NEIL WARNOCK has urged everyone at Leeds United to “stop feeling sorry for ourselves” as he looks to plot a path through the club’s current travails.
Back-to-back defeats since the international break together with a growing injury list that has left Warnock’s squad looking distinctly threadbare have combined to dampen the mood at Elland Road.
The apparent impasse in terms of a Middle East group’s attempts to take over United has also caused frustration among supporters, a section of whom staged a protest both before and during United’s 3-2 defeat to Hull City on Tuesday night.
With big-spending Nottingham Forest due at Elland Road tomorrow, the temptation is to believe that Leeds have only a slim chance of avenging last season’s club record 7-3 mauling by the East Midlands club.
Warnock, however, insists the challenge of snapping United out of their slumber is the type he has specialised in pulling off throughout his career.
“We have to get a grip of ourselves and stop feeling sorry for ourselves,” said the 63-year-old, who will today find out if Ross McCormack is going to be out for up to 12 weeks when last season’s top scorer undergoes surgery on an ankle injury.
“And by that, I mean everyone. Is the glass half-empty or half-full? At times when I read the newspapers, it looks like the glass only has a drop left in it.
“Believe me, I understand everyone’s feelings. I understand the board’s side of things, I understand where Shaun (Harvey, chief executive) is coming from and I understand the letters in the newspapers.
“But we have to get on with things. Yes, we can’t afford to lose three or four of our best players. But we are all at a fantastic club.
“There will be more than 20,000 at the game on Saturday and we are facing a team who put seven goals past us last year. What a great challenge for me as manager to try and come out on top.”
When news first broke at the start of the summer that United were in talks over a possible takeover, the hope among supporters was that a deal could be done in time for Warnock to be handed a substantial transfer kitty in the summer window.
The reality, however, has been very different with talks having dragged on for more than four months. Sources have told the Yorkshire Post that the structure of a possible deal has changed over the past seven days and that progress has been made. The money is now believed to be coming from Saudi Arabia, as opposed to Bahrain.
However, when asked about a possible timescale yesterday, Warnock replied that talk of takeovers and investment was best left to others at the club.
When pressed further, the United chief added: “People behind the scenes are still working hard to get the investment that we need. You can see that if we want to be where we want to be, the squad isn’t big enough to sustain that challenge.
“Players have gone on loan (to other clubs) in the last couple of weeks that we have missed out on. In an ideal world, you can get who you want. But it isn’t like that and we have to work through it.
“It is difficult for the fans as it has been frustrating for a number of years.
“But I am assured things are moving behind the scenes and talks are on-going.
“People have just got to stick with us. It doesn’t feel like there is an end to the tunnel, but people are working behind the scenes.”
Warnock made no secret when accepting the offer to succeed Simon Grayson in February that a record-breaking eighth promotion was a major motivation.
His hope was that this term would bring a concerted push for the Premier League. Of course, this may still happen.
But considering how United were outplayed by Hull on Tuesday night, there can be little argument that the current squad lacks the depth required to sustain a challenge.
Could there come a point, therefore, when Warnock decides to walk away?
“I think about it every day,” said the United manager with a smile yesterday at his weekly media briefing. “As I have said from day one, if the fans weren’t 100 per cent behind me then I wouldn’t be here.
“They know what they will get from me and my team. If I am honest, I didn’t envisage the situation being like it is at this stage of my career.
“I do desperately want that eighth promotion. There is a lot of ups and downs being manager of Leeds United. And a supporter of Leeds United, for that matter.
“But I am trying my hardest to do things and will continue to do that until it comes to a situation where you can’t.
“Everyone is working hard behind the scenes to change things and, hopefully, we’ll have good news in the next 10 days.
“We have got to try and get a squad where we lose a couple of players but still have cover.
“I look at the league and it isn’t a great one. You don’t worry about anyone in particular. We aren’t good enough at the moment and we have got to be.
“But it wouldn’t take an awful lot to make us a good side, if I am honest.”
Warnock admits it has been difficult trying to get a new face in before the Forest game to supplement an attack that Luciano Becchio is likely to lead despite being withdrawn as a precaution after receiving a knock on Tuesday.
He added: “We have to focus on what we have and make the best of it.”