I’m a dyed-in-the-wool Leeds United fan. I have been all my life. The Whites are my home town club and a very special part of my upbringing.

Like any other fan, from to time to time my faith is severely tested by Leeds United’s fluctuating fortunes, the ups and downs of the bumpy road the club has traversed over the years.

To be a Leeds United fan is to experience extremes of emotions and sensations. You learn to calibrate and recalibrate your club’s ambitions, and to revise expectations downwards and upwards. One moment, you’re floating in euphoria as the club hits dizzy heights. The next you’re heartbroken as you watch dreams deferred or completely go up in smoke.

The constant, however, in the Leeds United supporter’s fluid experience is the unwavering loyalty to the club, in good times and in bad times. When the chips are down we hold out hope that our fortunes will improve. Invariably, they do, and we dare to dream again.

Rehabilitation job

Even after making allowances for the challenges associated with the twin transitions the club was seized with at the start of the season – ownership change and the drop from the Premier League to the Championship – I still felt our start to the campaign could have been better.

I must admit that I feared the worst earlier in the season. We were doddering, woefully off the pace. By contrast our pre-season promotion rivals, especially Leicester City, had hit the ground running and scampering away into the distance.

I was almost resigned to a season of reacclimatizing in the second tier with a view to launching a promotion bid back to the Premier League next term.

But how quickly the picture has changed. We have hauled ourselves back into promotion contention, via the play-offs as things stand, and potentially automatic promotion if we continue on our current trajectory.

It feels good to be in a position from which we can launch a genuine promotion challenge.

Upsetting the applecart

So far the Championship’s Cinderella story is being authored by newbies Ipswich Town. Kieran McKenna’s dark horses are simply refusing to go away and showing no signs of flagging. They have firmly inserted themselves into the equation and making a real fist of the promotion contest.

Ipswich look very much like a side well equipped to stay the course. The Tractor Boys have the solidity of, well, a tractor, and the speed of a race star. There is no doubt they secretly believe they can upset the applecart and gatecrash the promotion party.

With Ipswich and Leicester City neck-and-neck, the dream scenario for Leeds United fans would see the top two falter. With an injection of sustained speed the Whites would overtake them both in quick succession.

The rise of Archie Gray

Archie Gray, the club’s 17-year-old prodigy, has the vultures circling around Elland Road. Several Premier League and European clubs are being credited with genuine interest in the young midfielder, with Liverpool reportedly preparation a January bid in the region of £50m.

Gray’s performances since the start of the season have caught the eye. He has been a permanent feature in Daniel Farke’s side, deployed in both midfield and full-back and acquitting himself admirably in both positions.

The youngster’s promotion to the England Elite squad during the international break only further served to signpost his meteoric rise as a precocious talent.

It comes as no surprise that the club is trying to tie him to a new deal designed to reflect his worth and to ward off interest from suitors.

Of course every player has his price, but it is highly unlikely Leeds United will consider selling Gray during the January window unless the fee is too good to turn down.

Leeds United will take the view that Gray is key to the club’s promotion challenge and that securing an immediate return to the top flight is more lucrative than any transfer fee windfall in January. But if they should decide to sell, Leeds United could do worse than agree a deal whose terms would allow Gray to remain at Elland Road for the remainder of the season.

Football returns

The drop in the quality of football and the entertainment value was thrown into sharp focus during the latest international break. For fans of the Premier League, it was quite a spectacular downgrade from watching the pulsating end-to-end contest between Chelsea and Manchester City to watching England huff and puff against the might of Malta before drawing with North Macedonia.

Elsewhere, France were putting 10-man Gibraltar to the sword, scoring 14 unanswered goals in a lopsided contest that was hardly the best advert for competitive international football.

As if to emphasize further the gulf in quality between league and international football, we return from the drab international break to a mouthwatering clash between the top two sides in the Premier League – Liverpool and Man City. Suffice to say the international fare sandwiched between the two Premier League blockbusters was rather tepid.

The good thing is that real football returns, with Leeds United looking to pick up from where they left on before the international break.

Next up, we have our local West Yorkshire rivals, Rotherham, on Friday, November 24. But, as we know, there are no easy games in the English Championship, especially when facing a local rival who will be determined to spoil the party.


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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