Monday, February 28, 2005

We're coming home, we're coming home, we're coming ... Leeds are coming home Posted by Hello
ADLER: NO PLANS FOR ELLAND ROAD: Sporting Life - Football | Sheff Utd v Arsenal, Blackburn v Burnley, Brentford v Southampton, Transfer News, Live Scores, Barclays Premiership, SPL, Championship, European News, Fixtures, Results

Jacob Adler, the Manchester-based businessman who bought Leeds United's Elland Road home, has reassured Leeds fans he has "no intention whatsoever" of building on the site.
Adler also insists he would be happy to extend the 25-year lease that Leeds have on the stadium by another 75 years.
Adler bought Elland Road from hard-up Leeds for an estimated £8m last November.
The month before, he had also snapped up part of the Thorp Arch complex for just over £4m.
Both sites were bought on a sale-and-leaseback basis, with Leeds agreeing to rent their ground and training facilities from him for the next 25 years.
The club was also given the option to buy them back, should its financial position improve.
Adler, 35, told the Yorkshire Evening Post: "I want the club to survive, I want the club to improve - if I didn't, then I wouldn't have done the deal."
Adler said he had yet to speak to new Leeds owner Ken Bates, who has pledged "in the fullness of time" to return Elland Road and Thorp Arch to the club's ownership, but would be happy to do so.

Manic Uncle Kevin prepares to go on a mad axeman routine Posted by Hello
Leeds United Football Club - Fifty Is The Magic Number

Leeds boss Kevin Blackwell is delighted to see his side prove the critics wrong by reaching the 50-point mark - and ruling out any chance of being relegated.
'Doing a Sheffield Wednesday' as it's been termed by dropping through the divisions in successive seasons is not going to happen at Elland Road and the focus is on building towards a promotion drive for next season with an outside chance of making the play-offs this term.
"Today was we overcame the first hurdle because 50 points was the margin we had to get to," said Blackwell after the 2-1 win against West Ham United.
"We are not going to get relegated and that is one of the biggest pats on the back I can give the players, the fans and the staff here because everyone had tipped Leeds United to go down.
"They looked at us and said, there's no players there, they're struggling financially and everything that could go wrong is going wrong. We were written off as a Barnsley or a Sheffield Wednesday. Well we've turned it around and that's because every player, management and fans have knuckled down and worked their socks off.
"To say we are ten games away from the end of the season with no chance of going down is something we would all have taken at the beginning of the season. Let's just take every game now as it comes and see what happens."
Having reached the target the boss set the club for the season, what is the next step with 30 points still to play for?
"People say to me if I talk about the play-offs I'm over-ambitious and talking rubbish, but if I don't talk about it I'm lacking ambition so I can't win which ever way I go.
"But we have to be sensible and let's build this club one step at a time.
"I have got a Premiership ground with Premiership fans and a Premiership training facility, now I have to make sure I get us into the Premiership."

Sunday, February 27, 2005

HERE WE GO, HERE WE GO, HERE WE GO... Posted by Hello
Times Online - Newspaper Edition

Leeds 2 West Ham 1: Leeds thank Derry for win


KEVIN BLACKWELL has given debuts to 26 players at Leeds this season but few have had the immediate impact of his two latest imports, Rob Hulse and Shaun Derry.
Hulse, on loan from West Bromwich Albion, scored his third goal in three games for his adopted team and Derry produced the winner on his home debut after signing from Crystal Palace
Blackwell persisted in his pursuit of Derry after first trying to sign him before Christmas and the versatile midfielder is keen to repay him.
“Now that I have signed, I am relieved and excited about what the future holds for me,” the 27-year-old said. “I am so pleased that Kevin Blackwell kept his interest in me. I want to thank him and repay him for it.”
Nottingham-born Derry was in the Crystal Palace team that ended West Ham’s promotion hopes in last year’s playoff final. Here, his well-taken goal frustrated the Hammers’ attempts to register a fourth consecutive league win.
The result left Alan Pardew, the West Ham manager, deeply disappointed — and a bit confused about the result. “When we look at the league table we will be kicking ourselves,” he said. “We should be leaving with three points, not just one.”
The match appeared differently through Leeds eyes. “For 60 minutes we dominated,” Blackwell said. “The players deserve credit. They have had to deal with a hell of a lot and they have come through.”
Leeds, with veteran full-back Gary Kelly adventurous down the right, had all the possession in the first half without truly troubling Stephen Bywater in the West Ham goal. Hulse volleyed over the bar after six minutes and headed a corner wide. But the West Ham defence, with Anton Ferdinand outstanding, dealt adequately with a stream of crosses and corners.
It was 38 minutes before the visitors had an attempt on goal but Gavin Williams’s left-foot shot flew well wide. Then, on the stroke of half-time, Ferdinand went off with a pulled hamstring. Blackwell told his strikers during the interval to get to the near post to meet the crosses his wide men were providing and, six minutes into the second half, Hulse did just that.
Aaron Lennon broke to the byline and Hulse met his cross on the edge of the six-yard box to hook the ball past Bywater.
“We lost Ferdinand and within minutes we conceded our first goal in four league games,” Pardew observed.
Instead of punishing West Ham’s weakened defence further, Leeds allowed the visitors back into the game. The promising Williams, signed from Yeovil Town, struck the foot of a post before equalising on 68 minutes.
Steve Lomas played a long ball that Teddy Sheringham chested down and Williams struck a volley into the far corner, the ball taking a slight touch off Paul Butler. West Ham were suddenly looking the team more likely to win the game and Williams might have had a second but dwelled too long on the ball and allowed Simon Walton to make a vital tackle.
Minutes later another golden opportunity was spurned when a clever back-heel by Marlon Harewood found Sheringham, but the 38-year-old striker thumped the ball wide when he should have tested Neil Sullivan.
Inside the last 10 minutes, Matthew Etherington struck a 20-yard free kick beautifully, only to see the ball come off a post with the goalkeeper rooted to his line.
The misses proved costly when, with four minutes left, Derry seized on a neat ball from David Healy, turned Tomas Repka and placed the ball calmly past the advancing Bywater. “He finished like a striker,” Blackwell said.
The win took Leeds’s league tally to 50 points, the target Blackwell had set to be certain of avoiding relegation. “There were some people who thought this club would implode,” Blackwell said. “It was vital to prevent that.”
With so many comings and goings, Blackwell is loath to discuss the possibility of reaching the playoffs. He said: “The side is still in its infancy but the shape of the team is coming together.”
For West Ham, this was a defeat, not a disaster, and they remain in the top six. With the top two losing, they squandered an opportunity to gain ground on the leaders and consolidate their own playoff ambitions. They also failed to banish the ghost of inconsistency which Pardew had claimed to have exorcised with those three successive wins.

Wronged victim? Posted by Hello - PLOT TO DRUG SOCCER STAR

By Paul Smith Chief Football Reporter And Graham Johnson Investigations Editor
A SENSATIONAL plot to spike a soccer star's food with drugs can be revealed today by the Sunday Mirror.
Leeds United's £5million defender Michael Duberry was the intended victim of a plan to deliberately wreck his career.
A former Leeds executive has revealed a plan to dope the 29-year-old with cocaine, ecstasy and banned steroids so he would fail a drugs test.
The aim was to engineer the one-time England international's sacking because the Championship club could no longer afford to pay his £24,000-a-week salary.
Another plan was to end the career of his fellow top wage earner, Gary Kelly, 30, by hiring hitmen to break his legs.
And a bizarre plot was hatched to drug opponents Coventry City and their high-profile manager, former Leeds boss Peter Reid, by lacing a pre-match banquet with ecstasy.
The plots followed the £22million takeover of Leeds by a Yorkshire-based consortium in March last year. To re-finance the debt-ridden club, the new owners wanted to sell the ground and slash the £15million wage bill.
Former Leeds executive Chris Middleton claims the plot was hatched between him and senior director Simon Morris - part of the consortium that had taken over the club. Morris denies being involved in any plan to nobble Duberry and Kelly claiming Middleton was a "rogue employee" who was sacked for gross misconduct.
Three witnesses to the extraordinary plan have given testimonies to the Sunday Mirror corroborating the events. And yesterday operations manager Middleton - now ashamed of his part in the plot - admitted his role in an exclusive interview.
Middleton claimed they planned to sprinkle powdered drugs disguised as Parmesan cheese on Duberry's pasta dish. He says that he and Morris - a 27-year-old property millionaire and life-long Leeds fan - also considered dissolving banned steroids in a sports protein drink aimed at the former Chelsea defender.
Middleton claims the idea arose from a chat the men had about reducing the wage bill at the crisis-hit club in March last year.
He says they originally discussed trying to arrange for defender Kelly to fail an alcohol breath test. But then Middleton claims the conversation, held at Morris's property business office in Leeds last summer, turned to Duberry. Middleton said: "I was there with another businessman who would later form part of a consortium to buy the club. Morris and I planned to spike Duberry. Morris made out there were four major liabilities - Erik Bakke, Michael Duberry, Gary Kelly and Seth Johnson. He wanted to cut costs by getting players off the wage bill. He made it clear that their wages were in excess of £10million a year. Johnson and Bakke were untouchable because they were injured. The basis was Gary Kelly to start with. The boss (Morris) knew Kelly went to the Bingley Arms every night. He said, 'Can we breath test him'. Morris then moved on to Duberry. There was talk about drugging his meal at a restaurant in Leeds called Bibi's during a team meal, putting something in his drink, all sorts of stuff. Me and Morris planned to do it."
Middleton - a streetwise 25-year-old - says he phoned contacts to find out which drugs stayed in the bloodstream long enough to fail a dope test. He claims he played along with the plan to please Morris but had no intention of carrying it out.
He said: "Morris would get annoyed and asked what was happening. I was always making excuses. The plan changed to trying to lace sports drinks with steroids because he came to the conclusion that it wasn't safe to do it at a restaurant. A call went into the Leeds manager Kevin Blackwell suggesting they look at giving the players protein drinks to improve their conditioning." Blackwell knew nothing about any plan with steroids.
Middleton researched how to source 50mg capsules of banned steroids to put in Duberry's and Kelly's protein drinks after training. He said: "But then Blackwell opposed the idea of getting protein drinks and that and it went out of the window." Morris confirmed there had been a plan to introduce protein drinks for the players. But he said it was to reduce the weight of unfit players and denied knowledge of a drug plot. A Leeds businessman has confirmed he witnessed the first meeting between Morris and Middleton where the Duberry drug plot was hatched. The businessman said: "They said, 'We'll go somewhere in Leeds where we can get hold of the chef, put something in Michael Duberry's food and then hopefully we can get him off the payroll'."
Sports investment broker Paul Garland, who was being paid £2,000 a week to help re-finance the club, says Morris revealed his plans to dope Duberry to him at meeting on September 18. He said: "I explained one of the concerns of the investors Nova was about some of the higher paid players, including Michael Duberry, Gary Kelly, Seth Johnson and Eric Bakke.
"Their wages were substantially greater than most of the Leeds players - they made up 45 per cent of the total LUFC wage bill.
"Morris said that there were 'ways of dealing with this'. He said he had friends who 'might tip the wink that he had taken something' and the Club would get him tested the next day and terminate his contract. Morris said if that didn't work 'we will spike the drinks he has after training'. I protested that this was disgraceful and that young players' careers ought not to be sabotaged in this way. Morris just laughed and said they were costing the club too much and 'they are f***ing crap!'"
Another Leeds businessman - heading a consortium to buy the club - has also told of a plan to drug Duberry. The businessman said: "I told Morris, 'My consortium has £25million and the only way forward is to get back in the Premiership, but we haven't enough money. You need a minimum of £45million - and the big problem is obviously the wage bill you've inherited'.
"We went on to talk about the wage contract and conditions. I said, 'Who's going to take Gary Kelly on a transfer?' Morris said, 'We'll probably just get his legs broke and then get the insurance money'. Then Duberry was mentioned. I said, 'What are you going to do with Duberry?' He said, 'Wolves have shown an interest in him. I said, 'Wolves are not going to take Duberry. They must know how bad he is'. He then said, 'Well we could get him drugged'. I'd heard this before because a businessman pal had said they were going to get Duberry drugged and cancel his contract."
Middleton also told of a plan to get Kelly off the payroll by breaking his legs and cashing in his lucrative insurance policy.
Middleton said: "Then Morris said, 'What if we get him beaten up, I'm mean seriously beaten up'. I had no answer. I conveniently forgot about it. I wanted no part in it. The boss was desperate. No-one wanted to buy the club's main assets."
In a separate meeting Paul Garland says the Leeds boss revealed his plans to put a contract on Kelly. Garland said: "He said, 'He is the easiest of the lot - we'll just have him done over in the car park of the pub. It would be the easiest thing in the world for a couple of Man Utd fans to beat him up, and smash his legs so that he'd never play again'."
Garland - a family man who has promised to co-operate with any inquiry - said: "I thought it was despicable. He was clearly anticipating an arranged serious physical attack on Gary Kelly to inflict serious injuries sufficient to end his football career."
Middleton also claims Morris instructed him to nobble visiting Coventry City manager Peter Reid and his team. Again Morris denies any role in this scheme.
Middleton said: "The Peter Reid and Coventry situation arose after it was arranged for Reid and his team to go to a restaurant called Bibi's that night. Simon then phoned me and said get down there, get some Es and put them in the drinks because we are playing tomorrow.
"I went down but I didn't get the drugs. Simon wanted me to spike the drinks he thought it would he highly amusing if they couldn't play the next day. As it was Leeds stuffed Coventry 3-1. I was a hero. Simon winked at me and patted me on the back. He thought I had administered the drug."
No other Leeds directors are implicated in any of the plots. Middleton says the club tried to sack him for gross misconduct but eventually resigned with a £27,000 pay-off and a reference.
Last night FA spokesman Adrian Bevington said: "Subject to the Sunday Mirror submitting any information to the FA, we will give it our full consideration. Until then we are not in any position to make any further public comment.""
FORMER Leeds director Simon Morris - who is still a major shareholder - has hit back at the allegations made by Chris Middleton and the three other businessmen.
He said: "None of these things ever happened. I have no knowledge of the serious allegations. I deny plotting the Gary Kelly allegations. It doesn't make economic sense. If he's in hospital for four weeks it's going to cost you a hundred grand. He's on 24-grand a week. It's nonsense. I am sorry I ever got involved with Paul Garland or Middleton. If you lay down with dogs you get fleas. All these guys piss in the same pot and have the same goal of causing disruption to Leeds United."
The claims all pre-date the £10million takeover of Leeds United last month by former Chelsea chairman Ken Bates.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Spirit, safety and shooting at the stars Posted by Hello
BLACKWELL RELIEF AS LEEDS REACH SAFETY: Sporting Life - Football | Carling Cup Final Chelsea v Liverpool, Transfer News, Live Scores, Barclays Premiership, SPL, Championship, European News, Fixtures, Results, Tables

Leeds boss Kevin Blackwell refuses to plan for a promotion push despite his side's late 2-1 win over West Ham.
Shaun Derry scored a late winner for Blackwell's side after Gavin Williams had cancelled out Rob Hulse's opener.
The win gives the Yorkshire side a glimmer of hope of reaching the play-offs but Blackwell was just pleased his side had reached 50 points, and with it safety, for the season.
He said: "For 60 minutes we dominated the game, scored a goal and then sat back a bit. To be fair to West Ham they put us under pressure but we showed great tenacity to keep defending. The players have done the club proud, not just because they beat West Ham, but because we got to 50 points which is the first hurdle. We had to make sure we got there because we were favourites to go down. Everybody thought the club would implode financially. We were written off as a Barnsley or a Sheffield Wednesday but the lads have shown that's not the case. The players have had to deal with a lot but now we have to move forward on and off the pitch which we'll do now between the end of the season. It would stupid for me to say 'we're going to do this, that or the other'. We said at the start of the season we would not go down the leagues, we've done that now so we'll take each game as it comes. The side is still evolving, but people can see the shape of the club is coming together. The players now are learning about their work place, they're comfortable with their surroundings."

Shaun Derry celebrates scoring the winning goal Posted by Hello
Leeds United Football Club - Matchreport Leeds United vs West Ham United

Leeds 2 West Ham 1
United boss Kevin Blackwell carried out his threat to make changes after the Wigan defeat by dropping two players.
Clarke Carlisle was the highest profile casualty as Blackwell wielded the axe, with Jermaine Wright the other man to also make way.
Wright's place in midfield was taken by Simon Walton whilst Matthew Kilgallon came in for Carlisle.
The Match
United and West Ham lined up for the biggest game of the day in the Championship and neither team needed reminding that not too long ago this would have been a high profile Premiership fixture.
For the first time this season Blackwell had the luxury of leaving players out through choice rather than necessity due to the recent arrivals of Michael Gray, Rob Hulse and Shaun Derry and it was one of those new arrivals who had the first sight at goal.
On loan Baggies hit man Hulse tried his luck from all of 25 yards but his shot sailed harmlessly over the bar.
Leeds were really fired up for this one after last weeks abject showing at Wigan and Derry and Gregan in particular won some crunching early challenges in the middle of the park.
The diminutive Aaron Lennon was once again causing Leeds' opponents problems down the right flank and a good looking cross was headed over the bar by the returning Simon Walton.
David Healy had stated before the game that he was going to be wary of West Ham players seeking retribution after the last match between the sides when Healy won an injury time penalty and Repka was the first to scythe down the Northern Ireland international.
The resulting free-kick from Kelly caused Bywater to come flapping out of his goal but no Leeds player was on hand to tuck the ball in to an empty net.
The United midfield was looking more mobile than in recent weeks which could have partly been due to the all action style of Walton hustling up the Hammers engine room.
The first twenty minutes were dominated by Leeds but no real clear cut openings were fashioned. Hulse did head over the bar from a Walton cross though.
West Ham failed to make any impression early on and Kilgallon was looking assured on his return to the starting line up. Former Manchester United and England striker Teddy Sherringham was being kep very quiet by Leeds skipper Butler and the danger for Leeds was being caught on the counter attack.
After half an hour Lennon forced a corner and the ball just evaded the on rushing Hulse but the Leeds players were incensed when a penalty wasn't given for a handball by Malky Mackay.
Healy was causing the Hammers all sorts of problems by dropping deep to pick the ball up and the claret and blue's weren't sure whether it was a midfielder's job or a defender's.
The first incident of any note was when Hulse found his way in to the referee's notebook for an ugly challenge on Tomas Repka. The defender cleared the ball but the Leeds striker arrived late and jumped in to him with his elbow out.
As the first half was drawing to a close all Leeds' bright moments where coming from the young winger Lennon and his jinking runs and teasing crosses had the Hammers defence on tenterhooks.
West Ham finally strung a couple of passes together after forty minutes and fashioned an opening for former Yeovil man Gavin Williams but his shot sailed harmlessly over Sullivan's crossbar.
On the stroke of half time Derry was tripped on the edge of the area and Healy tried to fire the free-kick under the wall. The ball deflected along the ground and looked to be heading to Hulse's feet but Bywater was brave and denied the striker.
The second half got underway in much the same way as the first half ended. Leeds had most of the pressure but were struggling to create clear cut chances for the front men.
It was Lennon once more though who tried to give Leeds a lift as he cut in from the right on his left foot and fired a shot the Bywater claimed well at his near post.
There was nothing Bywater could do though a minute later when yet again Lennon tortured Chris Powell on the right hand touchline and whipped in an inviting ball into the box for Hulse to volley Leeds in to the lead in the 51st minute.
It gave the watching chairman Ken Bates something to smile about sat in the freezing stand.
Leeds had to be careful not to sit back and try to hold on to their lead though, something they have been guilty of on more than one occassion at home this season.
And they were given a warning as Williams hit a half volley that just scraped the outside of the post only a couple of minutes after Leeds had taken the lead.

Since the goal, for some reason a certain edgieness seemed apparent. On the pitch and in the stands.
As the game approached the hour mark, West Ham were certainly enjoying their best spell of pressure as their game plan of playing for a draw had gone out of the window.
Sheringham was beginning to have more of an influence on the game but Leeds were still looking pretty solid at the back. They were doing a good job snuffing out the service before it got to their lethal striker Harewood.
Tempers flared on 65 minutes when the bad blood between the two sides resurfaced after a foul by Gregan on Harewood. The Leeds midfielder was then involved in a squirmish that involved nearly every player on the pitch but Gregan's booking will now mean a suspension. From the resulting free-kick Sheringham hit the wall and the ball safely reached Sullivan.
West Ham were certainly matching Leeds now and at last were starting to show the sort of form that had brought them three straight championship victories.
There was a sense in the stand that Leeds would have to grab another goal to make sure of the points but West Ham struck first.
Lomas pumped a hopeful ball in to the box but there still looked to be no danger as Sherigham had his back to goal. He deftly chested the ball in to William's path though and the midfielder half volleyed over Sullivan to get the Hammers back in the game. It was a classy strike and there was no doubting that the Londoners now had the momentum.
Leeds nearly went behind when Williams broke free down the right and bared down on Sullivan's goal. But young Simon Walton came up with a last ditch tackle to save the day.
In Leeds's haste to grab a winner they were leaving holes at the back and Blackwell decided that a pair of fresh legs were needed. Crowd favourite Danny Pugh was introduced for the tiring Simon Walton on 76 minutes but the youngster could be pleased with his performance on his return to the side.
Harewood was now causing Kilgallon a few problems and he cutely found Sheringham in space but the veteran fired a good chance wide.
With ten minutes to go Gary Kelly rashly tried to win the ball back from Etherington after it became trapped between his legs on the edge of the area and with someone like Sheringham in the side it was not the wisest place to give away a free kick.
But West Ham surprised everyone as the left-footed Etherington curled it around the wall only for the ball to hit the outside of the post with Sullivan beaten.
The latter stages of the game were once more dominated by Leeds as they pushed for three points. Pugh was giving Leeds much needed width on the left at last and forced a corner from which he himself shot wide but then Shaun Derry endeared himself to the Leeds faithful after only two games.
Healy worked wonders twenty yards out and skipped two tackles before feeding the mullet-haired midfielder.
He took a touch to take it round the final defender before expertly firing past the on-rushing keeper with the outside of his right foot. Could Leeds hold on for the final five minutes?
It was a nervy final few minutes for Leeds with West Ham punting hopeful balls in to the box but lung bursting runs from Lennon and Healy relieved the pressure for a vital few moments.
When Lennon was brought off in the final minute for Clarke Carlise the whole stadium rose to acclaim the new United hero.
It was a man of the match performance from the teenager and the decision not to cash in on him in January when the big clubs came calling is beginning to look inspired. It could be the best bit of business Leeds have done in the transfer market for years!
When the final whistle went Elland Road errupted to chants of Marching on Together and with a few more perfomances like this between now and the end of the season who knows where Leeds might be able to march to.
The three points doesn't move Leeds up the table, they stay tenth, but the gap to the final play-off place which West Ham currently have is now tantalisingly only four points.

They're all after a bit of us now... Posted by Hello
Yorkshire Post Today: News, Sport, Jobs, Property, Cars, Entertainments & More

Elland Road director offered cash to delay takeover as third consortium attempted to take control of Leeds United
A LAST-DITCH attempt to scupper Ken Bates's takeover of Leeds United saw an Elland Road director offered an "incentive" of £250,000 by a rival consortium to stall the deal.
Simon Morris, the leading shareholder at the club before last month's takeover, was offered the money just hours before Bates formally took charge of United.
The approach came from charity fundraiser Stuart Levin, who asked Morris to 'put a stop' on the Bates deal and offered to pay the money, claiming a rival consortium's funds were just 24 hours away from being available. The offer was dismissed, however, and Bates duly completed his takeover in the early hours of January 21.
Three consortiums were bidding for the club at the time – one led by Bates, another by United season ticket holder Norman Stubbs and a third mystery group on whose behalf Levin made the approach.
The drama unfolded on Thursday, January 20 when go-between Levin, in the offices of chartered accountants Haines Watts, made the offer to United director Morris, who was in the offices of the club's solicitors, Walker Morris.
Levin asked: "What do you want to put a stop on it (the Bates deal) in the next 24-48 hours?"
Later in the conversation, he offered to pay £250,000 using an American account, and then promised "we'll give it you in writing now".
Morris, who yesterday said he treated the offer light-heartedly, responded by asking: "Can they make a cheque payable to my granddad?"
Levin said yesterday: "It is true that I did, on behalf of the consortium I represented, which consisted of die-hard Leeds United supporters and businessmen, offer Simon Morris an incentive to hold back on any other deal as I knew our funds were 24 hours away.
"He said he was very interested and asked how the incentive would be paid. I said that upon completion of our deal that he should provide a bona-fide invoice so everything would be above board. I never heard from him again about this matter.
"Speaking as a Leeds United supporter of 48 years standing, I think Ken Bates is doing an excellent job and I wish him all the best."
Morris was a member of the five-man board led by Gerald Krasner that took over United in March last year. He said yesterday: "I was being offered money to stop the deal with Ken Bates going through.
"The only way I could treat it was light-heartedly and with contempt. I was surprised by the nature of this when we were so close to securing the future of the club."
Melvyn Levi, a fellow director of Morris at Elland Road until Bates's takeover, said there was no chance of the former Chelsea chairman's takeover being halted.
He told the Yorkshire Post last night: "The offer was made in an open meeting and the lawyers heard it. But we had met Ken Bates the previous Monday and we were set to complete on the Friday – as far as I am concerned, you cannot do any better than that.
"He had his lawyers working through the night to get the deal done, that was a clear sign of his intent, and there was no doubt he was the one who was going to save Leeds United. We had stablised the club and wanted someone to take it forward.
"There was no way we would rely on someone saying 'the money will be here in 24 hours' – we had heard it all before," he said.
"We had had too many false dawns in the past, but it was clear Ken Bates was not a false dawn. All these rich people in Leeds had had 10 months to sort a deal – we had always said from the start that we would talk to anyone who came along with a sensible offer to take over the club.
"Ken did that and took the chairman's statement that all the figures were correct."
The Elland Road takeover saga dragged on for several months with chairman Gerald Krasner, whose own consortium spent 10 months in charge, being approached by 14 different groups expressing an interest. Krasner declined to comment last night.

Just as one BIG FAT GUY departs Elland Road, another MAN EATING BLOATER arrives Posted by Hello
Leeds United Football Club - Kevin's Hungry For Success

United new signing Kevin Pressman says he intends to make sure current No.1 Neil Sullivan doesn't have too comfortable a job hanging onto his position.
The former Sheffield Wednesday keeper, who played 15 games for Leicester City earlier this season, has signed on a non-contact basis and will use the rest of the season to try and earn a permanent deal at Elland Road.
Pressman becomes Kevin Blackwell's third signing in as many weeks, following the arrival of Rob Hulse and Shaun Derry, all of them signed on the Friday before a game. Blackwell also had former Charlton keeper Sasa Ilic on trial.
At 37 years of age he might be reaching the "twilight" of his career as some commentators have put it, but Pressman insists he's got not intentions of giving up the game just yet and still has an appetite for success.
"I was ready to jack in the game after Wednesday but Leicester helped whet my appetite again and I would like to keep going as long as I can," said Pressman.
"Everybody has told me to keep going and not pack it in; football packs you in, you don't pack football in.
"I still enjoy what I am doing and that's the main thing.
"I enjoy training everyday and the playing side of things whatever level it's at, whether that's at reserve team or first team level. I still get a buzz out of it and that's what keeps me going.
"I am still as hungry as ever and I probably enjoy and appreciate what I have got now more than any time in my career."
Pressman has an inform Neil Sullivan blocking his way to the first team at the moment, but as long as he makes life uncomfortable for the Scottish international, he'll know he's doing his job right.
"I will push Sully because there are no guarantees in football. I have had times, even at Sheffield Wednesday, when I wasn't involved and there's no guarantees. Your performances dictate where you end up.
"I want to come here, work hard, set a standard and see where it takes me. Hopefully it will give the manager a selection problem.
"I want to push Neil all I can because it will get the best out of him and the best out of me, a bit of competition. At the end of the day the manager picks the team and whoever he picks is his choice and the best person for the job.
"I have been training hard inbetween leaving Leicester and coming here and it's kept me fit. I get as much enjoyment out of training as I do playing, the playing is the icing on the cake.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Normal service is resumed Posted by Hello
Telegraph | Sport | Wigan embarrass Leeds: "Wigan embarrass Leeds
By Louise Taylor at the JJB Stadium
(Filed: 20/02/2005)

Wigan (1) 3 Leeds (0) 0
Police on duty at the JJB Stadium donned riot gear yesterday but while the generally docile behaviour of the visiting supporters made their helmets and visors look slightly ridiculous, the Leeds players could certainly have done with similar protection.
Wigan's quest for automatic promotion was bolstered as they pulverised their guests from across the Pennines whose own play-off pretensions seemed distinctly fanciful. Goodness knows what Ken Bates, the new Leeds chairman, made of his team's ultra laconic performance on a day when there was reportedly a half-time altercation involving Neil Sullivan and Jermaine Wright in the away dressing room.
Michael Gray, the left back Leeds have borrowed from Blackburn, spent most of his career with Sunderland and remains a fan of his home-town club. Such enduring affection for one of Wigan's principal promotion rivals, will only have exacerbated the damage to his pride inflicted by Gary Teale, who all too easily sashayed beyond Gray and on down Wigan's right before crossing to Nathan Ellington. All that remained was for Paul Jewell's leading scorer to stab home his 19th goal of the season from close range.
Teale soon had Sullivan sprawling to save his shot struck after cutting in from the flank while a similar incursion from the left on Lee McCulloch's part concluded with a shot curled fractionally off target.
Stretched to the limit by Wigan's exhilarating use of width, Leeds barely threatened John Filan's goal during the most one-sided of opening periods in which it took Kevin Blackwell's side 44 minutes to win their first corner.
Meanwhile, the visiting penalty area was dominated by Ellington and Jason Roberts, the latter's amalgam of strength and skill as he regularly turned Paul Butler, highlighting the lack of pace in Blackwell's backline.
Roberts saw a `goal' disallowed for offside after his connection with yet another Teale cross and it was no surprise to see Sullivan and Wright exchanging angry words as they headed off for half-time.
They did not do the cause much good as 10 minutes into the second period, Wigan doubled their lead, McCulloch's header from Jimmy Bullard's corner being helped on its way past Sullivan by Clarke Carlisle.
Roberts was unlucky to see a shot rebound off a post before Alan Mahon's wonderfully opportunistic 30-yard strike made it three after a poor defensive clearance.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Come on, come on, get scrapping... Posted by Hello
BLACKWELL BACKS WARRING PLAYERS: Sporting Life - Football | FA Cup Fifth Round, Newcastle v Chelsea, Transfer News, Live Scores, Barclays Premiership, SPL, Championship, European News, Fixtures, Results, Tables

Leeds manager Kevin Blackwell has urged his players to carry on rowing.
Blackwell watched Gary Kelly and Sean Gregan become embroiled in a bitter war of words early in his side's 3-0 championship defeat at promotion-chasing Wigan.
It is also understood there was an altercation that took place in the Leeds dressing room at half-time, although Blackwell was eager to play down such suggestions.
However, he feels the passion displayed by Kelly and Gregan during their on-pitch bust-up is acceptable as he said: "They want to give everything they can for this football club. I want players to nail other players if they are not doing it. I don't think it should always be left to the manager and coaches to do that kind of thing. You need players to do that sometimes."
Blackwell then joked his way through the alleged dressing-room incident, although riot police were seen racing into the tunnel as both sets of players left the pitch.
But Blackwell added: "I can't understand it. The policeman shot down there after I told him I was going to put sugar in his tea! But there was nothing went on. Players are players. They just get on and have a few words and that's it."
Blackwell could have no complaints with the final result, one which severely damages Leeds' play-off hopes.
They were behind in just the 10th minute when Nathan Ellington scored his 19th goal of the season from just 22 matches, and thereafter the writing was on the wall.
Although Wigan spurned a glut of further first-half chances, they effectively sealed the points 10 minutes after the interval, with Jason Roberts claiming his 16th of the campaign after appearing to get a decisive touch on a goalbound header from Lee McCulloch.
The one-sided victory was completed 15 minutes from time when Alan Mahon drilled home a stunning 30-yarder to leave Blackwell conceding: "I take my hat off to Wigan.
"They were better than us and thoroughly deserved to win the game. As much as it hurts me to say it they were a cut above.
"But I said before the game that we were coming here to see how far we had come in the last six months.
"We now know we have a long way to go because Wigan have set a benchmark we now have to attain."

Do we really need another central midfielder? Well, we've got one Posted by Hello
Leeds United Football Club - Blackwell Finally Nets Derry

Leeds United have completed the signing of Shaun Derry from Crystal Palace on a permanent transfer in time for the midfielder to be available for tomorrow's trip to Wigan.
Derry had been partway through the second month of a loan spell with Championship strugglers Nottingham Forest when he was recalled yesterday and arrived at Thorp Arch earlier today to finalise his move. He trained with his new team-mates ahead of leaving for the game at the JJB tomorrow.
The 27-year-old had been set to join Leeds back in November but the deal fell apart at the last minute through no fault of the player.
Nottingham-born Derry began his career as a trainee at Notts County, moved on to Sheffield United in 1998 for £700,000 and was snapped up by Portsmouth in 2000 for £300,000 before a £400,000 switch to Selhurst Park in 2002.
United boss Kevin Blackwell has been a long time admirer of Derry, a player he worked with at Sheffield United, and said:"His track record for Portsmouth and Crystal Palace has been impressive and his experience in the middle of the park will go a long way to strengthen our squad.
"He's been involved in this division for a few years now and is a battler. He is a fierce competitor, while he is also powerful, strong and at 27, he is coming up to the right age for a midfielder."
The fee for Derry will be undisclosed and he has agreed a two-and-a-half-year contract at Elland Road.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Gary Kelly was the only senior pro at the club last summer
 Posted by Hello
BBC SPORT | Football | My Club | Leeds United | A new beginning for Leeds

Whisper it quietly, but the storm clouds may finally be breaking over Elland Road.
The fall from grace of Leeds United has been spectacular and well-documented.
But with the arrival of Ken Bates as the new chairman and an up-turn of form on the pitch, there has been a unquestionably change of direction at the club.
Instead of continually looking over their shoulders, everyone at the club can finally look forward.
"I think that people are starting to see that the buds are starting to grow again after a barren two or three years," Leeds manager Kevin Blackwell told BBC Sport.
"What happened here - it is something I don't want anybody to go through.
"We have learnt our lesson. I also think we will be used as an example to everybody that if you do not act prudently chasing a dream, the nightmare can be long lasting.
"Please God no one else has to go through it because it has been a really uncomfortable time for supporters, players, management, everyone."
Bates has brought stability to the club behind the scenes, but the role played by Blackwell in keeping the club competitive in the Championship should not be forgotten.
Leeds were relegated from the Premiership last season and when Blackwell took over as manager in the summer he had one senior player - Gary Kelly - and three youngsters on his playing staff.
The club were still engulfed by gargantuan debts and speculation over Leeds' very survival was a daily staple.
"I don't think you'll find in any recent history a club that has been through the transformation that Leeds United have over the last five or six months," added Blackwell.
"We lost virtually every player and Rob Hulse last Saturday became the 27th player to make his debut for the club this season - that speaks volume in itself."
Blackwell admits that several times he told his players "look lads, whatever happens, happens" and that the speculation hanging over the club inevitably effected his squad.
But through a combination of shrewd loan signings and the acquisition of experienced professionals such as Brian Deane and Sean Gregan, Blackwell has ensured Leeds have avoided back-to-back relegations.
"We have relied very much on our youth policy to pull us through here," he said.
"We have had five under the age of 21 playing all season and two 17-year-olds playing most of the season.
"It is a physical division and we are a team that is there to be shot at by everybody.
"Everybody who turns up at Elland Road - or wherever we go away - still looks at Leeds as a Premiership side.
"Every game has been like a cup final - the players have had to deal with it and overall I think they have done an excellent job."
After struggling through the early months of the season with an ever-changing team, Leeds have finally hit form.
Blackwell's team have lost just two of their last 12 league matches and are now just four points off the Championship play-offs.
Experienced players such as Seth Johnson are closing in on fitness after long-term injuries, while in David Healy and Hulse the club have the makings of a dynamic partnership up front.
But the unassuming manager is unwilling to take the credit he deserves for the crucial role he has played in changing the fortunes of a proud Yorkshire club.
"We're just getting on with our job," he said. "We are trying to put the club back on an even keel after what went on.
"I think anybody can take pride out of putting a team together in a couple of months that is competitive in this division - and for that I thank all the staff and all the players who have done that."

Big smug grin time... Posted by Hello
Leeds United Football Club - It Didn't Happen Overnight

United boss Kevin Blackwell believes he now has one of the best squads in the division - but it's been a long hard haul to get to this stage.
Even before the season had begun, Leeds were being told they faced another relegation scrap, and with over twenty players having left since the start of the previous season, Blackwell would admit that was a fear he too harbored, especially given the fact that he needed to find at least 14 new players at the start of the season.
Eight months on, with survival virtually guaranteed, he has managed to assemble a group of players whose sights are now set much higher. The play-offs are where they're all aiming at now.
Of course not every signing has worked out for the long term. Injury dealt full-back Stephen Crainey an early blow as it did Nathan Blake, just as the striker was getting into his stride, whilst John Oster's personal indiscretions put paid to his chances of staying on longer, but on the whole all have had some good input into the season.
The key recent arrivals of David Healy, Sean Gregan and now Gylfi Einarsson, Michael Gray and Rob Hulse have all signs that things are moving in the right direction once again, and Blackwell admits he's got a squad to compete with every team in the division.
"I do think so now," answered Blackwell, "I am not about to dispute that, but that was not the case in June.
"If you think about it we are sitting here with arguably one of the better sides now in the division right now, and we have done it in five and a half months. That takes some doing and we haven't done it through being extravagant in any way.
"We have just slowly worked the loan market, brought some free transfers in and the players have done everything I have asked them to do. All of a sudden with Eirik and Seth coming back and the acquisition of Gray and Hulse, it gives me four new players and that is a big part of the squad.
"It hasn't just happened, it's been worked on and we have had to develop it. We have a good squad now and that's all credit to the staff here, the Chairman and the previous board. Sometimes people can't see it until it creeps up on top of them, well, now I think I have got a decent squad."
"People need to give you the opportunity to develop, and that's what we are trying to do, because we are still building the club back up."
The boss is also confident that he has built up a squad with a healthy spirit of competition between them. That competition could be increased even more if he is successful in bringing in a winger before the end of the season.
"I think any club has to have a situation where the person in charge of the shirt loses it himself. That's what I want. we are a massive club and we have to make sure that when players come here they have to fight to keep their shirt and they don't become an automatic choice because it leads to complacency.
"We are starting to get a squad now that is competing for places. If a player does not do the business I have one or two options for change, and that hasn't been the case before."

Monday, February 14, 2005

Cliche No 126: The Incredible Hulse Posted by Hello
Leeds Today: News, Sport, Jobs, Property, Cars, Entertainments & More

Debut delight for Rob

by Paul Dews
NINE months of frustration came pouring out for new Leeds United striker Rob Hulse as he marked his Elland Road debut in style.
The on-loan hitman, starting a game for the first time since May 2004, scored twice in the second half to help Leeds earn a priceless 3-1 success against fourth-placed Reading.
Hulse showed great composure with his goals and he swiftly established himself as a new darling of the Elland Road faithful.
Hulse said: "It's nice to be playing again and things couldn't have gone any better.
"I was just so pleased to be out there and even if I hadn't scored and we'd won I'd have been delighted, but for two to go in like that was really pleasing. "
Hulse last started a senior game for West Brom nine months ago, but the striker showed supreme confidence and didn't look like a player who has been confined to just seven substitute appearances this term.
"It's been an emotional time," confirmed Hulse, who scored 13 times during the Baggies' promotion season last year.
"It's been tough, but I always had belief in myself. The people around me, my friends and family, have kept me going. This is partly due to them as well.
"With the second goal, I just worked it at my feet. It opened up nicely and I had to have a go – it would have been rude not to!
"That's a striker's instinct and luckily it went in.
"There was a lot of aggression and frustration because I've been waiting for nine months to get playing again.
"I was so delighted to hit the back of the net the first time, I took my top off!
"I had a bit of mickey taken out of me for that, but we can play some good stuff, take confidence from this and hopefully use it as a stepping stone."
Hulse and David Healy linked up well and the new recruit is confident there is a partnership in the making as Leeds look to embark on a late push for the play-offs.
"I've had two training sessions and seen a bit of David," said Hulse.
"He's a clever player and I hope we can forge a good partnership together.
"It was massive for us to get a win on Saturday. We have two big games coming up now and we'll see what we get out of them.
"We are a good side, we showed that. We are capable of putting a good run together and can climb the table.
"I knew this was a good side with some great players, that was why I came here."
Hulse's debut was cut short when he was substituted with 20 minutes remaining and Elland Road rose to applaud their new hero.
"It was a brilliant ovation," said the striker.
"The lads said the fans here were superb. I'd seen them a couple of times and I'd rather have them on my side than against me.
"My calves were struggling a bit – it was my first game in nine months – and that's why I came off."
United boss Kevin Blackwell was delighted with Hulse's efforts and described it as a "dream" for his latest signing.
"It was a dream debut for Rob," said Blackwell.
"When you go to a new club you dream about doing well.
"If you are a keeper you want to save that penalty, if you're a defender it's all about making that crucial challenge, and as a midfielder you want to impress.
"In Rob's case, he wanted to score. They are all the things you dream about.
"They were two class goals. It's something we have been missing.
"He wanted to come and this was a big lesson for him.
"I was delighted with his performance. They were two finishes straight out of the top drawer.
"It's a long time since we've had someone who can take opportunities like that and on Saturday both Rob and Dave showed what they can do.
"When the ball came to Rob he struck it so well."

Sunday, February 13, 2005

And I'll have your shirt, if you don't mind... Posted by Hello
Times Online - Newspaper Edition

Sunday Times 13/2/05
Leeds Utd 3 Reading 1: Hulse raises Leeds spirits
WINS are no longer celebrated with champagne in the Elland Road boardroom, after Ken Bates wisely decided that the money might be better used by the groundsman, but no doubt a pint or two of something less effete was raised to Rob Hulse last night. Two cracking second-half strikes on his debut by the young striker, signed on loan from West Brom, gave Leeds a win that suggested the chances of the club’s new chairman overseeing a return to the Premiership are better than even he might have anticipated.
It took both sides time to adjust to a strong and swirling wind, but once it sunk in that crisp passes played on the ground had a good chance of reaching their intended recipient, the football became open and attractive. Much of it was played by Reading, whose speed on the break enabled them to regularly out-flank Leeds’s three-man midfield, and Andy Hughes, Steve Sidwell and Les Ferdinand all had early shots.
Leeds gradually built a momentum of their own. Gylfi Einarsson’s intelligent pass created a chance for David Healy that the Irishman curled wide. They came within a fingertip of going ahead when Hulse got his head to Gary Kelly’s curling cross, but Reading keeper Marcus Hahnemann dived across his goal to touch the ball on to the bar.
The American was equally quick to react when a mistake by Ivar Ingimarsson allowed Healy to break clear in the penalty area, but ten minutes before half-time, another defensive error left him exposed again. Ingimarsson and Ibrahima Sonko left a routine clearance to each other, and Healy nipped in and slid his shot under the goalkeeper.
Twenty minutes after the break, and playing against the wind, Leeds made the game safe. Sean Gregan hit a long ball that Hulse chased down the left wing, controlled, and slipped inside to Healy, whom found Aaron Lennon in the penalty area. He laid the ball off for Hulse to hit a fine curling drive beyond Hahnemann.
Seven minutes later, Hulse broke clear of the Reading backline and from 20 yards hit another shot beyond the goalkeeper. His technique, on a far from ideal pitch, was superb and he thoroughly deserved the standing ovation when he was substituted a few minutes later.
Reading had two good penalty shouts turned down in as many minutes, and Sidwell failed to beat Neil Sullivan with a header from point-blank range. The goalkeeper also brilliantly saved an attempted clearance by Kelly, but was finally beaten by a close-range flick by Lloyd Owusu.
“Rob has got a lot to live up to now, but we knew he was a good player, that’s why we’ve been chasing him for so long,” said Leeds assistant manager Sam Ellis. “From where we are now, the playoffs are a realistic possibility.”
With his team not having won in the League since Boxing Day, Reading manager Steve Coppell was understandably subdued.
“The one thing we have been is very solid defensively, so it’s very disappointing. All we can say is that we’ll work very hard to put things right,” he said.
Leeds supporters hoping Kevin Blackwell’s reshaped team can take them back to the Premiership should get a clearer idea of their prospects when they travel to Wigan next Saturday. In the meantime, Bates’s programme notes will have given them plenty to think about. With the club apparently still losing £120,000 a week, Bates also revealed that “mysterious middlemen” representing a prospective buyer of the club are resurfacing.
“Show evidence of wealth to my lawyer, reveal his identity and get confirmation that the money is available to complete a deal, then we can negotiate face to face,” wrote Bates. As an expression of commitment, it leaves something to be desired.
STAR MAN: Rob Hulse (Leeds Utd)

Could it be...? Hulse celebrates his first goal against Reading Posted by Hello
Leeds United Football Club - Matchreport Leeds United vs Reading

Leeds United 3 Reading 1
Pre- Match
Kevin Blackwell made just the one change to the side which won against Burnley the previous week with striker Rob Hulse coming in for his Leeds United debut.
Brian Deane was the man who dropped out, finally able to rest his injured shoulder which he is able to play on with only thanks to some heavy strapping.
Despite revealing he now has the right personnel with which to play it, Blackwell has resisted the temptation to switch to a 4-4-2 formation from the 4-3-3 formation which has served him well in the last few months.
The Match
United won an early corner after Aaron Lennon's cross was cut out and from it Leeds missed their first chance of the game as Clarke Carlisle headed Jermaine Wright's cross over from six yards out.
With less than five minutes on the clock Reading squandered their own golden opportunity when Nicky Forster broke clear of the defence after receiving a throw in but he drilled his shot wide across the face of goal and hit the corner flag.
Shortly afterwards the visitors came close again with a drive from Steve Sidwell that just cleared the crossbar.
New signing Rob Hulse was making his presence known in and around the Reading penalty area, getting his head on the end of a few balls and forcing the odd corner and generally looked hungry for the ball and by no means lacking in match fitness.
The game only really got going after quarter of an hour, first Einarsson robbed Sidwell of the ball, played a great pass to Healy but the striker put his shot wide.
Then Lennon's run had the fans out of their seats but his shot lacked power and was straight at the keeper.
On 18 minutes Leeds thought they'd achieved the breakthrough when Kelly's cross was headed goalwards by Hulse but Reading keeper Marcus Hahnemann made a great save in knocking the ball onto his crossbar and the ball bounced favorably for the Royals defence who frantically cleared it.
Leeds continued to maintain the pressure and Healy was unlucky when he went for a spectacular curling shot from a position 25-yards out, wide on the left, but the ball just went over the target. Kelly then saw an attempted cross come close to a goal but it just landed on the roof of the net with the keeper beaten.
Reading nearly gifted the Whites a goal after the half hour when centre-back Ivar Ingimarsson tried to head the ball out to his left-back but only manged to put it straight into Aaron Lennon's chest. The tricky winger was a little unfortunate as the ball rebounded off him and bounced close enough for the keeper to gather just before he got there.
It took a defensive mistake to finally break Reading down as Leeds took the lead on 35 minutes.
A huge mix-up between Sonko and Murty saw them hit the ball against each other and allowed David Healy to nip in and take the ball off them. The hard work was still to come though as Healy first held the pair off as they bit at his heels, then made sure the keeper went down before lifting his shot into an empty net.
Leeds now had to make sure they added to the goal and killed the game off which they failed to do in the previous games against Cardiff and Brighton where the visitors came back to force a late draw.
Just before half-time Rob Hulse was forced to go to the touchline with a bloody nose and also made to change his shirt. He rememerged with a plain Leeds shirt, without a name or number on the back of it.
On the stroke of half time James Harper was booked for a late tackle on Gregan that left the United man writhing in pain on the deck.
Unchanged after the break, Leeds could have doubled their lead when Lennon's cross fell for Hulse inside the penalty area but the striker sliced his shot wide after finding space for the shot.
Just as Leeds should have scored, Reading should have equalised five minutes into the half.
Neil Sullivan could only tip away a cross from the right and in doing so put it straight to Les Ferdinand at the back post but the veteran striker somehow hooked his shot over the bar.
He had only been at the club at a few days but on 56 minutes Rob Hulse scored what could be the goal of the season at Elland Road.
It was the quality of the build up play as well as the final strike from Hulse that sets his goal apart. A long ball forward was gathered by Hulse, Healy took possession, played a ball into the centre where Wright controlled it and then laid it off neatly for Hulse who smashed it home on the half-volley from the edge of the area.
Hulse was then booked after celebrating by taking his shirt off and swinging it over his head as he ran down in front of the Kop.
What a difference it was making to Leeds to have two spritely forwards on the pitch in Hulse and Healy.
And the fans didn't have long to wait for Hulse to make it 3-0 with his second of the game and another spectacular effort. Healy was involved again as he flicked the ball on for Hulse to break from the half-way line with no-one infront of him and as let rip with a right footed drive high into the back of the net from just a few yards short of the edge of the area.
Fortunately this time he didn't take his shirt off this time or else he would have been sent off with another yellow card!
Hulse was denied the opportunity to get a hat-trick when he was brought off after 70 minutes and replaced by Michael Ricketts. After not starting a game for West Brom this season, Hulse was bound to have felt the pace of the game a little and Blackwell was keen to keep him fresh, but what a start to his Leeds career.
Shortly afterwards another change was made with Lennon coming off and Frazer Richardson coming on.
Reading's best chance to get back in the game came when a cross into the box was met by Sidwell just yards out but Sullivan got in the way well and made the block, although the keeper gave a goalkick.
Gary Kelly had scored an unfortunate own goal at Elland Road in the game against Crewe and he nearly repeated the act when he headed Sidwell's cross at his own goal but SUllivan spared his blushes by snatching the ball away at the last second.
Two minutes before the end Reading did get a goal back after some good play on the floor inside the six yard box. Reading sub Dean Morgan passed it through the defence to another sub, Lloyd Owusu who simply backheeled it into the net and that was another valuable clean sheet gone.
The points though were firmly in the bag and if Leeds can produce a few more performances like this one, then who knows, perhaps the season may just be extended a little by the play-offs.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Healy ... hopeful Posted by Hello
Leeds United Football Club - Healy's Ready For Change

David Healy hopes to profit from Rob Hulse's arrival at the club as he hopes it will see him move back into the middle as a central striker.
The Northern Ireland international has been operating down the left flank for most of the games since his arrival from Preston in October as boss Kevin Blackwell has formulated a system that has made Leeds hard to beat.
Now with striker Hulse having arrived from West Brom, and experienced left-back Michael Gray from Blackburn last week, Blackwell is confident he has the personnel to change formations as and when he feels necessary, which is encouraging to Healy.
Whilst Healy is eager to play upfront again, he appreciates that the current system has its merits.

"As everyone knows I am a striker and I want to play as a striker," he said.
"But in the first game we played against Preston we ended up winning 4-2 and from there on we've picked up an average of two points every game. So it's not as if the formation has let us down.
"I have spoken to some of the lads and he's spoken to some of them and I think everyone is in the mood for a bit of a change, especially at home. Hopefully if we do go 4-4-2 we'll get the right results."
Blackwell is making no promises that he will change a system which the stats confirm has been successful, and Healy is not the kind to complain if he finds himself still out wide on the left flank despite admitting it was a surprise in the first place to find himself playing there.
"I didn't imagine I would play so many games out there but the gaffer has asked me to stay out and do a job and I feel I have done that.
"But as a striker you feel that if you're not scoring in every game you're not doing your job properly.
"So hopefully if I do get the chance to play upfront I will get the chances to score more goals."
Healy is looking forward to United's return to Elland Road after their good win at Burnley last week but he knows Leeds face a tough game against a Reading side aiming to secure their place in the play-offs. There's also the usual pressure of being the side in the division that everyone wants to beat.
"At home we are always going to be hot favourites but everyone knows that means the opposition are always up for the game.
"People want to prove to us that we are not as big or as good as we once were and everyone is looking to bring us down a peg or two. They always lift their game. We have to expect that now and go out with the attitude that we have strengthened and we are a good eleven now that should cope with that.
"The home fans deserve something because they've come out through thick and thin over the past 18 months and they deserve a lot of credit for the way they have supported us.
"It is nice when you do pick up points away from home but we know we have let ourselves down with our home form and hopefully we can improve that on Saturday."
The 25-year-old played for his country in their 1-0 defeat against Canada on Wednesday but only after recovering from a groin injury that forced him to miss a day's training. He's confident though that the problem is only very slight.
"I've had a bit of work with the Northern Ireland physio and he's reassured me that it's fine and Dave Hancock (LUFC Physio) has said the same. So until I am ready for the knackers yard I will play as I have done in every game.
"It's probably just a case of being careful, what I don't need is taking any big knocks. A bit of work with the physios and in the gym should improve it and it'll soon go away."

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

A saviour? Posted by Hello
Leeds United Football Club - Rob Raring To Go

Rob Hulse's three-month loan move to Elland Road has finally been sealed, and the big striker cannot wait to regain the kind of form that brought him 13 goals for West Brom last season.
The forward has signed on loan until the end of the season and is set to make his debut on Saturday against Reading at Elland Road.
The deal was first mooted in the middle of last week, and at one point it looked like he might have gone straight into the squad for last Saturday's match against Burnley. However complications in the paper-work have delayed the arrival of the Crewe-born 25-year-old until now, but he first knew of Kevin Blackwell's interest in him last week
"I was off to a reserve game on Wednesday night," Hulse told, "When I got a call from my agent, saying to come up to Leeds and have a look round.
"I'd been told that quite a few clubs had come in for me and wanted to take me out on loan, but as soon as I knew that Leeds were interested - well, it's a massive club!"
Hulse played through a injury towards the end of last season, but his full recovery from that ran through into this campaign. Hulse admits that he has fallen down the pecking order at the Hawthorns but is determined to pick up the pieces and get back to the form that saw him bag a goal every other game when under Dario Gradi at Crewe.
"I see this as the ideal opportunity to get me playing football again. I'm under no illusions, I need to be playing football and I see Leeds United as the best place to be.
"I know that my match fitness is down, but I've looked after myself and I've worked extremely hard in the gym and after training. I know I'm fit, it's just a case now of getting match fitness under my belt and hopefully that won't take too long."
Rob will find a few familiar faces in the dressing room when he begins training with the squad. Seth Johnson and Jermaine Wright were at Gresty Road when he was in the Crewe youth team, and Sean Gregan was, like Hulse, an integral part of West Brom's promotion push last year.
And did Leeds' facilities at Thorp Arch, widely regarded as among the best in the country, sell the club to Rob?
"It didn't take much selling, it's Leeds United! You come to the training ground and there's everything here to make a footballer get better, get stronger, get fitter, so this should be ideal for me."

Sunday, February 06, 2005

This is my ANGRY face Posted by Hello
BLACKWELL DEMANDS KILLER INSTINCT: Sporting Life - Football | Transfer News, Live Scores, Barclays Premiership, SPL, Championship, European News, Fixtures, Results, Tables

Leeds manager Kevin Blackwell felt his side had made it unnecessarily hard for themselves towards the end of their 1-0 win over Burnley at Turf Moor.
Gylfi Einarsson scored the decisive goal for Leeds, who had been dominant, after 65 minutes.
Despite Burnley's Frank Sinclair being sent off eight minutes later, the visitors almost threw the three points away.
Ian Moore had an 80th-minute penalty saved by Neil Sullivan after the striker had been fouled by Clarke Carlisle, while the hosts were aggrieved that a Paul Butler handball and a push on John McGreal - both in the area - went unpunished.
It all added up to an uneasy finish for Blackwell, who said: "It was three deserved points. I'm just slightly annoyed that we didn't finish the game off and, my word, we had some chances to finish the game off.
"If you don't finish teams off when you have the chance to do so it can also come back to bite you and that nearly happened.
"For 80 minutes we were a different class and the last 10 minutes was a little bit of backs to the wall.
"But Burnley haven't lost at home for a while and we knew they would keep going until the end and they certainly did that.
"We had three breakaways and should have finished them off. I thought we looked a good side and we looked rather accomplished at times."
Einarsson's goal - the Iceland international's first since joining from Norwegian club Lillestrom last month - was the first Burnley had conceded at home in seven matches since the beginning of November.
One of those games was the famous 1-0 win over Liverpool in the FA Cup, in which the Clarets were victorious thanks to Djimi Traore's own goal.
Blackwell added: "We talked about the game against Liverpool and if you take liberties in the 18-yard box like Liverpool did, you are going to get mugged.
"We took a liberty and we almost got mugged for it.
"We talked about where the penalty might go before the game and 'Sully' has remembered the instructions and made a great save.
"That might have been their first shot on target and that shows how dominant we were."
David Healy and Brian Deane were both guilty of passing up first-half chances, with the former also having a goal ruled out for offside after Aaron Lennon had found him with a cross.
However, Lennon was not to be denied, and midway through the second half the youngster skipped around Mo Camara to deliver the perfect cross for Einarsson to power his header past Brian Jensen at the far post.
With 17 minutes left, Sinclair, who had been booked in first-half injury-time for a foul on Healy, was shown a second yellow card for kicking out at Einarsson after the midfielder had caught him with a late challenge.

Cliche of the week: THE ICE MAN COMETH... Posted by Hello
Times Online - Newspaper Edition

Burnley 0 Leeds 1: Leeds stay in playoff hunt
TALK about the War of the Roses. This was more like a tame knock-about in no man’s land. All the ingredients were there for something a little more explosive.
This was Leeds’s first visit to Turf Moor for more than 20 years, a bumper crowd and Burnley’s opportunity for a double over their rivals from across the Pennines. In the end the early kick-off soon faded into the memory, with only a solitary bullet header from Iceland international Gylfi Einarsson separating the sides.
The Lancashire side had the opportunity to salvage something from their own desperate performance with a penalty in the last five minutes. Unbelievably, this was their first real strike on target and ended with goalkeeper Neil Sullivan diving to his left to easily parry away Ian Moore’s spot-kick.
Of course, Burnley are not quite focused on the Coca-Cola Championship. There is a little matter of an FA Cup fifth-round clash with Blackburn Rovers coming up, a tie that manager Steve Cotterill described in his programme notes as “having plenty of local interest”.
His words were almost as understated as his team’s contribution to a contest in which they barely threatened. Leeds, still in play-off contention, were easily the better team and had ample opportunities for a more comprehensive victory. The best fell to Brian Deane midway through the second period. Alone inside the penalty area, he somehow contrived to volley the ball straight out of play across the far touchline. With Rob Hulse’s expected arrival from West Bromwich Albion, his days at Elland Road may be over.
The goal, on 65 minutes, was a slice of quality, with Einarsson getting his head to Aaron Lennon’s fine cross to rocket the ball into the back of the net. This was only his second for Leeds, since joining from Norwegian side Lillestrom last month. His goal was the first conceded by Burnley at home for nearly 12 hours, the last ones coming in the Carling Cup clash with Tottenham Hotspur in November.
The opening period dictated the pattern. Leeds’s Jermaine Wright tested goalkeeper Brian Jensen at the near post, Sean Gregan screwed an opportunity horribly wide and Gary Cahill was lucky only to be booked for bringing down David Healy, who later had a goal ruled out from offside.
The only real drama after the break saw Frank Sinclair sent off in the closing stages for a second booking after kicking out at Einarsson and the penalty awarded when Clarke Carlisle clambered over Moore. “We looked a good side today and fully deserved the three points,” said Leeds manager Kevin Blackwell.
STAR MAN: Gylfi Einarsson (Leeds United)
Player ratings: Burnley: Jensen 5, Roche 5, McGreal 5, Sinclair 5, Camara 5, Oster 5 (Valois, 69min 5), Grant 6, Hyde 6, Cahill 6, Branch 6, Moore 7
Leeds United: Sullivan 7, Kelly 7, Carlisle 7, Butler 7, Gray 6, Lennon 7, Wright 7, Gregan 6, Einarsson 8 (Pugh, 87min 5), Deane 4 (Ricketts, 87min 5), Healy 7
Scorer: Leeds United: Einarsson 66
Sent off: Sinclair 78
Referee: C Webster
Attendance: 17,789

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Another day, another loan signing, another man fated to get injured or end up scrapping in a night club... Posted by Hello
Leeds United Football Club - Blackwell Captures Gray

United have completed the signing of Blackburn Rovers left-back Michael Gray on a three month loan deal today.
The three times capped former England international will arrive at Thorp Arch later whilst Blackwell is also working on bringing in an attacking player to bolster the squad, but as yet no agreement has been reached.
Gray has made 23 appearances since joining Rovers last January, nine this season, and is vastly experienced with over 400 appearances for former club Sunderland, where he experienced the high of helping the Black Cats to promotion as well as the low of missing the vital penalty that saw them miss out on promotion to the Premiership in the play-off finals against Charlton.
United boss Kevin Blackwell is delighted to have captured the 30-year-old.
He said:"We have had a shortage at left-back since Stephen Crainey's been out, but it's not been that much of a problem because we've had Frazer Richardson, Danny Pugh and even Matthew Kilgallon able to play there.
"But I think now is the time to get some experience in there, one or two of the youngsters are looking tired and they can get a rest now and provide competition in other areas.
"Michael at 30-years of age is still the right age for us, he's very competitive and is very fit. He's here for three months so he will get plenty of opportunities and have time to settle in."
Blackwell already has one eye on building towards next season, but is not in a position to say whether Gray could form part of the long term future.
"We've got Stephen Crainey to come back yet, he's progressing well, so at the moment we're just looking at Michael and another we will hopefully bring in for this season, but we will look at it with an open mind."
Once Gray's loan expires in April, Leeds would not be able to extend it until the end of the season under current league rules, which would include the final league fixture against Rotherham United and the play-offs should United get there.

GRRRRRRRRR.... Posted by Hello
Telegraph | Sport | How Bates took over at Leeds

By Mihir Bose
(Filed: 03/02/2005)
The first thing Ken Bates did as he opened the door to his lavish seventh-floor apartment in Monte Carlo was take me to his balcony and show me the view of the Princess Grace Garden and the crystal clear blue sea beyond. He was not just asking me to admire the view, which was breathtaking, but making a point about how he ensured his private life remained private.
"This is one of only seven flats which is a freehold and I have chosen this building because it overlooks the garden, they cannot build to block our view," Bates said.
"In Monte Carlo everybody has binoculars but, look around, there is no way anybody can peer into our apartment. We could be in the noddy on my sunbed and nobody would know."
Then, as his wife Suzannah returned from her daily shopping trip to collect croissants and the English papers, Bates opened a bottle of pink champagne and raised a toast to the brotherhood of journalists. "Well we journalists have to stick together you know," he said and burst into loud laughter.
Bates first classified himself as a journalist when he decided to have a column in the Chelsea programme. With Bates back in football with Leeds, the chairman's column has returned, but he intends to carry on with his Sun column as well. "They pay me £2,500 for the column and I donate it to a charity run by my daughter which is meant to help women who have communication problems."
I had arrived early for our lunchtime appointment and found Bates tidying up faxes that kept being spewed from his machine. I hoped they might have some great secrets of Leeds but Bates, picking one up, said: "They are about the investment fund I am running. I am doing very well as fund manager."
Bates had asked me: "What do you want Italian or French?" The curious thing about Monte Carlo is that while it is in France it is difficult to get French food and most of the restaurants are Italian. I chose Italian, the restaurant just round the corner from his house, but this presented a problem and an opportunity for Bates to pose as the outraged of Monte Carlo.
"What do you mean I can't get my favourite table? It is that Roger Moore. He has nicked it again, has he? He is always nicking it?"
In fact, the restaurant was deserted and the only thing that interrupted our meal was the passing parade of expatriate Englishmen, not Roger Moore, who all seemed to know Bates and who he seemed to have known for years.
In between these visitors Bates started telling me how, in another restaurant in London three weeks ago, his Leeds adventure began. "I was in the Italian bar of the Dorchester having a drink with Ashraf Marwan [a former shareholder in Chelsea] when my old friend, John Owen, walked in. I have known John for 30 years since his nightclub days in Dublin. He said: `Ken, I have got this guy coming who would like to meet you.' So when Marwan had gone I met Sebastian Sainsbury. He said he was trying to get a consortium together. I said I had got £10 million but I wanted control and I wanted to know who the others were. He said, `That is confidential, I can't tell you'. I said I wasn't giving £10 million to an unknown bunch. That was it."
The next day Gerald Krasner, the Leeds chairman, called Sainsbury's bluff and the day after that Owen rang Bates and said: "Sainsbury is out of the way if you are satisfied with it have a go." Bates said: "OK let's get together and John made the call to Krasner."
On Monday, Jan 17, Krasner and fellow director Melvyn Levy met Bates at the London offices of Bates's lawyer and, two days later, Bates set off for Yorkshire in what he describes as "a cloak and dagger operation".
"We get off the train at Wakefield, get into this BMW and are driven into the underground car park at the Leeds lawyer's office. Then through the trade entrance and into the office where we have a meeting for nine hours. Then we are driven to a hotel called 42 The Calls. The Leeds lawyer checks me in, the room being booked in his name and nobody has seen me enter the hotel.
"Trevor Birch comes up to my suite to have dinner. I go into the bedroom. Evonne [Todd, his Chelsea financial controller who has assumed the same position at Leeds] has come up, she orders the food and I stay in the bedroom and talk to Trevor.
"Next morning this guy picks up my bags, pays and we head for the cars and back to the lawyer's office without anyone noticing I was in the hotel."
In the table in front of him Bates had arranged his two mobile phones and, as he spoke, one or the other would ring and Bates would give orders to Leeds. To one caller he said: "Give me a list of all the wines we buy and from whom. I may be able to find a dealer who provides better wine at a cheaper cost."
Bates quickly worked out the Leeds debt was not as bad as reported. "They had £17 million of debt, £4.5 million were loans by directors and I said I wasn't paying that back. I said to leave it for 10 years and we did a deal for four years."
That brought the debt down to £12.5 milion. Of that, £4.8 million was owed to the Inland Revenue and VAT combined. The Leeds board had got the taxman to accept that £3.5 million of this would be paid back over 2½ years but £1.2 million of this had been due since December and the Inland Revenue could call it in in seven days. If Leeds did not pay they could put the club into receivership.
This left around £8 million owed mainly to former players and managers such as David O'Leary and Peter Reid. Bates concluded that this was "very reasonable". Within hours of his takeover he was seeking deals on this debt and told me: "We are negotiating with players and their agents for rebates. They all have the interest of Leeds at heart."
Bates offered the existing directors £80,000 for their shares, although for complicated financial reasons they sold only 50 per cent of them for £40,000. Not that they were bought by Bates in his own name. Instead they are now owned by the Geneva-based Forward Sports Foundation.
It was when I asked Bates about his connection with the fund that he got more coy. "It is a fund which I advise," he said before adding with a smile, "says he with dilated nostrils."
I persisted: "Technically you are not an owner of Leeds, merely an adviser?" Bates replied: " Well let's not get into that. We shall leave it for that is clearly machiavellian." And with that he burst into loud laughter.
The Foundation have paid Leeds a total of £4.9 million either for the shares or in loans and although Bates has been in control for barely a week he is already wheeling and dealing.
Goalkeeper Scott Carson was sold to Liverpool for £1 million and Kevin Blackwell, the manager, has released, says Bates, "five kids" to save £50,000.
Bates added: "He [Blackwell] also sold [Andrew] Keogh to Bury for £50,00 and saved £100,000 in wages. Since this is not money in our budget we can use it to try and pay off other debts. We haven't got any money but things are under control."
Bates has no intention of leaving his Monte Carlo home. "I've done a deal with a lovely local jet plane service. Leave here at 8am on Wednesday, get to Bradford-Leeds airport by 9.30. I will be at Leeds at 10, work Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday and get the plane back at 7 o'clock, 11 o'clock back here in time for last orders at the pub, crash out on Sunday. I will be in Leeds for four days but have spent only two days in the country."
As a tax exile he can spend only 90 full days per year in the country and he will only go to home matches.
He has also arranged to stay in a little Yorkshire hotel. "It was originally for wealthy mill-owners, on a hill. I can see the new stand from my hotel suite," Bates added.
And, with all his arrangements complete, he is basking in the warmth of being back in the football family. He even received a fax last week from his old rival David Dein, vice-chairman of Arsenal. "Dear Ken," it read. "Welcome back to football. We have missed you. Let hostilities commence. Can we have lunch?"
As we left the restaurant a car pulled up and a man, lowering his window, shouted: "Ken, can you get me any tickets for Chelsea's Champions League match?"
"No tickets," Bates roared and then told me: "When you are in football everyone wants free tickets." Finally, as he bid me goodbye, he said: "There is a bus from here, just 45p, takes you all the way. Byedebye."

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Hulse ... some kind of mental disorder? He wants to join us ... Posted by Hello
Leeds Today: News, Sport, Jobs, Property, Cars, Entertainments & More

Hulse: United my kind of club
by Phil Hay

West Brom striker Rob Hulse will push for a move to Elland Road after being linked with Leeds United.
The 25-year-old forward is on the fringes of Bryan Robson's plans and looks ready to step down from the Premiership after failing to find a new club during the transfer window.
Hulse turned down an approach from Stoke City last week after the Staffordshire club agreed a £1.2m fee with Albion.
He was also linked with Burnley as part of the deal which took former Leeds target Richard Chaplow to the Hawthorns on Monday.
But a transfer to Yorkshire appears to match the ambition of a player who finished as West Brom's leading scorer last season – and he is in a reasonable bargaining position, as Sean Gregan and David Healy were, with 18 months left on his contract.
Hulse cost £750,000 when he left Crewe in 2003 and West Brom would be keen to recoup their money if Hulse agrees a transfer elsewhere. The Baggies are expected to resist any attempt to capture the forward on loan.
Hulse's agent Steven Hughes refused to confirm United's interest but said: "Leeds are the type of team that Rob would look for.
"He would want to join a club of that size with that quality of players, but above all he wants to play football. He's not getting that chance with West Brom even though he was their top scorer last season."
The closure of the transfer window will prevent Hulse from joining another Premiership side before the end of the season, and the Championship now offers his only route to first-team football.
The striker was left out of Robson's squad as West Brom drew 2-2 with Crystal Palace last night and he has featured in just 178 minutes of Albion's season.
Blackwell, meanwhile, has released Danish midfielder Thomas Lindrup after a brief trial.