By Andy Gregory
Leeds have completed the loan signing of Mouhamadou Habib Habibou until the end of the season, with a view to making the deal permanent in the summer.
The 25 year old Central African Republic international striker has joined us from Belgian side SV Zulte Waregem and has scored 20 goals in 57 appearances for the club.
Manager Neil Warnock told the club website, "He's a player we've had across for a few days and we liked what we saw. We had the opportunity to take him on loan and that gives us a chance to take a longer look at him. We think he could be an exciting prospect."
Habibou added: "I am very happy to be here. I know about the background of the club and the expectations around the club, and I'm happy to sign and start playing."
By Russ Vernon
Leeds United have completed the signing of Aston Villa left back Stephen Warnock. The experienced defender completed his medical at Thorp Arch and will meet his new team-mates for the first time on Friday.
The 31-year-old has signed a two-and-a-half year deal at Elland Road. On Signing the Stephen Warnock manager Neil Warnock has said: "I'm absolutely delighted again. Stephen has the experience I think we need in that position. He is a former international who, for whatever reason, has been allowed to leave Aston Villa. He's a player I've tried to sign a few times before and I'm pleased he turned down West Ham to come here."
After signing his deal Stephen Warnock has said: "I wasn't needed at Villa, we'd had a couple of calls of interest and Villa said I was free to speak to clubs," explained Stephen.
"Leeds offered me a contract and at first it was a shorter term contract, but I was on my way to West Ham earlier in the week and Leeds came back in and really made me feel wanted. There were a couple
of clubs interested, but when you see the size of Leeds and the magnitude of the club there's only one choice, and once I'd spoken to the manager I knew I wanted to come. Obviously I've not been playing at Villa, and when you have a manager who wants you to play and has confidence in you it's nice to hear."
"I haven't come here to be a Championship player and I'm sure Steve Morison is the same," said Stephen. "I played against him last year, he's a very powerful player and I'm sure he's the sort Leeds fans will like to see. When you look at the position at the moment, a couple of wins throws you into the promotion chase. The new signings will hopefully lift the squad a little bit because that usually happens. Leeds is a huge club and we want to take it back to the Premier League. It's a strong squad here. You look back at the QPR and Sheffield United teams the manager assembled. They were tough teams who knew how to win games, and they were hard to play against."
"I'm fit and ready to go," he added. "It'll be up to the manager whether he wants to play me or wait, but I'm fit and ready."
By Russ Vernon
Leeds United have confirmed the signing of striker Steve Morison on a three-and-a-half year deal from Norwich City with Luciano Becchio moving in the opposite direction.
The 29-year old Morison joins Leeds in an exchange deal for Luciano Becchio with a further undisclosed sum to be paid by Norwich. Morison completed the formalities of his switch this morning.
The Welsh striker cost Norwich £2.8m from Millwall in June 2011 and has scored 12 goals for the Canaries in which 10 have been in the Premier League. Morison who has made 27 appearances this season for the Canaries scored 40 goals in 95 appearances for Millwall before he joined Norwich.
United manager Neil Warnock said on completing the Morison deal: “I’m absolutely delighted that we’ve been able to bring Steve in. Even before Luciano put in his transfer request we had enquired about Steve – he was at the top of my list in January to bring in – and I can’t tell you how delighted I am. Steve meets all the requirements of the striker we’ve been looking to bring in. For me, he is a player who has everything. He can score goals from anywhere – whether it’s 25 yards or a tap-in – he has pace, and he has all the attributes you want.”
Becchio told Canaries Player: “I spoke to Robert Snodgrass and Jonny Howson about Norwich and they both had really good things to say about the Club and the city. I cannot wait to play my first game for Norwich. I am really happy about having the chance to play in the Premier League, it is brilliant for me personally and for my career." The Argentine said he was looking forward to playing against some of the best players in the world, including some of his fellow countrymen. The Premier League has some brilliant players including people like Aguero and Tevez and it will be a great experience for me to play against players of that quality.”
By Kim Bjerregaard
In the summer of 2008 an unknown Argentinian joined Leeds on the pre-season tour in Ireland and impressed manager Gary McAllister enough for him to get a permanent deal with the club.
We've had loads of good memories of Becchio since, the -15 season, the promotion, the FA Cup runs and him being one of our best players of the past few seasons where everyone around him with a splash of talent left Elland Road faster than a drug dealer when the police shows up.
Those of you who know me or follow me on twitter (@kimleeds) will know that I'm a pretty huge Becchio fan, in my opinion he's the only player in a Leeds shirt since the 1992 team that have earned the right to be called legend, a frase that seems very over used by Leeds fans.
But now it seems that Becchio's time with Leeds is running out, no new deal can be agreed and Becchio has requested a transfer, sparking interest from both Premier League clubs and finacially attractive teams abroad, so what to do?
There's still 18 months left of Becchio's deal at Leeds, but if we can get the suggested £2.5 - £3,5m and
that money will be re-invested (never heard that before) in the team, then even I think we should probably let Becchio go.
Even though I'm as massive a Becchio Believer as I am, there will never be a player bigger than the club for me, and no one should be kept at the club if they don't wish to be there. I think we'll have a very hard time finding a proven goalscorer at this level for less the £25 - 30K p/w but if the club have a wage budget and want to follow that then I understand why they can't /won't break it.
However to replace Becchio within our budget will take a lot of luck, players have been mentioned on both Twitter and from more reliable sources, some well known, which we cant get at our budget, and some lottery tickets, which I'm not sure can deliver 20-25 goals per season.
But if/ when Becchio leaves he'll leave with my best wishes and I'll always keep an eye on his remaining career.
Marching on together Luciano!
By Mike Courtney
Following the euphoria of our excellent cup win over Spurs on Sunday our thoughts return to the impending closure of the transfer window and the possibly comings and goings from the club.
Much has been written about the future of Luciano Becchio over the past week and it now looks inevitable that he will depart before the window closes, once the Club's valuation of him is met. Personally I will be sad to see him go as he has been a great servant to the club over the last 4 years or so and my 3 yr old daughter has just learned the Luciano oh oh song and sings it constantly, but he is 29yrs old and looking for one last big contract and you can't really blame him for that.
The most important thing is that we re-invest the money in a suitable replacement immediately and not have to listen to the usual "Oh the transfer went through so late that we did'nt have time" rubbish that has been bandied about at the end of recent transfer windows. Some of the names we've been linked with don't really set the world on fire, Aruna Dindane and the brillantly named Habib Habibou to name but two. For me Dindane is a short term option and not the type of payer we need at this point in time. I know very little about Habib Habibou but have looked him up online and at 6ft 4in and 25yrs old he might be worth a punt, he looks a bit like Drogda and if he is half the player he was we won't be doing too bad. Some reports state that a bid has been accepted by his club Zulte Waregem (Who the hell are Zulte Waregem) for whom he has scored 20 goals in 57 appearences in the Belgian League. Ok its not exactly Seria A or La Liga but who amongst us had heard of Becchio before he signed or Davide Somma for that matter.
Another player that we are reported to be on the verge of signing is England International Stephen Warnock, a main stay of my fantasy football teams for the past few seasons before he fell out with Paul Lambert at Villa. Left back has been a problem position for us for a few years now and though Aidy played well there against Spurs, the arrival of a proven Premier League defender and International would be a welcome boost to the squad and show the intent on GFH to invest in quality players. We appear to have beaten off the challenge of West Ham by offering him a long term deal and his arrival is imminent if reports elewhwere are to be believed.
Even with the addition of those few players and the short term loan of Ross Barkley from Everton I believe we are still short of one or two quality signings, particularly on the flanks, to enable us to compete for promotion this season.
If we can compete like we did against Spurs week in week out in the League and continue our winning run at home, starting against table toppers Cardiff on Saturday and improve our away form I think we can be there or thereabouts come the end of the season. There are alot of if's and but's though and knowing Leeds there will be many twists and turns between now and the end of the season. Throw in the added bonus or distraction if you like of a trip to Eastlands in a few weeks to get the juices flowing and to make it another interesting few weeks for us Leeds fans all over the world.
MOT Leeds Leeds Leeds
By Adam Walker
Luciano Becchio last week handed in a transfer request as many of you will be aware. For the fans this is horrific news, I haven't been a 'Becchio believer' in the past but there is no denying he has been our greatest asset this season. He is slow, not very good with his feet and not the man who holds up the ball everybody thinks he is. I am of the belief that Becchio is a terrible football player, however he seems to get the goals we need and that's why he needs to stay.
After doing a little bit of maths I have discovered that Becchio has made a dramatic impact this season. I have looked at the goals he has scored and examined how they have helped us get into the position we are in at the moment, which is obviously still quite disappointing. Becchio has scored fourteen key goals this season and by that I mean, goals which have changed our points tally, either by getting us draws or wins. The list of key goals is as follows:
Leeds United 1-0 Wolverhampton Wanderers (Becchio x1) - 2 points gained by Becchio
Peterborough United 1-2 Leeds United (x2 Becchio) - 3 points gained by Becchio
Leeds United 3-3 Blackburn Rovers (x1 Becchio) - 1 point gained by Becchio
Leeds United 2-1 Nottingham Forest (x1 Becchio) - 2 points gained by Becchio
Bolton Wanderers 2-2 Leeds United (x1 Becchio) - 1 point gained by Becchio
Leeds United 1-0 Barnsley (x1 Becchio) - 2 points gained by Becchio
Leeds United 2-1 Crystal Palace (x1 Becchio) - 2 points gained by Becchio
Leeds United 1-0 Leicester City (x1 Becchio) - 2 points gained by Becchio
Huddersfield Town 2-4 Leeds United (x2 Becchio) - 2 points gained by Becchio
Leeds United 2-1 Middlesbrough (x2 Becchio) - 3 points gained by Becchio
Leeds United 1-0 Bolton Wanderers (x1 Becchio) - 2 points gained by Becchio
So the maths on that is 14 key goals that have earned us points and a total of 22 points earned through his goals. Now, with that in mind we should turn our attention to the league table. Leeds United currently have 41 points, take away the 22 points that have been earned by Becchio and you end up with 19 points, which puts us at the bottom of the league, 10 points from safety. Along with his 14 key goals in the league he has also scored another goal in the league which came against Hull City meaning he has scored 15 in the league. Take 15 away from our appalling -5 goal difference and you are left with -19 as our goal difference. Now, I don't know if anyone who has been in contract talks with Becchio has worked any of this out but I hope they do. After they work this out they will realise how priceless he is to the club, the team and the fans.
I don't blame Becchio for wanting to leave. Like Snodgrass in the summer, he has been kept in handcuffs at Leeds United. Luciano and fans alike have been promised progression by the directors of Leeds United. A promise that has taken a while to be fulfilled and is yet to be dealt with. Becchio obviously wants to play at a higher level before he retires. He is also after more money, who isn't? I have been told that Chris Wood at Leicester is on £40,000 a week, I wish we could offer contracts like that. I was speaking to a friend recently and we were discussing how much we would be willing to pay Becchio. With the contribution he puts in I would give him whatever he asks for. This is a player we cannot replace, he is simply irreplaceable. We have been told that the bids have come from foreign clubs. I wouldn't be surprised if he was on his way to Italy or Spain, maybe even Celtic to replace Gary Hooper? I wouldn't be surprised either if the bid came from his homeland back in Argentina. As he is getting older he may want to settle down in Argentina and end his career there. If he does leave, he will be sorely missed but I for one won't hold a grudge. He has been a loyal servant and he deserves better than this.
Thanks for reading, feel free to comment on your opinions and favourite memories of Becchio.
By Andrew Butterwick
The deep lying snow had miraculously disappeared overnight and bright sunshine greeted the Happy Chocker, Quiet One, Brother Chris and yours truly as we headed for Leeds down the M62. Cup fever was in the air mixed with a taint of unpleasant smells wafting across from the public squabbling between the club and our top scorer Mr Becchio over his future. GFH are adamant they have done all they can to keep him whilst Becchio's agent claims his client just wants to stop and play for Leeds for a realistic salary. In the end it appears the bridge that is insurmountable is between £2.5 and £5k per week between what Leeds will pay and what Becchio wants. Such a shame.
Most of the pre match talk was about the Becchio situation that is until the team was announced. The under fire manager Warnock had gone with the team that battled so well against Brum in the last round. But Spurs are a completely different proposition? Surely our midfield axis of Brown and Austin won't be able to cope with the Spurs superstars and why is Varney on the wing? There weren't many fans in the captain's lounge shouting for joy at the selection. Still this was the FA Cup and anything could happen couldn't it?
Michael Brown was captain for the day against one of his old clubs. The sun was streaming down on the 30,000 fans inside Elland Road as the game got under way. Leeds started on the front foot and won a corner in the first minute. The atmosphere was cautious rather than spine tingling as the fans became engrossed in the opening exchanges. Spurs were playing with Dempsey up top and Lennon and Bale on the flanks, a potent force but Leeds young defence dug in and defended with some assurance. behind them Ashdown looked cool and calm as he dealt with a couple of early chances, notably from Sigurdsson. Brown and Austin were snapping at anything that moved in the middle whilst Green and Varney on the flanks were working hard. 15 minutes flew by then suddenly Varney was free on the left flank after a mistake by Naughton. His undoubted pace took him away from the struggling Spurs defence and into the box where he coolly curled the ball around veteran goalie, Freidel, and into the net. 1.0 Leeds and the old stadium erupted with unexpected joy. Luke Varney had scored and for the 4th time this season we had taken the lead against a Premier League team in a cup competition. Unbelievable. Scott Parker had warned his team mates before the match about what to expect from the Leeds crowd. Now they were knew exactly what he meant.
Spurs were struggling to cope with the high tempo Leeds play but did create a number of half chances. Bale got free down the right and cut in but chose to shoot rather than pull it back. Ashdown saved comfortably. He was soon in action again as he pulled off a superb save from a Dempsey shot. Leeds relieved some of the pressure with a long ball over the top... Ross Mac was straight onto to it and into the box with just Freidel to beat... his reverse shot was just saved by the Spurs goalie. A 2nd goal for Leeds just before half time would have lifted the roof off Elland Road. Half time arrived and the unfancied Leeds team trotted off to a thunderous ovation. 1.0 Leeds.
The Leeds players who get the most stick from the fans, Varney and Brown were playing superbly. At the back Byram was peerless whilst Pelts and Lees were rock solid. Aidy White's pace at left back was not found wanting against both Bale and Lennon. This was a proper cup tie and Leeds were giving it a proper go. But could they hold on or would they suffer in the 2nd half as they did against Chelsea?
Leeds started the second half on fire though. Varney, having his best game for Leeds, wriggled through into the box and was only denied by a dubious last ditch tackle by a Spurs defender. The high flying Premier League team looked decidedly uncomfortable as a robust home team stuck to their game plan. 5 minutes into the half and Leeds were in dreamland. The magnificent Diouf released Ross Mac over the top and the Scot sprinted away from the Spurs back line into the box... he cut back inside and then hit an unstoppable shot past Freidel. 2.0 Leeds. Get in! Elland Road was dancing with delight as the team that couldn't muster a shot at goal or a corner against lowly Barnsley were now leading Spurs by 2 goals. It's a funny old game.
Spurs were now stung into action. Dempsey missed a golden chance to pull one back for the London team. Dembele and Obika replaced Huddlestone and Sigurdsson as AVB tried to get his team back in the game. Bale who had been kept relatively quiet found some space on the left and delivered a dangerous cross for Dempsey to flick a looping header beyond Ashdown into the Leeds net. 2.1 Leeds. Bollox.
Spurs poured forward looking for the equaliser but it was Ross Mac who so nearly got the next goal. Another ball over the top found Ross Mac free but Freidel kept his team in the game as he blocked the shot. Nerves were now starting to jangle as a game we didn't expect to win was now within our grasp. But could the defence hold out? Lees was absolutely fantastic at the back ably supported by Pelts. Has the Leeds captain found a position that he can play in?
The game entered the last 10 minutes with Spurs throwing everything forward but without carving out any real clear chances. Any sniff of a chance Spurs had was soon squashed by either Lees, Byram's or Brown's legs. This was stirring stuff. This is what the FA cup is all about. The 4th official held up a board that said 4 excruciating minutes of added time to play. Could Leeds hold out? Spurs pumped the ball into the box but Leeds cleared towards the corner. Brown then had a complete rush of blood as he scythed down a Spurs player who was going nowhere. Free kick in a dangerous position. This was the game right here. Could Leeds hold out. Freidel came up to join the attack as the ball floated into the box... bodies clattered together but the ball ran free to Austin who ran the ball out before rolling the ball from the half way towards the empty net. Leeds fans were celebrating a third goal prematurely as the ref bizarrely blew the whistle before the ball rolled into the net. It didn't matter Leeds had won 2.1 and were through to the next round of the cup. Fantastic!
Difficult to name a man of the match. The whole team were outstanding. Brown, Varney, Lees, Pelts, Green all looked at ease against their Premier League superiors but it was Byram who once again caught my eye with an absolutely brilliant performance. This was just the performance Leeds needed. If only we could play like this every week. The excited chatter of fans leaving the stadium after a win and a good performance filled Elland Road as we marched back to the car. Even a fixed penalty notice
stuck on the car couldn't dampen our spirits. We were in the draw for the 5th round. Delicious!
Home in time to here the draw... Man City away! Get in. Let's do the Leeds Poznan!!!!!!
By Andrew Butterwick
The announcement that Becchio has handed in a transfer request didn't all together surprise me. The atmosphere on Planet Leeds in recent weeks has been difficult to say the least. The performances on the pitch have been awful... even the games we've won.
This has been more than reflected in the rapidly falling
attendances both at home and even away from LS11. Ex Leeds player, Kilkenny, expressed his shock at the half empty ground after Bristol City's recent visit. 3 weeks into the transfer window and all we have managed to do is sign Michael Tonge and get Ross Barkley on loan, a loan that prevents him playing in the cup by the way. Alan Tate's tenure has also come to an end as he returned to Swansea but not before he declared he couldn't stay due to "the financial situation at Leeds" The silence from our new owners has been deafening. It pains me to say this but Leeds United are in a mess, a very big mess.
The axis of inactivity, Warnock and Harvey, claim to be doing a great job and working hard behind the scenes respectively but despite their valiant efforts the only thing we see are players leaving the club not coming the other way. The conclusion the majority of fans have reached is that the club is skint and still happy to sell players to the highest bidder to stave off financial ruin. Not a situation that inspires any sort of hope that things will change in the near future I'm afraid.
So where do we go from here? Optimistically if Becchio is sold the money will be used to supplement the existing transfer budget and bring in a couple of decent players, the team will improve and the play offs will be beckoning... but back to reality. The money will be lost in the same financial black hole that all transfer monies have disappeared to in recent years, Delph, Johnson, Howson, Gradel, Snodgrass et al. No signings will arrive at ER due to the same old reasons... greedy agents, too high wages, Warnock will bemoan the fact he hasn't been able to bring in the couple of signings he needed for promotion and another season will sink into frustrating, tedious anti climax. Accompanying this malaise will be the continued destruction of a once great club by inept and short sighted management of the football club. What price for Sam Byram?
In short Leeds are in turmoil, not for the first time, but this time I fear will be more catastrophic than anything seen before unless our new owners start to get a grip and show some leadership. Where is the engagement with the fans? Where are the resources the club needs to grow? Where is any visibility of what's going on?
Supporting Leeds is always something of a burden but it shouldn't drive you to despair. Currently we are continually on Despair Avenue. Will we escape back to some sort of normality in the near future? Don't hold your breath. Batten down the hatches I fear the season is already over... unless we can seek some solace in the FA Cup against Spurs? It's a long shot but