Saturday, November 24, 2007

Leeds United: Let High Court rule on points penalty
By Phil Hay
LEEDS United have challenged the Football Association to allow the High Court to decide on the club's challenge against their 15-point deduction.
United dispatched a letter to Soho Square yesterday requesting a legal review of their case after expressing fresh concerns about the independence of senior officials at the FA.The demand was in the wake of the FA's promise of a "root and branch" review of the workings of the governing body after the sacking of England coach Steve McClaren on Thursday.
United chairman Ken Bates has made two previous applications to the FA, one directly to chairman Geoff Thompson, pleading for an assessment of the process which saw Leeds deducted 15 points by the Football League in August.
An independent commission rejected United's original grievance, and Bates claims his second approach to Thompson – highlighting perceived inconsistencies in the FA's first decision – was turned away by Simon Johnson, the Director of Corporate Affairs at Soho Square.
Johnson is though to be the same man responsible for confirming the failure of United's initial application.
Leeds also have long held concerns about the presence of Football League chairman Lord Brian Mawhinney on the FA board. Mawhinney sat alongside Thompson and FA chief executive Brian Barwick as McClaren's dismissal was confirmed this week.
Bates told the YEP: "We expect the FA to represent all parties equally. With this grievance we think they've failed to do so. Therefore we've asked that they allow the High Court to make a judgement.
"If the FA are happy with their procedure and the Football League's then they should be happy to agree to our request."

Yorkshire Post 23/11/07
Bates intends to stick around
By Ian Appleyard
LEEDS United chairman Ken Bates insists that he has no intention of selling his stake in the League One club.
Amid reports that former Newcastle United chairman Freddy Shepherd is on the brink of a return to football with a 'northern club', Bates has underlined his determination to take Leeds back into the Premier League.
"There are plenty of would-be investors sniffing round Leeds United," he admitted. "It could be tempting to take the money and run.
"Let me assure you, that possibility is not even in the mind of (my wife) Suzannah and myself. "We are here to build not just Yorkshire's number one club, but one which will compete and take on the so-called greats, including Chelsea with Abramovich's millions," he stressed.
Bates has mades no secret of the fact that Shepherd could be an 'ideal partner' and the pair have a good friendship thanks to their work in football. Rumours that Shepherd, who banked over £37m by selling his shares in Newcastle, could be interested in Leeds first surfaced two months ago when he was spotted having lunch with Bates in the north east.
At the time, the Leeds chairman said: "We had lunch and agreed to keep in touch. He would like to get back in and I would like an investor so the two fit in."

Yorkshire Evening Post 23/11/07
No left back signing for Leeds United
By Phil Hay
Dennis Wise offered his squad at Leeds United a quiet vote of confidence last night by allowing the Football League's emergency loan deadline to pass without incident.
The market closed at 5pm yesterday afternoon, restricting any further transfers until January 1, but Wise stepped back from the negotiating table after deciding to put faith in the capabilities of the players.
The market closed at 5pm yesterday afternoon, restricting any further transfers until January 1, but Wise stepped back from the negotiating table after deciding to put faith in the capabilities of the players already recruited to Elland Road. Leeds had seriously considered the option of signing a new left-back after sending Jamie Clapham back to Wolverhampton Wanderers at the end of his three-month loan, but the lack of a suitable alternative did not come as a serious disappointment to United's boss. Academy product Ben Parker filled the position against Hereford United on Tuesday evening, and both Andrew Hughes and Radostin Kishishev are capable of switching from midfield if Wise requires a more experienced candidate on the left side of defence.
The settled situation is a calm contrast to last season, when Leeds recruited Tresor Kandol and Ugo Ehiogu in the lead up to the loan deadline while allowing Paul Butler and Neil Sullivan to exit Elland Road, and assistant manager Dave Bassett insisted United possessed the strength in depth to see them safely through to the January transfer window.
Bassett said: "Dennis was considering a couple of options but the squad is looking good as it is. We've just had a little spell where a few players were picking up injuries and suspensions at the same time, and that's when you wonder if it might be a good idea to add another couple.
"But as I said when I came here, if it isn't broken you don't fix it. Most of the lads who were out are coming back now and the team's done superbly well in the league this season."
Kishishev and Mark De Vries - both loanees from Leicester City - were ineligible for Tuesday's FA Cup first-round replay against Hereford, but the pair will return to contention for Sunday's league game against Cheltenham Town. As many as four other senior players - Alan Thompson, David Prutton, Jonathan Douglas and Manuel Rui Marques - could also return from illness, suspension or injury at Whaddon Road, and striker Tore Andre Flo appears to be on schedule to complete his recovery from another bout of foot surgery before Christmas.
The easing of Wise's selection problems have been tempered slightly by the loss of Casper Ankergren to a minor knee problem, but United's boss countered claims that his squad had shown signs of frailty during the past month.
Wise said: "You have to look at the players who are coming back. "Tore Andre Flo will be back very shortly, and Alan Thompson. David Prutton was missing (against Hereford), Jonathan Douglas was missing and Rui Marques was missing. When I get them back it will be totally different.
"If you look at those names and add them to the group, my squad's fine."
A run of six games in 17 days has contributed to United's loss of players, but their defeat to Hereford provided the unexpected blessing of nine days without a fixture after their clash with Cheltenham on Sunday. A sell-out crowd will greet United at Whaddon Road - the first time a league match at Cheltenham's stadium has sold out in advance - and striker Leon Constantine stressed the importance of a conclusive reaction after Leeds' midweek defeat.
The Elland Road club responded to their elimination from the Johnstone's Paint Trophy by Bury last week with a 2-1 victory over Swindon Town, and Cheltenham have won only two league games all season, pushing them towards the bottom of League One. Keith Downing's side will be relieved of bottom spot by the impending 10-point deduction hanging over Kevin Blackwell's Luton Town, who entered administration yesterday afternoon.
Constantine said: "We're going to have to show a reaction come Sunday. "We don't like losing games. To be honest, I don't like losing when we play in training. The mentality of the lads is really good and nobody came off the pitch (after the Hereford defeat) thinking we did ourselves any justice.
"The one positive is that the last two defeats have come in the cups and not the league, but with the way things have been going this season there's no reason why we shouldn't have done well in the cups. It's disappointing. You get used to winning and used to that buzz.
"We've got to pick ourselves up because Cheltenham's not going to be an easy game." Constantine supported Wise's claim that two cup defeats in the space of a week would not influence United's league form, saying: "I don't think you can read too much into it.
"There's no hiding the fact that the main aim is to climb the league. As long as we can keep on track with that then we're doing okay. But we don't want to let any complacency in."

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Daily Mail 9/11/07
Casper to the rescue for Leeds
The clock was turned back 35 years at Hereford's Edgar Street ground last night.
The compact stadium next to the cattle market was full to the rafters for an FA Cup tie, a big name club from the North were in town and local legends Ronnie Radford and Ricky George were on the tips of tongues.
The talk was of giant-killing. That may now have to wait until the replay at Elland Road on Tuesday week.
The opposition were more fallen giants than the mighty Newcastle outfit in 1972, but Leeds had a big enough reputation to send a shiver of expectancy down the spines of fans of the League Two minnows.
The fact that the Yorkshire club are now just one rung above them in the league gave Graham Turner's in-form side the belief that they could cause an upset and Hereford tried manfully enough in the first half to deliver the goal which they suspected would put Leeds on tenterhooks.
The likes of seven-goal Trevor Benjamin and six-goal Theo Robinson, on loan from Watford, needed little encouragement to flex their attacking muscle against Leeds, who are still in the process of rehabilitation after their fall from Premier League grace and into debt.
Benjamin looked as strong as the Hereford bull that was paraded around the pitch before the game, and displayed the mobility and determination that kept Leeds central defenders Mat Heath and Rui Marques at full stretch.
It was touch and go whether the referee would award a penalty in the opening minutes as Benjamin was manhandled by Heath but Tony Bates allowed play to continue.
Robinson then produced a forceful cross-shot straight into the arms of goalkeeper Casper Ankergren. It was Hereford who were forcing most of the attacking pace but Leeds eventually began to take a greater part in the game both in midfield and attack.
They were helped to some extent by the fact that the Edgar Street pitch contains far more grass and was in a much better condition than on the memorable occasion in 1972 when Hereford, then a non-League team, pulled off one of the biggest sensations in the competition.
Even manager Turner made the point. 'Today pitches are so much better and rarely do we see a game played in a quagmire or snow and ice,' he said. 'You have to have big hearts and endeavour but for underdogs to succeed these days you have to be as fit as the opposition and have a slice of luck along the way.'
There was little of that going Hereford's way in the first half but at least they had the satisfaction of keeping Leeds in check.
The only real opportunity they had before the break was a misplaced pass by United's Clint Eastern which was picked up by Frenchman Seb Carole whose long-range shot was a rasping effort which was well handled by goalkeeper Wayne Browne.
Hereford heaped on the pressure at the start of the second half and Benjamin was desperately unlucky when he rose to a left-wing corner to deliver a glancing header which brushed the upright on its way out of play.
That seemed to inspire the home club to greater heights and in the neatest move of the match, Benjamin sent Robinson nipping past the Leeds back line with a through ball which he steered just wide of the post.
There was a blow for Hereford in the 60th minute when they lost the services of their skipper, Karl Broadhurst.
He was carried off with an injury sustained as he made a lunging interception on Jermaine Beckford.
Although Hereford substituted danger man Benjamin in the 74th minute with Steve Guinan, the home side continued to menace and in the 81st minute it required a brilliant reflex save by Ankergren to keep Leeds level. He reacted tremendously to tip a close-range header by Lionel Ainsworth over his crossbar. It kept Leeds in the Cup.

Yorkshire Evening Post 9/11/07
United suffering from travel sickness
By Richard Byram
Leeds United boss Dennis Wise was a relieved man after seeing his tired troops hold out for a battling 0-0 draw in the FA Cup first round against Hereford United at Edgar Street last night.
Wise admitted he was relieved to get a second crack at the League Two promotion-chasers who were denied victory thanks to Casper Ankergren's brilliant save to keep out Lionel Ainsworth's header with 10 minutes to go.

Wise said: "I don't think we gave a good account of ourselves tonight for television and the players are a little bit disappointed.

"We are a lot better than we were tonight, but I will give them the benefit of the doubt given that we have been to Carlisle, Bournemouth and now Hereford in the space of six days."

United's back-breaking schedule has seen them clock up 1,400 miles and Wise admitted it had taken its toll.

"It has been a lot of travelling and it has been hard work for the players. Full credit to them, they tried to give it as much as possible, unfortunately tonight it was a bit below par," he said.

United were hit by the loss of full-back Frazer Richardson, who was struck down by a sickness bug prior to kick-off, while midfielder David Prutton was also forced to withdraw from the squad with a stomach bug.

Wise said: "They were a couple of changes forced on me that I could do nothing about and Andy Hughes is injured too. These things happen and that is the way it is.

"We looked tired and jaded but it is not an upset, we have to play them at our place so we will see how we go back there in a couple of weeks' time."

Wise said Hereford had given it a go in their "cup final".

"They really gave it a go. It is a cup final for them isn't it? The mighty Leeds come to Hereford and it would have been lovely for them to upset us," he added. "But they haven't and we are looking forward to the game at our place.

"Ideally we could have done without an extra game it would have been perfect if we could have got it finished tonight but we didn't so we have got another difficult game against them."

Despite the result Wise was pleased that he had been able to give a run out to several of his first-team squad who have been left side-lined either by injury or Leeds' excellent start to the League One campaign.

"It is important for players like Leon Constantine and Filipe Da Costa they haven't played for such a long time and they need to be a part of it and be involved so it was good for them to get a run out along with Paul Huntington and Ben Parker.
"Those two are young players very much in my thoughts so it is nice for them to get a game too.

"Ben has come on a lot and I am going to have a look the situation because Jamie (Clapham) has got to go back so I need someone who is capable of going in.

"Whether I bring someone in or go with Ben we will just have to wait and see at the moment."

For his part, Parker was pleased to have got another appearance under his belt for Leeds and avoided a potential cup upset into the bargain.

"We did not perform as well as we could have done but at least we are in the next round of the cup.

"From a defender's point of view it was nice to get a clean sheet and overall the draw was a fair result.

"I haven't played since the Johnstone's Paint Trophy against Darlington so I was just glad to get a game and the more the better for me."

Hereford boss Graham Turner said: "I thought we played some good stuff and created a few chances. It was a good stop from Lionel's header.

"Either side and it would have gone in but he still had to make a good save. It will be difficult going to Leeds but we have a good record away from home this season and it will be a good experience for our young players."