By Keith Ingham
In November we heard for the first time that our beloved team was in the process of a takeover, for the second time in less than twelve months. David Haigh and Andrew Flowers were heading a consortium of business men attempting to get control of seventy five percent of the club.
After the last tortuous takeover from Ken Bates, GFH had decided it was time for them to make whatever profit they could out of selling the club. David Haigh promised the fans but more importantly the manager, Brian McDermott the funds to compete in the January transfer market were going to be there. December has past, January is nearly gone and on Friday so will the chance to add to a tired looking playing staff judging by recent results.
Sport Capital, so they say, have funded the club to the tune of up to six million pounds for 'running the club' and also are said to have provided the funds to obtain loanee's Cameron Stewart, who will become permanent in the summer on a three year deal and Jimmy Kebe who will remain until the end of the season.
The inclusion of a possible two more bidders, one containing Adam Pearson and the other more controversial, the Italian business man Massimo Cellino seemed to have attracted the attention of GFH in the hope that a bidding war will increase the money they were making from the sale of the club. This certainly has 'muddied' the waters and left the club in chaos, nobody really knowing what is really going on.
The sight of a manager desperately wanting this farcical period of time to end with a successful conclusion is a sorry sight and only his loyalty to the clubs staff, players and importantly it's fans has kept him in the job he certainly wants. I totally commend him for this and his comments after the Ipswich match.
I am asking, no bloody demanding a clear answer from the club either from the Chairman or the Marketing Executive David Haigh. This takeover business is doing the club no favours and the ramifications of this could well rumble on until the summer.
Gentlemen now is the time to be honest with the people that most matter - IT'S FANS.
Still On On On but with some answers needed!!
By Mike Courtney
I hate January, I really do. Weather is usually pretty bad, the euphoria of Christmas is over and you are facing into a long year. The days are short, nights are long and all in all its a fairly crappy month.
Then there is Leeds United and January. This month hasn't been kind to us down through the years. Its usually the month that our cup dreams end, this year being no exception and our League ambitions dwindle. Remember 2002, beat West ham 3-1 New Years day to top the table only to lose to Cardiff in 3rd round of cup the following week, which sent our season spiralling, failed to qualify for Champions League which led to Rio being sold, O'Leary being sacked and our current financial crisis unfolding.
Twelve years on and not much has changed. The ownership of the club is up for grabs, our form in the League has capitulated and we are out of the cup. On top of that there is a serious bid, £5 million the latest figure, for our top scorer, captain and only shining light of the season. Sure why would we sell our top scorer in January? You might well ask but cast your mind back 12 months and what did we do? Yes that's right, we sold our top scorer. Deja Vu or what!!!
Most fans are saying that Ross won't go. Chairman says we're not going to sell him. Manager has made his intentions clear that he wants to keep Ross and has made him captain and the player himself just signed a new deal at the club last August and loves it at Leeds. So he's not going anywhere right? Well I wouldn't be so sure. With the latest takeover fiasco lingering on and on and the January transfer window coming to a close without the merest hint of investment or potential signings being mooted, £5 Million is a lot of cash to a club in Leeds United position. For the player himself it would mean a large signing on fee, improved wages and a chance to test himself at the highest level. With Leeds that chance is at least 18 months away and possibly longer. It would be hard to blame Ross if he jumped ship.
He though would be well aware that faraway fields aren't always greener and he just has to look at what has become of Luciano Becchio since he took the plunge and went to a struggling premier league team. A player revered at Leeds and worshipped by (most of) the fans now turning out for Norwich reserves. So Ross will have a lot of thinking to do when Big Sam comes knocking at his door to try and lure him away to Premier League land.
Where will that leave Leeds though? If our top striker departs, will the £5 million be reinvested in the squad before the window slams shut? Has BMAC even discreetly sniffed around any potential replacements? Is there even any out there at this late stage? Lots of questions with very few answers. Or will the money just go to those behind the scenes and line their pockets as this once great club slips further into the abyss that is the football league.
A season that started with much optimism, new manager, new board, million pound signing and hovering around the play off places approaching Christmas, has in the past month descended into much the same doom, gloom and empty promises that have been the norm since our fall from grace. The Leeds faithful can only take so much. The fans have backed the team home and away this season and even though performances on the pitch these last 5 or 6 games haven't been up to scratch, they are still right behind them and will be there in their droves tomorrow night and on Saturday, hoping to see Leeds get their season back on track with moral boosting victories which are badly needed to keep us in touch with the play-off hopefuls.
Will our skipper feature? Will there be new blood brought in to boost the squad? Will the takeover be complete and if so will it be Italian, Bahranian or British owners at the helm? Lots of questions but few answers at the moment. This could be a huge week in the history of Leeds United Football Club. Keep our skipper, supplement squad with proper investment and fans might dare to dream that the glory days are not far away, maybe not this season but maybe next. Sell our skipper, fail to reinvest and those dreams could turn into nightmares.
It remains to be seen what this week will bring, but as usual when it comes to Leeds United, it won't be straightforward or easy.
Leeds forever, no matter what!
MOT Leeds Leeds Leeds
By Keith Ingham
Kylie Minogue had a hit with the song mentioned above and sitting here on a non football day due to the defeat at Rochdale, made me think a little about that rascal Ken Bates.
No! I hear you shout and I understand my muting could not endear me to the faithful, but I wonder if many others have had the same thought but wouldn't dare speak it. So after a week of 'non news' of the takeover of the club I thought back to the days under our former dictator.
Yes I hear you say they were hard, long years but you always knew Ken was trying his best to force his hand deep in your pocket while romancing you, not like GFH who put their arm around you then when your distracted take money with the other hand. If it's true that they don't really have a pot where does it leave the club? I'd say up a large brown river without the ability to move the boat.
Mr Haigh and Mr Flowers did lend the club a fair amount of money, six million if the press release was correct and if Sport Capitol don't get the keys to Elland Road they will surly ask for a rather large refund, which I don't see the owners at present have and maybe some of the family silver may have to be sold.
Don't get me wrong I never liked Bates for his arrogance, his Chelsea past and his comment in the 80's that he would love to rid the world of our famous club. The affair with Kenneth was never going to be easy but at least you knew you where you were with him. Howson, Snods. Johnson and Becchio were sold to keep his Monaco trust fund in the green, and that was to the detriment of the team of course. If you look back three seasons the team now is a shadow of the one back then.
Maybe Kylie's 'Better the devil you know' was wrong but only time will tell if that is so. I hope for the sake of the club it is and a brighter, better future that awaits.
On On On
By Keith Ingham
Last weekend David Haigh teased the fans with a 'Good news next week'. Well David a week has passed and me and thousands of Leeds fans are wanting to know what is actually going on at our beloved team. Nearly every day I've searched to find out who this person is or that other one is.
The fans would really like a little reassurance from you and Salem that everything is ok in the theatre of hope. If it's not and from this fan I certainly think that a club that has to borrow money is certainly not in the best financial health. Moscow White has done a very interesting piece in 'The City Talks' where he asks who is actually calling the 'shots' at the club.
Please do not treat us as imbeciles Mr Haigh, we are the lifeblood of this club and without our support and mainly our money their would be no club. We have gone through eight hard years of Kenneth Bates and we believed in what GFH were hoping to do to our famous club but if you persist in this 'cloak and dagger' mentality you could find that the fans could turn on you just as they did Bates.
The news of a bid from West Ham for our talismanic striker comes as no surprise as most of football knows we haven't a pot to piddle into and until we see different so will the fans too
I'm asking three things, reject the McCormack bid and any others that come in for him and any other of the bright lights at the club. Come out publicly and tell the fans exactly what has happened in the last seven days. Finally publicly back the manager and give him some funds to aid his search to improve the squad like you promised him. If not you might find yourself without a manager if he decides the 'good faith' that brought him to the club were words and nothing else.
We are waiting Mr Haigh.
On On On
By Seán Ryan
After the Sheffield Wednesday game people were screaming out that we needed a leader in the team, but instead of finding one we lost one of our best in Bobby Collins, the man who can be credited with getting Leeds promoted in Revie’s time. It was an emotional week for all involved in Leeds United as we lined up a home game against League leaders Leicester City. It was, in my opinion, the perfect game to get us out of our slump. Nobody gave us a chance and all expected us to roll over and die and if there is one thing Leeds United don’t do it's roll over when the pressure is on.
BMAC stayed true to his word of going right back to basics with a 4-4-2 formation and the inclusion of Michael Brown showed he wanted a bit more steel. It was an emotional day in Elland Road as everyone paid tribute to one of football’s true leaders. The Leeds team that played with Collin’s was on the sideline at the start almost to remind the current bunch that a performance was very necessary. It was the time for this Leeds United team to really stand up and be counted. And they did.
From the off we hassled, harried and closed Leicester down, not giving them an inch, not allowing them to breathe. Nugent and Vardy were starved of chances and their frustrations were clear, especially when Nugent kicked out at Pearce and should have walked. Ross McCormack was like a man possessed. Header off the post, chip cleared off the line and Schmeichel with a tremendous save to tip a shot around the post. Lees headed just over and Kébé just wide. Pearce and Lees were dominating at the back, Byram and Warnock justified their inclusion with solid displays, Rudi Austin looked like a new man with the pressure of the captaincy gone, Kébé and Stewart showed flashes of quality, but need more time, Varney chased, harried and pressured and should have gotten a goal bar Kébé was to slow with the cut-back. Michael Brown was my man of the match. He was the leader that we needed on the pitch. He showed what we were missing against Wednesday with a thumping tackle on Moore about 15 minutes in. Poor lad didn’t know what had hit him.
The crowd loved it. The songs were flying and the players were taking it on board and pushing, prodding and slowly exposing the weaknesses of Leicester. Then came half time. How we weren’t one up I don’t know. The game should have been over. We were unlucky, but then when are we not. The second half was more even with Leicester starting to get a hold of the game, but there were still chances at each end and tackles flying in. Nigel Pearson seemed the more worried of the two and quickly made changes. Kevin Phillips being one of those introduced. And it was his moment of magic that led to the only goal of the game. A low cross form Moore from the right side was dummied into the path of David Nugent to scramble home into the Leeds United goal. It was a bitter, bitter pill to sallow, but there was one last positive in my eyes, one thing that made me proud to my core to be a Leeds Unite fan. The crowd was up belting out Marching On Together to urge the team on to get the equaliser. However, time was against us and it wasn’t to be.
While Leicester managed to hold on for a vital three points and as we slipped to a fifth straight defeat we do now have our two most important weapons. The fans are back singing and the players are playing with a bit of heart again. When we were at the very top people were afraid of Leeds United and of the fans. Elland Road needs to become a fortress once again. We may not have won, but there was enough there to be optimistic of better performances. The team did Bobby proud. Now build on it.
R.I.P Bobby Collins (16 February 1931 – 13 January 2014)
By Andrew Butterwick
Gallows humour was rife as I headed for Elland Road with Happy Chocker, Brother Chris and the Quiet One. With our last 4 games showing an aggregate score of 2-12 and the visit of high flying league leaders, Leicester City, on today's agenda it's safe to say that confidence was in short supply. "We'll do well to keep them down to four goals" HC thought with Brother Chris agreeing. The last two week's performances, or lack of performances, had taken a heavy toll on this band of Mighty Whites masochists. We wiled away the twenty minute journey trying to figure out what team and formation Brian McD would put out after last weeks disastrous 3-4-3 experiment. As we parked up we concluded there wasn't a suitable answer and whatever combination of players started keeping the score respectable against the league leaders was about as likely as the England cricket team winning a game in Australia.
A crowd of over 22,000 had chosen to witness more potential embarrassment at first hand and were absorbing the team news as we took our seats. Brown and Austin were the new midfield duo as Brian McD sought to shore up the fragile centre of his 4-4-2 formation. Varney replaced the suspended Smith up front. At the back Lees and Pearce kept their places with Warnock and Byram coming in alongside them. New boys Kebe and Stewart started on the wings. Zaliukas lost his place altogether. Diouf had interrupted his globe trotting to win a place back on the bench. Leicester's team looked formidable and with options on their bench including the newly signed Phillips, King and Chris Wood things were looking bleak for Leeds.
Captain Ross Mac had his tiny son with him for the warm up as his wee lad was included in the day's mascot line up. A minute's applause in memory of the great Bobby Collins served as a poignant reminder of what a force Leeds once were. How we could do with a player of Collins' drive and passion in the team today. A tad apprehensive is a good description of how I felt as we kicked off with the phrase "lambs to the slaughter" imprinted on my brain. From the very first whistle it was clear this was going to be a very different showing from last week's debacle as Leeds hunted the Foxes down at every opportunity with Brown and Varney to the fore in the opening minutes. This lifted the home crowd and suddenly Leeds looked like a team again with the league leaders very much on the back foot. Chances started to flow as Leeds attacked the baying kop.
Austin tried an ambitious shot from 30 yards that went 30 yards wide. Ross Mac had a chip cleared off the line with Schmeichel well beaten before hitting the post with a header from 8 yards after terrific work from Varney. Vardy exposed Leeds defence before hitting a fierce shot onto the post as the match exploded into a flurry of chances. Austin tried another shot from distance...........Kebe and Varney headed wide whilst Ross Mac tested Schmeichel with a low shot. Unbelievable. Last week we had one paltry shot all game this week we should have been 3 up in the first 15 minutes.............and that was before top striker Ross Mac missed a golden chance with only the goalie to beat after a Zaliukas type error by Konshesky. It was a top class save from the ex Leeds goalie but you would have put your mortgage on the new captain scoring. Leeds were on fire. All we needed was a goal.
Leicester looked dangerous on the break but there was renewed vigour and resolve in the Leeds back four as they fought for every ball. Chances continued to flow for Leeds. The revitalised Warnock struck a cross deep to the back post where Lees leapt and headed over from 5 yards with Schmeichel stranded and the goal unguarded. "We need to convert these chances" I mused as another chance went begging. "It could be 5.1" I enthused incredibly but HC quite rightly pointed out it wasn't and they look lively up front. Half time came with the score somehow still 0.0 but the team trotted off for their half time cuppa to warm applause in stark contrast to the vitriolic boos that had accompanied them for the last two matches.
Brown, Varney and Warnock had all figured prominently in a very encouraging first 45 minutes. I eagerly headed to the gents to sample the thoughts of the urinal philosophers! "Why didn't we play like that last week" one punter asked......"Miles better than last week, we can win this" another offered. A statement that I certainly didn't think I'd hear at today's match. The tide of positiveness was rudely interrupted by a ridiculous claim by one fan that "McDerrmot wants sacking if we don't win this" followed by "We need a new striker cos Ross Mac is shite" Somebody did point out the number of goals the shite McCormack had scored this season but that was lost as the steam poured from the irate fan's ears. I suppose football is a game of opinions but sometimes I wonder what planet some people are on?
The fact that the score was still 0.0 was a major concern. We might have had plenty of chances but the lack of any goals from the chances heaped the pressure on the team as the 2nd half progressed. The words "sucker punch" started to creep into the conversation. Brown battled through and shot straight at Schmeichel but it was the away team who started to get a grip on the game without really testing Kenny in the Leeds goal. The euphoria of the opening exchanges had now been replaced by nervous tension in the crowd as we started to believe we might actually get something from the game. Nigel Pearson shuffled his pack to try and pinch all three points as he brought on Waselweski, King and Phillips to bring fresh legs to the Leicester effort. Well I say fresh legs I don't think they could be as they seemed to have been warming up on the touch line for nearly all the match. I bet they were glad to get on to have rest from all the exercises!
Brian McD eventually threw Peltier and Diouf on to replace Kebe and Varney with 5 minutes left. After his recent absence Diouf looked like he still had his bodywarmer on underneath his shirt. It was Leicester's subs who made an impact though. Phillips drifted to the back post and received the ball from a long cross before pulling it back for King to fire just over Kenny's bar. He might be 40 years old but Phillips has still got an astute football brain........especially for the championship.
The game entered the final minutes with the tension high. One goal would win it now but at which end? This is when sod's law came into play. Leeds had rattled 14 shots in on Schmeichel's goal with 4 of them forcing a save from the ex Leeds keeper. Kenny had had no shots on target to save............that is until the 88th minute when a neat dummy by Phillips and a quick touch from Nugent left the ball enticingly in the centre of the goal. Kenny came out to smother, Pearce stretched out a leg to clear but it was the annoying Nugent who toe poked the ball into the Leeds net and cruelly pinch all three points. Bollox! 1.0 Leicester. 4 minutes of added time just prolonged the frustration of another defeat. Leeds didn't deserve to lose but they had. The difference this week was the team were applauded off the field after a battling performance that at least showed desire, passion and a hunger to win if not that cutting edge to convert the adequate number of chances.
The crowd was quiet as they streamed back to the cars. The Leicester fans knew they'd committed the ultimate smash and grab........a bit like Southampton did when a late Ricky Lambert goal snatched a win for the Saints in their promotion year. On this form Leicester look as if they will be climbing the slippery pole into the riches of the Premier League as well. As for Leeds this was an encouraging performance. The middle of the park looked a lot more solid with Brown in there. He did tire late on though. Varney caused trouble all afternoon for the Leicester defence whilst Kebe had a much better game. Stewart showed a couple of flashes of his undoubted skill. If they are given time to settle they will be an asset. Byram and Warnock played really well with the left back showing true grit and determination down the left flank.
In some ways this was more disappointing than last week. Having gone toe to toe with one of the stand out teams in this very tight league and to lose at the death was gut wrenching. Brian McD is still talking of adding to the squad in this window. I think it may be too late for this year but if we can start building for a real shot at it next year then all well and good.
So in the end we weren't Lambs to the slaughter more like Hounds amongst the foxes in the first half but the end result was still a disappointing defeat. Ipswich up next at Elland Road. With a blank weekend next week there is plenty of preparation time for BM to rally his troops. Hopefully we can get back on the winning track against the Tractor Boys?
By Mike Courtney
Prior to yesterday's match at home to league leaders Leicester, there was a lot of negative talk regarding the state of the team, manager and the club in general.
Most of it was warranted after a string of poor results culminating in the humiliation at Hillsborough last week. Most observers reckoned that Leicester would compound that doom and gloom by doling out another beating with Messrs Nugent and Vardy tipped to rip open our porous defence.
BMAC was looking for a response from his players and he reverted to a 4-4-2 formation with the return of Byram and Warnock to the full back berths, Michael Brown joining Rudy in midfield and Luke Varney alongside newly appointed captain Ross McCormack up front. The response the manager was looking for was evident from the outset as Leeds hassled and harried Leicester all over the pitch and could and should have been one up inside 5 minutes when Varney's cross was heading against the post by our skipper.
We were lucky to survive a few minutes later when Pearce let Vardy run in behind him and he smashed a right foot shot against the post. From there until the end of the half it was mostly all Leeds. McCormack had an exquisite lob cleared off the line after Schmeichel flapped at a corner and his deflected follow up was expertly turned round the post by the keeper. Then Ross was put in one on one with the keeper and a chance he would normally have taken went a begging as he shot straight at Schmeichel. Tom Lees sent a free header over the bar from 3 yards and Kebe tried to play in Varney but his square ball was cut out at the expense of a corner.
At the other end Leicester's highly rated strike force was getting little or no change from Lees and Pearce, Rudy and Brown were all over the park tackling and intercepting and generally making a nuisance of themselves. Kenny didn't have one save to make in that opening half. The manager must have been happy with the reaction he got from his players in that opening 45 minutes, but I think we all knew we couldn't keep that tempo up in the second half and the lack of a goal despite having dominated was worrying.
We didn't create much in the way of chances in the second half as Leicester began to get a foothold in the game, but neither did they and as we approached the final 10 minutes Kenny still wasn't unduly tested. When Kevin Phillips was introduced I must admit I though he would make an impact for them but it was
Andy King who almost broke the deadlock, when he was just wide of Kennys left hand post after a Leicester break. Leeds hearts were finally broken on 88 minutes when the aforementioned Phillips step-over a low cross and Dave Nugent poked home a soft goal for a smash and grab victory for the leaders.
Depsite 4 minutes of added time and the introduction of Diouf for a rare appearance, Leeds were not able to conjure up the equaliser that their first half performance deserved and we have now lost our last 4 league games and have plummeted to 12th having being top 6 before Christmas. There were a lot of positives though. We did look livelier all over the pitch. We created plenty of chances and kept their strike force quiet for much of the game. Some fans will point to the fact that we still play a lot of hoof ball and don't try to play out from the back, but when you are on a run like ours this is understandable. We don't have that creative spark in midfield and though Varney did well I feel we still lack a genuine partner for McCormack up front.
BMAC said after the game that it was the first time he felt he had a team and a formation and game plan to compete in the Championship. I hope he is right but having been in the job for the best part of a year I would think its about time we had at least that. The team needs new blood and though we have brought in two wide men we still need 2 or 3 signings before the end of the window. Our next two fixtures are at home to Ipswich and Huddersfield, so we have the best part of ten days to get the takeover sorted and players in.
I am still optimistic for this season. Six points from those upcoming home games will have us back within touching distance of the playoffs. We need a win, a scrappy goal, a soft penalty, it doesn't matter how we get it but we need it and soon. The players, management and fans can take some solace from yesterdays defeat, but at the end of the day it was still a defeat and we need to end this bad run some way, some how and soon or we will be building for season 2014/15.
So lot's of positives to take from yesterday apart from the result and when push comes to shove it is a results business, but at least we restored some of the damage done at Wednesday and if we can take the confidence from that into our next home matches, we could get this ship back on course before our season is washed up on the rocks.
MOT Leeds Leeds Leeds.
By Keith Ingham
After another defeat left Leeds in 'limbo land' or mid table. I decided to write this open letter to our prospective new owner if this ongoing takeover ever gets completed.
I wanted him to know why this Leeds fan thinks it is so important to get in position a board that will think of the team first for a change and why I first became a follower of the greatest team in the world, in my opinion.
It started back in 1974, high in the Gelderd End (Revie Stand) that I fell in love with Leeds. That love has continued for forty years and like our song has had it's 'ups and downs, ups and downs. I think of those days fondly even though most of my early years I would return home with the backs of my legs slightly damp due to somebody relieving themselves in the packed Kop. If you can get through that and see the funny side of it nothing else can tempt you away from the theatre of hope.
I've seen trophies lifted, brilliant players, the Revie team that was never given the credit it deserved, the fallow years in the eighties when times were hard and confidence low through to the emergence of Wilkinson's team that became the last League Champions before the Premiership came and lastly O'Learys 'babes' who swept Europe aside only to fall at the last hurdle in the Champions League. Great highs and lows of this wonderful club.
The fall of this once mighty club is well documented. We gambled and when it went wrong we nearly paid the ultimate price, the club we loved. I'm only one fan but my sentiments provably are echoed by tens of thousands. This deal needs to be done and quick before another season goes by without progress where it matters on the pitch. We applaud your efforts to raise the profile of the club and grow closer to the fans that matter through your work within the community.
The last thing I must say with pride and passion, please Mr Haigh make memories in the future so we don't just remember our glorious past.
Let's make this club great again
On On On