By Mike Courtney
What a week it has been. Being a Leeds United fan is never boring, there is always something stirring in the background. Books by managers, court trials of players, and for the past 12 years financial mayhem. But nothing and I mean nothing compares to the goings on of the past week.
Manager sacked on eve of Yorkshire Derby followed by confusion as to whether he was sacked or not. Then we go out and trounce Huddersfield and straight after the match word filters through that manager has been reinstated. Then talk of sponsors pulling out and rival bids for ownership in the pipeline. Then during the week a winding up petition is lodged over unpaid debts and another court date to decide the future of the club scheduled for March. By all accounts the club is bleeding money left right and centre, some reports suggest £1 million a week, and reports of staff not being paid. Never a dull moment.
So a week on where do we stand? Well it is looking increasingly more likely that Massimo Cellino will takeover as owner of the club once he passes the Football Leagues fit and proper test at a hearing on Wednesday. It has been reported that he is on the verge of selling Cagliari and will put all his funds into Leeds United. He says himself that the first thing he will do is buy back Elland Road and clear the debts. He wants to see Leeds v Man United as it used to be, if Man U keep going the way they are that could well be in the Championship, but I think we all get what he means.
Basically he wants to achieve what we as fans all want and that is a return to the good times at Leeds United. He seems to have the money to back up the talk, unlike a lot of our owners, from Krasner to Bates to GFH, and maybe this is what the club needs at this time; Financial Security. But at what cost to the club? Could he be our very own Vincent Tan? Will fans accept this? Lots of questions as usual.
The past week has been an embarrassment at Elland Road, apart from the performance on the pitch, and this has not endeared the prospective new owner to the fans. His treatment of Brian McDermott was deplorable to say the least. That man has been nothing but honest, committed and dedicated to Leeds United since he took over as boss 10 months ago. I think he has handled himself so well over the last week. He is a manager who I think can be the one to lead us back to the Premier League if given the time and the backing by whatever board is in place. Will he get that time remains to be seen.
He will probably remain in charge until the end of the season at least but I fear that if he does not get us promoted then Massimo will bring in his own man, Festa, and start a fresh in the summer. This could lead to lots of changes at the club in terms of playing personnel and I would expect to see a lot of Italian names on the back of Leeds jersey's next season. We already have one in limbo at the moment, Andrea Tabanelli, who is still waiting to discover whether his loan move has been ratified or not.
This is a story that is going to run and run and keep the tabloids busy over the coming months. There is still the business of on field matters as we head to Yeovil for another live on Sky Saturday lunchtime kick off followed by an away night at Brighton. A Ross McCormack double saw us beat Yeovil back in early November and with the form he is in at the moment, a repeat performance is not beyond the bounds of possibility against a side who have done ok for their first appearance at this level, causing some upsets but who are rooted to the foot of the table and look to be heading back to League One. We should have enough firepower and momentum from last weeks win and a repeat of the 2-0 scoreline with Ross again finding the net should make for a happy Saturday for the travelling fans.
Tuesday's visit to the Amex could be a different story though. We were lucky to snatch a late winner on the opening day, when Luke Murphy popped up deep in injury time to steal all three points after Ross had pulled us level after falling behind early. A lot has happened since and as it stands, Brighton lie 2 places above us in 9th and are battling hard, along with ourselves and a few others, for that final playoff spot and can ill afford to lose more ground on Reading, who are currently comfortably holding that treasured golden ticket. We don't have a great record at Brighton, the Withdean Stadium was always a tough place to get points. The Amex won't be any easier and I fear that we could come unstuck there if we don't bring our A game. This could realistically be McDermotts last game in charge if Cellino does takeover on Wednesday and maybe that could motivate the players to put in one last performance for the Boss. A sneaky 2-1 win would do nicely but it could be a pointless visit if the players heads aren't in the right place.
So after a week of turmoil off the pitch its time for the players to do the talking. They did so emphatically last week and with 6 points up for grabs on the road, maybe they can do so again and keep BMAC in his job and keep the outside chance of grabbing that final playoff place a possibility.
MOT Leeds Leeds Leeds
By Keith Ingham
Last week seems a long way away, there has been more twists and turns than a well known motorway. We know the protagonists, the Italian multi millionaire, David Haigh, GHF and Flowers to mention a few but the cast list is endless.
Where are we? Well the Football League have yet to sign on the dotted line to agree the admission of the Italian, sorry I called him the Mafia earlier. While they contemplate this all other parties are trying to formulate a deal to match or better said Italians purchase price. Confused? You bloody should be!
I'm not liking the current circus that inhabit the halls of Elland Road. GFH have done many things, some really promising things but the continual lack of money has tarnished their ever decreasing popularity. It is hoped that sooner than later a amicable solution can be found and we can concentrate on the thing that's been forgotten, football!
With the Mac back behind his desk and a welcome 5-1 win over our dear neighbours the small dogs, it is hoped we can continue the second half performance in that game and hopefully the bloody farce will sort itself out. The manager, in my opinion cemented his place in our hearts with a press conference that showed he loves not only the job he's doing, but the fantastic fans that follow this sometimes troubled club. I've have mentioned many times how I think that given the support of whoever takes over from the present board he will continue to take our club in the right direction.
Thank you Mr McDermott for coming back from the job you never lost, you are a beacon in a somewhat darkened part of Leeds 11, so our it's fans.
On On On
By Rab Laverty
Well it is all coming to pass. In August, some of you will remember, that I sent in an article which questioned both the integrity and intentions of our beloved saviours GFH. In this I queried why, we seemed to have had the world’s poorest Arabs take us over when every other middle east buy out had left clubs rolling in cash. This so called lack of cash should have set the alarm bells ringing for us but no, I was blasted by some of our supporters and accused of not being a real Leeds fan and being blind to the fact that GFH wanted the best for our club... and this was the moderate comments. Well now it gives me no satisfaction to pen this article but I think I have been vindicated after the antics and goings on of last week.
Firstly I accept that I may have been wrong over my initial suspicions of David Haigh. He has actually invested his OWN money into our club and for that he should be applauded, I believe David actually seen that GFH were in no position to benefit us and from the earliest stages of the takeover, I think that he has been working to set up alternative finance for our club. However, why was the club ever sold to this crowd, in the first instance. We all know Captain Birdseye was out to make as much out of Leeds as he could, but why were GFH able to pass financial checks and go through with the deal to buy our club. I can remember reading articles from different middle east media web sites and they quite correctly told us that GFH were not in a financial position to support the upkeep of our club and wouldn’t be able to run it without further investment.
Surely as a club we have legal and financial experts that could have shown they were in this position and advised against a panic sale to this crowd. Now we are reaping the results of this firesale. Loads of our fans were so blinded by hate for Bates (I was among the haters, by the way) that we would have accepted a sale to anyone that was prepared to step in and get rid of him. I am not saying that I wanted Bates at our club in any capacity but I would rather have held on for another while than have the events of the last week inflicted on us.
Now what we have is a fraudulent Italian family trying to buy into our club and looking likely to succeed unless the Football league have the wisdom to tell them to f*#k off back to pizzaland. GFH are so keen to get rid of us while making a big financial killing that they are ignoring the fact that there are genuine Leeds supporting business men trying to buy the club who, while maybe not paying as much as the Italian, have a genuine interest in the club and wanting to invest in our future. Our, Leeds loving, Italian??????? seems to only have the intention of coming in and ripping our club apart as the farcical situation with Brian McDermott has shown. What this clown has not realised is that we, as Leeds fans and lovers have been watching this pantomime since the end of Ridsdale's era and we are just not prepared to take any more fooling around with our club. We have had the demise of ridsdale, then psycho Bates, the world’s poorest Arabs and now we have a chain smoking fraudulent Italian looking to come in and further bring us down than we have already fallen.
When news of his interest came out, we should have been tearing the gates down to ensure it didn’t happen. We were told instantly about his record of sacking 35 managers in 20 years and that alone is not what we need at Elland Road. I hate to praise the red manc scum in any way but if they had listened to the sack the manager brigade the Ferguson wouldn’t have led them to the glorious 20 or so years that they have had. Hysterically they are at it again with Moyes but who would bet against him winning trophies if they persevere with him and I for one reckon they will do. We need stability and investment at our club not more crazy upheaval which I have no doubt Cellino will bring to us. It is time for us all to say enough is enough and we won’t accept second best any more.
As a club and as supporters we deserve so much more than these fools are prepared to give us and fools is what they take us for. Now is the time to take a stand for all things we love about our club and refuse to back any more farcical takeovers from people who are only in Leeds for what they can get out of us in financial terms. They have no love for a club that I have loved for over 40 years and followed through thick and thin. We should start by putting the strongest pressure we can on the Football League to refuse to endorse the Ialian buy out and put this sorry chapter to an end, then we need to get Leeds loving investors in for the betterment of our club. Those people are out there and we just need to persuade GFH that they should be allowed to take over the running of our club and take us hopefully back to the place that we belong, rather than letting us continue to be the laughing stock of English football.
The only positive from Friday's goings on is that our players showed up for the first time in over a month and actually earned their wages and also hopefully the whole club can become galvinised and get us back to the promised land. We need a good quality manager in place and in Brian McDermott that is what we have, he had a 2 year plan to get promotion from the start of this season so let’s get behind him, financially back him and for us long suffering fans march on together and cheer us back to the top.
By Keith Ingham
Here is part three of this season in pictures... A tough time to be a Leeds fan, starting with some poor results, followed by a farcical turn of events following Massimo Cellino's attempts to purchase the club that resulted, somehow, in the disgraceful sacking of our manager Brian McDermott on Friday, only for him to be re-instated following our emphatic 5-1 win against the small dogs.... Only at Leeds.
Ooohhhh Brian McDermott..... MOT!
By Mike Courtney
Where do you start after a weekend like this? And its not over yet. I should have written something yesterday but the news was flying in thick and fast, with conflicting stories emerging from Elland Road that it was hard to keep track of what was really going on.
It all started with talks of takeovers, be they Italian, British or otherwise. It quickly turned into farce with the news breaking just before 8pm that Brian McDermott had been sacked by the club. This came shortly after I sat and listened to our skipper talking live on Sky Sports News about his commitment to the club and manager despite bids rumoured to be as high as £6 million, coming in for him. No sooner had the news about BMAC surfaced and there was Ross back on the phone in shock at the news but still sounding dignified and committed to the Leeds cause, despite the best efforts of the Sky reporter trying to get a sound byte out of him.
Social media went crazy with stories of Italian managers and strikers coming in and reports of mass sackings and sales of players. The sackings may have materialised, even at this stage I'm not sure, but the signings and exodus of players never came to the fruition. Just before taking myself to my bed there were reports of fans gathering at Elland Road and chasing Cellino's taxi from the ground. Police were on standby and Leeds United were making the news for all the wrong reasons once again.
Like most Leeds fans I found it hard to sleep that night. How would the players react to this ahead of a vital Yorkshire Derby. Managerless and confusing about the future of the club it didn't auger well for the team. Reports in the morning news feeds were saying that McDermott was sacked by a lawyer acting on behave of the proposed new owner, GFH were tight lipped and things were going from bad to worse. Our manager sacked by an owner who wasn't even in place and silence from Messrs Haigh and Patel. Elland Road at 3pm would be an interesting place to be. Then it emerged that McDermott was advised to stay away from the ground amid a legal challenge to his dismissal. Talk of Enterprise Insurance and Pelican Land pulling the plug on sponsorship didn't help matters as kick off fast approached.
Nigel Gibbs was informed that he would be in charge for the match. Mark Robins and his Terriers must have been relishing the visit to Elland Road as confusing, anger, shock and disgust reigned at the once mighty Leeds. Thankfully Gibbs kept faith with his players, bringing in Mowatt and Murphy for Diouf and Brown, with our skipper leading the line. Like me, most fans probably wondered if our skipper would be in the right frame of mind after the happenings of the day before. We shouldn't have doubted him. After Ward had given Huddersfield a deserved lead half way through the first half it was a case of here we go again. We were lucky to be heading toward half time just one down. Then it all changed. Ross pounced and the roof was raised at Elland Road. Dare we dream? Why not. Jimmy Kebe clipped home after being fed by McCormack and though Huddersfield nearly equalised Leeds extended there lead when McCormack finished well after being set up by Byram, he then completed his hat trick on 75 minutes after being set up by Cameron Stewart. Alex Mowatt rounded it all off with a cool finish to make it 5-1 and Leeds were in dreamland. There is no doubting who that performance was for.
The question remains though, why can't we do that week in week out. Is this win just papering over the cracks that most certainly still exist. And if that wasn't enough news started to filter through that McDermott wasn't sacked and GFH were actively trying to reverse the decision made by the Italian, who didn't have the authority to make it in the first place.
Where does that leave us now though? If Cellino's takeover is ratified by the Football League then its only a matter of time before he dismisses McDermott and replaces him with Gianluca Festa. In the meantime, will McDermott continue or will Gibbs and Redfearn keep the show running? Most Leeds fans think Brian Mcdermott is the right man for the job and his honesty, integrity and straight talking has endeared him to the faithful. If he walks away now after the way he was treated then who could blame him. If he does go and Festa takes the reins, expect to see a mass exodus in the summer, lead by our top scorer and skipper.
Whatever happens it won't be boring at Elland Road between now and the summer. We are back in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. It's a farcical situation at present which has us the laughing stock of English football. An amazing 5-1 win being overshadowed by events off the pitch. It needs to be sorted one way or the other. Most fans don't want Cellino taking over, and after the way they have conducted themselves over the last 24 hours, most fans have lost faith in GFH.
This is only the beginning. Expect plenty more from this saga. As for now, we can bask in the glory of a resounding hammering of our neighbours up the road and pray for good times ahead at Elland Road.
MOT Leeds Leeds Leeds
By Andrew Butterwick
I have been writing this blog since the start of the 2008/9 season and it's fair to say that in that time I have chronicled some of the most dark and disturbing chapters in the history of our great club but nothing as dramatic or remarkable as what I have witnessed over the past month. At the start of the month the perpetual never ending takeover was apparently a done deal and funds were available for Brian McD to trawl the transfer market for much needed quality to boost his flagging team. He announced excitedly that he had a list of 4 players he was confident of bringing into the club and whilst the vultures were hovering around our top goal scorer, Ross Mac, you got the feeling he was going nowhere. Fast forward 4 weeks which, included humiliating defeats on the road to Wednesday and Rochdale plus the arrival of two loanees, and suddenly the club was in turmoil as the Sport Capital group takeover collapsed and Massimo Cellino and his Italian chums rode into to town to fill the void and apparently buy the club. Cue the sacking of Brian McD and a number of staff on the eve of the big West Yorkshire derby which ended with the new owner being chased around Elland Road by furious Leeds fans in a scene reminiscent of a bad Benny Hill sketch. You couldn't make it up!
As the dust settled on the previous nights incredible turn of events I prepared for the trip to the Theatre of Despair with the Happy Chocker, Quiet One and Brother Chris. Why can't we have a stable club? Will we ever have another "normal" season? What is it with Leeds and finding some decent owners? It's like having a beautiful and intelligent daughter who keeps bringing home boyfriends with the intelligence of a Shrew and less prospects than your average resident of James Turner Street in Birmingham.
As you'd expect we had plenty to debate and discuss as we made our way to LS11. Just who is in charge at present? Why hasn't the club made a statement? and Who will be in charge of the team? As kick off time approached news that Nigel Gibbs would be in the dugout with Neil Redfearn supporting him added a bit more confusion to the mix. Where is Uncle Festa who reportedly is the Italian's choice to manage the team? The 31,000 fans who had packed the old stadium were still in the dark as the game kicked off. Leeds had gone with a 184.108.40.206 formation with Ross Mac up top, Kebe, Stewart and Austin supporting and Murphy and Mowatt playing deep midfield. Byram, Lees, Pearce and Warnock formed the back four. Despite or possibly because of the last 24 hours shenanigans the atmosphere was tingling as Leeds started brightly playing into an awful swirling wind. Clearly the sacking of their gaffer had had a positive affect on the team.
Cameron Stewart wasted a glorious chance after just 3 minutes when he side footed a first time shot wide after good work by Austin and Byram. This might not be a bad afternoon after all I thought as the first of numerous chants of Ohhhhhhhh Brian McDermott rung round the ground. There was an initial sharpness in the Leeds play that had been missing in recent weeks but Town looked dangerous on the break. Norwood, Wells and Ward all had good chances that they failed to take advantage of add that to two fantastic goal saving tackles from Byram and the Town looked the most likely to snatch the all important opening goal. Leeds were struggling in the centre of midfield to get any possession. Both Mowatt and Murphy were chasing shadows. Paddy Kenny pulled off a terrific save to keep the ball out of the Leeds net. This wasn't looking good and on 23 minutes the space Leeds were conceding down the Town left flank led to the first goal as Ward found himself alone in the box and calmly slotted the ball past Kenny. 1.0 Town and the visiting fans went wild with delight. An uneasy silence besieged the home fans. Memories of the hammering at Wednesday came flooding back. Could the rudderless Leeds team dig in and repel the rampant Puppy Dogs?
Town continued to have the better of the game with the exception of a Ross Mac header that drifted over after a storming run from Austin. Kenny's post was hit with a low shot as the dark clouds of depression circled above. Then as the game stuttered to half time Leeds were thrown a life line. First a sweeping move freed Ross Mac who got beyond the lumbering Town back four only for his left footed shot to go tamely wide. "Ross McCormack doesn't want to stay" taunted the travelling Puppy Dogs fans. A song they bitterly regretted two minutes later when the Leeds captain pounced in the box to knock home an equaliser before peeling away to the Town fans kissing his badge. Love it. 1.1 at Half time.
After a disappointing first half laced with all our recent shortcomings but finished off with a late Ross Mac goal I eagerly headed for the Half time debate with the Urinal philosophers. Most of the talk was still about the farcical events of the last week "this lot couldn't run a f****** bath" Wriggy moaned while another fan thought "first half was a shambles......just as usual" Mmmm still not much positivity. "what I can't understand is that we've gone 8 games and only won one point and yet everyone's still singing McDermott's name?" Good point well made I thought. Leeds needed an inspirational half time team talk. I wondered if a horse's head had been wheeled into the dressing room and some Italian was shouting "if you don't want this in your bed in the morning get out there and smash them Puppy Dogs"
What ever was said and who ever gave the talk it worked. Leeds flew at Town like men possessed. Ross Mac and the rejuvenated Kebe swapped delicate passes on the edge of the box before Kebe steered the ball past the flailing Smithies. 2.1 Leeds and the ground erupted. "One nil and you fucked it up" was tumbling down from the kop and south stand alike............a bit early for my liking but Leeds were now on fire. Kebe and Byram were tearing the Town defence to bits on the right flank whilst in the middle Austin was once again purring like a well oiled engine. The swirling wind was now in Leeds favour as dozens of crisp packets blew across the pitch. Leeds were moving through the gears smoothly ignoring the fact that Huddersfield were still creating and spurning chances. For a team in crisis Leeds were now unbelievably playing well.
On the hour Ross Mac finished off another bout of adventurous attacking by Leeds by converting a cross from Byram to put the game out of sight for the now wilting Town side. 3.1 Leeds and the large home crowd were now in dreamland after starting the game in utter despair. Kebe and Byram were now creaming Town down the flanks as confidence visibly drained from the away team and grew in the troubled home team. Ross completed his hat trick with a well taken goal on 72 minutes after a tricky run from Stewart to make it 4.1. How the away fans must have regretted their earlier taunts to the Leeds captain. Mowatt rounded off the scoring with a lob into an empty net from 30 yards after Smithies dropped his usual clanger against Leeds on 81 minutes. 5.1 Leeds and the whole ground was celebrating............except for the away fans who came with great expectations and were now creeping away with their tails well and truly between their Puppy Dog legs. Leeds finished with a bout of keep ball that had the home fans shouting Ole with every touch. Now you wouldn't have called that at the start of the game.
A remarkable game in lots of ways and for lots of reasons. Leeds came from 1 nil down to win 5.1 with a clinical 2nd half performance that had fans wondering why they can't play like this every week. Byram, Kebe and Austin were outstanding with Ross taking the MOM for his hat trick. Yes the defence still looks vulnerable but this was a very welcome win. The crowd gave the players a standing ovation as they left the pitch. As we streamed away from the ground Leeds fans were singing.............something I can't remember happening for a long, long time. Then news that BM had been re-instated as manager or more to the point he hadn't been sacked in the first place and he would be back at work Monday morning? What? It could only happen at Leeds. So despite nobody knowing who was actually running the club or who was managing the team Leeds pulled off a famous derby victory. Funny old game isn't it?
Next week we've got a 5am start to get to Yeovil in time for the lunchtime kick off. It's anybody's guess who will own the club or who will be managing the team. One thing for sure is that the away end will be full to bursting with the extended LUFC family.
By Keith Ingham
I was looking forward to the usual Friday as it was transfer deadline day, but as you know from the complete melt down of Twitter an incredible news story developed in Leeds 11. At around 12:30 news started to emerge of a deal been struck between GFH and the Mafia, I had to blink when the news came so quick on the heels of the collapse of the David Haigh led consortium and the outburst of Flowers about the deal.
By the time I'd started my shift the rumours were coming thick and fast. Brian McDermott had given his usual press conference when he stated he was looking forward to the upcoming game against local rivals Huddersfield. When asked about his future he stated he was taking one game at a time.
Move forward another few hours and Cardiff had thrown a cheeky four million pound offer for our captain Ross McCormack, but he himself stated how happy he was at the club and with the manager.
What happened next just is beyond belief, the deal with the Mafia was good as done with only the Football League needing to approve the deal, but what followed that saddened my Leeds United heart, at around 8:20 news came from a shopper where I worked that the manager had been sacked by the Mafia. I was visibly shocked at the outrage, I felt at the treatment of not only a proper gentleman but also a manager who's hands had been tied since the day he sat in the managers chair. I liked the man he was honest and even though the results recently have been disappointing the fans, Rochdale apart have stayed with him. It was obvious that the behind the scenes fighting over control of the club had a direct effect on the playing side of the club. The situation regarding Varney did little to lift the morale of the club and also must have a effect on the players around him.
We now have new owners and if rumours are correct a new coach in Festa, an ex Middlesborough defender who was currently managing a lower league Italian team. Twitter by now had gone into orbit, frustrated Leeds fans vented their spleen on the unjust and disgraceful treatment of Brian McDermott. Ross McCormack live on Sky also mirrored the fans feeling but questions were asked if he would now leave. His answers annoyed some but not me, he was honest and indeed a bid of six, yes six million was turned down for the striker. The new owner was presently inside Elland Road whilst a dozen or more fans became around fifty or more gathered outside the ground and it was also said the Italian was not allowed to exit the ground as the fans chased his taxi around.
Rumours also surfaced that Enterprise Insurance and Flamingo Land were pulling out of their sponsorship deal out of the club and Paul Hunt had also been sacked by the Mafia.
The last news was that David Haigh had quit GFH in a protest over the treatment of the ex manager and rumours that a couple of unnamed Italians had joined and would be in the squad for the game tomorrow along with young Chris Dawson.
A day that nobody will forget but unfortunately for the wrong reasons. The shock sacking of Brian McDermott will reverberate around the pubs and clubs as fans gather to try and understand this unbelievable day.
I would like to personally like to Thank Brian McDermott for his tenure at the club and our loss will be somebody's else's gain. He's a good man in a septic sport and I salute his honesty throughout his stay.
To the Mafia. I do not hold out a hand of welcome, sport is full of back biters and remember this, it might be a long time or never before your accepted as a good thing to happen to the Theatre of Hope. You've taken our club but you'll not take our hearts. This is OUR club, bloody remember THAT!
On On On with a heavy heart