leeds united 0-0 rotherham united: never endingBack
The stand out moment in this game was when, halfway through the second half, one Rotherham player booted the ball at another Rotherham player, and it banged off the second player’s backside and out for a throw-in.
Football, there. And this, I thought, is what I do for fun.
This game wasn’t even bad enough to be so-bad-it’s-good enjoyable. It was just bad. Two teams at the bottom end of the Second Division, with nothing to play for, no real reason to be there, and no visible desire to make anything interesting happen.
Well, there were a couple of exceptions. Rudy Austin played like he knew it would be his last game for the club, and seemed determined not to leave without scoring the wonder-bastard he’s been threatening since the day he arrived; even at one point volleying a dead ball at a ballboy out of frustration with enough menace to have seriously dented the child had a sponsor’s hoarding not taken the hit. Austin is probably still at Elland Road right now, blasting the ball into the Kop again and again until one finally busts the net, or until the groundsman notices his keys are missing.
The other one playing with a purpose was Aidy White, on as a substitute after his three attempts at coming off the bench at Sheffield Wednesday, and after those halcyon pre-season days when he suddenly had the number eleven shirt and the faith of a manager. Unfortunately for Aidy that manager was Dave Hockaday, and then his season gave way to injury anyway.
Just as he has with Taylor, Cook, Mowatt, Byram and Phillips, Redfearn has shown willingness to put some proper faith in White now he’s back, finding a way to get him on the pitch perhaps just so Aidy can remember what that feels like. Pretty much the first thing Aidy did was fall over, but luck has never really been a friend to him. What has been more of a friend to him over the years is his pace, and that seemed to be present and correct; as did the old willingness to hunch his shoulders and storm directly at fullbacks. His eagerness to impress was conspicuous by its contrast with the other 21 on the pitch, who looked at him as if he was mad.
Whether that cameo will be enough to earn White a new contract is out of hands and depends more on what happens off the pitch than what he does on it; and you can say that about a lot of things at Leeds United at the moment. As Neil Redfearn wandered down the tunnel at the end of the lap of honour (off to relax with some quality reading), he was still none the wiser about whether he’ll walking back up it again at the start of the next.
Although he’s probably got a pretty good idea. But if Redders really is as wise as he seems, he’ll know better than to try and second guess Cellino. Football is a game with many random variables, starting with the fact that the ball is round and moving on from there. In that sense, Massimo Cellino is the perfect football club owner: a walking, talking, drinking, smoking and cooking bag of random variables.
Who else but Cellino would state boldly that he isn’t scared if the fans want to kick his arse, get clearance from the Football League to attend the arse-kicking festival, and then go watch Morecambe v Southend instead? Oh, well played Massimo, you unpredictable you! You had us all fooled! While purple beach balls flew through the stands, as a Leeds Fans United banner was taken back and forth along the South Stand, as all four stands chanted for Redfearn to stay and Cellino to go, Cellino had gone – to Morecambe! Oh, the banter, the banter.
Or the cowardice, the cowardice. This isn’t the first time Cellino has ducked the actual responsibilities of running the football club the way he runs the football club, and I suspect it won’t be the last. Nobody knows what is going to happen now between Cellino and Redfearn, but we can take a few good guesses: Cellino will stonewall any attempt at communication on the matter for a good few weeks while he tries to concoct some idiotic plan B in the background, until the adverse impact on our planning for next season becomes too severe to ignore. He’ll then give a long rambling interview about how it fills him with sadness that Redfearn didn’t send him a birthday card (it’s July 28th, Neil) and that he doesn’t understand why he’s acting this way. Then he’ll get Umbers if he’s still around of Salerno if he’s back or Andrea the furniture salesman if that’s still a thing to give Redfearn his notice, and the circus shall roll on.
One of the worst parts about the way this season has ended is that nobody can actually relax. It should be simple: okay, this season was rubbish, but with the final whistle and the lap of appreciation and the awards do it should all be put behind us. To the beach, to rest and take it easy. Well, although Adryan has already left for Brazil – spotted at Leeds Bradford Airport just hours after the awards do ended – but we saw what happened last year when people at the club tried to take a close season holiday. And if I was a Leeds United player or employee, I wouldn’t dare leave, for fear of what might happen while I’m gone.
It should be cigars at home and planning a trip to the seaside for Neil Redfearn right now, but instead there’s still talk of a meeting when Cellino returns to take over; and after the way things went down with McDermott, that meeting could take place any time, any place, or never. There are players like Cook and Byram and player of the year Alex Mowatt, whose stock has risen so much this season that they can expect big opportunities and big changes in their prospects this summer.
With others, like Bellusci, Silvestri and Antenucci, it feels like there is unfinished business; it’s fine for them to tweet photos from the game and pose for selfies at the awards dinner, but when do we get payback from them on the pitch, either in improved dedication and performances next season, or in stocks while the fans take aim with good old fashion rotten fruit?
One report from a fan who claimed to be backstage before the end of season dinner had Sol Bamba putting the players’ case to Andrew Umbers: basically asking what everyone is asking. What happens now? And that’s a question that, ultimately, is more important than the lack of goals, or quality, or interest, or spectacle, or anything at all that relates to football, during the ninety minutes that Leeds United and Rotherham spent wandering daftly around the park on Saturday night.
Leeds United have played all their fixtures this season, but it doesn’t feel like they’ve played all their games yet. The season isn’t over. It might be just beginning.