You should have heard the raucous applause and scarves spinning at the final whistle at Elland Road on Saturday.

The thunderous echoes were still ringing in the ears long after the stadium emptied.

We (Leeds fans) had been waiting to experience this feeling again since November 5, 2022. And Junior Firpo obliged, scoring the first goal of Javi Gracia’s tenure.

Yes! That intoxicating winning feeling again; balm for the long-suffering fans’ sores and a big collective sigh of relief as supporters deflated their puffed cheeks.

Supporters left the stadium with a spring in their steps and a renewed sense of optimism about their club’s survival prospects. The metaphorical clouds of gloom enveloping Elland Road were slowly drifting away revealing rays of light.

The match itself was a cagey and very tense affair you could slice the tension with a hacksaw. It was a torturous 90-minute ride on an emotional roller-coaster of the kind Leeds fans have become accustomed to.

Significance of result

Leeds United 1-0 Southampton
Leeds United 1-0 Southampton

The first of Gracia’s 15-match tenure brought a massive three points on the back of which Leeds not only moved out of the relegation zone, but also established a one-point buffer between themselves and Everton, who occupy the third relegation spot. And in a bunched-up bottom eight, the Whites are only three points adrift of Nottingham Forest in 13th. That is not without significance in the context of the battle to stave off relegation.

Of course no one will be getting carried away or suggesting that Gracia’s methods worked a treat on Saturday, because this was very much Jesse Marsch’s team and performance – plenty of endeavor and effervescence, but very little in the way of clear-cut goal scoring opportunities.

Battles within the war

Leeds will need to win as many key battles as possible to stand a chance of winning the war, and this relegation six-pointer was one of them.

Gracia’s men have given themselves a fighting chance and hopefully the winning scent the players picked up on Saturday will stay in their nostrils.

The win gives Leeds’ survival prospects a huge boost. But it’s one win, and one swallow does not make a summer. Bigger hurdles lie ahead on the treacherous path to Premier League salvation.

Leeds go to Chelsea next Saturday, a match that will be a sterner test of Gracia’s credentials and his team’s ability to mix it with the big boys.

On paper, the expensively assembled Chelsea squad will be overwhelming favourites, although Leeds will be well aware that fellow strugglers Southampton went to Stamford Bridge a week ago and came back with a maximum haul of points. Gracia will take some encouragement from that result.

Reality check for Selles

Leeds Relegation Battle Table

As for Southampton, losing this match was a real wrench. The Saints would have been hoping to build on the win at Chelsea the previous game week and get some kind of momentum going in their own bid for survival.

The defeat was a reality check for new manager Ruben Selles, and sends the Spaniard back to the drawingboard. He will be under no illusions about the magnitude of the task he has been roped in to perform.

There is no time to wallow in self-pity. The next game at home to inconsistent Leicester City will lend more insight into the Saints’ temperament and their ability to bounce back from adversity.

Leeds United how do I love you!


I'm Barrie Jarrett, born in Leeds, lived over a decade in South Africa, CEO And Co Founder of Planet Sport Limited and Planet Bet Limited.

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