By Andrew Butterwick
We were up bright and early for the long trek to deepest Suffolk for our clash with Mick McCarthy's Tractor Boys. As ever the Happy Chocker and the Quiet One were on board as we gunned the car south down the M18 against a backdrop of depressing slate grey skies. Portman Road is hardly the happiest of hunting grounds for the mighty whites as I pointed out to HC "The last time we won here Ipswich were known as "The Shire Horse Boys" add that to the fact that it's compulsory to get a player sent off at Bobby Robson's spiritual home and the prospects of three points did seem a bit remote. We did have new boy Scott Wootton in the squad though and we were still unbeaten so all was not lost I suggested.
Once the car was safely deposited in the station car park we joined the heaving throng of Leeds fans in the Riverside Bar. The pre match atmosphere inside the welcoming hostelry was cranked up with the help of the pub sound system playing MOT and other Leeds songs to accompany the Yorkshire songsters. The optimism inside the pub was hardly supported by our awful record at Portman Road but since when has logic ever featured in the heady mix of pre match debate and predictions?
Brian McD brought Hunt back into the starting eleven in place of Poleon a slightly puzzling call in my book. Other than that it was the same team that started against Wednesday with new signing Wootton having to make do with a spot on the bench. The large away support lifted the decibel levels as the game got under way on a pristine playing surface. The wet weather made for a slick surface as the Tractor Boys grabbed the early initiative with both hands and put Leeds to the sword in the opening quarter. Ipswich, utilising acres of space down their left flank, tore into a hesitant Leeds side like a boxer trying to finish a fight in the first round. Jay Tabb, who's 3rd rib caught Lees' boot last year, thought he'd opened the scoring after just 7 minutes when he tapped in from a yard after Kenny had turned a Cresswell shot into the path of McGoldrick but the linesman's flag saved Leeds from what seemed like a good goal. Cresswell was crucifying the Leeds flank with intelligent attacking play exposing Peltier time and again and we hadn't even played 10 minutes. The inevitable goal came on 11 minutes though as the unmarked McGoldrick picked up a flick on 30 yards out before clinically striking the ball unchallenged past Kenny in the Leeds goal. 1.0 Ipswich. Tom Lees held his head in his hands. He knew he should have done better in preventing the Ipswich striker from getting his shot away.
The goal just inspired the home team and Leeds were in danger of losing the game in the first 30 minutes as Mick McCarthy's high pressing game unsettled the men in Gold. Lees made amends for his slip by heading the ball over from deep inside his own 6 yard box with Ipswich players waiting to pounce and then the impressive Cresswell beat Kenny from 25 yards with a sublime curling shot that thumped against the bar. "We could be 3 down already" I mused. This had a distinct taste of deja vu at a ground where we hadn't sampled victory for 12 years. Things were not looking good. The midfield looked at sixes and sevens and Ipswich's high defensive line frequently caught Varney the wrong side of the linesman's flag.
What we needed was a slice of good old fashioned luck and on 22 minutes that's exactly what we got. Ross Mac latched onto a loose ball on the edge of the box and smashed it goalwards. The ball bounced off a defender straight into the path of Mr Varney he sent a searing left foot shot past Loach in the home goal. 1.1 and the noise cranked up another level from the travelling support. Leeds were now back in the game with a bang and settled into a more confident mode of football. Ipswich were still a significant threat though as Kenny's goal survived first an over ambitious header back from an under pressure Pearce and then a succession of corners as the Blues sort to reinstate the lead. At the other end Austin split the home defence only to be let down by his final touch whilst moments later Ross Mac found space but over hit a teasing cross into the Ipswich box. Premier League ref, Mike Dean, brought an entertaining half to an end with the scores level at 1.1.
Brian McD needed the break to reorganise the shape of the mighty whites. Too many times in the first half Cresswell exposed our right flank defences as neither Green or Austin seemed to be clear who was supposed to be providing cover on the right hand side. The half time entertainment saw the Leeds fan win the inflatable ball race so at least we had finally won something at Portman Road. I wasn't that confident we could push on and rather glumly predicted we need another two goals to win this. Nobody disagreed.
My slight touch of pessimism was brought to book with just two minutes of the 2nd half gone as a neat move down the Leeds right saw Varney pick out Ross Mac who nipped inside and unleashed a decent shot that took a slight deflection which was enough to bamboozle Loach and Leeds were 2.1 up. Get innnnnnnnnnnnnnnn. Was the subdued celebration for Ross Mac because of the deflection or had he other things on his mind? The celebrations in the stand were far from subdued though as the away fans delighted in taking the lead. And we still had 11 men on the pitch. Unbelievable Jeff!
The match swayed one way and then another as both teams passed the ball at will. Leeds were defending like their lives depended on it as the Tractor Boys looked for a way back into the game. Leeds had tightened their formation up though and were making it difficult for home side to get shots in on goal as the home crowd became more frustrated. At the other end Green fired in a stinging shot just wide of the post while Hunt hit a thunderbolt at Loach. Poleon replaced Varney with just over 10 minutes of nail biting tension left. He caused panic in the Blues defence with his first touch as he ran at the nervous full back but his final touch let him down. Ipswich were now on an all out assault on Kenny's goal but the resilience of the Leeds defence was there for all to see despite what seemed like corner after corner flying into the box. Leeds had chances to break and seal the win with a killer third goal but over eagerness too often gave the ball back to a grateful Ipswich leaving an excruciating last 5 minutes of play.
It was all hands to pumps at the back but finally Mr Dean blew for the last time and Leeds had hung on for a precious and rare win at Portman Road. 2.1 Leeds. Leeds just about deserved the win with good performances from Ross Mac, Pearce, Green and Austin but mainly this was the archetypal team performance. So we left East Anglia with three points and still unbeaten. The long drive home was brightened up when we passed some Donny buses on their way back from their abandoned game at Charlton when they were 3.1 up. "Three one and they called it off" we sang as hand gestures were exchanged between bus and car. I do love a bit of football banter. I suspect there will be a continuation of said banter on Tuesday.
Whilst not getting over excited after just 4 games of the 46 game season this was a good win for Leeds. The side look a lot more resolute than in recent years and although they still lack width they do look a solid unit who are hard to beat. With Byram's return not far off and another signing possibly heading to Elland Road good times could be heading our way.
Donny in the Capital One Cup on Tuesday. Should be a good game given the South Yorkshire side's good start to the season? Statistically we will win 2.1 after conceding the first goal as we've already done three times this season.
By Andy Gregory
Welcome to this week's interview with a Leeds fan, our feature where you can have your say on all things Leeds. This week we are talking to Stephen Mitchell, a fan of almost 55 years. He has travelled all over the country watching the team including going to West Brom on his own when he was 12 and going down to Ninian Park for an FA Cup game when Billy scored with a speculative 30 yard shot.
Name: Stephen Mitchell
Tell us a bit about yourself: Age 60 (OMG). Married with three grown up children and a grandchild, all of whom I love a bit more than LUFC. When we got married, my wedding present to my wife was a season ticket for Elland Road.
How long have you supported Leeds?
Nearly 55 years. My dad took me to watch John Charles when he came back from Italy. He got injured and spent almost the whole game limping on the wing. I was so disappointed, but I was hooked from then on.
What is your favourite memory?
Singing with the fans and team, after the game in the San Siro stadium. (Dom Matteo, scored a f..k..g great goal . . . . . . . . . . .)
Favourite player past and present?
Eddie Gray. I saw him make his debut vs Sheffield Wednesday. I love him so much that if I came home and found him in bed with my wife, I'd go downstairs and make him a cup of tea.
Sam Byram. It's great to see talented players develop through the youth teams. He's got a great future; I just hope it's with us!
If you could bring one player back from any era, who would it be and why?
Billy Bremner. He epitomised everything I love about football and LUFC. He was tenacious, skillful, competitive and a leader, but he also had a sense of humour on the pitch.
Best goal scored by a Leeds player? Tony Yeboah, the one against Wimbledon rather than the one against Liverpool.
What would you say are the proudest and worst moments in Leeds' history?
The proudest was being in Paris for the European Cup Final. The worst was getting relegated to League 1, the third tier of English football.
How do you think the squad is shaping up for this season?
A solid start, but we need a player who can provide width and pace.
Who's the player to watch this season?
Hopefully Sam Byram, but I also think that Luke Murphy is an astute signing.
What do you think to us signing Scott Wootton from across the Pennines?
A really good buy. Every team needs a balance, but we've had too many journeymen over the last few years. With age on his side and with the experience he already has, Scott should only get better.
Who else would you like to see come in?
As I said before, a wide player with pace. Someone like Max Gradel.
How important do you think it is to keep hold of players like McCormack and Diouf?
McCormack scores goals and works really hard for the team. If we sold him for £1.5m, who could we replace him with? What Diouf lacks in pace, he makes up for in skill and experience. I think it is important to keep both of them in this division.
What is your view on Brian McDermott?
I think we've got a top class man and manager. I was fed up with Warnock criticising officials, even before he came to Leeds. BMcD seems honest and I like managers who insist that players live near their clubs. It shows a commitment.
What is your view on GHF's time at Leeds so far?
Unlike some of my friends, I think GHF have done an excellent job so far. Ok, they don't seem to have much money, but they have got rid of Bates and his 'cronies', reduced season ticket prices, tried to re-engage with the fans and found £1m for Luke Murphy, plus money for Scott Wootton. I'd just like them now to move the away fans from the West Stand, back to the South Stand.
Score prediction for Ipswich game? Ipswich 1-Leeds 2
Where do you think we'll finish this season?
My heart says 4th, but my head says 8th.
Anything else you would like to add?
I was only joking about loving my family more than LUFC!!!
See you all at Ipswich. MOT, We all love Leeds!!!
Massive thanks to Stephen 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 Josh Grainger
Creativity is a key feature of any good footballing side. You just have to look at any successful team, for instance Barcelona or that lot from over the Pennines and at the heart of their side is a Messi or Rooney, someone who consistently creates chances which inevitably can prove to win matches. This “creative” role is very different to a goal scorer, after all Luciano Becchio was prolific in front of goal for Leeds however how many games did you leave thinking ‘Wow Becchio created a host of chances today”. Football can be a selfish game, like parts of life; someone does all the work only for someone else to steal the reward, welcome to the life of the creative one.
In Leeds’ current squad, particularly last season, the one thing Leeds really lacked was creativity, the only two who could really provide this, were El-Hadji Diouf and Ross McCormack. Diouf clearly had the quality but at the age of thirty two, the pace was evidently lacking. McCormack on the other hand seemed to have everything Diouf did, as well as energy and excitement, therefore it should come as no surprise when bids of around £2million surface for the Scot.
Leeds have made a fairly promising start to this season, at the heart of it stands the twenty six year old. Hitting the net twice in three matches, McCormack has proved his creativity isn’t his only asset as we found out a few seasons ago, when McCormack bagged himself nineteen goals, finishing as Leeds’ top scorer. In a season hampered by injury, Ross only hit the net five times last season, however made up for it finishing only behind Tom Ince in the Championship’s assists chart. It became apparent in pre-season that Leeds manager Brian McDermott saw McCormack more as an attacking midfielder rather than an out and out striker. The former Cardiff man’s ‘busy’ and ‘enthusiastic’ approach suits this role and this can be seen in McCormack’s performances so far this season.
Roughly two weeks ago, rumours surfaced that McCormack was the subject of a seven figure transfer bid from Blackpool, the club and McCormack himself were quick to shrug off the possibility of a move away, only for Middlesbrough to join the hunt. Roughly a week after the Blackpool rumour, it was announced that Tony Mowbray had placed another seven figure bid for United’s favourite. Leeds quickly rejected the bid, only for Boro to try again, only to face more rejection. In the last few days it has become apparent that Middlesbrough have made a final attempt to bring the Scottish international to the Riverside, by placing a bid believed to be around £2million.
McDermott was quick to comment on the speculation, announcing there was truth behind it, however Leeds were not wanting to sell McCormack and McCormack did not want to be sold, in fact the Yorkshire club were even looking to offer McCormack an improved contract. Rumours last night circled the internet that Leeds has given in to Middlesbrough’s efforts and that McCormack would be on his way to the North East. No comment from the club as of yet has quashed these rumours, however this morning BBC Leeds announced it was their understanding that Leeds had offered McCormack a contract extension, which included a financial improvement for the player.
Leeds are set to play Ipswich tomorrow with McCormack expected to be a part of the side. Also expected to be included in the squad is Leeds’ newest signing, former Manchester United defender Scott Wootton, the twenty one year old made the move from Lancashire to Yorkshire during the week.
By Mike Courtney
When I heard the headline "Leeds get Scott Wootton" I initially though the reporter had a speech impediment and that we had "Got caught rotten" and was left wondering what now? But having recovered from my shock I realised we had signed a young centre back from our beloved rivals just across the Pennines (Just in case Terry is reading; Us Leeds fans know what we really think of them). It got me thinking about other players that have made that transition from red to white or visa versa. Most with some degree of success it must be said so here's hoping Mr Wootton's tenure at Leeds will follow the same path.
The first one I can think of in my lifetime anyway was the legend that is Johnny Giles. Giles was at Old Trafford for 6 years, winning an FA Cup medal in his final season prior to signing for Don Revie's emerging team in 1963 for £33,000. Giles went on to become an integral part of the Revie era forming a deadly partnership in midfield with King Billy throughout the glory years, winning two League titles, an FA Cup, League Cup and 2 Fairs Cups. He made 521 appearances for Leeds in that time scoring 114 goals,the same amount as Bremner. His passing ability, tackling and penalty taking are what made him stand out as a Leeds Legend in a team of Superstars.Leeds definitely got the better of this deal.
Two Scots going in the other direction were Joe Jordan and Gordon McQueen. Both leaving Leeds for Old Trafford in 1978, much to the dismay of the Leeds faithful. McQueen famously went on to score in the 79 cup final, only for Alan Sunderland to claim victory with Arsenal's last attack. Jordan was a tough as nails centre forward, not prolific by any means netting just 35 times in 170 appearances for Leeds and 37 in 107 for Man United, but he always gave 100% and was a big loss in a time when Leeds were on the decline. McQueen spent 6 yrs at Leeds playing 140 times and stayed at Old Trafford for 8 seasons making 184 appearances for the Red Devils. Both were Scottish Internationals during a time when the Scots made it to the 1974 and 1978 World Cups and both will look back at successful spells at both clubs.
The late Brian Greenhoff, who passed away in May, famously played with his brother Jimmy at Old Trafford. He also made the trip across the Pennines to Leeds joining in 1979 after a successful period at our rivals, winning an FA Cup in 1977 while also suffering relegation in '74. Brian played 72 times for Leeds finishing in our relegation season in '82. Jimmy on the other hand started out with Leeds at the beginning of the Revie era and won League Cup and Fairs Cup medals in 68. He went on a circuitous route to Old Trafford via Birmingham and Stoke before joining Man U in 76 where he scored the winning goal in the '77 cup final. Another Scot Arthur Graham was at Leeds from 77-83. I remember him for his jinking runs and crosses and he also had an eye for goal, he was similar in style to Eddie Gray. I recall a hat trick he scored against Birmingham in '78 as one of the highlights of his Leeds career. The low point was relegation in '82 and he moved to Man U in '83 staying for just 2 seasons and making just 37 appearences, he was also capped by Scotland. A player I personally liked because of his flair but he never reached his full potential. He is back at Leeds coaching at the Academy and at schools in Wetherby, last I heard.
In 1989 under Sgt Wilko one of the most controversial signings at the time was the acquisition of the little flame haired Scot, Gordon Strachan, who had fallen out with Alex Ferguson. I know at the time I thought he was just coming here for a last big pay day in a faltering career but how wrong was I and probably many other Leeds fans. Strachan's time at Leeds coincided with the re-emergence of the sleeping giant, helping us gain promotion in his first season, winning footballer of the year in '91 and helping Leeds clinch the League Title in '92 ahead of Fergie's boys. He was part of the best midfield at Elland Road since the Revie era alongside Batty, McAllister and the late Gary Speed and will forever in my mind be a Leeds Legend.
Possibly the most successful player to be sold to Man U is the infamous Frenchman Eric Cantona. Cantona joined Leeds during our title winning season in '92. His reputation as a difficult player to manage preceded him but the Leeds faithful took to him immediately and his on field displays marked him out as special. At the start of the 92-93 season he scored a hat trick at Wembley in the Charity Shield victory over Liverpool and an early season hat trick against Spurs appeared to herald a glorious season ahead. But something went wrong somewhere and he was unbelievably sold to Man United in November for little over £1 million and the rest is history, helping United to their first title in 25yrs in '93, retaining it in '94 and winning again in '96 and '97, with the FA Cup in '96 thrown in. There were also a number of controversial moments including his attack on a fan at Selhurst Park, but the good outweigh the bad and they still sing his name at Old Trafford. A gigantic mistake by Wilko.
Most of the above have been relatively successful transactions but Young Lee Sharp's arrival at Elland Road for £4.5million in '96 can not be looked at in the same light. Famous for his Three Amigos celebration, Sharp was a rising star at Man United before it all went wrong and George Graham's purchase of him had a lot of Leeds fans scratching their heads. Sharp spent 3 yrs at Elland Road but only made 30 appearences in that time due to injuries. Not great value for money for Leeds.
Rio Ferdinand's sale to Man United heralded the beginning of the end for the O'Leary/Risdale era. Leeds signed Ferdinand for a British Record of £18million in 2000 as O'Learys Babies looked to take the next step in the revolution. The gamble almost paid off as Leeds reached a Uefa Cup Final and Champions League Semi Final in successive seasons. But behind the scenes things were unravelling and Ferdinand's sale to our bitter rivals after the 2002 World Cup for £29 million saw O'Leary sacked and El Tel take over. What happened to Leeds after that is well documented and Ferdinand has gone on to win numerous League Titles, Champions League and many other honours. His time at Old Trafford hasn't been all plain sailing, with a lengthy ban for evading a drug test and injuries but he will see his time at Man United as a successful one.
Probably the most hurtful transition across the mountains was that of local lad Alan Smith. Smithy came through the ranks at Elland Road and was a firm favourite with the fans having scored with his first touch as a Leeds player against Liverpool. His aggressive style and never say die attitude marked him out as a future star and he was an integral part of O'Leary's fledgling squad. Even in our relegation season he was the one player that almost dragged us to safety single handed with many Man of the Match performances. The sight of him shedding tears on that final day at Elland Road and kissing his badge endeared him to the Leeds faithful and no one begrudged him a move to a Premier League Club. What we didn't expect was that he would move to our most bitter rivals in Manchester. This was a real kick in the teeth for the fans who were already suffering following relegation. Smith did have an initial successful spell at Old Trafford securing a Premier League medal in 04. But Fergie tried to convert him into a holding midfielder which was never on and following a horrific leg break he never fully regained the edge he had and was sold on to Newcastle. Leeds fans have still not completely forgiven him for what they saw as a betrayal.
Part of the Smith deal was the signing of Danny Pugh. He never really flourished at Leeds and eventually ended up at Stoke playing in the Premier League. He eventually came back to Elland Road for a second spell in 2011 on loan before signing a permanent contract.
So despite the bitter rivalry between the supporters there has been a lot of transfer activity between the two sides over the years with Scott Wootton being the latest to make the 40 mile trip across the Pennines. Most of the transfers have proved successful, with the exception of one or two, so hopefully young Scott will realise his potential at Elland Road and help Leeds back to the Premier League in the next year or two.
By Mike Courtney
With less then two weeks to go before the transfer window shuts, it's shaping up to be a busy time at Elland Road. With news filtering through today about the impending signing of young defender Scott Wootton from Man U and rumours abound about the pursuit or availability of Rossco and Diouf, it looks like there will be plenty to mull over for the Leeds Faithful.
Wootton might not be the big imposing center half that we are crying out for but he is young and has some pedigree so he will be a welcome addition to the squad. Whether he can command a regular place ahead of Lees, Pearce or Peltier remains to be seen. I know we will probably get a lot of fans moaning and saying we could do better than Scum rejects but I won't be one of them.
Many players in the past have failed to make the grade at the top clubs and drop down a division and become a better player for it. Let's hope Wootton is one of those that flourish. At least it's a permanent signing and not a loan move so that is also positive and if stories are to be believed, the cost initially is minimal with add ons based on appearances and future sale. I don't know muck about him but I trust B-Mac has his homework done on the lad.
As for Rossco and Diouf, both have stated that they want to remain at the club and have no desire to leave. Ross is even willing to sign a new deal to prove his loyalty. This should be enough for the board to come out and categorically state that neither are for sale, which would hopefully stop Boro from annoying us with derisory offers for one of the top players at this level. We need to hold onto the likes of Rossco and Diouf if we are to maintain a challenge for promotion.
Everyone knows that we are short a player or three; Centre Back, out wide and either an out and out goal scorer or another midfielder to release Ross from the top of the diamond to play up front with Poleon. I believe if B-Mac can hold what he has and get one or two more in that we will be a force to be reckoned with and a playoff place would be a realistic target. For now we have to wait and see what develops over the next two weeks and hope that we won't be bemoaning the sale of our best players to fund the purchase of more dross like the Becchio for Morison fiasco.
Onwards and upwards
MOT Leeds Leeds Leeds
By Steve Jennings
July 26th is my birthday and I share it with some notable names like Mick Jagger, Sandra Bullock and the actress Susan George. For the past few years I have been nudging mercilessly closer to my half century but have a couple of years yet before I reach this landmark. This year my big day fell on a Friday and I had a really good one. My wife and daughters treated me to some nice presents before I treated myself to some "me" time in a sun drenched Taunton spending far too much money before enjoying a nice lunch and some cold glasses of Somerset's finest amber nectar, Thatcher's Gold.
But the real birthday surprise came when I got home. There on my PC in the latest Newsnow headlines was confirmation that Leeds United owners GFH had dispensed with our former chairman Ken Bates only a couple of weeks after he assumed the role of Club President. I had to read it a few times before my cider sozzled brain could actually make any sense but there it was in black and white, Ken Bates had no association with Leeds United anymore. What a present for my birthday!
This pleased me for two reasons. The obvious one was getting rid of a man that was no more than a parasite in my opinion, one eating away at our great club. The fact that the reason to rid the club of the man was due to alleged travel costs also confirmed what I had believed for many years and that was, one or another, Ken Bates was extracting large sums of money out of Leeds United. This was something his apologists had denied for years despite the many court appearances and ultimate legal fees that, I was sure, Bates would not pay for out of his pocket. I never actually believed we would ever be rid of Bates - why would he want to go when Leeds United was good for him financially and the club profile gave him the platform to stroke his huge ego? - so this was indeed a great bit of news.
The other reason was because it showed GFH to have a ruthless streak. The owners had taken some considerable flak from large sections of Leeds fans for many things, including allowing Bates to become Club President. I am not in the know at all but was certain such a tactic was to keep the normally difficult Bates sweet while they concluded the takeover of the club and I had said as much on Twitter. Deceiving the great deceiver - how sweet was that? I have supported GFH from the off with my support only wavering for a day or so around the Morison situation, which looked like a very poorly handled sequence of events. But I think the summer signings were promising enough even if it is obvious we need a few more new faces if we are to sustain any sort of challenge.
For me GFH's removal of Ken Bates makes this the best summer to be a Leeds fan for about 10 years and I cannot deny I will always be grateful to them for getting the cancer out of our club so we can move forward. But, of course, they need to have ambitions on the field too which was something Bates clearly lacked.
I can handle the gradual rebuilding of Leeds United. It would be fabulous if a Billionaire came in at Leeds and played Fantasy Football like the people at Chelsea or Man City but in reality that only happens in 1 or 2 clubs. I will not claim to be a money man but am sure that GFH must have a grand plan for the club. They are investors and would only have approached Leeds if there was an opportunity for the investment to mature and offer a suitable return. No doubt about that in my mind, never has been. I appear to be one of the few with a bit of patience regarding the owners and, in general, I am just going to let them get on with it and worry what I can control, and that is getting to Elland Road to support Leeds as often as time and money allows.
To playing matters. The great news is we have a good man in charge of team affairs in Brian McDermott. He impresses me, saying just the right things and never appearing flustered when I am sure he must be feeling some heat.
I suppose I would have taken a four-game unbeaten run to start the season if asked a few months back. Beating Brighton was a great result and we were expected to beat Chesterfield. The draw at Leicester was credible but I was disappointed with Saturday's draw against the Wendies if only because they were so poor and we made them look good.
We definitely need some quality brought in at CB, LM and a proven goal scorer up front who will give us 25 goals and more this season. The talk on social media on Saturday was that Bri Mac has three players lined up so this could be an important week?
But what is worrying is the situation with Ross McCormack and GFH will do well to think long and hard before selling one of our key performers. GFH have done a sterling job so far interacting with supporters and taking the necessary actions which is uniting the fan base but selling Ross Mac could possibly undo much of the good. As I say I accept building a sustainable club gradually with limited money to throw around but selling one of the few jewels would not, and should not, be well received.
We were a selling club under Bates and the sale of RMac will send a message that we still are. If, of course, Ross goes and we sign Mills, Le Fondre and one other then things may be viewed differently? Maybe not with all fans? And this piece of trading would ultimately be the Manager's decision rather than that of GFH even though it would be the owners taking the stick.
I am sure there will be some fans demanding that we are able to sign players and keep our best players. That is an ideal world but we live in a real world and I don't have an insight into the clubs finances so do not know what is or is not possible.
My major criticism of GFH is communication as they seem to pick and choose what they want to share with fans and when. Their silence over Ross Mac has been deafening and any sale without a suitable press release could be damaging. Messrs Haigh & Patel need to tread with some caution.
I am certain they will know this as they seem pretty clued up on what the fans think. And that is why, ultimately, I don't think Ross will be sold. For GFH to do that would be publicity gone wrong.
By Andy Gregory
Welcome to this week's interview with a Leeds fan, our feature where you can have your say on all things Leeds. This week we are talking to Paul Knights who has been a Leeds fan for 35 years and has regularly made the 450 mile round trip from where he lives to watch the Mighty Whites.
Name: Paul Knights
Tell us a bit about yourself:
I’m 45, married for 15 years (!!!), and have an 8 year old daughter. Neither likes football. I’m self-employed in the Marketing and Graphic Design world. I live in Swindon and have made the 450 mile round trip more times than I’d care to remember (easily 400+). I’ve heard way too much 5Live.
How long have you supported Leeds?
35 years (Wow, I’m old), since 1978. My first match was in 1984, vs Wolves, I can still remember the team and we won 3-2, Wright and Lorimer the scorers. Season ticket from 1986, and my southern accent either got me hassle or got me layed.
What is your favourite memory?
That’s easy, the 1989/90 Season. From getting slaughtered at Newcastle first day to Strachan against Leicester and Chappy at Bournemouth, it was, quite simply, the greatest ride of my life.
I suppose most fans my age say the Title, but somehow to me the Div. 2 win was better, with the terraces and Vinny and the noise, it was just the most fun ever.
Favourite player past and present?
My first hero was Tony Currie and from the current team Rudy Austin. All-time favourite is probably John Sheridan.
If you could bring one player from any era back to the club, who would it be and why?
Lucas Radebe, we need a centre back and he’s the best I’ve seen. He loved the Club, was a great Captain, and he was great with young players.
Best goal scored by a Leeds player?
Tony Yeboah Vs. Liverpool
What would you say are the proudest and worse moments in Leeds’ history?
Being the last ever Champions of the Football League!
I never knew Christopher Loftus & Kevin Speight, couldn’t have picked them out of a line up, but when I heard they had died, that they were never going home again, I never felt worse as Leeds fan, and never cared less about a bleeding football match.
How do you think the squad is shaping up for this season?
We are living within a budget and it’s a very unpopular but realistic path. The squad is what it is. Too old, too slow, and full of journeyman pros. That however is not BM’s doing, and I genuinely believe he is doing the best he can with what he has. It won’t improve over night, but it has improved since he’s got here. I’m too old for miracles or quick fixes, real improvement takes time.
Who’s the player to watch this season?
Luke Murphy, he was a great signing. Not the finished article, but so much potential.
What do you think to our three summer signings?
Murphy I’ve mentioned, Smith has some potential, and gives us a completely different option. Hunt to me was a Warnock, journeyman, do a job, one paced wonder we’ve already got way too many of.
McDermott has been told he can bring in some new players, who would you like to see come in?
I’d like to see young players, with a bit of pace, as we build a team. From the rumour mill, Tommy Rowe or Gary Mackay-Steven would have been nice. We have got to find a little pace somewhere.
With a lot of speculation about the future of some of our players, how important do you think it is to keep hold of players like McCormack and Diouf?
McCormack must stay, and if GFH are serious about taking the Club forward, they have the chance to show it. We all know that under Uncle Ken, Ross would already be in red shirt. He’s not, so far.
Diouf, I don’t care, he’s got decent touch and vision, but I can run quicker than him.
What is your view on Brian McDermott?
Top bloke, he even bought the boys some beer on tour, and luckily enough he seems to be a decent manager too. The performances have improved on virtually no money, and the football is night and day better. Oh God, do you remember last season? I sometimes wake at night sweating, picturing Brown punting the ball 60 yards in the general direction of Becchio, time after time after time after time.
What is your view on GFH’s time at Leeds so far?
They are doing a professional job. Ticket prices, fan initiatives and basically repairing some of the damage done by the previous regime are ways forward. Of course I’d love it if they whipped out £10m and told BM to go nuts, but we really haven’t recovered from the last time our Chairman said that, and slow and steady is probably the way this time.
Score prediction for our next game v Ipswich?
Where do you think we will finish this season?
If we unload a few of Warnock’s Dad’s Army and get a little pace into the team, we
may be flirting with the playoffs, but consolidation is probably the way this year, top 10 minimum.
Anything else you would like to add?
GFH are trying to make a profit, that’s it. They don’t love the Club, have no ties to the Club, nothing, they are just trying to make a profit. The best way to do that is to improve the Club, and the playing staff, without bankrupting the Club in the process. Uncle Ken & Neil Warnock left us in one hell of a mess, GFH are making the right moves, and these things take time.
Give BM a chance, it won’t be easy or quick, but No Bates, No Warnock, we’re making a start, I haven’t felt like that in a long time. MOT
Massive thanks to Paul 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 Rob Atkinson
There are some glass-half-full types who might venture to suggest that this hasn't
been a summer like any other over the past ten years or so. After all, Bates has gone, most if not all of his cronies have departed with him, and the air around Elland Road does smell sweeter as a result. What's more ticket prices have gone down from the actually obscene to the merely extortionate, there has been continual talk of new investment and strategic partners, and yes - we have our first seven-figure signing since we bought Richard Cresswell back when Noah was a lad. O Brave New World that has such smoke and mirrors in it!
Because, despite all the feel-good changes and all of the positive talk - forget the past, it's all about the future - there are still these nagging doubts. Leeds United football fans are canny folk. They know their football, and they can see quite clearly when there are gaping holes in the squad, and when the club is being stifled for lack of quality. And despite the rich promise of million-pound Wunderkind Luke Murphy, and the more gangly potential of Matt Smith, freed from his Time Lord responsibilities in darkest Oldham to provide an aerial threat for Leeds United; plus of course the elderly skills of veteran Noel Hunt - despite all this, we can all see what's missing. Width, that's what. Pace, that's what too. And a rock-like, they-shall-not-pass presence at the centre of defence, that's very much what also. And yet with a mere two weeks until this latest transfer window slams shut, we are still short of these aforementioned essential items, and we're being fed a steady diet of rumours about who will have to go in order to make room on the stretched-out wage bill for incomings.
Now they're threatening our most precious possessions, and the squad's only sparks of flair and creativity. Dioufy? McCormacky?? We must keep these players, or risk becoming even more pedestrian and predictable. Surely even a Dubai-funded Tory can see that. But the situation is such that, unless we can shed some of the real deadwood - no names, no pack drill - then we're either going to have to wave a tearful farewell to some of our major players, or make do with what we've got. Brian is not happy. The board are saying nowt. Are we soon to hear the fateful words "Don't forget, there's always the loan window opening in a week or so..."? Save it, guys. We've heard it all before, year after depressing year.
The fact is that Leeds United are almost certainly doomed to get yet further into a
second decade outside of the top-flight. The longer we stay out of that billion-dollar glare, the more we will become ever more pallid for lack of limelight, the more chance of the club ending up perpetually moribund, like a bigger version of Preston or Huddersfield. There is an acute awareness of this among the fans - that much is obvious from the most cursory perusal of the various fan-sites and message-boards. It's no secret, that's for sure - and historically, there are few more militant bunches of fans anywhere. And yet still, the powers-that-be are following the blueprint of previous regimes, and seeking to manage our expectations, to deflect our passion and desire with blarney and vague not-quite-promises, underpinned by artfully-leaked rumours. Multi-million pound investment imminent? Bid possible for return of Maxi Gradel? Ker-ching. Another few hundred tickets sold for the opening game, and then queues all the way down the West Stand car-park for the League Cup visit of tiny Chesterfield. But you can't fool all the people all the time, and despite carefully-scripted exhortations from Brian McDermott, the crowd for the Wednesday game was way down. And why not? It's live on Sky and some of those tickets are £36. It's not rocket science, chaps.
It's about time Leeds United appointed a Minister for Truth. I'd be up for the job. It's not going to happen though - but can we at least ask for a little more transparency instead of the same old, same old EVERY bloody year? We know there is no oil-rich billionaire around the corner. We know Maxi isn't coming back (or Snoddy, or Howson, or Becchio). So please - whoever you are - stop feeding us this pap, and get on with what you're supposed to be doing. Give Brian the support he needs instead of having the cheek to set two-year deadlines for promotion. Carry on engaging with the fans - you've made a start, but there's a long way to go. Learn the lesson that you need to speculate to accumulate, and then maybe we won't have to watch far smaller clubs snapping up players who would love to play for Leeds United - if the money was anywhere near par for the course. It's not easy, but it's not impossible. Stop selling us a line and give us a Leeds United to be proud of again - and then we'll be right behind you in our highly vocal thousands. You know it makes sense.