As the curtain mercifully fell on the season in late April we entered the most welcome summer in living memory. Of course we have become accustomed to the off-season being thoroughly unenjoyable, as we clumsily stagger through the dreaded transfer window like an early-hours drunk trying desperately to find any willing suitor to join us on our forlorn journey home.
Despite this growing antipathy to the buying-but-mainly-selling season, our arrival in the transfer window of summer 2012 was roundly welcomed, if only because it meant we didn’t have to endure any more abject football (at least until England’s labours begin at Euro 2012) and we were ready to witness our great peak-haired hope, Neil Warnock, wringing a few extra pennies from Ken Bates’ miserly fingers.
It was all going so well too, with Pompey’s player of the season Jason Pearce signing up right away, but things have since fallen mysteriously still and silent, resulting in a bizarre couple of weeks that have morphed from frustration at the failure to add Joel Ward to the roster into rumblings of takeover talk.
Then came this week, which saw the Supporters Trust finally dispel the ludicrous myth that Leeds United fans were somehow responsible for driving away investment, as they confirmed that they had spoken to some of the parties interested in acquiring the Whites. News that one, unidentified group had made a firm bid – and according to the rumours, it could be any one of dozens of groups from all over the world – spread furiously across the internet wires and propelled us Leeds United fans into a state of agitated limbo.
Sitting here in the information vacuum awaiting news – any news – while filtering through the snippets of stories that have emerged across messageboards and social media platforms, I’ve tried to make head or tail – both would be too much to ask for – of what it is we are actually going through. So here’s what I’ve come up with…
Visualise a bottle of vintage champagne (that’s the club and fans), shaken to exploding point, carelessly abandoned in an old bog (that’s our circumstances and state of mind). Still with me? We’re bursting to be released from the bottle neck, our explosive potential energy set free, but the bottle currently lies just out of reach of helping hands, stuck in the unhelpful morass that harbours an uneasy mixture of hope, anticipation and fear.
It is the fear that is most toxic. When we distill down the boggy elements of our existence – and return to vaguely sensible ideas – it is clear that what we are scared of is concluding this episode in exactly the same circumstances in which we started out.
It’s impossible to chuck a blanket over all Leeds fans, so diverse are our thoughts and opinions, but if you asked me to assess the prevailing conditions I’d stick a finger in the air and say that the majority are ready for a change at Elland Road. In casino terms (which somehow seems appropriate) it feels like we’re ready to twist and see what the cards bring up rather than stick. There seems to be little faith that the current regime can deliver the Premier League jackpot.
Unfortunately this leaves us with a rather unfortunate paradox. The club is courting only a single party at this stage. Only one bid, if indeed it is even a takeover bid, has advanced to a meaningful stage. And because nobody besides a handful of executives at Elland Road and club solicitors Walker Morris actually knows who it is they are talking to and what they are talking about, we are now being forced to put our faith in the very people in whom the fans have arguably lost all belief. We’re in the uneasy position of trusting Ken Bates and Shaun Harvey to deliver our dreams and do the right deal.
As Neil Warnock repaired to the beach, no doubt deeply frustrated that his urgent recruitment plans had been thwarted without explanation, he was reportedly assured that things would be different upon his return. We have no idea just what will transpire when the boss unpacks his suitcase and this agonising spell in purgatory is over, but we must just keep hoping, for the eighth summer in a row, that Ken Bates and Shaun Harvey can finally give us what we have been craving for so long.