Well when your luck is out...
Poor Neil Warnock and Leeds United. Why, oh why, are manager and club suffering such cruel luck this season? Warnock couldn't understand how Leeds lost at Burnley and he is sure to be scratching his head tonight, utterly perplexed at how his team lost this one. True Watford scored six and might have had ten, but on another day, Warnock's Gung Ho tactics would surely have brought more fitting rewards. If only Reg Varney had not missed that sitter, if only Pearce hadn't been shown a red, if only Neil had not made three changes at half time, if only Austin hadn't promptly suffered an injury...
People are sure to over react by calling for Warnock's head just because Leeds were in eighth when he took over and are now in seventeenth, whilst unfairly bringing attention to a return of just three points from the last eighteen and highlighting that this 1-6 home reverse follows on the 3-7 home defeat against Nottingham Forest last season. Rubbish!
As Leeds fans have been telling me all season - and since mid July in fact - Warnock has a master plan. Just because he has recruited journeymen from teams relegated from the Championship last season, that doesn't mean this Leeds team will struggle. Far from it. Warnock knows what he is doing. He has cherry picked. He has astutely assembled a squad good enough to challenge for promotion, based on a watertight defence and a midfield and attack bristling with attacking intent and goal scoring potential. All Neil needs is time. And a little luck. And some money in January to freshen up the squad...
Leeds were down to nine men today for pity's sake! True Warnock didn't have to make three substitutions at half time, when his team had already been reduced to ten men, but you can't blame a manager for having a go. Why accept defeat when you can go for victory? Warnock told everyone - including opposition manager Zola - that he was going to adopt a Gung Ho attitude in this game and so nobody should complain because he did precisely that. Indeed it was thoroughly unsporting of Zola to pick a team designed to hit Leeds on the break, exploiting the high line and lack of pace in the Leeds defence.
Warnock's not to blame. True he assembled this squad but Bates is the real villain because, like so many other chairmen in the division, he required Warnock to pick from the flotsam and jetsam of free transfers and cheap cast offs. Warnock did his best in the circumstances, investing a fair chunk of the funds entrusted to him in Pearce and Kenny - and where would Leeds have been today without those two?
So where do Leeds and Warnock go from here? Some managers in Warnock's shoes would resign tonight, embarrassed by a second humiliating home thumping at the hands of mediocre opposition. But Warnock isn't a quitter. He hung on at Sheffield United to see them through to relegation and was determined to see the job through at QPR too until Fernandes inexplicably sacked him.
All Warnock needs is time. Time for his team to gel. Time to freshen up the squad. Time to get everybody fit and firing.
And Leeds fans need to hold their nerve and remember what Reading did last season. Warnock's team are only thirteen points behind leaders Palace, twelve points behind second place Middlesborough, and seven points behind near neighbours Huddersfield who occupy sixth spot. When the takeover happens, when the oil money funds the signing of new players, when Warnock has the pick of the transfer market, God help the other teams in this division.
Look on the bright side, it can't get much worse from here.