Last week I went to Leeds. I was visiting with my work and as the meeting was in one of the less salubrious areas of Leeds (actually an industrial estate to the West of Leeds) I drove, rather than taking the train. The journey from the Manchester took me down the M621 - past Elland Road. On the way there I was struck that I was approaching the stadium from the 'back' and that the appearance was that of neglect and abandonment. The car parks were largely weed encrusted and the surrounding area seemed to be littered with abandoned cars. It just had a feel of being run down and uncared for. However, when I was returning from my meeting, the view was very different, the huge imposing frontage to the main stand (despite the fact it appears to be sponsored by Lurpak ) which dominates the skyline. It is a reminder to the Leeds fans of the past glories of the club - whereas the hinterland of the stadium is more in keeping of the current plight of the club.
The decline of Leeds is so marked that the phrase "doing a Leeds" has come to be shorthand for huge overspending and a rapid hurtling down the divisions. At the moment, Leeds United have their fingers crossed that they might get back into The Championship via the play-offs, but no-one will be surprised if they fail again. They have become damned in a way that neither Brian Clough or David Peace imagined.
The parallels between Leeds and Newcastle are so obvious that they don't need drawing - and the shared factor of Dennis Wise warrants no further comment. However, I wish the team bus on its way back from Liverpool had driven past Elland Road. Maybe it might have jolted the likes of EMO, Nolan, Viduka and most of all Barton into starting to play like they actually care about something more than their pay packets.
I didn't watch the Liverpool game, thanks to a ruptured cruciate ligament (how much does that sound like a footballers injury? In fact it happens to 'real' people as well - a domestic accident) I spent much of the weekend recovering from surgery. But, not only was I not surprised by the result against Liverpool, I expected it. Not watching the Toon used to make me feel that I was missing something. Now not watching them saves me 90 minutes of disappointment and keeps my blood pressure down, which was quite important this weekend.
As far Barton, I've said it before, but just get rid... It looks like he's finally burnt his remaining bridge and the club has finally grown some balls and will get rid of him, there will be something poetic if he ends up at Leeds...
One final though... If Shearer is only managing until the end of the season, then why has he been able to get rid of Barton, and why were he and Dowie at the Wigan/Bolton game? Methinks he might be in the managers office for a while yet.