Many fans expected Leeds to beat the struggling Seasiders convincingly on Saturday, but a 1-1 draw was the result and here's why it wasn't a bad one.
Expectation is a complex area for football fans and perspective is an equally difficult concept for many to grasp. At 5.00pm on Saturday the final whistle blew at Bloomfield Road and Leeds United had earned a point in a 1-1 draw against Blackpool, a team on the verge of relegation and one that had lost their previous six games consecutively.
The reaction of many Leeds fans on Twitter and chat forums alike suggested that there was a lot more at stake in the contest than a further three points towards a respectable but underwhelming mid-table finish for a fifth season running. While Leeds United, having won eight of their last 12 games, were expected to win the contest, the fact that they didn't was down to a number of factors, which go some way to explaining how a rational stance needs to be adopted if the club are going to move forward and prosper into next season.
1. The pitch
Okay, it's the same for both teams, and okay, Billy Bremner, Johnny Giles and the rest performed miracles on far worse, but the diabolical state of the Blackpool pitch was a factor in how Leeds performed. While it is a leveller in terms of quality, there is no doubt Blackpool will have the advantage in having played on it more often. Leeds are an inexperienced team and how they adapt their tactics according to certain circumstances - 'game management' is the buzz-phrase I think - is one area that head coach Neil Redfearn will agree they need some work on.
2. Three games in a week
Again, Blackpool had had the same schedule, but they lost both their previous games. Leeds drew an even contest against an in-form Nottingham Forest and then won 3-0 on a capital trip to Fulham on Wednesday night. Games that took a lot out of young players. Thursday will have been a write-off, leaving one day to prepare for this game, in which Redfearn used the same starting eleven. Criticism could be levelled at Redfearn for not rotating his squad a little and trying players on the fringe of proceedings, but evidently he feels it is too early for that and he has earned the right for his judgement to be trusted.
3. Leeds are not the finished article
Despite a fantastic run in the Championship in 2015, Leeds United are far from complete in terms of being a well-drilled outfit ready to challenge at the right end of the table. With some fine tuning Leeds are heading in the right direction, but recent defeats to Watford and Brighton, and even the 3-0 win at Fulham highlighted some areas where they are lacking. Leeds have the general framework in place but don't have the cutting edge that many teams have, and the reliance on goalkeeper Marco Silvestri - coupled with the errant form of the former-Leeds duo Ross McCormack and Matt Smith - at Fulham gave a generous slant to the scoreline.
Add to that the fact that a number of players are playing out of position - albeit admirably - and it's clear that Leeds shouldn't be expected to simply steam-roll every game. Four points from two away games in a week is a good return at any level. Fulham was the sterner test of the two and by hook or by crook they passed it. At Blackpool Leeds stuck to the adage 'if you're not playing well enough to win, at least don't lose'. Leeds fans would have gratefully accepted that policy in January.
4. It doesn't matter anyway
The hard work has been done by Leeds in the difficult months of January and February, where an impressive point haul has lifted the club away from the relegation zone when such a run didn't look likely. A team packed full of home grown players - some of which are coming towards the end of their first season in professional football, certainly at this level - has performed admirably and while Leeds fans have come to expect the team to beat the likes of Blackpool, the fact that they didn't was a lot less significant than the wins away at Huddersfield, Middlesbrough and Reading, or at home to Bournemouth, Millwall and Ipswich; wins when Leeds were in the mire and really needed the points.
What Leeds do between now and the end of the season isn't as important as what they have already done, and while fans can take some pointers from the remaining seven games, a draw at Blackpool keeps them unbeaten and should be looked at from the perspective of where they were at the turn of the year; one point above the relegation zone, with a failing diamond formation and with not a clue where the points were going to come from.