By Andy Gregory
Name: Steve Jennings
Tell us a bit about yourself:
I live on the Devon & Somerset border with my wife and two daughters (all Leeds fans) and work as a Business Manager in Exeter. Also like Cricket (Somerset CC) and music (Weller, Beatles, Clash, Smiths to name but a few!!)
How long have you supported Leeds?
Technically since 1972 when I vowed to support the team that won the FA Cup Final, so but for Allan Clarke I would be a Gooner! But I didn’t watch the game. My first real Football memory was watching Scotland in the 1974 World Cup with six Leeds players in the team. This coincided with Don Revie leaving United for England so my first vivid Leeds memory was the 44 days of Brian Clough, but that didn’t put me off and I have been Leeds & proud ever since.
What is your favourite memory?
Favourite season would be 1989-90 with Chappy, Vinnie, Strach, Batts et al. I did 23 games that season travelling up from Devon, 15 home and 8 away. I was there in the Bournemouth end for the final game and the relief when we won the game and the old Second Division was there for all to see. It was a brilliant season and we could finally say “United are back!”
Favourite game was the FA Cup tie versus QPR in our great cup run of 1986-87 under King Billy. Again I was there and remember big Brendon’s goal like it was yesterday 33,000 in the ground and a reported 5,000 in the car park. The radio commentator said the “fur coats and Rolls Royce’s are back at Elland Road!” I don’t know about that but it was a great day.
Favourite player past and present?
My all-time favourite player would be between David Batty and John Sheridan. Batts played in better Leeds teams and won two titles but Shez edges it for me. He was the only bright light in otherwise poor teams and was just such a class player. A fabulous passer of the ball and devastating from dead ball situations. He was also loyal and could have left us many times for the higher Division but stayed with us.
I like home grown talent shining through so favourite current player is young Sam Byram despite him being new to the team this season. He looks a great prospect and I just hope this potential is realised at Leeds and not Norwich! (Not even funny that one!)
If you could bring one player from any era back to the club, who would it be and why?
That’s a hard one! At the moment we need about five players so I could name anyone of about 20 in different positions bar a goalkeeper. I would opt for a versatile player who can run, tackle, head, score goals and defend so it is Gary Speed for me. And that’s not me being all sentimental as he was class
personified. I always wanted him to come back and finish his career at Elland Road and it is a shame he didn’t. He would tear up this league with his ability.
Best goal scored by a Leeds player?
That’s easy as it was the first goal I saw Leeds score at Elland Road. 1986-87 season versus Derby County who were 4th in the table before the game and United were 5th. Leeds had a free-kick just outside the Rams penalty area, Bairdy runs over the ball, Ian Snods taps it back and John Shez flicks it up and hits it on the volley past Mark Wallington to put us 1-0 up. Amazing goal! We won 2-0 and made the FA Cup semis and Play-off final that season.
How would you sum up our season so far?
Disappointing and seemingly heading into freefall. If the tour to Devon & Cornwall was the season start and you remember the great optimism during that week, with new players being signed and a takeover supposedly imminent, then attitudes have changed dramatically since then. We have put in some battling displays and then some abject ones too. I don’t think Warnock has the numbers or much class on offer to tinker with things so the team picks itself and players seem tired and disinterested. We are where we are in the league because the squad is not good enough.
Which player has impressed you most this season?
Again Sam Byram is one but have been really impressed with Rudy Austin. I like the battling midfield types and he is as hard as nails and up there with Vinnie and Batts in my eyes. I just hope he isn’t out for too long and the injury stops him from playing his natural game. Also mentions for Diouf, Tonge and Pearce as big Jase isn’t the most gifted player to wear a Leeds shirt but he is honest and you can see he wants to play for Leeds United. We have had too many posers and journeymen disgrace the shirt in recent seasons and I do like an honest player.
The supposed takeover is still dragging on, do you think it’s going to be completed by GFH? How important do you believe it to be this season?
I have had my doubts about GFH for some time as I cannot believe it has taken so long. If I was buying anything off Ken Bates I would apply the strictest due diligence but how many conversations can you have and how many times do you need to look at the books?
The thing is I want to believe it will happen as I can’t contemplate that vile man Bates still being around come summer 2013. A bit like I also want to win the Lottery and for Kelly Brook to ring me and say we should get together and she has booked the hotel. Sometimes I think those last two are more likely than a takeover but we must remain hopeful.
The takeover is vital. We are a rudderless ship under Bates and always have been as he thinks short-term and has no vision to take the club forward. But for a Russian Billionaire he would have finished off Chelsea and his lack of ability running football clubs may impact on us even further. Bates has to go ASAP. And he didn’t save Leeds before the apologists start piping up!
It has been reported that we have missed out on another signing in Cameron Jerome. Where do you think we need strengthening most and who would you like to see come in?
I think we need a major player in all outfield areas including a quality centre-back, ball playing midfielder and goal scorer. If I was picking one player (regardless of budgets) I was very impressed with Craig Mackail-Smith when we played Brighton a couple of Friday’s back. He was different gravy! Becc’s is a grafter and scores goals (despite the stick he gets from some fans) but a CMS type would get us another 10 or more goals on their own and change games. A few million well spent in my opinion.
How would you describe our current team?
Hard working and honest but short of real class in key areas. Plenty of battlers but only Diouf and White can really turn a game with a bit of class and both of those players have been poor in the last couple of games. Numbers wise the squad isn’t big enough and was never going to cope with lasting a long, hard season accounting for fatigue, injuries and suspensions. We need some quality additions in January or we may find ourselves in some trouble come May.
We’ve had a poor run of results of late, especially last week’s defeat to Watford.. Where do you think it’s going wrong? Do you think we’ll turn it around?
I’m repeating myself but simply we haven’t got the numbers in the squad or class available. I genuinely think we will only turn it around if a takeover happens otherwise it is another season of despair I am afraid.
Where do you think we will finish this season?
With the current squad I can’t see anything but bottom end of the table and that’s if Warnock stays. If the takeover collapses and he walks – well I shudder to think what might happen.
If we are bought before January then there is still time to put on a run and get to the higher echelons of the table, remember Crystal Palace a few seasons back? Fourth from bottom on January 1st and made the play-offs? But it really does depend on getting Bates out and decent owners with vision into Leeds
United. And then a few players of genuine quality.