It’s been 7 months and 15 days, since they stole you away from me aah aah aah aaah. I know, I am waxing lyrical, with an awful lot of artistic licence, with the 1991 Sinead O Connor hit, but the fact is, nothing compares to….. guess who?

For those too young to remember Sinead, look it up. 

I could really write the whole blog bastardising the entire lyrics from the song, but I would probably be breaching some sort of copyright law or something. I’ve also vehemently vocalised how much I hate it when people lazily “borrow” bits of my blog to make them sound good, so there’s no way I would do it, however tempting. But the opportunity is there in “Nothing Compares 2 U” – to give it it’s full proper title, to draw all sorts of parallels to the suffering that we are enduring, with the angst Prince (or weird squiggle) penned of back in the 90s.

Quick reminder, as if anyone needed any, unlike Elsa in the film Frozen, I cannot let it go. The last 8 months or so hasn’t really changed my mind at all. In fact, since the start of the season, events have unfolded which have only served to reinforce, if not completely re-affirm, that I was right at the time, and still am. Short of a massive win tomorrow against the league leaders, Arsenal, three points on Thursday at the Foxes, a walloping win in the Cup at Wolves and then a full on assault of, er, mid table, I can’t see me being proven wrong.

If we achieve the high teens before the Slavery World Cup, I am old and ugly enough to take the backlash. If we get to 30 points before April, I will be ecstatic as the next man. And if we get to the heady heights above the relegation drop zone, and my massive target of 16th in the table is attained, I will be partying like it’s 1999!

Shall I hold my breath?

Nothing compares to Bielsa. It was always going to be a big ask. The task was made much harder by the way my Club treated him. “Dismissed?” “Parted on mutual terms?” More like sh*t on from a great height and completely shafted by the Board. But it’s their money, they can do what they want, how they want. Right?

The fans? Realistically, once we started not winning, the keyboard warrior crowd and those who had only recently started following (as opposed to supporting) Leeds United, had their knives sharpened and out. The rapturous applause and congratulations of achieving the highest placed position of a newly promoted side, and triumph and plaudits of the Amazon “Take Me Home” series lasted only a bit longer than my Prime subscription in that second season.

Once we started playing to a live crowd again, it all petered out. It is all well and good when we are winning, but once we aren’t doing so well, the crowd jump on the tiniest mistake, and well, it all starts going downhill from there. I’ve been (un)lucky enough to have watched us for three decades now. It’s true, sometimes when the chips are down, like Norwich away in 2016 or Birmingham away 2019, the crowd are the 12th man. But it is also true that some of our fans are very fickle and some of the abuse dished out to our players, by our own fans, may be as good as a 12th man for the opposition. Notably, not so long since, at Leicester away when people were actually cheering when Tyler got injured. Who honestly cheers when one of your own players gets injured? At least five of the fourth row in the away corner at Filbert Street – that’s who. Disgraceful!

Since the day we “found out” they sacked him, everything has followed a similar path. I think I saw on noseybook something from Phil Hay at the start of the day and from then on, social media lit up like a Christmas tree. There were all sorts of stories that it was “always going to happen” etc. etc. etc. Then of course, our new manager revealed that he had been in talks for ages anyway, and this was the soundbyte

Mint! Not really. It’s like cheating on your missus and then the new girlfriend saying that she needed to move in sooner, because it was always going to happen anyway, and it was too painful to drag it out any longer. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

The way in which it was done, and the way things have continued to be done, just smacks of this horrible fake, forced, manufactured manipulation of events. And not just off the pitch, it’s on it as well! And I don’t like it! 

What do I mean?

From the off, the very recruitment of Marsch (see I said his name!) seemed like a set up. It was as if they deliberately picked someone with a name which would conveniently and perfectly fit into the meme / media tenor gif generator thing of social media. If things work out and we get into Europe / Champions League, the song, and the T shirt, is already there – Marsching On Together. Brilliant – right? Seriously – am I the only one who thought that?

American owners or at least major American stakeholders, and the Club canvas for a Bielsa replacement (which was always going to happen allegedly) with an American manager. The U-S-A chant from parts of the Kop was embarrassingly akin to a Trump rally and rightly shouted down by the more discerning members of the stand. There is a time and a place for that, and this wasn’t it.

Incidentally, there was a quote from Bielsa (allegedly) saying he wanted to stay here forever. Myself –  if anyone were to replace Bielsa should he choose to abandon us, I would have gone for Ranieri. I thought Bielsa would stay to at least get us into Europe. I think he had a point to prove, and without our crippling (no pun intended) injury list, I think he would have got us there.

Once the new manager was installed, all of a sudden, every player and his dog did an interview saying how brilliant it was under the new boss and how terrible it had been under Bielsa. Jointly, they slated the punishing training regime and the lack of touchy feelyness which they were so relieved to be released from with the new gaffer. They described Bielsa’s aloofness and how awful it had been to train ALL THE TIME to be fit for the whole 90 minutes. It was starting to sound like they actually thought there was more to football than lasting two halves of 45 minutes on the pitch (plus fergietime) and trying to stop goals going into our net and score in the oppositions net. Bizarre that. 

Thankfully all that has stopped now, as I am afraid none of them were as good at interviews as what they thought. Lord Bamford continues to pop up occasionally but he really needs to enunciate a bit more, and stop reducing his volume to a slow drawl towards the end of his sentences as if he is running out of air. I’m not sure if that is how the younger generation actually talk now, along with their West Coast upspeak, but honestly, for anyone who is hard of hearing and trying to lip read, Patrick is the equivalent of Wallace – without Gromit for the comedy factor. 

Then there were the displays on the East Stand to make us look good on the telly. I admit, the first “We are Leeds” thing they did at the start of the season was good. When they gave out free scarves when we were in with a chance for promotion the other season, that was ok and those yellow flags which then appeared on eBay a week later for a fiver, were ok.

But then it just kept going, it just seemed excessive. It was like they felt they had to carry on  doing something / anything, because, like a tube of Pringles, once you pop, you just can’t  stop. Until, of course, when the East Stand Underage Ultras couldn’t maintain their concentration and support for the team. That fateful day when they just got bored and (with the help of their equally uninterested parents) chucked stuff at Raphinha and anyone else who dared stray towards the Family Stand.

The minor miscalculation of only getting 2000 Stuey Dallas T shirts for 3000 Arsenal away allocation didn’t help either. FOMO resulted in some of the remaining 1000 away support squabbling with other Leeds fans for taking T shirts that either didn’t belong to them, or liberating more than one (also resulting in them being up on ebay for £100 this time!). So much for All Leeds Aren’t We. As in Animal Farm, we are all Leeds, it’s just that some are more Leeds than others.

The next bone of contention was digital tickets. EVERYONE wants digital tickets apparently. It’s safer, more secure and easier than those pesky cards. Oh and greener! Let’s not forget the Green agenda. After all, we must all do our part. Even if the rest of the world is building coal fired power stations at a rate of knots, dumping all their rubbish into the ocean and deforesting the Amazon quicker than The Chairman can get through a KFC at LFE.

Sorry, lost it there. Couldn’t help it. The thought of wasting a tin of soup by chucking it at a painting during a cost of living crisis is doing my head in! 

Digital tickets. If you are near the fan zone at the North East Corner ten minutes before kick off, try telling anyone queueing from there to the Captains Corner, that it is faster to get in on your phone. Try telling anyone who is stood in the queue at the ticket office, missing kick off, because their digital ticket isn’t working, that it is better on their phone. Try telling some of the loyalest long standing season ticket holders, who don’t and have never had a email address, let alone a electronic wallet on a phone, that they can’t fill in a form and pay by cash like they used to. If people want to use their phones, let them. But there should always have been a choice. It should have been made clear at the outset that the cash option +/- a plastic card was still available, rather than leaving it to a fortnight before deadline day. I would go back to my plastic season ticket card next season if I could.

It’s a new way of doing things, bringing Leeds United, kicking and screaming into the shiny new PL fold. New shiny turnstiles. Quick and easy on your phone, they said. How about just  getting someone to clean the stands once in a while and get better facilities in?

So far, this is off the pitch, what about on it? I could do an entire blog with three chapters about this! If things don’t improve, I may well do so. I will just do a summary for the purposes of tonight’s effort.

As is the norm with any new manager, they want to bring their own players in and their own style. Let’s start on style.

Bielsa was berated for not having a Plan B. He was slated for playing the same team formation for every game regardless of opponent, injuries notwithstanding, and not using his subs when we were losing and needed a change. Has anything changed? Honestly – has it? Dan James was still being played up front on his own before he got sideways shoved to Fulham. Rodrigo is still being played not up front and we are still using our full backs as extra wingers, leaving the likes of Coops, with Llorente or Koch to defend, this time without the benefit of Kalv, who is now happily warming the bench at £100k+ at Citeh. Nothing has changed.

During the Warnock era, let me pause to just get that shiver in my spine sorted, we had the whole Peltier thing. Lee played every game. Or at least it seemed like he did, even if he didn’t. Every week our midfield read like a Tarantino film. Green, Brown and White, not forgetting Sky pundit extraordinaire Stephen Warnock. Frankly, it would have been better if we had had the moves of Samuel L MFsnake Jackson and Travolta in the middle, but the Warchest would have imploded on itself. And it was shocking, but he still played them. (Don’t get me started on El Hadj!) It was as if Lee and his mates were the teachers pets. (Is that term even allowed anymore?)

Ten years on and it’s Groundhog Day. Whatever Aaronson, Adams, Roca, and Kristensen do, they are going to start. It doesn’t matter that they are run ragged by some teams, get kicked to death by others, look knackered after 60 minutes, play more narrow than Persians were forced into at the Hot Gates in 300 ,and how good we look after he eventually lets Klich on, they are going to start.

I swear that the tactics are, when Aaronson gets taken off, no one else is allowed to have a shot on goal. 

I’m biased, but it looks like that any shadowy semblance of that Bielsa squad is being whittled away, and we will, oh yes we WILL cheer on the American Boi.

As I said at the weekend, through the years we have sung many songs about many players. Some in celebration and some, not. From Imre Varadi to spontaneity of Pontus Jansson’s Last Christmas. Most related to on the pitch antics, for example – It Could Be…. and Ooh ooh ooh ooh ohh Rodrigo Moreno. Some completely unrelated to football – Enoch Showunmi –  a great big example of an entirely football free song. But mostly once the chant has started, the rest of the crowd will agree and sing along with it.

Once again on Sunday, despite trying their hardest, American Boy, like the U-S-A song lasted seconds. Until we actually start scoring and doing well or one of our new midfield acquires a reputation for having a very big appendage, please stop with the contrived forced fakeness. Just stick with the All Leeds are We, until we score more than two goals in a game.

It took a while for Bielsa to get his well deserved anthems – ask Paul Wilson. Nothing compares to him. His self effacing humility and love for the game are unsurpassed. 

As the Sex pistols said Nevermind The Bollocks – unless you are Enoch Showunmi