Friday, April 18, 2014

Barnsley v Leeds United: Whites will be looking to impress Cellino

Yorkshire Evening Post 18/4/14
Barnsley manager Danny Wilson believes Leeds United have good reason to chase a result at Oakwell tomorrow with new club owner Massimo Cellino, right, stamping his authority on Elland Road.
Wilson denied that United’s mid-table position could lead to a toothless performance from Brian McDermott’s side when Leeds and Barnsley meet in South Yorkshire. Barnsley are at serious risk of relegation and sit inside the Championship’s bottom three but Leeds ensured their safety by beating Blackpool last weekend and have long since dropped out of the fight for the play-offs.
Wilson said: “They’re just as dangerous.
“They’re not in the play-off hunt or fighting against relegation but sometimes a relaxed team is a difficult one to play against.
“With the whole new ownership issue, it puts a different light on the approach of players and the management because the owner is there to be impressed.
“Would Leeds like to give us the problem of going down? It wouldn’t surprise me.
“But we have to rise above that. We have to play the game, not the occasion.”
The other two teams in the bottom three are both away, with Yeovil Town travelling to Blackburn Rovers this afternoon and Ian Holloway’s Millwall also on the road, to Middlesbrough, tomorrow afternoon.

Leeds United: Mac ready to overhaul Whites squad

Yorkshire Evening Post 18/4/14
by Phil Hay
Massimo Cellino and Brian McDermott will begin the process of reshaping Leeds United’s squad next week when they meet to decide which players to cull and which to keep.
Cellino, who is at home in Miami after completing his takeover of Leeds 10 days ago, plans to discuss this summer’s retained list with McDermott once United complete their Easter schedule at home to Nottingham Forest on Monday.
The Italian businessman is due back in England in the next few days and Leeds are heading rapidly towards the end of the season with only two more Championship fixtures remaining after their televised meeting with Forest.
No fewer than nine senior professionals are out of contract in July, including El-Hadji Diouf and Michael Brown, and most are expected to move on after a season in which United have fallen a long way short of the play-offs.
But Cellino and McDermott will also speak about the wider reaches of a squad who command a wage bill of close to £20m but have failed to make a concerted push for promotion.
Leeds play Barnsley at Oakwell tomorrow with the play-offs far beyond them and relegation no longer a tangible threat, freeing Cellino to plan ahead for his first full season as owner.
McDermott hinted at his own expectation of surviving the changes brought on by the Italian’s buy-out, saying he was already thinking about the club’s pre-season programme and transfer strategy.
“We’ll be going into the summer with optimism because the ownership’s sorted,” McDermott said. “That’s a gimme. It means we can plan.
“We can start planning for pre-season training – where we’re going to go, the games we need to organise – and also for the players we need to bring in.
“We can do a lot of stuff which we couldn’t have done a few weeks ago.
“The first people who’ll hear about (the retained list) are the players because that’s the way it should be. But we will be having discussions about it soon and I’ll be speaking to Massimo next week when he comes back.
“I’ve been talking to him on the phone this week and we speak quite regularly. We’re always in contact. I’ve put my views to him and discussed them with him but those are private conversations.”
United’s results since August have put many players at risk of a summer departure from Elland Road, though McDermott is anticipating incoming offers for striker Ross McCormack after his exceptional spell of goalscoring.
The Scotland international – United’s captain for the past two months – is two goals away from reaching 30 for the season, and McDermott admitted that McCormack’s form would make interest in him inevitable.
But Leeds fended off offers from West Ham United and Cardiff City in the January – the second made on transfer deadline day – and McDermott is optimistic that the club’s resistance will continue under their new regime.
“I don’t think that’s changed,” he said. “Ross is the top goalscorer in the Championship so I’m sure there’ll be interest.”
McDermott, meanwhile, played down an interview with Cellino on Tuesday in which the Italian suggested that the tactical positioning of Luke Murphy in last weekend’s win over Blackpool was down to him.
Murphy scored twice in a 2-0 win – his first goals since the start of the season – and McDermott said: “The person who gets the credit is Luke Murphy. They were terrific goals and it’s always the players who cross the line.
“We give advice. I give advice, the coaches give advice, the owner gives advice but the players get the credit. Credit’s irrelevant to me, quite irrelevant.”

Why Leeds fans are giving Barnsley match the cold shoulder

Yorkshire Post 17/4/14
IN the not-so-distant past, Leeds United sold 6,700 tickets for a Tuesday-night game at Barnsley. That particular allocation was under siege from the outset. As of Tuesday morning their allocation for Saturday’s derby at Oakwell was undersold by 1,500. Tickets this season are not so golden.
That could be a reflection on the fact that Leeds are limping towards a mid-table finish and have nowhere else to go. It could also be a response to the punishment meted out by Barnsley during each of United’s last three visits to Oakwell. This game has become a standing joke in Leeds, missing only a funny punchline.
Two managers before Brian McDermott lost their grip of Leeds completely at Barnsley – Neil Warnock in 2013 and Simon Grayson 12 months earlier. Grayson’s side were brutally beaten, losing 4-1 on New Year’s Eve in 2012, and Warnock’s players caved in against a Barnsley team who were managerless and bottom of the Championship. Warnock walked down the tunnel with chants of “time to go” bouncing off him.
Barnsley named David Flitcroft as their new manager on the strength of last season’s 2-0 win. Prior to the game, the club’s board let it be known that Flitcroft was not even a candidate but home derbies against Leeds have allowed many at Oakwell to thrive and make hay. Their odd hold over Leeds goes back to a 5-2 rout in September 2010, a night when United’s supporters filled a third of Barnsley’s ground.
“I was at Oakwell last season and it felt like one team wanted it more,” said John Hendrie, the ex-Leeds and Barnsley striker. “Leeds are perceived as the biggest club in Yorkshire and you can’t really argue with that. So in Barnsley’s back yard, Barnsley will contest the derby like they would a cup final.
“You’re going to see more of the same this weekend. If truth be told, the game should matter more to Barnsley. They’re in deep trouble and if they don’t win on Saturday then it’s hard to see a way out for them. That might be them relegated. It’s going to be a tear up again and the question you have to ask is how will Leeds cope with that?
“The last few times Leeds have gone to Oakwell their intensity hasn’t been right. Barnsley have played at a higher level. It looks as if that Leeds have nothing at stake and individually a few people at the club will be desperate for the season to be over. But others in the camp will see it differently.”
The Championship table gives Leeds nothing to feed on this weekend, but aside from the issue of redeeming themselves at Oakwell there is tangible motivation among their squad and staff. Ross McCormack is three goals short of 30 for the term and has four games to get there, and few players know what the recent change of ownership at Elland Road means for them.
The same doubt applies to McDermott who is fighting on under Massimo Cellino’s watch and against the backdrop of choice comments from the Italian. Last weekend, McDermott said his decision to wear a tracksuit in a 2-0 win over Blackpool – replacing his usual shirt and tie – had been encouraged by his daughter. In an interview with an Italian newspaper on Tuesday, Cellino claimed the suggestion was his.
“I told him to go on the bench dressed that way,” Cellino said. “He is the coach, I am the manager.” United’s owner also took credit for the tactical use of Luke Murphy against Blackpool, a game in which Murphy scored twice.
Speaking yesterday, McDermott said: “My daughter’s been on at me for the last year to wear a tracksuit. She’s always saying ‘get rid of the suit, get rid of the suit.’
“I made my mind up last week to make the change – before I spoke with Massimo on Thursday – but when we talked, he told me I should wear a tracksuit too. I said ‘actually, I’ve already decided I will.’
“So there’s no conspiracy and nothing untoward. Frankly, what I wear on the touchline doesn’t matter anyway. The results matter – to all of us.”
It is barely possible for McDermott to know where he stands with Cellino or whether he has any chance of seeing out more of his three-year contract. Cellino gave some insight about his vision on Tuesday, saying: “Italian coaches are the best in the world but I don’t want to immediately introduce an Italian structure to (Leeds).”
Hendrie said: “The whole situation is out of Brian’s hands. The decision on the manager is down to Cellino alone and perhaps he’s made it already. You can never be sure.
“The best thing Brian can say at the moment is that the experience he’s had at Leeds he’ll never have again. If he’s a strong guy then he’ll be better for it. And he is strong. He hasn’t cracked and he hasn’t thrown the towel in. A lesser man would have given up.
“All he can do now is get it right in the last four games. Put it this way, if Leeds go into the summer unbeaten in five then he’s got a little spell of form to point at. If they wind up with two wins from 17 matches then we’ll be talking about a dreadful record.
“Some players will be desperate for the summer to come but others will be thinking about their futures and worried about what the club plan to do with them. They probably wish they had another 10 games to go. Attitudes differ from one person to another but I don’t think Leeds have nothing to play for. You always have something to play for.”
Once again, Barnsley are threatening the great escape, and their win at Charlton Athletic on Tuesday – a huge victory on an night when the chips were stacked high – gave them a sudden view of safety.
“Perhaps in the past Leeds have gone to Oakwell wondering if Barnsley were up to much,” Hendrie said. “But I’d be amazed if Leeds were caught by surprise on Saturday.
“It’s do-or-die for Barnsley so it goes without saying that they’ll be fighting to the death. Leeds have had some hard times at Oakwell and this won’t be much simpler.”

Busy Cellino in pledge to Leeds United and Cagliari

Yorkshire Evening Post 16/4/14
by Phil Hay
Massimo Cellino has promised that he will not see Cagliari “go to waste” or allow his focus on Leeds United to be diluted while he works towards the sale of his Italian club.
Cellino said he could “run Cagliari from here and do what needs to be done” at Elland Road as a group of unnamed American investors attempt to follow up his takeover of Leeds by buying him out of Cagliari.
The 57-year-old businessman finalised his purchase of a majority stake in United last Tuesday but he retains control of Serie A side Cagliari – a team he bought back in 1992 – and is still to agree terms with the interested US consortium.
The prospective investors, none of whom have been identified, want to secure control of Cagliari and reach a deal which gives them a mandate to completely rebuild the club’s Stadio Sant’Elia ground.
Cagliari’s stadium has grown increasingly derelict over the years and is currently able to hold a capacity crowd of just 5,000. The group bidding to take charge of the club are unlikely to do so unless they secure permission to construct a new arena on the same site.
Cellino is committed to selling Cagliari with Leeds now under his control, conceding last week that he could not run both clubs in the long-term, but he said his Sardinian team would be looked after until a takeover went through and insisted that work involved in cutting his ties with Cagliari would not affect his input at Elland Road.
“At Cagliari I have to find buyers and when you try to find buyers, you don’t waste the club,” Cellino said. “I still have to look after the club. It’s good and organised and it stays like that.
“I can run Cagliari from here for now and do what needs to be done (at Leeds). At Leeds I have to build a new organisation and it can’t wait. I must engage myself.”
Luca Silvestrone, a spokesman for the American group discussing the sale of Cagliari, has described the negotiations as “delicate” but he said on Sunday that if discussions went well, “by the end of the season there will be a change of ownership between us and Massimo Cellino.”
The Italian season finishes on Sunday, May 18, two weeks after the Championship term ends.
Cellino has not said whether money raised from any sale of Cagliari would be directed towards his new investment at Elland Road but he made a significant financial outlay during his first week as owner of Leeds, addressing a late tax bill and overdue wages and meeting the rent payments for Elland Road and Thorp Arch.

Fans are banking on Cellino to drag Leeds back from the abyss

Yorkshire Post 16/4/14
NOTHING out of the ordinary happened at Leeds United yesterday. Or the day before, for that matter.
Usually, this would not be considered worthy of mention in The Yorkshire Post, even in the quietest of weeks never mind one that has seen a club from the county reach its first FA Cup final just as a pivotal Easter football programme homes into view.
But this is Leeds United, a club that since the turn of the year has been beyond parody.
To recap, Elland Road has seen a little bit of everything since bidding farewell to 2013 with United looking, as laughable as it seems now, a decent bet for a play-off place.
Court cases, police investigations, failed takeovers, judicial appeals, wage deferrals and the ‘is he-isn’t he sacked?’ farce involving Brian McDermott on transfer deadline day are just some of the ‘delights’ that an increasingly bewildered band of supporters have had to digest.
Throw in some truly shocking football on the pitch and the first quarter or so of 2014 has been one that no one of a Leeds persuasion will surely recall with anything but a shudder.
But what now?
The past 48 hours may have been uncharacteristically quiet in LS11, but that is not to saynothing is happening. For a start, Massimo Cellino’s new regime continue to pick their way through the shell of a club left behind after 15 ruinous months under GFH Capital.
Last week saw the taxman paid, along with a playing squad that was still owed 35 per cent of March’s wages. It is also understood the quarterly rent bill for both Elland Road and the club’s Thorp Arch training ground was late, but has since been settled.
Further liabilities will follow, with the seven-figure sum owed to David Haigh, who quit last week as managing director, understood to be requiring repayment by the end of the month.
Invoices that have been sat in the in-tray for several weeks will also have to be waded through as Cellino and his inner circle try to get United back on an even keel.
As important as the finances are, though, they are far from the only area that needs immediate attention. Just who, for instance, is going to run the club on a day-to-day basis?
Cellino, from both his deeds in charge of Cagliari and his public utterances so far in England, is clearly someone who leads from the front. But the 57-year-old Italian, after his first week at the helm, is now back in Miami and United need a safe pair of hands on the ground at Elland Road.
Ken Bates may have run Leeds from Monaco, but he could not have done that for eight and a half years without Shaun Harvey attending to the day-to-day problems that inevitably arise for a business with an annual turnover approaching £30m.
Cellino needs the same, as events last week surrounding Bradford City’s attempts to extend Adam Drury’s loan stay proved.
The Bantams tried, in vain, for several days to get a decision out of Elland Road before, with just a couple of hours to go before the deadline to extend the left-back’s time at Valley Parade was due to expire, a breakthrough was made.
In terms of the chaos that has engulfed Leeds in recent months, on the surface this seems a minor point. But, if United are to function once again as a football club, it is surely imperative that employees – be they the ticket office, the commercial department or the football staff at Thorp Arch – have someone to go to for an instant decision.
The smart money seems to be on Daniel Arty, a director of Eleonora Sport and a trusted confidant of Cellino, filling that role, but clarification would help both staff and supporters.
The same goes for the manager’s position. Is McDermott the best man, in Cellino’s mind, to lead United next season? If so, fine. Let him get on with what is surely going to be a major overhaul of a squad that, with a couple of notable exceptions, is achingly short of quality and will have nine members out of contract in June.
But if not – and with Leeds having all but assured safety by reaching 50 points – then surely a decision would be better made sooner rather than later.
Cellino has made all the right public noises so far. His views on how United have been, for want of a better word, ‘run’ have certainly struck a chord with supporters.
This much was evident last Wednesday, his first day in Yorkshire since buying a majority stake.
Twitter was full of Cellino images, invariably doing the Leeds ‘salute’ with his other arm around a supporter as he, first, enjoyed a pint in the pub that sits across from Elland Road and then enjoyed a stroll round the city centre during the evening.
It was a similar story a couple of hours after Leeds had beaten Blackpool on Saturday, his every stride across the main concourse of Leeds railway station being interrupted by fans desperate for a photo with the new man.
For Cellino, such a welcome was an inkling as to the gratitude fans feel over him sinking millions into United to drag the club back from the abyss.
Spark a true revival, however, and the Italian will surely never have to buy a drink again in his adopted city.

Leeds United preparing for big summer clearout

Yorkshire Evening Post 16/4/14
Phil Hay assesses the situation at Elland Road as he looks at which players are likely to depart at the end of the Championship season.
Saturday’s win over Blackpool was the end of Leeds United’s season in a competitive sense. The play-offs long gone, relegation is no longer a problem either – unless Millwall can conjure a 10-point swing and negate a pitiful goal difference in the space of four games.
The implausible mathematics have given Leeds and their new owner the strange luxury of planning ahead without overlooking more immediate priorities. Brian McDermott could find that the surgery performed by Massimo Cellino cuts as deeply as him and his coaching staff this summer but United’s playing squad is a more complex puzzle for the Italian.
McDermott will plan to publish his retained list in the next fortnight, releasing up to nine senior professionals at the end of their contracts, but comprehensive changes to the squad at Elland Road will require more effort. Cellino’s insistence that Leeds, as a group of players, are better than their results will not stop a concerted attempt to restructure the dressing room before the start of next season.
The club have a wage bill of around £20m and the vast majority of the players who have appeared regularly this season are under contract until 2015 and beyond. Those who stand to become free agents in July include Danny Pugh, Michael Brown, El-Hadji Diouf and Jamie Ashdown. Most of the rest are so peripheral that McDermott dispatched them on loan weeks ago – Paul Green, Luke Varney, Gboly Ariyibi and Adam Drury.
United’s manager will also lose loanees Jack Butland and Jimmy Kebe, though there were suggestions prior to Cellino’s takeover that a permanent deal for Butland would be possible once the Italian completed his buy-out. Stoke City paid around £3m for Butland at the start of 2013. But the core of Leeds’ squad, no fewer than 12 members of it, have deals until the end of the 2014-15 season. Six of them played against Blackpool on Saturday.
There are some on that mass who McDermott would choose to keep and potentially offer extended contracts. Matt Smith has scored 11 goals in his first year in the Championship but is tied to United for another 12 months. Rudy Austin, whose has appeared 40 times since August, is also a year away from running out of contract. Others like David Norris, who was injured for much of this season but has not played in a single league game, can expect to be made available as Leeds try to clear out Thorp Arch.
In an interview with the YEP last week, Cellino appeared to imply that he was minded to give the players at Leeds the benefit of the doubt created by their mid-table position in the league.
“We have players who can win,” he said. “They have to show me now what we’re going to do next year. I want them to show me that they’re real players. But I believe that they can be good.
“Don’t forget with players, if they don’t like to win, if they don’t care about winning, they won’t ever win. They can be the best in the world and they won’t ever win. But someone else is watching the games now. I’m watching.”
The assumption with Cellino is that his vision for United will involve an influx of transfers from abroad, and several from Italy. The 57-year-old wanted to make as many as seven signings on the day of the January transfer deadline but amid unprecedented chaos at Elland Road, he failed to finalise any of them.
At the time, Italian media reported that Danilo Avelar, a Brazilian midfielder, was set to join Leeds from Cellino’s Italian club Cagliari but the paperwork was unfinished as the 11pm deadline passed. Cellino thought he had pushed through a loan deal for Andrea Tabanelli and the 24-year-old travelled to England from Sardinia, only to spend several days holed up in a hotel while the Football League considered whether his transfer had been properly completed. The governing body refused to sanction the move.
The link between Leeds and Avelar resurfaced last weekend, with Avelar admitting that he “had my suitcase ready” to come to Elland Road in January. Speaking after a 1-1 draw between Cagliari and Sussulo, Avelar was quoted as saying: “Was I close to Leeds in January? That’s true, I had my suitcase ready but I’m happy to still be here (at Cagliari) and to be able to help the team to escape (relegation).”
Cellino flew back to his home in Miami after United’s win over Blackpool but he was at Elland Road for four days last week. He and McDermott spoke for a few hours on Thursday and Cellino spent time with Luke Dowling, United’s chief scout in waiting, to discuss the current squad and recruitment in the summer.
Leeds tried to appoint Dowling officially almost a year ago but his employment was delayed by the negotiation of a severance from his previous role at Blackburn. Sources at Elland Road say an ongoing legal dispute with Gwyn Williams, United’s former technical director, further complicated their plan to bring Dowling on board.
Dowling has remained close to Leeds in the meantime, however, and Cellino gave him a vote of confidence, saying: “He’ll be close to me. We talk the same language, soccer language.
“What we need now is organisation because we’ve got next season to think about. We’ve got pre-season, season tickets, players. Everything has to be done and that’s the work we have – after the emergencies.”
United dealt with two emergencies last week by settling a tax bill and paying wages deferred by their playing staff at the end of March. Rent for Elland Road and Thorp Arch – due quarterly – was also paid late but paid nonetheless.
Funding from Eleonora Sport, the company behind Cellino’s 75 per cent takeover of Leeds, has lifted some of the immediate pressure on the club, though United face other heavy costs. David Haigh, who last week resigned as United managing director, has more than £1.5m invested in Leeds. The money was understood to be due for repayment within 21 days of Cellino formally completing his takeover. 
His buy-out went through on April 8.
Cellino, the owner and president of Cagliari since 1992, said: “We have things besides money. It’s not just money. We’re bringing much more than that here. My experience and skills – I will bring them here.”
Leeds United players out of contract:
2014 - Jamie Ashdown, Alex Cairns, Danny Pugh, Adam Drury, Michael Brown, El-Hadji Diouf, Paul Green, Gboly Ariyibi, Luke Varney.
2015 - Paddy Kenny, Aidan White, Stephen Warnock, Lee Peltier, Zac Thompson, Marius Zaliukas, Rodolph Austin, Michael Tonge, David Norris, Noel Hunt, Matt Smith, Dominic Poleon.
2016 - Tom Lees, Jason Pearce, Scott Wootton, Steve Morison, Sam Byram, Luke Murphy, Chris Dawson.
2017 - Ross McCormack, Alex Mowatt, Cameron Stewart.

Should Leeds fans worry about Cellino's McCormack comments or not?

Here is the City 15/4/14
Stephen Pickering
Controversial Leeds United owner Massimo Cellino has told an Italian newspaper that he has been giving McDermott advice and that he wants to see star striker Ross McCormack in Italy.
The outspoken Leeds United chairman has only been in the role just a number of days, yet it's plain to see what life at Elland Road is going to be like under his reign.
At the weekend, Leeds stopped the rot by putting a run of five defeats behind them to claim their first win since the 22nd March.
It was a result which could have proved to be huge boost for under-pressure manager Brian McDermott, however, Cellino told an Italian newspaper it was his tactical acumen which allowed United to win the game.
'Luke Murphy is talented, he scored a brace against Blackpool,' said Cellino.
'I had advised McDermott to play him in that role and at the end the manager thanked me.'
A slightly worrying comment from the owner, which if true, shows that he could undermine the position of the manager in the future. Which, if McDermott was to leave, would no doubt impact a potential manager's decision to take the Leeds United job up.
However, the biggest worry for Leeds supporters will no doubt be the Italian's thoughts on their star striker, in which he commented: 'Ross McCormack is a real striker and I'd love to see him in Italy.'
It seems a very bizarre comment to make, especially about a player which is at a club he already owns. Although, with the Leeds supremo still in charge of Cagliari, does it hint that he could look to transfer McCormack to his Serie A side in the summer?
The comments will undoubtedly be a worry for Leeds United fans who will definitely not want to see their club become a feeder side to Cagliari, or a rich man's real life game of Football Manager.

Leeds United’s Footballing Philosophy – Starring Matt Smith

Right in the Gary Kellys 15/4/14
I learned from @LUFCDATA that with 242 headers, Matt Smith has won the most aerial duels in the Championship this season. Hardly a surprising stat considering; A) his size and B) the textbook route one football we’ve been playing all season. That stat sums up our season and it led me to thinking about what would happen to Matt Smith should we decide to start knocking it on the floor…
Last summer, back when we believed in our manager, what with him being a former scout, some of us can be forgiven for thinking that this was the kind of shrewd signing we would expect to see coming in. Young, hungry talent with potential seemed far more exciting than signing tired, journeymen.
Let’s face it the football this season has been dross. Sunday league stuff, with the only real benefactors of the ‘hit it at Matt Smith’s head and feed off the scraps’ strategy being Matt Smith and Ross McCormack. With Smith doing his best, which I’m not sure anyone can argue about, do people think that him being on the pitch hinders our play? ‘Feed off the scraps’ should not be a footballing philosophy and you would hope professional managers are capable of conjuring up a more superior tactic. Surely the lads don’t spend Monday to Friday on the training pitch smashing a ball up to Matt Smith? Do they…?
Is it simply too easy to aim for the big man, that instead of looking for a short pass, some of the players will just look to get rid in sheer panic? Surely they are made of stronger stuff than that.
With Smith already speaking publicly about his desire for a longer contract, I fear for the quality of football we can expect to see whilst he is in the first eleven. The lack of other quality in that area (McCormack aside) is frightening and purely on the basis that he has done absolutely everything he has been asked of this season and has a respectable league goal tally, he deserves credit and probably does deserve a longer contract. In the Summer, when (if) we have money, it’s absolutely paramount that we invest in a good number 9 and use Smith as an impact player to help us mix it up in tight games.
I’m wondering whether other fans feel that it is all too easy for the players to hit it long rather than play it out from the back? Or do they think McDermott is actually implementing this school boy tactic? Basically, can Matt Smith play for a Leeds without Leeds playing long ball football? All of this could well be irrelevant if/when Cellino brings in a coach, but Matt Smith, for the next year at least will remain.
Although this article may seem slightly critical, I like Matt Smith and I think if we had any (decent) wingers he would be a really dangerous forward. No doubt he has the desire to put himself about and make an impact on a game and for that he should be applauded. Too many players have been hiding this year and at least Smith isn’t afraid to take a game by the scruff of the neck.
The lowest moment of the season for the big man would be the sending off against Sheffield Wednesday, which I thought was harsh; by trying to show a bit of commitment and desire he paid the price. My personal favourite moment of the season was his ‘offside’ goal against Birmingham. Love him or loathe him, he’s got great feet for a big man.
Reporter – Joe Glover