“It was tough to be left out and I don’t like being in that position but I’ve got the utmost respect for the manager and, to be honest, I agreed with his decision. I’d have done the same. I haven’t been great - and if I haven’t been great then how can he justify putting me in? It’s not the first time he’s dropped me in his career or mine and I’ve never once felt that he was treating me unfairly. I don’t know if he was nervous about telling me but he was superb in the way he handled it and it left me thinking ‘yeah, fair enough.’ Managers don’t pick players who aren’t playing well, or good managers don’t. “He is the sort of guy who would leave his son out if he had to. He’d leave out anyone who didn’t deserve a place. I don’t expect any special treatment just because I’ve played under him before or because we know each other well. I won’t get special treatment and no player should.”
I am sure that most Leeds fans will be impressed by that attitude - and it was pleasing to note that the striker enjoyed a boost to his confidence yesterday when celebrating an hat-trick for the Under 21's. Hunt appreciates however that getting back into the starting X1 will not come easy as he acknowledged the performance of the team on Sunday - reserving special praise for Matty Smith.
“The team were superb on Sunday,” he said. “The manager changed the shape and it did us the world of good. We put endless balls into the box and if we’re laying on balls like that, we’ve got players here who will attack them and score. All the strikers here are well capable of chipping in and Sunday made that clear. Credit to big Matty Smith – he took his chances superbly and his finishing was top draw. I’m genuinely delighted for him and he deserves his place now. He deserves it big time. We’ve got a good squad here and certainly not as bad a squad as people have been making out. It’s maybe boring to talk about attitude and so on but that’s what makes you bounce back when you’re under pressure. We played great against Birmingham, definitely, but the attitude through the international break and leading up to the game was right on the money. You can’t discount that.”
Refreshing words, and with that kind of attitude and response to disappointment, it is no surprise that McDermott recognised that qualities that he was bringing into the football club extended beyond the football pitch. Let us hope that Noel takes heart from finding the net on Tuesday and, when his opportunity comes around again - which it surely will - he is able to find a performance equally as impressive as his attitude and commitment to his manager and his team- mates.
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