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.