SHORTLY before the end of Steve Evans’s press briefing for today’s Yorkshire derby, the lights suddenly went out in the media room at Leeds United’s Thorp Arch training ground.
The Scot was explaining his plans for the January transfer window, but did not miss a beat as he quipped: “Here’s me talking about players, I think we should pay the electricity bill. Hang on, I’ve got some money in here somewhere. Go and put £20 on the meter, will you?”
It was a rare light-hearted moment during what has been another turbulent week at Elland Road, which began with supporters openly barracking the team and could end today with a mass walk-out in protest at how the Championship club is being run by Massimo Cellino.
Along the way, there has also been an unseemly row over what fans have dubbed a ‘pie-tax’ after a mandatory £5 was added to adult ticket prices in the South Stand in return for a voucher than can be redeemed at the catering kiosks.
No wonder these feel like dark days once again at Leeds and why any sketch writer who had joined the assembled media at Thorp Arch on Thursday as the lights went out would have had a field day.
Failing to subscribe to this downbeat mood, however, is goalkeeper Marco Silvestri.
The 24-year-old Italian is in his second season at United and is as disappointed as anyone to see the club languishing in the lower half of the Championship.
This said, Silvestri – the only member of the squad to have featured in every minute of the club’s 18 Championship games this season – insists brighter days can still lay ahead this season.
“The season has been up and down,” said Silvestri when speaking to The Yorkshire Post ahead of today’s derby encounter with the Tigers.
“And we do need some more points. Our position is not what we expected. We all thought we would be higher in the table.
“But it (United’s 17th-place standing) does not show what sort of team we are. I feel we are stronger than our position says.
“We are a good team and our performances have been okay. We have had no luck at times, that has been our problem.
“Look at Rotherham (the visitors to Elland Road a fortnight ago). They had only one shot on goal and won the game.
“We had many shots on goal and could have scored two or three. If it had been 3-0 for us, no one could have said anything about it. That would have been a fair score.
“It was the same against Queens Park Rangers (last weekend). I felt we played good in defence, but they scored from a corner.
“We may not have had a lot of chances to score, not as many as against Rotherham, but we did have chances.
“Chris Wood was unlucky in the first half. If that had been a goal, the result could have been very different.
“The match changed a lot in that moment. But I still do not believe we deserved to lose at Queens Park Rangers.”
The back-to-back defeats against Rotherham and Neil Warnock’s QPR have led to the feel-good factor that Evans had engendered ahead of the international break having largely ebbed away.
In its place has returned a simmering anger, as was evident in the away seats at Loftus Road a week ago when a vitriolic verdict was aimed at the players in yellow.
Evans admitted this week that the chant hurt, not just last Saturday but for the next couple of days. The Leeds head coach also added that the only way to bury that feeling completely will be to get back to winning ways, starting with the visit of Steve Bruce’s Tigers this afternoon.
Not, of course, that it will be easy against a team packed full of Premier League pedigree.
“Hull are a good team,” said Silvestri when asked about taking on a club who, until the loss to Derby County eight days ago, had gone 13 games unbeaten.
“I have seen them on television in a few matches. A very, very good team. But, I do think we can play better against Hull because they are a good team,” he said.
“Hull are at the top of the division, but we believe we can win.”
Silvestri’s admiration for Bruce’s side is shared by Evans, who insists the consensus of opinion at a recent League Managers Association get-together was that the East Riding club would be back in the Premier League next year.
“On a recent weekend off,” added the Scot, “I went and did some TV work and spent a lot of time with Michael Dawson.
“He said how good Hull were. He spoke highly of the individuals and, as I went away, I remember thinking, ‘Michael, you are going to be a manager, son’. Because he was dead right.
“Some of the things he said made me look at Hull. They are a good side, one of those who will ultimately challenge to go up.
“It is a real challenge for every individual, from myself to my staff and our supporters. I have been on the end of Hull City supporters; they come and are loud, proud and active in support of their team.
“We have to make sure Elland Road is all about Leeds United.”
With one home win in nine months, Leeds badly need to turn around their fortunes and Silvestri believes the club can do just that.
“We do not have to look too far to see that things change,” said the goalkeeper, whose fine goalkeeping during the second half at Loftus Road ensured Leeds escaped with a one goal defeat.
“Last season was different to this one. But we went up the table quite quickly (from the start of 2015) and we can do that again.
“Hull has to be different to Queens Park Rangers and I believe it will be.”