Thursday, August 26, 2004

LEEDS MUST CUT THEIR CLOTH - BLACKWELL: Sporting Life - Football | Premiership, Championship, Scottish & European News, Scores, Results

LEEDS MUST CUT THEIR CLOTH - BLACKWELL

Leeds manager Kevin Blackwell has delivered a stark warning to fans frustrated at the lack of entertainment on offer at Elland Road.
Blackwell's side scraped through to the second round of the Carling Cup with a 1-0 win over Yorkshire rivals Huddersfield on Tuesday night courtesy of Danny Pugh's close-range strike midway through the first half.
In Blackwell's first five games in charge, Leeds have scored just four goals, and none of those has come from the club's strikers despite United fielding the likes of Michael Ricketts, Julian Joachim and Brian Deane up front.
But with the club still £40million in debt, there is no money for Blackwell to splash any transfer cash, although there are rumours of fresh investment due shortly from outside sources.
Any potential investors will have had their eyes opened by the 30,000-plus crowd last night, setting a record for the biggest attendance for a first-round league cup clash.
"I think that shows why we are such a big club and I just hope people are looking at that and someone realises how big this football club is and helps us move along quickly," said Blackwell.
"I'd love to play expansive football, get the ball down, do somersaults, but it costs money.
"You get 'owt for nowt' as they say around here. Well I'm trying to put a team together and it has cost me 'nowt'.
"People have to get it back into their minds I haven't got a Harry Kewell or a Mark Viduka or any of those people with extra quality any more.
"The first thing I had to do when I took over was put a side together. I didn't have a team six weeks ago, so I've gone out to put that team together for nothing and that's what people have seen.
"Unless someone can give me some money to buy the players that should be playing for Leeds United Football Club... because I'll go out and spend it. It's not a problem to me.
"But I've got no money, which is frustrating for everybody, especially the Leeds fans and myself which means I can't play lovely, expansive football and buy tricky players.
"Until that changes I have to make sure we're competitive and at the moment I think we are competitive."
Blackwell is relatively happy with what his side have achieved so far, and although he knows the squad still needs strengthening, it is a case of biding his time.
"What I've learned is that when we dig in, this side has shown the spirit to do that," added Blackwell, who today flew to the Continent to take in a couple of games as he continues his search for players.
"When it comes to putting your head in, the lads are prepared to do that, and that is an invaluable asset to a club.
"If you can get that backbone, it gives you something on which to move forward.
"But when the good times come and we win the lottery we have been talking about, I'll have the money to spend and add the extra I need to, and my God I know I need to do it.
"People keep saying to me 'well, don't you think Leeds should be doing this and doing that' and I agree with them. But as I say, I haven't the money, so right now I need to be patient."
BBC SPORT | Football | My Club | Leeds United | Blackwell glad to progress

Leeds 1-0 Huddersfield
Kevin Blackwell was relieved to see his side make progress after a hard-fought Carling Cup win over Huddersfield.
The Leeds boss said: "I always knew it was going to be a tough game - a real tricky Cup tie.

"This was all about getting through the round and sometimes you take it any way you can get it.

"Sometimes it's never pretty at this stage. It was a battle, a war of attrition and the banana skin was there for us."

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Leeds United Football Club - Matchreport Leeds United vs Huddersfield Town

Leeds 1 Huddersfield 0
United are in the second round of the Carling Cup after coming through a passionate encounter with Huddersfield at Elland Road thanks to a second goal for the club by Danny Pugh.
It was perhaps not the classic cup tie many had hoped for between these two near neighbours, but Huddersfield refused to yield and continued to fight for an equaliser right to the end.
The visitors also had a number of chances that on another night they may have converted, but Kevin Blackwell's men proved they can compete with the physical side of the game and the defence recorded their third clean sheet of the season so far.
It was not pretty, but Pugh's goal proved decisive.
Pre-Match
United boss Kevin Blackwell made just one change to the side that drew with Nottingham Forest on Saturday, bringing in Michael Ricketts for Brian Deane, who was rested.
It also meant Clarke Carlisle kept his place at the back alongside skipper Paul Butler, whilst Michael Duberry, the man whose suspension gave him the chance to come into the team against Forest, was forced to make do with a place on the bench.
The Terriers also made just the one change with former Polish under-21 striker Pawel Abbott replacing Junior Mendes in attack, otherwise it was the same team for the visitors that lost in another Yorkshire derby at the weekend, 1-0 to Sheffield Wednesday.
The Match
With an attendance of 31,115 on the night it was officially recorded as the biggest ever attendance for the first round of the League Cup.
Recalled striker Michael Ricketts won a free-kick inside the first two minutes after being pushed in the back as he went to meet a long clearance from Sullivan. It presented the striker with his first opportunity to go for goal, sadly though he blasted his shot straight into the four man wall.
Richardson brought down Town midfielder Tony Carss at the other end in a similar position to the Ricketts free-kick two minutes earlier, and the visitors proved as wasteful with their early chance with Carss putting the shot well over the cross bar.
Leeds survived a nervous moment on seven minutes when Gary Kelly was forced to knock the ball behind for a corner following a teasing cross from full-back Andy Holdsworth. Clarke Carlisle though was commanding in the area and comfortably headed Carss cross well away.
On ten minutes Leeds produced their first promising break with a move that began near enough on their own byline.
Julian Joachim hoisted a long ball out of defence up to Ricketts, he in turn chested it down and played it across to Richardson who made 50 yards before crossing the ball back into the danger area where Ricketts had made his way, but the teasing cross was just headed away by the visitors before Ricketts could get there to put Leeds ahead in the game.
Four minutes later and it Huddersfield were denied a certain goal by Neil Sullivan.
A corner from Carss was headed back across the area by David Mirfin straight to Nathan Clarke whose header was both powerful and accurate. Sully though just managed to save Leeds as he got an outstretched hand to the ball and pushed it over for another corner that was much more comfortably dealt with.
Frazer Richardson was once again the source of most of Leeds attacking play, working well with Ricketts too on occasion and prepared to take the full-back on, single handedly he made the game an exciting spectacle.
Leeds finally broke through Huddersfield's stubborn resistance on 21 minutes, and although the goal itself was scrappy, the build-up was exceptional.
First Michael Ricketts hit the underside of the bar with a header after a great cross from deep by Crainey, the ball came back to Danny Pugh whose instinctive right foot shot was blocked by the keeper, but he couldn't hold onto the ball and Pugh had more success with his favored left foot as this time he found the target from six yards out.
Ricketts had been unlucky not to score with his header, but the encouraging signs were that the big forward was dominating in the air and was starting to look every bit like the striker Kevin Blackwell believes he can be.
Huddersfield were not subdued by the set-back of going a goal behind and they too hit the woodwork just before the half-hour mark with a Pawel Abbott header that crashed off the top of the bar with Sullivan beaten.
Just before half-time Huddersfield had their best spell of possession and were denied what looked a good claim for a penalty.
First good work from Andy Booth led to Mirfin taking the ball past Sullivan and cutting it back into the centre of the penalty but skipper Paul Butler managed to half clear.
The danger was still not over and the visitors came forward down the left with Rob Edwards chipping a ball into the area that appeared to be handled by Frazer Richardson as the United man went to cut it out. The referee Eddie Ilderton though was unsighted and Leeds escaped.
No changes for either side at half-time, Town started the second half with some purpose and really threatened to get back into the game.
Brandon's cross from the right hand side found Jon Worthington inside the area and his lay-off to Andy Booth saw the striker try and shoot his way through a sea of legs and United escaped.
A minute later another penalty shout went up as the ball made contact with Carlisle's arm inside the area, more a case of ball to hand than the other way round.
Booth was again in the thick of it when the visitors went close again. The striker leapt up and missed a cross by Carss by just inches barely two yards out from Sullivan's goal, and was then bundled down after a clumsy challenge by Michael Ricketts. Again the penalty appeal was waved away.
Kevin Blackwell made his first change of the night with 65 minutes played, bringing on Jamie McMaster for Steve Guppy. The young Aussie-born midfielder nearly made an instant impact on the scoreline as his drive from 20-yards was tipped over the bar by Gray in the Huddersfield goal.
Leeds were certain to concede an equaliser if they couldn't get out of their own half, and fortunately they turned the game around in the last ten minutes after being battered by the visitors.
McMaster was full of running for Leeds and he nearly added a second goal when he lifted the ball over a defender on the edge of the area and struck the ball well, but Gray was able to save and keep the ball out at the expense of a corner.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Telegraph %7C Sport %7C Guppy spoils his good deed for Leeds

Guppy spoils his good deed for Leeds
By Chris Barnett at Elland Road
(Filed: 22/08/2004)

Leeds Utd (1) 1 Nottm Forest (0) 1
Steve Guppy was both hero and villain as Leeds failed to make their domination count. Guppy, who is on a pay-as-you-play contract, put Leeds ahead in the 28th minute when he lost Matthieu Louis-Jean at the far post and rose to head home Frazer Richardson's cross from the right.
It was just reward and Leeds could have gone further ahead with shots missing the target by the narrowest of margins.
However, Guppy then needlessly conceded a late penalty which was converted by Andy Reid to give Forest their fourth draw of the season - and one they barely deserved.
The sides had cancelled each other out in a lively opening but it was Leeds who had the first opportunities to open the scoring.
Forest keeper Paul Gerrard failed to keep hold of the ball in a mix-up with a team-mate but Brian Deane's lob from the edge of the box dropped narrowly wide.
Then Stephen Crainey hit a freekick from 20 yards which beat the wall but it was a comfortable height for Gerrard who saved to his left. Paul Evans blazed high and wide with Forest's first real sight of goal after build-up play from Gareth Taylor, Reid and Louis-Jean.
Taylor thought he had put Forest ahead after 14 minutes when he headed in Evans's cross from the left but was ruled offside.
Crainey then headed inches over for the hosts from a Jermaine Wright corner before Frazer Richardson hit a curling shot from outside the area which sailed narrowly over. Richardson then turned provider for Guppy's goal.
Leeds would not allow Forest to settle and the visitors were carving out few chances. However, a swerving half-volley by Johnson from the left-hand side of the box took Leeds goalkeeper Neil Sullivan by surprise and he needed two attempts to keep hold of the ball down to his left
In the second half Reid's probings down the left were causing Leeds problems and it was from his corner that Taylor almost levelled but his header was straight at Sullivan. Again the hosts were taking control of proceedings and looked far more likely to score with Brian Deane testing Gerrard with a header.
Forest were handed a lifeline when Guppy flattened Evans in the box in the 78th minute and referee Mike Pike pointed to the penalty.
After lengthy treatment to Evans, Reid stepped up to blast the ball past Sullivan who guessed the right way but was unable to get a hand to the ball, such was the force of Reid's shot.
Gerrard then saved what seemed to be a certain goal from Joachim. The Leeds striker, who had been a constant menace, was through on goal but the keeper managed to get a hand to his shot to push it for a corner from which Deane's header bounced down and narrowly over the bar.
Leeds Today

United boss set to step up his search
by paul dews
LEEDS UNITED boss Kevin Blackwell insists he will not be lowering his standards in his search for new talent.
Cameroon international Serge Branco yesterday became Blackwell's 14th signing when he agreed to put pen to paper on a one-year contract.
But the United boss is still working hard to add more strength in depth after injuries to Lucas Radebe and Eirik Bakke reduced the numbers further.
"Losing two influential players has been a blow," said the United boss.
"We've Eirik out for the season and Lucas possibly for good, but we won't be rushing into anything.
"It's difficult to get the players who fit the bill.
"Maybe I'm being too hard on setting the standards I'm setting, but the minute I drop them we can only go one way.
Attitude
"As the board have said, any players that come in to this club have to be right for Leeds United because they are not just coming for a couple of games."
Radebe is hoping to return before the end of the campaign despite Blackwell's fears over his future and the manager is delighted with the South African defender's attitude.
"Lucas is a very resilient person," said Blackwell.
"He takes this as another one of life's difficult challenges and he'll deal with it.
"It was a complete rupture, but he received good medical attention and that meant the operation was more of a success than had he not received it at the point of impact."
BBC SPORT %7C Football %7C My Club %7C Leeds United %7C Branco agrees Leeds switch

Cameroon midfielder Serge Branco has agreed a one-year contract at Leeds United, reports BBC Radio Leeds.
The 23-year-old former Eintracht Frankfurt and Vfb Stuttgart player, who is out of contract, has been on trial at Elland Road and will not cost a fee.
But he has not received international clearance in time to face Nottingham Forest in the Championship on Saturday.
Manager Kevin Blackwell told Leeds' website: "He brings real quality to the squad at the time when we need it."
In addition to Branco's one-year deal, the Yorkshire club also have an option to keep him for a further year at Elland Road.
He won a gold medal with the Cameroon side at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, and also trained with Championship rivals Queens Park Rangers this summer.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Times Online - Newspaper Edition

Wolves 0 Leeds 0: Radebe career under threat
Patrick Maxwell at Molineux

LUCAS RADEBE was in hospital last night, his Achilles tendon thought to be ruptured and his playing career considered over. Radebe was injured after 15 minutes, falling to the turf with no other player in the immediate vicinity. After receiving treatment, the former Leeds captain was taken off on a stretcher. His distress was obvious.
Kevin Blackwell, the Leeds manager, said: “It looks like Lucas has ruptured his Achilles and it’s more than likely going to be his last game for Leeds as this is his final season with us anyway. He went to move forward to play the ball and it felt like he was kicked. But it was actually the snap of his Achilles, and that’s why we fear the worst.”
If 35-year-old Radebe is forced to retire, it will be a sad end to an illustrious career.
He has been with Leeds for just three weeks short of 10 years, during which time the South African has experienced the slings and arrows of outrageous footballing fortune at Elland Road. Radebe celebrated the European conquest of the David O’Leary era and suffered the pain of relegation last season.
The dark news about Radebe cast a huge shadow over the Leeds camp after a gritty performance secured a draw against Wolverhampton Wanderers. Kenny Miller had the opportunity to win the game for the home side when they were awarded a penalty four minutes from time, but the Leeds goalkeeper, Neil Sullivan, made a fine save.
Miller had earned the spot-kick, having been upended by Michael Duberry. The defender was sent off for the professional foul but Sullivan denied Wolves what would have been their first victory in the Championship.
Wolves are without eight senior players, four of whom are strikers.
Their long injury list has forced Dave Jones, their manager, to introduce 19-year-old forward Leon Clarke to the first team. Wolves appear to have unearthed a gem of a footballer.
Clarke was betrayed by his finishing yesterday — four chances came and went without the youngster opening the scoring — but he showed immense promise and caused Duberry and Paul Butler, Leeds’ experienced centre-backs, a multitude of problems.
Despite Blackwell’s claims to the contrary, Leeds were unimpressive. They looked vulnerable whenever Wolves attacked, while the supply line to their two strikers, Brian Deane and Michael Ricketts, was virtually non-existent.
One does, however, have sympathy for the Leeds manager, who had nine players signed since the end of last season in the starting line-up at Molineux and was then forced to replace Radebe with Simon Walton, a 16-year-old midfielder.
Wolves: Jones, Edwards, Clyde, Craddock, Naylor (Andrews 80min), Ince, Olofinjana, Cameron (Cooper 89min), Newton, Clarke, Miller
Leeds: Sullivan, Kelly, Duberry, Butler, Crainey, Richardson (Guppy 89min), Wright, Radebe (Walton 18min), Pugh, Deane, Ricketts (Joachim 68min)
Referee: G Laws
Attendance: 28,397
Sport

Sullivan keeps out Wolves assault
Wolverhampton Wanderers 0 - Leeds United 0
By Nick Callow
15 August 2004


Kevin Blackwell promised this match would be a Premier League encounter in all but name. The Leeds manager is new to the game and so maybe he can be forgiven for getting carried away, but there was nothing Premiership about this clash apart from the fact it was between two teams relegated from the top flight last season. The two clubs have enough fans to feel they can support playing at a higher level than this, but only Wolves have anything like enough on the pitch to feel like big fish in a small pond.

And how Wolves did not win their first match of the season remains a mystery. They dominated from start to finish and Kenny Miller had an 85th-minute penalty saved by Neil Sullivan after he had been tripped in the area by Michael Duberry. The red card shown to the Leeds defender by the referee Graham Laws was the only justice seen to be done yesterday.

Wolves had eight potential first-team players out through injury and the manager Dave Jones said that a fair few more were playing with injuries. "I asked the players to give me everything and they did that and more," Jones said. "We deserved to win that game, but Leeds are a big side, a giant side and they get the ball forward very quickly and made it difficult for us at times."

In fairness to Leeds, Blackwell has come into a club which has sold 23 players in the past two seasons simply to stay alive. He gave a debut to their first cash signing in two years - £200,000 defender Steve Crainey, from Southampton.

Blackwell has pieced together a side on free transfers and kids, and yesterday bid a sad farewell to a loyal servant in Lucas Radebe, who ruptured an Achilles tendon attempting to kick a clearance in the 18th minute.

"It's a big shame because he has gone to hospital and that looks like being the last game he will ever play for Leeds if it is as bad as it appears to be," Blackwell said. "I'm having to bring on players who are just 16 years of age so it is a massive learning curve for us. That was the third game for nine players out there. But we were still well organised - the first thing you do when you come to Molineux is make sure you get a point and we've done that." Only just. Sullivan was clearly the man of the match for Leeds as he made good saves from Miller and the impressive teenage Wolves striker Leon Clarke at the start of both halves.

Leeds, with only two survivors from their line-up when they lost here last season, looked understandably disjointed. Indeed, they were time-wasting with 15 minutes to go. That is how desperate they were to hang on for a point yesterday. Then came the late penalty drama and Sullivan made a decent save to his right at a comfortable height, and the travelling Leeds fans went wild.

Without Sullivan - a free transfer from Chelsea this month - Leeds would have a teenager, Scott Carson, in goal. "He's a very important acquisition for the club," said Blackwell. "The goalkeeping coach, Martin Hodge, had done his homework with Sully. And Martin told me, 'Don't worry, he knows which way to dive'."

Wolves have a few half-decent players returning from injury and could yet bounce back into the Premiership, but Leeds have a long, long way to go. In a season or two, they will be a Premier League team in nothing but memory.
Leeds United Football Club - Horror Injury For Lucas

United legend Lucas Radebe is set to miss the next six months after suffering a horrific injury in the 0-0 draw with Wolverhampton Wanderers.
The ex-skipper was given a starting place in midfield but pulled up in the Wolves game after 15 minutes and needed to be stretchered off.
It was later confirmed to the South African that he has ruptured his Achilles tendon and will miss most of the season, if not all.
The news is a massive blow to The Chief, who is in his testimonial season at Elland Road, and to United boss Kevin Blackwell who has lost an important member of his squad.
"It's a travesty for Lucas and Leeds United Football Club," said Blackwell.
"Unfortunately that could end his career as a player and it is not the way he would have wanted to go, and then of course it's another bad injury we cannot afford at this moment."
Radebe's career at Leeds has been hit by a series of bad injuries and he suffers from a chronic knee problem.
Yorkshire Post
Blackwell looks for rain to wash away pretenders


Ian Appleyard
THE MONSOON summer is proving an asset in Leeds United manager Kevin Blackwell's search for foreign imports.


Blackwell switched his sights to the continental market this week after buying British during pre-season.
Feeling that his options at home were currently exhausted and with limited funds at his disposal, Blackwell broadened his horizons in the hope of landing further value-for-money signings.
Cameroon international midfield player Serge Branco, 23, is currently training at Thorp Arch and players from Germany and Holland are also being lined-up.
But Blackwell will not allow any repeat of last season's disastrous forays into the foreign market which resulted in Leeds signing a string of flops who were either uncommitted or unsuited to the job.
"The lesson from last year is 'do not take foreign players in haste'," he said. "You do that and you will repent at leisure.
"Some of the players who came in last season did not have the right attitude to hard work and the English style of football was not quite right for them."
Among those short-term loan signings who failed last season were Zoummana Camara, Cyril Chapuis, Salomon Olembe and Brazilian defender Roque Junior.
Branco, who won an Olympic gold medal with Cameroon four years ago, is a free agent and has spent his career in German football with Eintracht Braunschweig, Eintracht Frankfurt and VFB Stuttgart. He has recently been on trial with Queens Park Rangers and Nottingham Forest.
His arrival in Yorkshire may have coincided with frequently heavy downpours but that is helping Leeds sort the wheat from the chaff.
"This week has been perfect because I have been able to say to them 'these are the conditions you will be playing in during winter, just 20 degrees cooler'," he said.
"I am aware of what happened last season and that's why I am prepared to wait a bit longer with the foreign players to make sure they can train in the wet.
"So long as it does not cost me anything to have a look at somebody, I'll bring them in for a trial, but they have to be of a certain standard," he stressed. "Most of them are coming out of the Dutch or German premier leagues – so I know they will be technically very good. It's whether or not they can handle the pace and power of the English game, particularly the hurly-burly of the First Division."
After the euphoria of the opening day victory over Derby County at Elland Road, Leeds were brought down to earth with a bump against Gillingham at the Priestfield and now need to bounce back this afternoon at Wolves.
The game offers a return to Molineux for club captain Paul Butler who joined Leeds after being released by Wolves.
Butler said: "People say that you get up by beating teams such as Sunderland and West Ham – but I don't think that is the case.
"Going to stadiums like the Stadium of Light and Upton Park lifts you anyway because of the atmosphere. It is winning 'ugly' at the smaller grounds which is really important."
Leeds have failed with a £250,000 bid for West Bromwich Albion midfield player Sean Gregan.
Kevin Blackwell: "I would love it to be all rosey and go out and win every game because we are Leeds United, but that won't happen. I don't know of any company that was built in a day, it took Virgin many years to become a power and we might be the same."
Last time: December 28 2003. Premiership. Wolves 3 Leeds 1
League position: Wolves 19th, Leeds 14th.
Key man: Michael Duberry
Sport

Blackwell cautions Leeds fans to be patient
By Ian Parkes
12 August 2004


Kevin Blackwell, the Leeds manager, has warned the club's fans to prepare for further frustration as he patiently builds his squad. The euphoria of Saturday's 1-0 win over Derby County in the Championship curtain-raiser was swiftly negated by Tuesday's 2-1 defeat at relegation-favourites Gillingham.

Any supporters believing Blackwell's hastily-assembled squad would storm unopposed back to the Premiership have now taken a reality check. Blackwell admits he still needs at least three players to strengthen a squad, which is unlikely to click straight away given the number of new faces.

"Despite the defeat, I think we have the ability to cope with life in this division," maintained a positive Blackwell. "That was only our second game together, so I'm not concerned. If we had been battered then I would have been.

"We had plenty of possession, 63 per cent, which away from home is a good sign, yet what I have learned is that we have to be more clinical with that possession."

Blackwell is pleading for patience from the fans, adding: "I'm as impatient for success as anybody else, but I have to be clinically realistic because that's only our second full game together as a team and that takes some doing.

"I've already stated I need more players and they will be the right players because it is about a season, not a weekend or a couple of games. It's nine months and I'm determined to have good value for a season, not for just a month and repent for the other eight.

"I want good players and if I have to wait and be patient then I will do because I am building a club not just for the next couple of weeks, but the next two to three years."

Blackwell is eager to sign the West Bromwich Albion captain Sean Gregan, whose transfer request was accepted yesterday by the Midlands club. However, Leeds' lack of cash is likely to rule them out of the running.

Andy Hessenthaler, the Gillingham manager, said Leeds would need time to settle into life in the Championship. "A few years ago who would have thought Leeds would be losing a league game at Gillingham?" he said. "But it's happened. It was a massive result for us. It was very pleasing because we suffered at home at times last season. We played very well. For endeavour, desire and commitment I thought we were tremendous.

"At times I was surprised they didn't give us more of a challenge but it's a settling-in time for them now. I thought it would be nice to play them early for that reason. They've brought some very good Championship players to the club. This is a bit of a knock-back but I'm still sure they'll be OK."

Monday, August 09, 2004

Sport

Richardson is spark for Leeds' jump start
Blackwell's fresh faces lift gloom over west Yorkshire as Elland Road ushers in new era with win

Leeds United 1 Derby County 0
Guy Hodgson at Elland Road
08 August 2004


First the good news for Leeds United. They began last year hoping to win the championship and this season they hope to do the same. The bad? Well, where do you begin? Like the contrivance that has turned the First Division into the Coca-Cola Championship, Leeds were back at Elland Road yesterday in name but not substance.

"Who?" the Derby County supporters mocked as the players were read out, and, to be perfectly frank, the home fans were asking much the same. With seven players making their debuts, the familiar "we are Leeds" ringing from the stands could have been a reminder.

This time last year Leeds were scrapping out a 2-2 draw against Newcastle United with a team that included Alan Smith, Mark Viduka, Paul Robinson... I could go on, but suffice to say only Gary Kelly of yesterday's side played in last year's opener. As Kevin Blackwell, the manager, pointed out, even the club cat is new.

Gloom has descended on this part of west Yorkshire and the chairman Gerald Krasner, did little to lift it with his programme notes. "I cannot promise you that all the unpopular decisions are behind us," he wrote ominously. "You cannot deal with £103m of debt overnight."

Given the mood, you feared for forementioned cat if Leeds had lost yesterday but, riding their luck, they not only avoided that but clung on to a win thanks to Frazer Richardson's 72nd-minute goal. Maybe, after relegation from the Premier-ship, fortune is smiling in Elland Road's direction again.

"Frazer is a passionate Leeds fan," Blackwell said of his 21-year-old scorer. "He's a Yorkshire boy from about 30 miles away and he knows what it means for people round here to play at Elland Road. He will give everything he's got and he's exactly the kind of player I need at this club.

"Sometimes out of adversity comes triumph. We saw players today like Matthew Kilgallon, Simon Walton, who is 16 and making his debut, and Richardson, who have not had a chance before. When we went down last season there was doom and gloom about the place but quietly I knew there were some good young players here."

They may help in the rebuilding of Leeds, but if you had to pick a club to demonstrate that former glory is no guarantee of on-going success then Derby would do as well as anybody. Not so long ago they were established in the top flight but last season was a fight against relegation that was won only at the end. Even so it was a surprise to see their players, and not Leeds', beginning the match like strangers.

That was due in part to Leeds' strength on the flanks. Richardson's seeming clumsiness proved deceptive on the right, and Danny Pugh, a 21-year-old left-wing makeweight in Alan Smith's controversial move to Manchester United, showed why Sir Alex Ferguson was reluctant to let him go.

Pugh was the first to expose the visitors' frailty with an 18th-minute header that almost caught Lee Camp flat-footed and he tested the Derby goalkeeper's agility with a clever free-kick after 36 minutes that was only just tipped away from under the bar. Leeds' best chance, however, had come after 17 minutes when Michael Ricketts flicked on and Julian Joachim's shot across the goal would have gone in but for it flicking Camp's heel.

That looked to be a costly miss when Michael Johnson found the back of the net on the brink of half-time, but the Derby elation dribbled away when the linesman flagged that the corner of Spanish midfielder Inigo Idiakez's had gone out of play en route.

Tommy Smith was denied by a sharp save from Neil Sullivan after 59 minutes and Junior was just wide four minutes later, yet as Derby were beginning to look the likelier winners, Leeds pounced. The visitors dithered over a clearance, Ricketts nipped in to pass to the right and Richardson, cutting in, lost Richard Jackson and then beat Camp with a left-foot that had hitherto been used only for standing on. "I don't remember much about it," the scorer admitted, "but it was a great moment with my dad in the crowd."

Those familiar with last season's travails will not be surprised that Leeds had to survive a scare or two as they hung on but no more so than in stoppage time. First Ian Taylor crashed a header against the angle and when the ball rebounded Junior lashed in a shot that Sullivan tipped away with a spectacular dive.

Elland Road heaved a sigh of relief that threatened to remove the roof of the stands and at least one supporter was spared the job of picking the stitches to change the "B" to an "R" in the message on his scarf: "Leeds United - Simply The Best". Good news for him at last.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Leeds United Football Club - Kevin's Delight At Hard Fought Win

Leeds 1 Derby 0
On a sweltering day at Elland Road, with temperatures in the 90s at pitch level, Kevin Blackwell’s new-look Leeds side delighted their loyal fans with a hard-fought 1-0 win.
A superb Frazer Richardson goal after 72 minutes gave them victory, but a superb last-minute save by Neil Sullivan ensured the three points.
There were seven debutants in the starting eleven, with 16-year-old Simon Walton lining up in midfield alongside Jermaine Wright. Up front Michael Ricketts was playing with Julian Joachim.
Gary Kelly took an accidental blow to the face in the game’s first minute after tangling with Bisgaard, but thankfully he was unscathed and carried on.
Walton got a chance to impress after five minutes, when a Ricketts knock down found him in space on the edge of the area, but his left foot shot was hooked over.
Leeds looked much more comfortable on the ball in the opening 20 minutes, and their first on target chance came after 16 minutes, when Danny Pugh headed a Wright cross downwards, but Derby’s keeper, Lee Camp, was right where he had to be and made a block with his legs.
Three minutes later, and Leeds should have scored. Joachim sped away after taking on a Ricketts flick and was one-on-one with Camp, but his shot went just wide after a touch from the keeper.
After half an hour the game slowed down understandably with the oppressive heat, but on 35 minutes a Pugh free-kick dipped alarmingly and Camp had to tip over. Ther Derby defence looked uncomfortable at times, by contrast Leeds looked solid when Derby threatened and dealt with what few opportunities the visitors had.
However on 43 minutes, Johnson put a superb header past Sullivan from a corner, but it was disallowed presumably for the ball crossing the dead ball line in flight.
Leeds continued well after the break, and on 57 minutes Simon Walton looked good for a goal from a cross from the right, but he got underneath the header and failed to get it on target.
Six minutes later, and Leeds’ fans had their hands over their eyes when a Junior shot rolled across the goal from the left, but Sullivam just got down to it and finger-tipped it wide.
Walton was replaced a minute later and got a huge ovation from the crowd, as did his replacement Lucas Radebe – a mere 19 years his senior!
But it was on 72 minutes when Elland Road erupted. Richardson received the ball on the right, and as the defence backed off he cut in and curled a shot in with his left foot past the despairing dive of Camp to send the crowd into ecstasy. It was fully deserved for both player and crowd.
The home side dominated the remainder of normal tim, with Pugh coming close with a shot that curled away at the last minute past the right hand post.
But it was in stoppage time that Neil Sullivan saved the day with a marvellous save. Ian Taylor headed on to the post, an effort which the Scottish custodian may have touched. The rebound was smashed goalwards by Junior, but Sullivan was back up and parried it wide a split-second later, instantly earning himself hero status.
The whistle went a minute later, and the ground erupted with relief. It is ironic that with all the new players coming into the squad over the summer, one of the old guard, Frazer Richardson, was the one who’s efforts have given the fans just the start they were hoping for.

Old School Heroics Do The Business For The New Leeds
Frazer Richardson is the new hero of Elland Road after his brilliantly taken second half goal gave Leeds an opening day win over Derby County.
It is an irony that after all the comings and goings at Elland Road over the summer that it was one of the "old guard", albeit one who seldom featured regularly over the last season or two, that grabbed the goal that delighted the fans on a stifling day at Elland Road.
The versatile Richardson played in midfield today, and his curling left-footed shot on 72 minutes that went past the flailing Derby keeper Lee Camp was just what he, the team, management and fans were waiting for.
"It's a dream come true, I've been waiting since I was 16 to get to this point, and now hopefully I can grab it with both hands. It was a great feeling, my Dad was up there so I really enjoyed it.
"I scored one in pre-season just like, but I cut inside and hit it with my left peg so if more go in like that I'll be very happy."
He also appreciates that his new colleagues have faced a difficult task to knit together in pre-season, but he said that he thinks the hard work has paid off.
"The lads have worked very very hard in pre-season, they've been first class. It's a new set of players, and if they can gel together and put in more performance like that I'm sure we'll do well this season."
Another long term Leeds player, Gary Kelly, echoed the sentiments and was keen to stress that Leeds have got to look to making home advantage count.
"It's important we get off to a good start this year, no-one fancies us so there's no pressure on us som it was really important that we picked up three points today, especially in home games.
"That's the result of a really tough pre-season, being away from home and working hard - I think there's another 55 games like that!"

Kevin's Delight At Hard Fought Win
Kevin Blackwell is delighted with the win over Derby, but would like his side to finish games off for the good of his health!
Leeds fully deserved their 1-0 win and had a good deal more chances than the eventual scoreline reflects, but on a baking hot day in front of expectant fans the new-look Leeds held their nerve.
The side included seven players brought in by Blackwell over the summer, a point the manager was keen to reiterate afterwards.
"The side is brand new, and the understanding and the confidence can only come from winning games, so it was a crucial win for us today and that will give the lads a little bit more belief and a little bit more confidence.
"I'm thoroughly delighted with the lads, we looked rusty at times but they showed some determination today and we could maybe have finished the game off a little bit quicker.
In the games dying minutes new keeper Neil Sullivan showed why Blackwell brought him in last week with a stunning save that kept the score at 1-0, but the home side could have finished things off after scoring, with Pugh in particular going close.
"I've had a word with the strikers, and if I'm going to be a manager of any Leeds side my strikers better finish the game early so I don't have heart attacks!", laughed the manager, who understands that the side will have to win games like this through steely detrmination rather than champagne football.
"That's Sully's second game, that's Jermaine Wright's second game. There are so many lads that we've got to find out more about as the season goes on.
"Today we had to dig in and we did. To win games sometimes you can play prettily or you can dig in dirtily and today we had to hang in at times."

Monday, August 02, 2004

Times Online - Sport
Blackwell goes for experience
A SIGNIFICANT OVERHAUL HAS TAKEN place at Elland Road in the wake of one of the most disappointing seasons in Leeds United’s history. Almost an entire squad has been sold to help reduce the club’s crippling wage bill, which once stood at a staggering £53 million, while Kevin Blackwell, who was appointed permanent manager during the summer, has been given minimal funds in return to somehow rebuild a side capable of challenging for an immediate return to the Premiership.
Blackwell has plundered the transfer market to sign a host of seasoned campaigners on free transfers, pinning his faith in experience instead of youthful promise and potential. The manager has delivered players with points to prove after disappointing spells at previous clubs.
Michael Ricketts, the forward who cost Middlesbrough £3.5 million in January last year, is hoping to regain the form that once earned him an England call-up while Julian Joachim and Danny Cadamarteri have both seen their careers drift aimlessly since leaving Aston Villa and Everton respectively.
The fact remains, however, that such has been the damaging transition that Leeds have been forced to undertake that Blackwell could find himself fielding a completely new team for the first game of the season.
The Elland Road supporters, smarting from relegation from the Permiership, had to endure the loss of Alan Smith to Manchester United and then saw James Milner, a product of the youth system and a great hope for the future, sold to Newcastle United for a knock-down price of £3.6 million. A good start to the season would dispel the gloom.
On paper, Leeds have match-winners but Blackwell must discover the right blend and produce consistent performances from his more high-profile signings if his team are to succeed.
He said: “It will be a case of everyone settling down quickly and getting used to each other. Having experience helps but this is a very difficult league we now find ourselves in and playing Leeds will be like a cup final for the majority of our opponents.
“Everyone will want to beat us so there can’t be a lack of character, like there has been in recent times.”JC
MANAGER KEVIN BLACKWELL
GROUND ELLAND ROAD
CAPACITY 40,242
LAST SEASON 19tH PREMIERSHIP
WEBSITE www.leedsunited.com
ADULT TICKET PRICES £18
CONTACT NO 0113 3676000
KEYCLASH
AUGUST 7, 2004
DERBY COUNTY (H)
This match may not represent the greatest challenge of the season for Leeds, but it nevertheless promises to set the tone for the club’s campaign.
It will be a game that the long-suffering supporters at Elland Road will expect their team to win, yet if Leeds have been consistent in one aspect of their dramatic downfall, it has been in their inconsistency. In a division with a considerable number of good teams and a fair few tough, if uninspired, sides, any drop-off in form is likely to be punished.
However, Derby County have the look of a side that could struggle. Should Leeds open with a win, then it could prove to be the catalyst for a strong season. A loss would deepen concerns in Yorkshire and anything less than a campaign that ends in the play-offs would be deemed disastrous for the likes of Michael Duberry.
INS AND OUTS
Ins: Free transfers: N Sullivan, Chelsea; D Pugh, Man Utd; C Carlisle, QPR; P Butler, Wolves; M Spring, Luton; B Deane, West Ham; J Joachim, Coventry; D Cadamarteri, Bradford; M Ricketts, Middlesbrough.
Outs: M Viduka, Middlesbrough, £4.5m; A Smith, Man Utd, £7m; P Robinson, Tottenham, £1.5m; J Milner, Newcastle, £3.6m. Free transfers: I Harte, Levante; D Matteo, Blackburn; D Mills, Man City; M Bridges, Bolton; J Wilcox, Leicester; S McPhail, Barnsley. Released: D Batty, J Morris
THE FIXTURES
August
7 Derby (H)
10 Gillingham (A)
14 Wolverhampton (A)
21 Nottm Forest (H)
29 Sheff Utd (A)
31 Watford (H)
September
11 Coventry (H)
14 Plymouth (A)
18 Crewe (A)
24 Sunderland (H)
28 Stoke (H)
October
2 Cardiff (A)
16 Preston (H)
19 Reading (A)
23 Brighton (A)
31 Wigan (H)
November
3 Burnley (H)
6 Preston (A)
13 Ipswich (A)
20 QPR (H)
27 Rotherham (A)
December
4 Leicester (H)
10 West Ham (A)
19 Millwall (H)
26 Sunderland (A)
28 Plymouth (H)
January
1 Crewe (H)
3 Coventry (A)
15 Cardiff (H)
22 Stoke (A)
February
5 Burnley (A)
12 Reading (H)
19 Wigan (A)
22 Brighton (H)
26 West Ham (H)
March
5 Millwall (A)
12 Gillingham (H)
16 Nottm Forest (A)
19 Derby (A)
April
2 Wolverhampton (H)
5 Sheff Utd (H)
9 Watford (A)
16 QPR (A)
23 Ipswich (H)
30 Leicester (A)
May
8 Rotherham (H)

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Sport

Blackwell's manageable dream
Debt halved, wage bill slashed, 21 departures, 11 'free' arrivals - welcome to Leeds 2004
Jason Burt
01 August 2004


Kevin Blackwell is surely joking when he says the reason why he agreed to last week's friendly match between Leeds United and Valencia was because he wanted his team to know where the home dressing-room was. "Three or four of them turned the wrong way," he adds. The Leeds manager is serious. Indeed, just two of his players - Gary Kelly and Michael Duberry - had even played together before. "I didn't want it to be an issue on that first home [League] game against Derby," he says. "Otherwise it would have been an away match for us as well."
The Valencia game was pivotal. Twenty thousand fans turned up. It was an act of faith. "No matters what happens, we might be skint but we're still a big club," Blackwell says. It was also an act of hope. A draw was achieved with the emergence of 16-year-old Simon Walton, who scored a penalty and was dismissed.
Suddenly, it appears, after the relegation, the financial disaster - "Someone took their eye off the ball. It's seems inconceivable" - the exodus, the loss of Alan Smith, Leeds are finding another cult hero. "The kid has a great opportunity to move on and become a legend here," Blackwell says of Walton. That role had been allotted to James Milner. "But that was defunct within two weeks."
Another transfer. "Twenty-one so far have gone," Blackwell says, recalling how, on the brief 10-day break he had this summer in Barbados, he took three mobile phones. It has been that hectic since he signed his two-year contract. Even that appointment was only announced after another messy hiatus in which it was not clear who owned the club and whether they wanted him. "It was a PR disaster and, by the way, are we good at them," Blackwell says. "And it made us look stupid. I was the victim of the whole club and the way it was going." His wife and two daughters have now been packed off to Spain on another holiday. "I've no time to see them," he says.
Eleven players have come in - all free transfers. Some £60m has been raised, debt halved from £103m and the wage bill cut from £42m to £18m, which is still more than twice the average in the Championship. "And in that I'm paying for six or seven [players] from the old regime," Blackwell adds. The bill is six times that of his last club, Sheffield United.
The day after the Valencia game Blackwell called in Walton - "a lovely lad, with a great future" - and told him that from now on he would be cleaning his boots and those of his assistant, Sam Ellis. "Just to keep him on his toes," Blackwell adds. "If I see a speck of dirt, he'll be called in again. Every day I look at those boots." An apprenticeship has to be served. Blackwell, a self-confessed journeyman footballer, knows that. He served his. It started, at 14, with Ron Atkinson at Cambridge United. He worked with David Pleat, Len Ashurst and Neil Warnock before he got a phone call eight months ago from Peter Reid, who he says was subsequently treated "appallingly", inviting him to be Leeds' coach. Blackwell maintains it was a decision that took two seconds. And one he would make again.
"I realised early that I wasn't going to reach the top as a player," Blackwell says of his curtailed career. A badly broken leg, and two years out, confirmed that. But he was a good talker, a good organiser. Youth teams at Plymouth Argyle and Huddersfield Town progressed, as did the reserves and then the first teams. "I didn't want to rush into management," the 44-year-old says. Jobs were turned down, managers' jobs, because he wanted to wait. Few would think of Leeds - with five managers in three years and their well-chronicled problems - as the place to start. He firmly disagrees. "I'm under no illusion that I wouldn't be here if Leeds were on the crest of a wave," he says. "I came because it's Leeds United Football Club. I look around here. I grew up watching the great Leeds side. I've had frustrating times. But then I think, 'No, I'm Leeds'."
That emotion coursed through his veins last May when he took charge of Leeds' last Premiership match - away to Chelsea. It was Claudio Ranieri's final match and the Italian, of course, was in the opposition dug-out last week at Elland Road, leading Valencia. Another reference point from that game. Blackwell's feelings at Stamford Bridge - in common with his reaction to the attention heaped on Walton - are revealing. There's steel. "At the end I just looked round at the fans and thought, 'What the hell are we doing in Division One?' It hurt that day," he says. It hurt all season. He had sat in the dug-out, defeat after defeat, "and the hairs on the back of my neck were standing" because of the passion from the Leeds fans.
They lost 1-0. But, on goal difference, it was enough to raise them off the bottom of the table. It also earned £500,000. "We were leaving the Premiership but we didn't want to be last," Blackwell says. Also Leeds, with a scratch side, avoided the humiliation heaped on them on their previous visit to London, when they lost 5-0 to Arsenal. "I wasn't going to let that happen," says Blackwell.
His pride is fierce. As is his industry - 17-hour days - and his hunger. That was missing at the club. "On and off the field," Blackwell says. "I'd come from a stable football club and we had a desire and a work ethic among the players that I didn't think was here. There was from some guys, but collectively it wasn't there."
There are excuses. "Every Friday of every second week Leeds could have gone bust. People would come in and say, 'Has 2pm gone yet?' because that was the time they would make the decision in London. It was terrible. And we were told some days, 'Well, this could be the day'." It took its toll. "It was difficult mentally, and then you go out and play against teams who are focused."
Focus and hunger. Now he has quietly assembled players with a point to prove - players such as Michael Ricketts, Julian Joachim, Clark Carlisle and, on Friday, Neil Sullivan. In some ways it is a relief the big names have gone. "How would they handle a December night in Gillingham, Rotherham, Crewe - where they are going to be harassed?" Blackwell says. It will be a fight. And he's up for it. He senses the fans are too. Leeds, he is adamant, have a future, and he wants to build it. "But the biggest problem in football is the lack of stability."
His faith is in youth, in players like Walton. He can and will protect them and Leeds. "We're a lesson for everyone else in football. If you go chasing the dream, and you don't attain it, there's an awful nightmare to follow," Blackwell says. But nightmares are followed by the dawn.
Leeds United Football Club - Hibs 1 United 3: Frazer Turns It Around

A superb second half performance from Leeds saw them win the inaugural Whyte and Mackay Cup by three goals to one, largely thanks to the impetus of substitute Frazer Richardson, who had a hand in all three goals for United.
There were no real clues from Blackwell as to whether he had decided to play what will be his starting XI against Derby next week, with 16-year-old Simon Walton playing in midfield as Matthew Spring was rested due to injury. Neil Sullivan made his United debut fresh from completing his move to Elland Road on a two-year deal.
Upfront, Brian Deane and Michael Ricketts were again paired together, whilst a third striker, Julian Joachim, was employed on the right wing.
The game turned out to be one which saw two different sides of Leeds United, in the first half they looked apprehensive and played as if they had just met each other, but in the second they got themselves together and dominated the game. The difference could not be more starkly illustrated by the 12 minute spell in which all three of United's goals came.
Hibs main threat in the first half of the game came from the pace of Scott Brown down the right hand side, whose crosses were whipped in with precision, but were not met with a header or touch from a green shirt to really trouble Sullivan.
The first save Sullivan had to make came on 16 minutes when a Brown cross was met by a Tom McManus header, but the new United keeper scrambled across well to collect from under his crossbar.
Leeds then had the best chance of the half as Julian Joachim showed his electric pace for the first time.
The former Coventry forward brought the ball down with his back to goal 20-yards out, turned the defender Murdoch and sprinted clear but his powerful shot from just inside the area was turned away by Brown in the Hibs goal.
Ten minutes later and Brian Deane was presented with his best chance of opening the scoring, but the big centre-forward snatched at the shot with his left foot and Brown made a comfortable save.
The game had looked set to reach the half-way mark all square, but then a mistake in the 45th minute saw Hibs take the lead, much to the delight of the home fans.
Leeds failed to clear their lines properly and Kelly's block saw the ball fall into the path of Tom McManus who hit a superb right foot curling shot against Sullivan's left hand post and the ball bounced into the net.
If Kevin Blackwell was looking for a good response after that set-back he certainly got it as Leeds came out with purpose and soon took control of the game.
Leeds fightback began through a Michael Ricketts headed goal, coming just after the striker had hit a shot against the underside of the crossbar. Frazer Richardson regained possession for The Whites and swung in a superb cross that Ricketts met with a header past Brown for a 62nd minute equaliser.
Richardson had revitalised the side after coming on as a substitute in the 53rd minute, but few expected him, as a recognised full-back, to do what he did next and score from 25-yards.
He simply picked the ball up in midfield, watched the space appear ahead of him as Hibs fell back into their penalty area, and then let fly with a shot that took a deflection off the defender Smith in front and looped right over the top of Brown to make it 2-1.
United had scored twice in four minutes and suddenly they appeared capable of scoring at will.
The goal of the afternoon followed for United with 15 minutes left to play and again Richardson was involved.
His darting run down the left saw him get clear of three Hibs defenders before having the presence of mind to play a cheeky backheel into the path of Julian Joachim, from where the striker showed good composure and vision to resist the shot on goal and play in Ricketts for a simple tap-in and his second of the game.
It could have been a far moe emphatic scoreline had Danny Cadamarteri found the time to shoot inside the area when he broke clear, but 3-1 was the perfect scoreline to end pre-season for the Whites ahead of next week's opener against Derby County.
Hibernian
Simon Brown, Steven Whittaker, David Murphy, Gary Caldwell, Colin Murdock, Guillaume Beuzelin, Scott Brown, Grant Brebner, Gary O'Connor, Tom McManus, Stephen Glass.
Subs: Alistair Brown, Gary Smith, Derek Riordan, Kevin Nicol, Kevin McDonald, Steven Dobbie, Alen Orman.
Leeds United: Neil Sullivan, Gary Kelly, Matthew Kilgallon (Danny Cadamarteri), Simon Walton (Chris Bart-Williams), Michael Duberry (Clarke Carlisle), Paul Butler (Lucas Radebe), Julian Joachim (Jamie McMaster), Jermaine Wright, Brian Deane (Frazer Richardson), Michael Ricketts, (Andy Keogh), Danny Pugh.
Subs not used: Scott Carson, Steve Guppy