Leeds v Derby: The Rivalry Continues

Leeds v Derby: The Rivalry Continues

The cities of Leeds and Derby are 75-miles apart – and yet the football clubs within them share a deep-centred rivalry.

We look at the three chapters of this grudge match, which returns on Saturday lunchtime.

Heading into the fixture, Leeds are the heavy favourites at 1/3 to win the game. Derby have been given an outside chance, with Paddy Power having them down at 4/1 just to pick up a point and 7/1 to grab a win.

The Clough and Revie spat

Both clubs were Champions in the 1970s, when Brian Clough – manager of Derby – picked a grudge with Leeds boss Don Revie.

Although the two were both Middlesbrough born and raised, both former strikers, both having featured briefly for England, there was more that divided them than separated them.

Leeds were a brilliant team at the time, but there was a lot of disdain – around the country – for how the likes of Billy Bremner, Johnny Giles and Norman Hunter went about it.

In many ways, it’s possible that to this day Leeds get a lot of unjust stick from fans of other clubs because older generations of supporters cannot shake off their memory of that Revie side.

Clough would always say negative things about Revie and his team in the newspapers while Derby manager, adding extra spice to the fixtures.

In the meeting in 1975, there was a mid-match scuffle between Francis Lee and Norman Hunter – it meant that was the incident often remembered, rather than Roger Davies’ impressive winner in a 3-2 victory for Derby.

The spying controversy

Marcelo Bielsa was fined by the EFL after arranging for a Leeds United employee to record one of Derby County’s training sessions, prior to the 2-0 win over the Rams in January.

Then-Derby manager Frank Lampard handled the situation well: he was respectful of Leeds in terms of their performance on the night but did not hide the fact he disagreed with Bielsa’s conduct on ethical grounds.

As if scripted, two sides met one another in the Play-Offs that season – a 1-0 away win for Leeds led their fans to sing “Stop Crying Frank Lampard” to the tune of an Oasis song, mocking Derby over the spying incident and the fact they had beaten them in all three encounters at that point.

Going into the second leg, Derby – rightly or wrongly – detected an element of conceit from Leeds and that almost fuelled their performance.

The East Midlanders won the second leg 4-2 to record an aggregate victory, thanks to a combination of Jack Marriott’s energetic pressing and Leeds’ defensive mix-ups.

Lampard said afterwards that the spying incident was “not worth dwelling on to a point” but that it “added to the way we felt about it”.

The next chapter

Leeds’ Play-Off heartache has certainly not affected them for long, because they have enjoyed an excellent start to their campaign – and their squad looks stronger.

One would have thought Pontus Jansson’s exit would be a blow but Ben White has proved a more than competent replacement, especially with his immaculate reading of the game and composure on the ball.

Plus, while Leeds were perhaps slightly short of fresh, game-changing options towards the end of last season, they now have the likes of Eddie Nketiah and Helder Costa, who have been excellent from the bench whenever called upon.

It may be fair to say that Derby have taken a little longer to recover from their own Play-Off defeat, having lost last season’s final 2-1 to Aston Villa prior to Lampard’s exit.

In fairness to newly-appointed head coach Phillippe Cocu, he has had to deal with the loss of key loanees in Fikayo Tomori, Mason Mount and Harry Wilson, without having been backed with the most generous of budgets.

As much as Kieran Dowell is dynamic and energetic – a decent player at this level – he would not have got into Chelsea’s team as Mount, his positional predecessor, has done this term.

It was hoped that right-sided forward Wilson’s exit would mean more creative freedom for Tom Lawrence on the left but, since an impressive day one brace in the 2-1 win at Huddersfield, the Welshman has struggled to influence games as much as he would have liked.

That might be partly down to the absence of an established focal point.

Martyn Waghorn has been in good form as a goalscorer with three in seven league games, but he tends to make direct runs from the right.

Marriott, meanwhile, is good at getting in behind but not necessarily one to hold the ball up in tight areas – although, as we saw in May, it could be that Leeds away is the kind of game to maximize his key strengths.

No-one knows what will be next for the Leeds-Derby rivalry – but if there’s one thing we’ve learnt from the fixture over the years, it’s that sparks will fly.

Leeds vs Derby Odds

(odds subject to change and have been taken from Paddy Power)

Leeds win = 1/3

Draw = 4/1

Derby = 7/1