When Rapinha crossed to Joe Gelhardt who finished into an empty net, Leeds’s season, and the nature of it changed from static and at a crossroads to alive and on the potential precipice of change as their rivals’ crumble and teams like Norwich fall inexorably.
However, survival is far from certain yet and it could still be a season of woe. But the drama of Sunday must be seen as a moment that must be built upon and seen as a start because of what preceded it like the sacking of Marcelo Bielsa, the thrashing dealt out by Tottenham and the ease with which Aston Villa sauntered past them only a short few days ago.
Leeds’s poor run was largely spent without their local hero, Kalvin Philips but Jesse Marsch, their enigmatic new manager, has said that him and defender, Liam Cooper could return for Friday’s trip to Molineux to face a Wolves team looking upwards to a European spot.
The fact that Phillips could return and is back in training serves as, yet another shot of momentum injected into a previously lifeless season. Like Joe Gelhardt, Leeds’s fans are roused by Phillips and the team feeds off his full-throttle commitment to all it represents.
This was echoed by Marsch who said, “just having them in training is big”. They elevate the club indubitably.
The future of players like Phillips, Rapinha and Bamford is uncertain, dependent on survival, but Marsch said, in his pre-match press conference, that he would “love to keep Kalvin, Pat and Rapinha” for as long as possible as they are imperative to the unfolding of his vision. But, like a plethora of other factors, this is dependent on Leeds staying up. This has become all-encompassing for the club, the manager, the city, the players, and the fans.
Arguably, Wolves away is not a fixture that Leeds wanted after the drama of Sunday because they would want to play once again at the cauldron of Elland Road and given the fact that Wolves are a difficult team to play against especially at home. They are resolute, stoic and are resurgent after the sacking of Nuno, an iconic and loved figure at the club.
But Leeds will travel to the Black Country with the echoes of Saturday in their heads. Their travelling support will be numerous and will support them until the very end. The commitment of Gelhardt to beat Ben Gibson to the ball must be channeled.
On Gelhardt’s winner, Marsch said “it was a big day and a big moment, but the key is to use it to make us better, not just to rely on the fact that it was a big moment”, sensibility and wisdom from Marsch, a man that differs from Bielsa but may yet keep Leeds up.
Marsch may not be messianic like Bielsa but if he keeps Leeds up, he will deserve the adulation and love of the Leeds fans.
A dose of life has been breathed into Leeds’s season. It must be capitalized upon.