By Danny Laverty
When was the last time we were able to keep hold of one of our stars? Oh, that's right, we don't. But this year it's time for change, and a lot of change too. We're under new ownership, new management, and seemingly everyone at the club is moving in the same direction, the right direction.
In previous years, we have had a tendency of selling our best talent at the club, going all the way back to the 04/05 season when we were forced to sell the majority of our top players due to our financial difficulties. But moving onto recent years, the Jermaine Beckford era, the promotion winning season where we had plenty of quality players at the club to encourage and promote a return to The Promised Land. But of course, we had to go and sell them and even to this present day, we have been reluctant to try our best in an attempt to keep our best players.
The main stars that have departed the club since 2010:
Jermaine was a man very familiar to all defences in League 1 and he also played a highly significant role in our famous cup run in which we memorably defeated the scum 1-0 with Jermaine being the scorer. He was pivotal to our success that season and almost single handedly instigated our promotion with the goals he scored.
Max was a very capable wide man but he was often criticized for his bad temperament, but personally, I feel this was down to his fierce competitiveness and his hunger for the game. He was a very fast and tricky player who could perform consistently on either side of the pitch and ever since he moved on a player of his kind has been absent from the team.
Bradley was the technician of the team. He broke play up, created chances, and had a ferocious left foot. His passion for the game was always on full show and the thought of having a Bradley in the middle made you feel more secure.
Howson was the leader, creator, goalscorer, and really, the everything. The kid had the world at his feet and it was only a matter of time before he moved elsewhere. He used his sublime endurance to support the attack and also to help out at the back. He was a genius on the ball and his passing was exceptional.
Snoddy was a typical old fashioned winger who didn't have a lot of pace in his locker, but what he did have was brilliant ball control and a great touch. He took advantage of his assets brilliantly and not many full backs in the division were able to stop him. His set-pieces were excellent and his vision for the game was also of a very high standard.
Luciano was the most recent significant player to be sold. He had a special relationship with the Leeds faithful and was always influential both on and off the pitch. His tenure at Leeds saw him score 75 goals mostly down to his outstanding work ethic and his tendency to be in the right place at the right time. Becchio was also a great header of the ball and his hold-up play was excellent. He had the ability to bring other players into the game which proved key to any success which came in our way.
Looking ahead now and forgetting the bad in our past, only remembering the good, we, this season have a great opportunity to achieve highly, especially under a great manager in Brian McDermott and under owners who seem to be very honest and trustworthy.
We have great player assets at the club like Sam Byram, Ross McCormack, Dom Poleon and Chris Dawson. The development squad is also full of rich talent in the names of Alex Mowatt and Lewis Walters just to name a few.
If we can keep our best players and continue to produce players of that stature, who's to say that we won't relive our past and relish in the high demands of Premier League football. Every football fan has to admit, it's where we belong.
By Rob Atkinson
It's been a topsy-turvy summer for Leeds United and its long-suffering fans, following hard on the heels of a grievously disappointing Championship campaign in 2012/13. The close season has produced rays of hope aplenty though, shining a beam of optimism through the murky sullenness that has hung over the support these last few years. Chairman Bates had held our famous old club in his talons, doing seemingly as he pleased and dismissing all attempts to make him see sense and make Leeds United competitive again. Now Bates has finally gone and all his acolytes with him; his mouthpiece in-house radio station has gone too, the new owners are finally meeting productively with fans' groups - we've even spent a few bob in the transfer market.
Not all is sweetness and light, however. Let's be honest, it wouldn't be Leeds United without a few under-currents about the place. It would appear that money is still too tight to mention, despite recurrent rumours of major investment from the likes of Red Bull, or the ever-present spectre of a loaded Arab prince about to step in and buy a controlling stake. These dreams it appears are just that - and meanwhile we have hard financial realities to face. Unless we can unload some of Colin's deadwood, it's difficult to see where manager Brian McDermott's "priority signings" are going to come from. Normally a summer of transfer impasse will have Leeds fans in a froth of negativity, but it's slightly different this time around, simply because that dreadful weight of Bates' brooding presence has been lifted from our shoulders. The place feels cleaner somehow, some of the pride has returned. It feels as though we have our Leeds United back again.
These are good foundations to build upon, and expectations appear to have been modified accordingly. Ever since we have returned to the Championship, each season we've set out with promotion to the Premier League as the be-all and end-all. Now we have David Haigh saying that promotion is a realistic objective "within two years" - and yet some are actually wondering if this isn't putting too much pressure on Boss Brian. That's quite a change from the pressure heaped upon Simon Grayson's narrow shoulders, and even the gnarled and battle-hardened Neil Warnock found the heat in the Elland Road kitchen too hard to stand.
Given the new-era atmosphere breathing fresh air into LS11, it's arguable that a two year timetable is quite acceptable, particularly as the owners haven't yet been able to fund transfer recruitment on the scale of a QPR, for instance. But we should remember also that some of the clubs who bought big this time last year suffered and struggled all season long. Blackburn bought Jordan Rhodes from 'Uddersfield for a cool £8m, and almost went down. Wolves, with a Premier League parachute payment to fund additions, did go down. Loadsamoney is no guarantee of Championship success; the trick seems rather to be a united and happy squad under an inspirational manager. Those ingredients may just be to hand; that's what Brian and the lads will have to demonstrate over the coming months.
The sudden optimism and the positive feelings about the club seem real enough though. Our new owners have certainly made their mark, phrases like "engaging with the fans" have been backed up by ticket price initiatives and a more generally positive (and less obviously exploitative) approach to marketing. If proof of this healthier club/fan relationship is needed, look out for the attendance at Elland Road on Saturday against Brighton. It seems certain to break the 30000 mark, and all that is needed then is a good performance by the team, a positive result ushering in a solid start to the season, and the Leeds United ball will be well and truly rolling again.
That's not too much to ask, now is it? Brian and the lads in White - it's over to you.
By Kim Bjerregaard
So we are just a few days away from Brian McDermott's first full season in charge of Leeds United and I think we are all pretty excited about getting the season started and about seeing what McDermott can do for us.
I think all Leeds fans had hoped that GFH Capital would back McDermott big time so we could have signed six or seven quality players, but we have again been disappointed with regards to transfers, in other areas they have done very good things for the club, getting rid of Bates and his buddies and closing Yorkshire Radio, a station that constantly lost money.
But back to the transfers, McDermott managed to get highly rated Crewe midfielder Luke Murphy to join Leeds despite loads of interest from other good teams, Luke was our first £1M signing since we picked up Richard Cresswell in 2005, and he also got Matt Smith to join, his name might ring a bell for Liverpool and Everton fans after he scored goals against both in last seasons FA Cup. His last signing was his former Reading player Noel Hunt, a guy who always gives 100% and then some. He also got rid of Warnock's biggest mistake, Steve Morison - the worst signing in recent Leeds history. So he's has done well in the market with the limitations that were set up for him I think.
Pre-season was hard to judge much from but I feel confident that we will have a better season then last year (not saying much to be honest), and with a good signing or two my prediction might even change to us going into the playoffs.
Topscorer: Noel Hunt
Player of the year: Tom Lees
Young player of the year: Dominic Poleon
I hope to get over to Leeds during the season and I hope to meet some of you over there for a pint or two.
Marching on together!
By Andy Gregory
Welcome to the first "Interview with a Leeds fan" of the new season. Our feature where you can have your say on all things Leeds. We have decided to continue the interviews after it proved to be a popular part of the site during the 2012/13 season.
Name: Jonty Solomons
How long have you supported Leeds?
Since the late 60s
What is your favourite memory?
I have a few, but promotion in 1990, League title in 1992 and promotion again in
2010 as the success feels so much sweeter after a period in the gutter.
Favourite player past and present?
Many famous players who are all legends to any Leeds fan, but I also like a few unappreciated heroes…always had a soft spot for Carl Shutt whose signing was overshadowed by Strahcan and Fairclough’s but he scored a hat trick on his debut v Bournemouth and I thought, who the hell is this player…he also scored at Chelsea in our title year the day after my Dad died and then also in the Nou Camp when we beat Stuttgart in the European Cup.
If you could bring one player from any era back to the club, who would it be and why?
Without a doubt Bremner. I think we’ve missed having a leader at Leeds for about a decade. Not only would you get a great performance from Bremner, but you’d get 20% more from everyone around him. You mention Leeds United to any non Leeds fan, they all remember Billy Bremner.
Best goal scored by a Leeds player?
Yeboah v Liverpool
What would you say are the proudest and worst moments in Leeds’ history?
First league win in 1969 – to win something first time always special
FA Cup in 1972 – so many images from that match are iconic
League Title in 1992 – After so many years, was very emotional to get back to pinnacle of English football
Taking my son to his first Leeds matches
Away at Notts Forest where we sung almost the whole match for Gary Speed
Sunderland FA Cup Final
Losing Don Revie
Rangers in European Cup
The deaths of Chris Loftus and Kevin Speight at Galatasaray
Anything to do with Ken Bates.
How do you think the squad is shaping up for this season?
Very disappointed with lack of inbound transfers. We’ve spent less than we did last summer, I don’t think it’s enough for much of an improvement if any on last
Who’s the player to watch this season?
Dominic Poleon, also think Smith could be effective.
What is your view on Brian McDermott?
I think he’s a good manager, comes across well, seems to have integrity, less divisive and hope he gets the backing he thought he was going to get when he agreed to become our manager.
What is your view on GFH’s time at Leeds so far?
They’ve made some rash statements and not made the most of their opportunities to engage with fans. BUT, as time has gone on, they are doing more and more right things in terms of getting rid of the Bates regime, engaging with fans and supporters groups and reviewing ticket prices. The fear is that they don’t really have the money to really progress the club, but hopefully they will put us more in the right direction than we have been going last couple of years.
Red Bull... Yes or No?
No. My fear is that we will lose too much of our identity based on Red Bulls track record to date. It makes you wonder what you do actually support…is it the history, the atmosphere, a concept?
Score prediction for our opening game v Brighton?
Where do you think we will finish this season?
10th I’m afraid.
Anything else you would like to add?
We’ve been through a lot of crap the last 10 years. Genuinely hope that the new owners can start to heal some wounds and make the most of what is a fantastic club. You go anywhere in the world and folk have heard of Leeds United. Fans of opposing clubs can reel of players names from the Revie era and many have a soft spot for us. How many clubs have books/films (The Damned United) and songs (Leeds United by Amanda Palmer) written about them. Leeds United is really something special!
Massive thanks to Jonty for taking part in this weeks interview. If you would like to get involved and take part in an interview on our site, please contact us via this link
By Keith Ingham
On Tuesday GFH issued a statement that the clubs radio station Yorkshire Radio was to cease broadcasting at 18:00, leaving a great group of journalists but most importantly fans out of work. The club claims it's putting more work and money
into a new LUTV and a redesigned website.
This news saddened me, over seven years Thom, Eddie and Jonny to name but a few have brought Leeds into my earphones albeit by DAB. I've been part of the 'Fans panel' and met the lads mentioned above and two of my favourite players Eddie Gray and Dom Matteo, two fantastic blokes who love the club without question. It's Thom though I feel for the most, he eats, drinks and loves the job he was doing. Imagine you're a fan who gets to meet his heroes and commentate on the greatest club in football. You knew this guy wasn't doing it for the money. Well this guy is the 'bees knees' only and I've had the pleasure of joining him and other Leeds fans on his show. Jen, Kevin, Jill and Bernard massive, loyal fans who weren't afraid to voice their opinions over the airwaves. A lad even took the station off air by celebrating a little too much during a game.
The protestations that they were a 'Bates mouthpiece' gives them no credit because without them we wouldn't have had much. I was really looking forward to the battle of the radio stations Radio Leeds v Yorkshire because both would have had commentators that have passion when they do their jobs.
I bid you farewell and Thank you for your hard work.
Always On On On
By Mike Courtney
Well here we are, less than a week to go before the big Kick Off and it's time to assess our chances for the up coming season. With Ken Bates finally gone from our beloved club, it is a time to look forward to a brighter future and not to dwell on the past, so from now on I will never mention his name again in the same breath as Leeds United.
So back to the new campaign. First things first; our transfer dealings have not been as successful as most of us were expecting. True we did spend a million on Luke Murphy and also acquired the services of strikers Matt Smith and Noel Hunt, but in my humble opinion I still feel we haven't addressed the main areas which required improvement namely centre back and pace out wide. I know B-Mac was actively pursuing Matt Mills and this may still come to fruition, but the search for a wide creative player appears nowhere nearer then it was under Bates, oops wasn't supposed to mention him again. I really do feel that if we are to mount a serious challenge for promotion this year we do need a creative wide player to feed the likes of Smith, Hunt, McCormack, Poleon and Varney. I think we have a good enough squad with what we have in other areas but improving the centre of defence and out wide is imperative.
A good start to the campaign is also a must beginning with the home game against Brighton. When you look at August we have five League games; home to Brighton, Wednesday and QPR and away at Leicester and Ipswich. No easy game there. It is vital that we make Elland Road a fortress again and we definitely have to improve our away form if we are to mount a serious challenge. With a crowd in excess of 30k expected on Saturday I do feel we will get off to a winning start if the large crowd get behind the team. Going to the Walker's stadium is never easy and with the TV cameras watching I would take a draw. A Yorkshire Derby is always a battle but with home advantage I again think we will get a big crowd in and a win against Wednesday. We haven't won at Ipswich since we dropped out of the Premier League and have lost there for the last three seasons, so that won't be easy but if we have the momentum going from a good start then breaking that cycle could be on the cards. Then we will have the visit of relegated QPR to finish the month and again a near full house should be expected and maintaining our home form could inspire us to another three points against Harry's charges, though a draw is a more realistic outcome. Getting anywhere between 10-12 points from those five games would be a very good start and though difficult, is achievable.
Next lets look at the bigger picture, the full campaign and who will be challenging for promotion. You always have to favour the relegated teams; QPR, Reading and Wigan, with Premier League players and parachute payments to extend their squads. Having said that, this League isn't easy to adapt to and the attitude of these teams early doors will dictate their season. Reading and QPR have been here more recently and for me will pose a bigger threat then Wigan, who are under new management and may not take to the hustle and bustle of two games every week and also the added distraction of a European campaign. I don't rate any of the three promoted teams, Donny, Bournmouth or Yeovil and can't see them make a realistic push for promotion. They will cause teams problems though and shouldn't be treated lightly. Of the teams that missed out on promotion I think Watford, Forest and Blackburn could be there or there about this season. Add to that Bolton, Derby, Birmingham and Millwall and you can see how difficult a task it is to get out of this division.
B-Mac certainly has his work cut out to get us to maintain a realistic challenge for promotion. A Playoff place is attainable but we do need a few more signings to complete the jigsaw. I really am looking forward to a positive campaign and as with all the Leeds United Faithful remain optimistic and supportive of our management and players. Can't wait for Three O'Clock next Saturday.
Predictions for August:
Leeds 2 Brighton 0
Leicester 1 Leeds 1
Leeds 3 Wednesday 1
Ipswich 1 Leeds 2
Leeds 2 QPR 2
MOT Leeds Leeds Leeds
By Rob Atkinson
It came out of the blue in a terse statement from Leeds United: Ken Bates would no longer be club president, and all his connections with the club had been severed forthwith. No reasons were initially given - and quite frankly, nobody at first cared. The main thing was, Bates was gone. He was going to be President of the club for life, then it was going to be only three years (there may not actually have been much of a difference between those first two) - but now he was gone, history, end of. Bye bye, Ken. Don't let the door whack you in the arse on the way out.
Now, though, more details have emerged as to the reason for Bates' abrupt departure. It appears that Ken - never a man to underestimate his own importance - had committed the club to a £500k contract for private jet flight to and from the Monaco bolt-hole of il Presidente for matchday travel. No RyanAir or EasyJet for Uncle Ken, you see, he was going to do it in style and, as ever, the club - the fans - would be the ones forking out for it. This, then, is the straw that has broken the Dubai-based camel's back. Ken received a missive, delivered by hand, informing him that his non-services would no longer be required.
Staggeringly, Ken seems to resent this. After all the legal shenanigans that have punctuated his reign of terror in LS11, costing the club a reported £4m, he now feels that he is a wronged party, that Leeds United have treated him "despicably" and that he should be compensated. So, he intends to sally forth to pursue his favourite pastime of litigation - with Leeds United this time in the respondent's box, as opposed to blindly funding his deluded fantasies. The irony of this is breathtaking, and it is only to be hoped that the British legal system has finally had enough of this irascible old man's nonsense and will proceed to laugh him out of court. Football's had its fill of Ken - honestly, hasn't the whole country?
This, let us not forget, is the man who proposed (quite seriously) that fences enclosing fans on the terraces should be electrified to dissuade those of an eager disposition from getting at rival fans or the field of play itself. Who knows what that might have led to if the whole concept of fencing hadn't become deeply unfashionable in the wake of Hillsborough? This is the man who declared his ambition to be the ejection of Leeds United and it's "animal" followers from the Football League, following the actions of a group of freelance demolition contractors from Yorkshire in disabling the Stamford Bridge electronic scoreboard in 1984. Big Brother was watching us, and he decreed we weren't fit to be part of the football family. He wanted us out - and he so nearly achieved his objective, didn't he? This is the man, after all, who presided over the lowest point in Leeds United's history. Ken Bates is a name that will forever be associated in the minds of Leeds fans with failure, corruption and despair.
Ken Bates and his megaphone mouth, unconnected to anything remotely resembling a brain, has represented everything bad about football for decades now - and it's time we all had a well-earned rest from him. It is perhaps fitting that Bates and Ferguson - two markedly less-than-pleasant football personalities - should be heading into the sunset at the same time. Having the name of Ken Bates connected to the club I love has been a deeply horrible experience for me and thousands of my fellow Leeds United fans. The final separation looks highly unlikely to be amicable - Uncle Ken is far too self-involved and vindictive for that - but it is nonetheless a most welcome development for anyone with the best interests of Leeds United at heart. Ironically, GFH Capital are now quoting a confidentiality clause in refusing to comment on the reasons for the End of Ken, something the Bearded Gob used extensively during the endless takeover saga last year. So for the time being, Bates is wasting his bile on the desert air and getting no official response. But many thousands of happy individuals in Leeds United colours would be happy to deliver one last message to him.
Sod off, Ken, and take your legal team with you.
By Keith Ingham
Continuing the positives for the season from part one.
Chris Dawson, small but quick midfielder who made his debut last season is highly rated by Neil Redfearn and Richard Naylor. It is hoped that his chance will come during the season.
Ross Killock, strong young defender who has been part of the pre- season in Slovenia. Another Redfearn and Naylor rate.
Paddy Kenny, great shot stopper and has come back leaner and looks on top form. Needs to learn to kick to players instead of out of play. A few more like he did versus Wolverhampton will do his reputation no harm. Another who's name will be first on the team sheet.
Stephen Warnock, great at set pieces and the left back position is his unless he gets injured.
Now the players I think need to improve this season:
Lee Peltier, captain but didn't lead by example. His cause wasn't helped by 'Colin' insisting he was the best left back at the club, I think his best position is a centre back and would be a partner for Tom Lees. Needs to improve to win over the fans.
Jason Pearce, when he came I was pleased he had won nearly every club award for the season before. Looks short of pace and another that needs to show the fans what he can do.
Michael Tonge, played every game whilst he was on loan then dropped to the bench when he signed for a fee. One of the last managers master strokes that, he's got a good shot in his locker but drifts in and out of games. Maybe a move away would be a good career move.
Jamie Ashdown, did ok when called upon in cup games, a good professional.
El Hadji Diouf, was excellent when he came in then a little of the old came back into his game. Looks to be absent for the first few games and McDermott doesn't seem to want him.
Ryan Hall, probably the strangest one of all, played well versus the small dogs at their kennel then dropped like a stone. Just become a Dad and hopefully will be given at least a chance to prove he's up to playing Championship football. Hope so.
David Norris, squad player at best but better still sold on.
Zac Thompson, it really is this year or time to move on.
Adam Drury, 'Colin' took away his confidence and I'm afraid it looks like he needs to move on.
Michael Brown, when football was played by dinosaurs, Mr Brown was king but football has moved on and coming on as a substitute and getting booked for his first challenge just won't do anymore. Earned an extension off his mate and manager or he'd be gone already. Hopefully Sheffield United might need a coach or a ball boy. Whatever needs to depart to release some money for a winger.
There it is then my take on the first team squad and if I've missed anybody I apologise. One thing I'm sure of it's not in my opinion good enough to challenge the likes of free spending Wigan and Bolton to name just two. I'm just hoping the team as a group give the fans something to cheer from August to May.
I'll be there to see whatever happens.
On On On