“ELLAND ROAD is the only place for us.” So sang Don Revie’s players on the 1972 FA Cup final song that was usurped by the more familiar B-side of ‘Marching on Together’.
It was a sentiment that seemed to have been lost this time last year. A 2-1 defeat at home to Brighton & Hove Albion meant almost eight months had passed since Leeds had last won in front of their own supporters and the Yorkshire club’s players looked like they wanted to be anywhere but LS11.
Fast forward a year, however, and things have changed. Results are the most eye-catching improvement, with Leeds tonight looking to make it five wins in a row on home soil for the first time since 2013. But, perhaps, it is the atmosphere around Elland Road that has undergone the biggest transformation.
Where tension and anxiety were the norm, even as recently as the 1-0 derby defeat to Huddersfield Town, now there is a sense that fans and players alike are looking forward to home fixtures once again.
Rob Green at 35 years of age someone who has seen most things in football, certainly believes there has been a big, big shift thanks to the upturn in results that began with the 2-1 triumph over Blackburn Rovers in mid-September.
“We are enjoying playing there,” said the United goalkeeper ahead of Wigan Athletic’s visit. “As a player I think the crowd are very honest with you.
“If you leave everything on the pitch, they will stick with you. Most of the time they have seen us do that at Elland Road this season. But you can’t fool anyone and as much as we know when we have not been at it, they do too. There is always an appreciation of your effort and your performance, provided you perform to a certain level. It is not like some clubs.
“I have played at clubs where you get booed off for winning games.
“You win a game but you get booed off because you are not winning in the right way, or something like that.
“I have never felt that at Elland Road but there are certain standards.
“The fact that we have been hitting higher standards in the last month is probably proven by the atmosphere.”
Wigan make the trip across the Pennines looking to maintain a good record at Elland Road. In four previous visits, the Latics have won twice and lost just once.
The most recent of those victories came on the Boxing Day of the season that ended with Wigan’s relegation to the Championship, underlining why Leeds cannot afford to take lightly an opposition who currently sit in the bottom three.
Not that United are likely to fall into that trap under Garry Monk, who will be looking for a response to the weekend defeat at Derby County.
A Johnny Russell strike proved the difference on an afternoon when Leeds twice hit the woodwork. It was the third time this season that Monk’s men had lost 1-0 and on the previous two occasions they responded with a 2-1 victory back on home soil.
“This is a club and a fanbase who are absolutely desperate for success,” added Green.
“I know everyone says that but, from my point of view, I feel it more so than any club I have ever been with before. Winning games feeds that desperation and you quite quickly feel it turn into expectation. But we are in a good place.”
Stuart Dallas will again be missing for the hosts, leaving Monk with a big decision as to who starts out wide. Alex Mowatt was employed in the role at Derby but struggled and the United chief may turn to Kemar Roofe.
Last six games: Leeds United WWWLWL, Wigan Athletic LDLWDD.
Referee: P Bankes (Merseyside).
Last time: Leeds United 0 Wigan Athletic 2; December 26, 2014; Championship.