, when football was still the working class game and hooliganism was in it’s infancy. The 70’s, when we needed that two hours of escapism from real life, because real life was frankly, quite depressing. Football was two hours of just being normal, with normal people. Two hours of everyone around you being on an equal par with you. Rich or poor. You were just a football fan, that was it.

Racism? Well, if you were going to football in those days, you will have been well aware of the 90 minutes of racism, sexism and Sectarianism and all the other -isms which were rife on the terraces in those days. The PC crowd that are having the vapours now, would be spontaneously combusting within seconds, if they ever went to a game then. Football was a route of release of anger and frustration of the world as it was. But most of it was said on the terraces, and stayed on the terraces. That was, unless of course, people did carry it in the organised marches etc. There was a lot disaffected youth in those days. There are always bad apples in any barrel.

As racist, fascist, sexist and Sectarianist (yeah – probably not a word, Mrs Barrett my old English teacher would be appalled) people were in those days, at least people didn’t go around burning books written by children’s authors and publicly encouraging violence and death threats. At least Mrs Thatch, Lawson and their MPs weren’t photographed at public demos, in front of signs inciting hatred and decapitation of a group of people whose beliefs have been reduced to a mere derogatory  abbreviation. At least in the 70s people were allowed to live and let live on the whole.

It says it all about today’s society when people can throw paint on works of art or sit on the road for hours with the rozzers bringing them cups of tea, even though they are causing a nuisance, but football fans can be Section 14ed within seconds of arrival outside a stadium. The same society and media channels which stood by, watched and filmed flag burning on Cenotaphs and peaceful looting, are quite happy to see football fans coralled and treated like second class citizens, purely because they are following their football team. 

I digress, sorry, back to football.

“Dad, I fink I got it wrong again” was one of those stereotypical, comedic character assassination catchphrases on the telly at the time. 70’s observation comedians just accepted that some people in life just couldn’t get things right. Some people just said the wrong thing or did the wrong thing all the time. Some people misread the situation, or just simply had no clue that they were doing anything wrong, at all.

It wasn’t just Dick Emery, take the Michael Crawford character Frank Spencer. “Ooh Betty”, he used to say.

Hapless and blissfully happy in his lack of understanding. A life of  innocent ignorance of what was blindingly obvious, to everyone else. My – that’s a fine jumper and shirt combo. I think I have seen that before!

I fink I got it wrong again?

Hands up if you know what I am going to say next. 

How long is this going to carry on? How long are we going to continue sleepwalking with this grand plan? Are we really going to be one of those PL teams consigned to relegation fodder season after season?

I had a bit of a disagreement post match, after the thrilling 0-0 on Sunday against Brentford. A Brentford side, that Brentford fans freely admitted, were only there to not lose the game. A side that were happy to time waste, dive and cheat,and basically go through the motions for 90 minutes just to avoid losing. Shades of Villa? It’s awful to think that we have become THAT side. A side that teams will visit, knowing that an adequate draw will be ready and waiting. Have WE and Elland Road become that 1 pointer? Dear oh dear. 4 wins all season? The table doesn’t lie.

How has it come to this?

Since Bielsa left, the Club have basically done what the fans (some fans – not me) have wanted. The fans who once we got promoted, just expected us to be immediately challenging for Europe and spending like Everton – cos that’s worked out well, hasn’t it?  Nevermind this develop and play the youth nonsense, the fans deserve better than the Youth team.

So, the Club have done what the fans want, and finally spent BIG. They’ve given in and splashed the cash for SkinnyJ and let him buy all his former players up. It’s not even the end of January, and we have EVEN more time to buy more players in. There’s probably more coming in as I type this up. I won’t know any of them, but the Superfans will. They’ll all undoubtedly have masses of Champions league experience and be fit as a fiddle, ready to start on Saturday against the Mighty Accrington Stanley.

Accrington Stanley? Who are they?

Remember that one? Classic.

My heated discussion? I dared to say that we were probably playing better joined up, team football under Warnock.

Warnock, with his team of skill lacking hasbeens and mercenaries bought with miniscule funds from the the tiny B*tes “warchest” were playing better than we have been playing so far. After all, football is a team sport. It isn’t just all about one (or three) player (s), is it? Under Warnock we had a poor side, Steve Morison, Michael Tonge, Michael Brown, Stephen Warnock, and Diouf. It genuinely hurts to say these names again. But we had a side that tried their level best, and played and partied as a team – with Paddy Kenny.

At the moment we just don’t play like a team. There is no cohesion, apart from that imaginary piece of string that keeps us all tied together, so narrow all the time. At times, it reminds me of that term, “trying to push square pegs into round holes”. It’s like watching a toddler smashing that square chunk into the triangle hole, without thinking about looking first to see where the triangle hole is. It is painful. Very painful.

We have an embarrassment of talent in that team – or “group” as SkinnyJ calls them. Seriously, what is wrong with calling them the TEAM? Yes, Bielsa bought Raphinha and Dan James, but since he left, I think we have spent more money than Top 5 in the table, Champions League / Cup semifinalists, Newcastle. They only bought a couple of new players in. We’ve bought 5 or 6 now at least. It could be more, I have lost count.

The last guy cost £30 million? And, as a bonus, most of them are fit! Even Lord Bamford is getting there after he injured himself scoring against Brentford last season. This time last year, most of the team were still out to injury and we hadn’t fielded a full strength side since the season before.

So with all this talent, internationals, Champions League veterans, blah, blah, blah, how come we can’t string 3 passes together and have a decent holding midfield? How is it that Pascal is still playing out of position and him and Ayling / Rasmus are having to put the majority of crosses in? Why is it that our defence are so far forward when we are attacking, that they get caught on the break, time and time again, when we fail to score? We are so vulnerable to the counter attack after our set pieces fail to come to fruition. The defence leave poor Meslier abandoned like an unwanted kitten so often, it’s a wonder that he doesn’t think of giving up on his Lynx Africa.

Why are we STILL so narrow? Everyone blames the defence, or Rodrigo. But our problem lies  not solely at the feet of Coops, Koch, Llorente and Struijck or indeed, up front. It is the inbetweeners who are guarding the centre circle that need a stern talking to. 

Pascal has stepped up all season playing out of position. He was made Captain at Cardiff. Why? Was there really no one else? The pressure on him must have been immense at such a young age. The constant criticism of him, even though he is out of position, as part of our back four, must now be affecting him. His confidence must be shot. Yet, he goes forward constantly, given the chance and is our main attacking force at corners.

Poor Rodrigo is playing up front on his own, but more often than not has to retrieve the ball for himself. Then when he gets free and runs towards the goal, he finds himself with no target man for the final ball. And don’t even talk to me about “seconds” and following the ball into the net.

Frankly, had that guy Bamba Dieng agreed to come here from Marseille, or Cody Gakpo from PSV, or even that Wolves player Hwan Hee Chan, in September, where would we be?

Without Willy Gnonto, that’s where we would be.

Realistically, we only got the Moretti swilling, spaghetti munching winger because we didn’t get any of the others in September. Thank goodness for Victor “making do” with this relatively unknown Italian international, who in SkinnyJ’s own words, wasn’t ready to play in the PL til at least January. If any of you are still in denial, go back to the transfer news from September yourselves and look at our headline targets. I fink I got it wrong again? 

But Willy certainly has spared the blushes of SkinnyJ.

Without Gnonto, we probably wouldn’t be in the 4th round of the Cup and we would probably be 2 points off relegation. Oh wait, we are a point off relegation. But we are 15th! 3 points off 13th and with a better goal difference than Forest. Forest, look how much they’ve spent.

But we are at least in the 4th round after Sonny Perkins bagged the equaliser against a Cardiff side that hadn’t won a game since November and were down to 10 men. One of their players hadn’t kicked a competitive ball in 2 months I think. But we managed to get a result and force a replay, which we easily won in a fantastic 5-2 do or die display at home against managerless Cardiff. Willy and Lord Bamford showing us what we can do when we get into space, use our wingers and more importantly, play Harrison in his rightful position. For however long he stays at The Club, that is.

After all, we are spending money like it’s going out of fashion, a la Viv Nicholson, and you mustn’t go to bed just yet… Especially if you are Joffy, Harrison or any of the old Bielsa players who may have been in the youth team, like Drameh. Because you may find that you have been moved on in the morning.

Drameh who had a fantastic spell at Cardiff, and was their Player of the Season, despite only going there on loan in January. Drameh, who along with many of the other players sent out on loan during 21-22, was welcomed back at the end of the season with the promise of a “clean sheet”. Players who we probably will never see in a Leeds shirt again, because the fans want BIG MONEY signings. We are a PL team after all. It is what is expected.

One in, one out. The dismantlement of the Bielsa Legacy continues. As I have said before, what message does this give to the youth team players? The Club are willing to splash the cash on a big squad of German / Austrian / French players, so the chance of getting a first team place is dwindling by the second. But surely, Bielsa was the one who didn’t value the Youth teams, wasn’t he? 

But this is what the fans want. And the fans know better, don’t they?

I fink I got it wrong again? We will just have to see how it goes for the rest of the season on the pitch.

Off the pitch? I could just copy and paste the wrongness that I have written of all season about poor decisions regarding matchday facilities and mobile ticketing etc. I’ve said it time and time again, the Club are not really bothered about matchgoing fans. The Club’s efforts are based on the larger population of non match going fans. This is the market and the money that the Club needs to tap into. It is a global enterprise after all.

What I will say is that at a time where people are choosing between heating and eating, where money is being stretched, the decision to stop print at home tickets is poor. Not everyone can afford a smartphone. People rely on work phones which they shouldn’t really use for football. Forcing people to get a smartphone just so they can go to watch football is poor form.

Is it really to stamp down on touting? Given it is so hard to get a ticket to watch us, I wonder how many people are selling their ticket on? Can it really be that many? 37,000 or so capacity. 22,000 season ticket holders and 2500 or so away fans. God knows how many corporate fans there are. There’s enough of them to fill up the East Stand lower upper tier though on a matchday. Taking all that into consideration, there can only be 6,000 normal tickets on any given matchday in the stands. Are there that many Leeds fans willing to skank fellow Leeds fans and sell on their tickets? You’d have thought that anyone lucky enough to get a ticket would actually be going to the game? Surely.

Which nicely brings me to the end of this latest rant. Who are the Club listening to? 

The fans who want the Club to spend big obviously. Even though, as we have seen from the likes of Everton, spending big does not necessarily translate into results. Newcastle, as previously mentioned, did not splash the spondoolies, yet are sitting pretty in 4th.

What is interesting is that the fan base over the last year have been split and are at risk of being further polarised. The division? Our manager. Even the players seem a bit put out. The news of the “senior players mutiny” couldn’t have been handled any less tactlessly than on the TV coverage of the Cardiff game. The cameras carelessly drifting over the faces of Dallas and Coops in the stands, as the commentators spoke of some dissent in the changing rooms. Was that a hint or what?  

Under Bielsa, Leeds players and fans alike, united together. In fact under Bielsa, not just the team united, the City of Leeds united. Yes, it helped that the football was good and something we hadn’t seen for ages, but, for a few seasons at least, we were united.

But that was the past, and the here and now is much much different.

The pity is that we have gone from being united under one manager; one belief, one entity, to being divided into those who like and those who don’t like old SkinnyJ. The ones who trust him and the ones who do not. And, as the saying goes, “never the twain will meet”. That’s Kipling for those of you who never did English Lit.

Everyone is allowed to have an opinion. The trouble is that in this brave New World 21st Century, if you don’t agree with someone, you get shouted down for daring to express your opinion. Especially if it goes against the “accepted” norm. You get lambasted as being an awful human being and, in terms of Leeds United, not a proper fan.

The sense of belonging that we had from 2018-2021 has dissipated into the ether. There is no sense of kinship, affinity and loyalty anymore. It’s Leeds, but not as we know it, Jim.

Instead we have division, because people just cannot accept that other people have their own views, and we agree to disagree like proper adults. No one is wrong or right, we are all just entitled to see things differently. It doesn’t make me a worse or better fan if I can’t get behind the manager. I don’t have to justify my thoughts to anyone. It is just what I think.

After all, who loyally stood behind the likes of Gary Monk, Darko Milanic, Uwe Rosler, Neil Redfearn (6 times), Brian McDermott, Steve Evans, Neil Warnock, Peter Reid, Dennis Wise (eek) EVERY time? Anyone? I don’t think so either.

Divide and conquer? Where have I heard that before? Hmmm. 2005?

Is this B*tes all over again, but bigger and on an international global scale? You heard it here first folks!  

If it is 21st Century B*tes all over again, what I will say is – bring it on, casinos and hotels and all. When Sad Santa came and tried to take Leeds away from me, I said this at the time. I was here before you, I am here now and I will be here long after you have gone. 

However long it takes, I will prevail, this is my team – not yours.