It’s bloody stressful. I follow the fortunes of my local club, Burton Albion, and they’re in a tidy mid-table position, 20 points ahead of the relegation zone, just where a newly promoted club would wish to be. However, my main allegiance is with my hometown club, Leeds. Great, you may think, with a win over Manchester United under our belts in recent weeks. But the season is all about getting out of League One, and we’re reaching that point of the season where you keep an eye on not just your own team’s results, but of those teams around you in the league table.
I think the recent exposure in the FA Cup has made things worse for a naturally pessimistic fan. Everyone I talk to assumes we’re all but promoted, based on televised performances that won’t matter a toss at the end of May. But Leeds left Victoria Park, Hartlepool today with a single point, and would be pretty relieved to see both Norwich and Charlton fail to win. This is Leeds’ third season in League One, and they have begun the last two seasons as favourites for promotion. The main concern would be that the energy used in those titanic cup ties may take it’s toll on the squad, and a bad run could suddenly bring Norwich and Charlton level. Then it becomes a nail biting last couple of months of the season (again).
I held a view that the team’s key players – Snodgrass, Kilkenny, Kisnorbo, Beckford – should have been left out for the cup games. Simon Grayson has had plenty of plaudits for the cup performances in the last month. If Leeds aren’t promoted, he’ll be on the scrapheap. Let’s hope that the early season form can be reinstated now that the diversion is out of the way, and that his decision to play full-strength teams against United and Spurs doesn’t backfire.
As a gambler I’m naturally optimistic. I generally start each Betfair session expecting to win. As a footy fan, I spend all my time waiting for the wheels to fall off. Maybe it’s just from many years of yo-yo results and trauma. It isn’t that long ago I watched a Champions League semi-final at Elland Road!
The play-off system has improved football in this country. But it’s certainly put more fans in a position to have shredded nerves and fingernails from April onwards. So, if your team is in a tight spot, positive or negative, good luck. And it might be worth getting in a few packets of Kalms.