WHETHER it was done consciously or not, Dougie Freedman briefly allowed himself to slip out of character and enjoy what had been one of Wanderers’ finest away days in recent memory.
Win, lose or draw, the Scot has made a habit of producing considered and methodical assessments on his side’s performances.
They haven’t always been popular ones – and Freedman’s deliberations in defeat at times this season have left some scratching their heads.
But who could fail to enjoy a win so comprehensive at a venue as intimidating as Elland Road? Despite opening his post-match assessment with a tongue-in-cheek criticism of the defending that allowed Matt Smith to score a 90th minute consolation barely worth its name, Freedman allowed himself a little moment to wallow in what must rank as the most satisfying result of his Wanderers reign.
“I’m sorry, I’m not a headline maker,” he smirked. “When we are losing games then I try and get the lads back in on Monday morning and try to work with them. When we win, I try not to get too excited.
“But maybe for the first time in my managerial career I’ll admit this was an excellent result. We played them off the park in front of a hostile crowd, we passed it in the midfield area and that really was the key.
“I have been harping on about it for a while, if you can control games in this division then it’s a big step.
“Apart from a small blip at the end, which I can’t let them off with, it was a fantastic performance and a thoroughly deserved win by the scoreline too.”
Freedman heaped praise on his midfield four, an area in which he felt the battle was ultimately won.
But while the game had not been much of a spectacle up before half time, the Scot felt the coolness under pressure Joe Mason showed to open the scoring a minute before the break paved the way for what was in store.
“At half time I was getting ready to say to the players that we’d got control of the game, and that was the key. The only thing that was missing was up in the top half – it fizzled out when we got 20 yards from goal,” he said.
“I thought Joe Mason’s finish was excellent. It’s about time he got a bit of luck – but he still had to beat an outstanding goalkeeper.
“The second half was completely different because when we got into their penalty box we were devastating.”
After some long spells of poor results, and no end of dissatisfaction on the terraces, could Wanderers finally be turning a corner?
Freedman believes so.
“It has been coming,” he said. “The last couple of months we’ve been playing well. People who have seen us know that, unfortunately those who haven’t still have an opinion on what the results have been.
“Where I am really happy for the fans is that they are starting to see a young manager with a young squad playing the way we want to and getting results.
“The secret is we’ve got a little bit more in our locker now. If teams want to fight, we can, if they want to play, we can. We’ve got to work towards controlling and passing the ball through midfield a little more and then we’ve really got the lot.”