Talking Leeds United with… The Pigeon Detectives

The Pigeon Detectives
The Pigeon Detectives… Up (Guards and At ‘Em!) for the cup

In January, the FA decided to try and find an official anthem for this season’s FA Cup, so they called upon Devlin, Lethal Bizzle, Reverend & The Makers, The Enemy, The Pigeon Detectives and The Twang to slug it out in a titanic tussle for the honour.

Each act played at a recent FA Cup tie, with all the performances available to watch right here on the FA’s website. You have until Sunday to vote for your favourite, the prize awaiting the winner, why, only getting to greet the teams onto the pitch before next month’s FA Cup final at Wembley between Manchester City and Wigan Athletic…and playing on the pitch at half time!

We spoke to Ryan Wilson from The Pigeon Detectives – whose audition came in the form of performing their new single “Animal” ahead of the 5th round tie between MK Dons and Barnsley – about his band’s prospects, and of course his beloved Leeds United…

How’s the FA Cup anthem promotion going?

It’s going okay but we’re just happy to be part of it. If I’m a hundred per cent honest I don’t think we’ll win because we’re not the biggest act on the bill – others have bigger social media so they’ll probably rope in more votes – but we’re big football fans so we’d be honoured to win. The FA Cup is the oldest cup in history so it would be great to be part of it.

Onto Leeds, are you happy with the appointment of Brian McDermott as manager?

I think it’s great for the club, I really do. He’s a superb manager for a Championship club and I don’t think we could have got any better, if I’m honest. There’s a real air of optimism around the club now – everyone’s looking forward to getting this season out of the way, letting him work over the summer and going for it next season. I’m very happy with the appointment.

He’s got a good track record at Championship level, as you say, but then so did Neil Warnock. What do you think went wrong there?

To be perfectly honest, I think we were one club too many for him, a sort of “oh, go on then, I’ll have a go” thing. He’s a passionate fella but it just felt like he wanted to go and retire somewhere on the south coast where his family is, didn’t really feel like his full heart was in it like it was at QPR, Crystal Palace and Sheffield United. I just felt like he was doing it and if it worked then great, but if it didn’t then he wasn’t really bothered.

It’s interesting you say that, because one might argue similar about Harry Redknapp and/or Martin O’Neill this season.

Yeah, maybe so. Redknapp’s too laid-back at the moment, almost like he’s not that bothered that they’re going to go down. He’s a good manager with some good players on paper, so it’s quite weird how poorly they’re doing. It’s like he’s given up too early.

What’s going on with the club’s ownership? There’s talk of another takeover…

Yeah, we’ve just been taken over in the last year and now apparently they’re trying to sell it! Obviously you don’t know what’s going on unless you’re sat in the boardroom but that’s really annoying Leeds fans at the moment because we need stability, and a couple of quid as well, someone who can bring us in the handful of players we need to at the very least challenge for the playoffs next year, hopefully automatic promotion.

You get excited about new owners then hear they’re trying to sell it – it just sounds so flakey, you think: “What’s going on?”

Which areas of the team would you like to see strengthened?

I think we need a spine, if I’m honest with you. We need players in pretty much every position. We could do with at least another centre half – Tom Lees is a great young centre back and it would be good to get someone with some experience next to him. I think Stephen Warnock’s a good signing at left-back – he’s got good experience, and England caps – and Sam Byram’s been great for us, so in that respect we probably need one centre half.

Paddy Kenny’s not a bad goalkeeper, but I think we need pace and width on the wings because we’ve not replaced Max Gradel and Robert Snodgrass. Maybe another striker, too, then I think that’s it, so we probably only need another four or five half decent players.

Could you pick your Leeds United player and goal of the season?

I think the player of the season’s got to be Ross McCormack. He fell out of favour with Warnock a few times but he’s basically been such a solid player for us. He’s so passionate and there’s nothing more that Leeds fans want to see than when he’s chasing things down or kissing his badge trying to get the fans going. You need that in your team so heads don’t drop.

So McCormack’s been the best player and he probably scored the best goal as well, in my opinion: the one against Spurs in the FA Cup when he took it past Caulker, brought it back and then dinked it into the corner past Friedel. That was a great goal against a top-five Premier League club so that stands out, and it was a good move leading up to it too.

Finally, if you had to select a five-a-side team out of all the Leeds players you’ve seen in your time as a fan, who would you pick?

Nigel Martyn, Lucas Radebe, Gordon Strachan, David Batty, Mark Viduka – I bet Mark Viduka’s the ultimate five-a-side player because it’s not about pace but touch and control – and Tony Yeboah. Is that five?

It’s six but we’ll let you have it.

Put one on the bench, then!

Ryan Wilson, thank you.

The Pigeon Detectives - We Met at Sea

The Pigeon Detectives’ fourth album We Met at Sea will be released on Monday through Cooking Vinyl – you can preorder it on iTunes and on Amazon. For more information, please visit The Pigeon Detectives’ official website.