Sunday, December 28, 2008

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Match – 24 January 1970 – Sutton United 0 Leeds United 6

It was one of the classic David and Goliath contests for which the FA Cup is famous but treble-chasing Leeds were in no mood for mercy and Sniffer Clarke scored four goals 28/12/08
28 Dec 2008
United return to winning ways at Stockport...
STOCKPORT 1 (Mullins 2), UNITED 3 (Becchio 19, Delph 73, Christie 87)
Stockport: Williams, Mullins, Rose (McSweeney 25), Blizzard, McNulty, Pilkington, Gleeson, Baker (Turnbull 78), Rowe, Tunnicliffe, Davies (Thompson 78). Subs: Dicker, Taylor.
United: Ankergren, Richardson, Marques, Michalik, Sheehan, Hughes (Prutton 89), Douglas, Delph, Snodgrass (Howson 65), Becchio, Beckford (Christie 64). Subs: Robinson, Lucas.
Referee: R Beeby
Booked: Becchio, Sheehan, Douglas, Delph (United)
United manager Simon Grayson made two changes to his first starting line-up with Andrew Hughes and Robert Snodgrass coming into the reckoning.
Snodgrass scored his third goal in as many games after stepping off the bench against Leicester on Boxing Day as United marked Grayson's first game at the helm by ending a five-game losing streak.
That point against Leicester, the equaliser coming in the 91st minute, was a massive boost to United, but it took less than two minutes for Stockport to dent that confidence.
Casper Ankergren made a great save from Michael Rose inside the first minute, but less than 60 seconds later the keeper was helpless after Carl Baker teed up Jonny Mullins inside the area and his powerful strike rapped Jonathan Douglas on its way into the net.
United did respond immediately, though, and after claims for a penalty were dismissed in favour of a corner. Stockport failed to deal with the second ball in and Lubo Michalik fired wide after seizing on the loose ball.
Jermaine Beckford also had a shot blocked after an intelligent ball from Luciano Becchio. Moments later, as United continued to rip into Stockport, Beckford hit the woodwork with an overhead kick.
An equaliser was always on the cards, and it came in the 19th minute when Becchio got the decisive touch on a Snodgrass corner to restore parity.
Becchio came within a whisker of scoring a second just three minutes later when Owain Fon Williams got down well to parry his goalbound effort. The quick-thinking Beckford almost seized on the rebound.
Following the early goal conceded, United were dominating the contest, playing some of the most incisive football in weeks, and Stockport left-back Rose paid a price when he was hauled off after just 25 minutes and replaced by Leon McSweeney.
McSweeney's first involvement was to chase the shadow of Snodgrass and after Delph had a shot deflected wide, Beckford hit another overhead effort over the top following a good knock-down by Michalik.
The home side had not left their own half for almost 30 minutes, but on 32 minutes it took a goal-line clearance to deny Baker with a header following a corner.
It also took a terrific clearance from Hughes and a save from Ankergren to keep Stockport at bay when the hosts won another corner on 34 minutes. Ankergren also saved from Anthony Pilkington after the lively Baker delivered a good ball into the box.
However, as the half-time whistle went, Grayson will have been pleased with the way his new charges responded to the early goal and also with the manner in which they defended when Stockport finally re-found their feet.
The second half started like the first with Stockport on the attack, and it took some good early defending to deny Tommy Rowe.
But it was United who came within a whisker of taking the lead on 54 minutes when Snodgrass bent a terrific free-kick around the wall and past the goalkeeper before it drifted narrowly wide.
It was real end to end stuff and was full value for the Edgeley Park full-house. Stockport defended well to clear a Hughes cross was Beckford was in space and Leeds replied when Alan Sheehanmade a good clearance from a corner.
With 25 minutes remaining, Grayson made his first changes. Beckford, still feeling the effects of injury, was replaced by Malcolm Christie, and Jonny Howson came on for Snodgrass.
But the goal came from a familiar face on 73 minutes as United took the lead. Stockport keeper Williams hit a clearance as far as Fabian Delph, who was near the touchline, and the youngster seized to fire the ball back into an empty net from over 30 yards out.
It was a terrific finish from the youngster who retained his composure well, and the goal sparked wild scenes among the sizeable travelling contingent.
It meant United were within touching distance of a first win since November 22 and after Ankergren made a good save to deny Dominic Blizzard on 86 minutes, Leeds quickly returned the ball upfield and Christie made sure of the win with a good finish from distance to register his first goal for the club.

Yorkshire Evening Post 27/12/08
Grayson: Season starts here
By Phil Hay
Simon Grayson celebrated his first point as Leeds United manager after a dramatic clash with Leicester City, and insisted: "The season starts here."
The 39-year-old was saved from a losing start to his reign at Elland Road as Robert Snodgrass' late goal staved off a sixth successive defeat and earned Leeds a 1-1 draw against League One's leaders.
United were trailing to a first-half strike from Matt Oakley yesterday when Snodgrass scored his sixth goal of the season at the end of the 90th minute, and Grayson praised the resolve of a squad who overcame a turbulent week to halt a dire run of form.
Grayson had only 48 hours to prepare United's players after arriving at Elland Road from Blackpool as the club's replacement for sacked boss Gary McAllister, but he is counting on an immediate run of positive form to bridge the gap of seven points between Leeds and League One's play-off zone.
Speaking after their stalemate against Leicester, which was watched by a huge crowd of 33,580, Grayson said: "We want to get out of this division and we're not too far behind everybody.
"If we can put a run together over the next few weeks there'll be no stopping this football club. If we can get the ball rolling at home and away then this football club can move forward.
"But we need to get into a position to be able to push on, and this is the first point of a campaign from now until the end of the season. My ambition is to get out of this division, like the 30-odd thousand here today."
Grayson's appointment at Elland Road is the subject of an ongoing complaint from Blackpool to the Football League, but the former Leicester midfielder has settled quickly into his new position after staging his first training session with United's players on Christmas Eve.
His first game in charge appeared to be heading for a negative conclusion after Leicester captain Oakley opened the scoring on 24 minutes, shortly after Leeds striker Luciano Becchio had struck a post, but substitute Snodgrass tapped home a cross from Jonathan Howson at the start of four minutes of injury-time to deny Leicester a sixth straight victory.
Snodgrass' strike was his third in as many games, and Grayson admitted that the Scottish forward had been unfortunate to find himself limited to a place on the bench.
Grayson said: "Robert had scored two goals in his last two games and was unfortunate to be out of the team.
"I picked a team of players that I knew more about, and certain players were unlucky to be left out.
"But it's a start for us now and everyone will have a chance to be in the team over the next few weeks. "To get a late equaliser against the league leaders is a positive result.
"I know there's a lot of work to be done and we could have played a lot better, but we showed desire, spirit and resolve to keep going to the end.
"If the game had gone on for another five or 10 minutes, we would have been the team who won it.
"I'm delighted with a result and I suppose Leicester are disappointed.
"The positive side is that we dug in, and when you're getting a team together you need a group of players who are committed and who don't give in."
Grayson made his first coaching appointment at Elland Road by adding Ian Miller to his backroom staff ahead of the Boxing Day game.
The former Wolverhampton Wanderers, Blackburn Rovers and Leicester coach was assistant manager of Blackpool while Grayson was reserve-team coach at Bloomfield Road, and he has now linked up with the 39-year-old at Leeds.
Grayson is expected to make a further addition to his team in the coming week.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

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Match – 10 January 1970 – Chelsea 2 Leeds United 5

The Whites tore championship rivals to pieces with a breathtaking display of attacking football in the first twenty minutes of the second half at Stamford Bridge

Read the full story at

Friday, December 26, 2008 26/12/08
Leeds United manager Simon Grayson was delighted to see his new charges end their five-game losing streak with a late equaliser against league leaders Leicester City at Elland Road on Boxing Day.
Rob Snodgrass struck in stoppage time to with a deserved equaliser as United kicked off the Grayson era with a 1-1 draw against the promotion favourites.
"I was pleased with the result in the end," said the new boss. "I felt if we'd have started like we finished we could have won the game.
"I'm smiling because we got a point against the league leaders when it didn't look like we would get one. They are a good team.
"We didn't have enough tempo to get at Leicester at times, but we dug in there. The players deserve credit for that
"We know the players are a little bit down in confidence, but we showed great spirit and to score when we did will give them great belief. If it had gone on for another five or 10 minutes we might have won it.
"And it's the first point of a new start for us. It's a point we can build on and try and get things going again."
The new boss has had just two training sessions with his new players in what has been a whirlwind week for a man who parted company with Blackpool on Tuesday before joining Leeds United.
Grayson was joined by new first team coach Ian Miller at training on Christmas Day and says he is learning about his players by the day.
"We've had two good days training, but you learn more about them in match situations and I've learnt about them today," he explained.
"It'll be a gradual thing, but the main thing is instilling confidence and belief because they are a talented group.
"We have something to build on now."
Yorkshire Evening Post 26/12/08
Grayson is the right choice
By Phil Hay
Though an unexpected selection for many in Leeds, former Leicester City captain Steve Walsh saw perfect sense in Simon Grayson's appointment at Elland Road.
While several other names were championed, Aidy Boothroyd, Gustavo Poyet and Billy Davies among them, Walsh felt that Grayson's strength and the key to Leeds United's thinking was the League One play-off final victory on the 39-year-old's managerial record.
Grayson won promotion in 2007 with Blackpool – the club he resigned from on Tuesday to become United's new manager – and took the Lancashire side to the level of English football where Leeds hope and expect to play next season.
Walsh came to know Grayson well while the two men were team-mates and room-mates at Leicester between 1992 and 1997, but it is latter's track-record at Bloomfield Road rather than his Premier League past which Walsh feels has justified his selection by Leeds chairman Ken Bates.
In his first two seasons as permanent boss of Blackpool, Grayson won promotion from League One and helped the club find their feet in the Championship. In their current position, Leeds would readily settle for the same progress over the next 18 months, and Walsh claims they have found the "right man" to plan and lead the climb.
"We're old team-mates and we used to room together so I'm obviously delighted for him," said Walsh.
"I know Simon really well and I witnessed his talent as a player, but I don't think you need to have seen that to appreciate what he'll bring to Leeds.
"His record and his performance at Blackpool is exactly what Leeds should have been looking out for. He's someone who not only knows their division but knows how to get out of it. That achievement's there in black and white, done two years ago.
"Since then he's established Blackpool as a Championship club and in listing these things I'm pretty much saying what Leeds need to achieve in the next couple of seasons.
"I saw a lot of names mentioned when the position became available – some bigger names than Simon's, with respect to him – but personally I'd go for track record every time. That's the mark of a good manager.
"He'll face more expectation at Leeds than he did at Blackpool but the job still comes down to what a manager does with his players. Simon can take on the job knowing he's looking to repeat what he's done before. There's no question of his ability to win promotion because he's already bought the T-shirt."
Walsh can spot the attributes shown by a talented manager – five of his 14 years as a Leicester player were completed under Martin O'Neill – and the retired defender sees Grayson's first foray into management as proof of his long-term potential.
Grayson, whose appointment at Elland Road has been acrimonious and may lead Blackpool to take legal action against him and Leeds, worked on a thin budget at Bloomfield Road but guided Blackpool out of League One while Nottingham Forest, Swansea City and Doncaster Rovers – three wealthier clubs – remained trapped in the division two years ago.
Walsh expected that his former team-mate would find the chance to return to the county of his birth and the club where he began his playing career too much of a pull to resist, and he insisted that talk of Grayson lacking high-profile experience ignored the success he enjoyed as a player with three Premier League clubs.
"He didn't often grab the headlines but he was a terrific professional," said Walsh.
"A bit like myself, defenders don't tend to be the most high-profile of people, and there will probably be a few fans in Leeds who don't know an awful lot about him.
"That shouldn't take away from the fact that he had a long and impressive career as a player. He's seen a lot of football and a lot of managers, and I know that Martin O'Neill thought highly of him as a person and a defender.
"I don't think there are necessarily shades of Martin in Simon because Simon's his own man, but the thing they do share is an understanding of how important it is to get results. It's everything for a manager.
"Martin was brilliant at forcing out victories week after week and finding momentum. If there's one thing Leeds need just now it's that – a spell where everything goes right and every game brings a result.
"League One is a nightmare for Leeds – an absolute nightmare. They don't want anything to do with it anymore and as much as I felt sorry for Gary McAllister because he's a good friend of mine, nine league defeats at this stage of the season is far too many.
"If you ask Simon what his priority is, he'll say results. He's shrewd, he's clever and he's very wise about the way football works. In no way is the job too big for him."
Grayson, at 39, is the youngster person to be handed the manager's job at Elland Road since Eddie Gray took on the role in 1982, and support for him at Blackpool was provided by his assistant manager Tony Parkes, and first-team coach Steve Thompson.
United have confirmed that Grayson intends to relocate his backroom staff from Bloomfield Road to Leeds, and he is expected to receive a budget in the January transfer window and will have the opportunity to deal with the weaknesses which earned McAllister the sack last week.
"It's nice for a manager to have a bit of money to spend, and it'll probably be a novelty for him," said Walsh.
"He's worked on a tight budget at Blackpool and that can't have been easy, but it's very good experience. It means that he won't go to Leeds demanding money or feeling that he needs to spend to have success. He'll make the best of his resources.
"I really think this will ignite Leeds – not because he's a massive name or a guy with loads of razzmatazz but because he's a quality manager who'll do the job they want him to do. They're too far down League One to say they'll definitely go up this season but I know where my money would be." 26/12/08
LEEDS 1 (Snodgrass 90), LEICESTER 1 (Oakley 24)
United:Ankergren, Richardson, Marques, Michalik, Sheehan, Prutton (Hughes 57), Douglas (Snodgrass 77), Delph, Robinson (Howson 77), Becchio, Beckford. Subs: Lucas, Kilkenny.
Leicester: Martin, Gilbert, Tunchev, Oakley, Howard, Dyer, Fryatt (Dickov 85), King, Hobbs, Berner, Davies. Subs: Morrison, Adams, Powell, Cisak.
Referee: M Halsey
Booked: Marques (United), Davies (Leics)
Att: 33,580
Elland Road welcomed its third manager of the year with Simon Grayson taking the reins for the first time following the departure of Gary McAllister.
Grayson recalled goalkeeper Casper Ankergren, midfielder David Prutton, and received a double boost with Andy Robinson and leading goalscorer Jermaine Beckford both returning from injury to take their places in the new manager's first starting line-up.
One of United's biggest frailties in recent weeks was the ability to defend set-pieces, but after Lubo Michalik headed away an early free-kick, the resultant corner was subsequently dealt with.
The new manager almost got off to a dream start though. On 15 minutes, Andy Robinson whipped in a cross from the right, David Prutton nodded it on, and Luciano Becchio rattled the post from close range.
But it was Leicester who drew first blood, courtesy of a Matt Oakley goal in the 24th minute. Matty Fryatt was the architect with a good surging run and Oakley profited from a good ball by drilling a low shot beyond the reach of Ankergren.
Leicester were a well-drilled outfit, but United went close again on 35 minutes when skipper Frazer Richardson sent a low shot skidding across the face of goal.
And it was United who enjoyed the better of proceedings as the game headed towards half-time.Fabian Delph had a shot from outside of the box blocked and the home side enjoyed a good spell of pressure before the whistle blew.
Leeds started the second half in similar fashion and Becchio lifted a shot over from a tight angle after good work by Robinson.
On 57 minutes, Grayson made his first substitution as Leeds boss with Andrew Hughes replacing Prutton, and the sub made an immediate impact with a crunching challenge flooring Leicester's Mark Davies.
With the biggest Football League crowd of the season inside Elland Road, the volume leves rose another few decibels as United pushed forward in search of an equaliser.
Leeds continued to apply the pressure and Hughes lifted a shot over the top after Leicester goalkeeper Dave Martin punched away an up and under from Alan Sheehan.
With 15 minutes remaining, play was held up while Rui Marques received treatment following a clash with Steve Howard.
Still United looked to force an opening, but it wasn't hard to see why Leicester currently hold the leadership of the division, given their strong organisation and their ability to defend in numbers.
As the clock started to tick down, Jonny Howson felt he had a good penalty claim waved away and Beckford was beaten to high ball by visiting goalkeeper Martin.
United weren't to be denied, though, and the equaliser came in the first minute of stoppage time. Howson played the ball in to fellow sub Robert Snodgrass, and the Scotsman converted at the far post to secure a deserved point for United.
Not that United settled for the point. The three minutes of added time saw Leeds go in search of a winner, but time eventually ran out and new manager Grayson was content to see his new charges halt their winless run.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008 23/12/08
New United manager relishes the challenge....
New Leeds United manager Simon Grayson says he can't wait to get stuck into his new role.
The former Blackpool manager was confirmed as the new United boss on Tuesday and is relishing the challenge.
"When the opportunity came to come here I couldn't wait to be involved in as quickly as possible," he told LUTV.
"It's a massive club and it's close to my heart, having played here and supporting the club. The size and the ambition is obviously an attraction as well.
"I had a great time at Blackpool. I had a great rapport with the fans and the board. I certainly wouldn't have dropped down a division for any other club and I feel this is the next stage of my managerial career."
Grayson arrives at Elland Road on the back of a successful stint as Blackpool boss. He guided the club to their highest league position for over 40 years after leading the Seasiders to League One Play-Off Final success two years ago.
"I'd like to think that what I've achieved has alerted a few people," he said.
"What I want to do is keep working hard and impose my ideas and beliefs onto the team at Leeds and make sure we carry on in a positive manner and get out of this division. That's the aim and that's what we want to do.
"I know there is an expectancy level and it's a challenge I'm looking forward to. There'll be a near full-house here on Friday and the club has that tradition and past history.
"However, it is a League One club at the moment and everyone has to pull together.
"Hopefully the fans will embrace what we are trying to do and we can grasp this opportunity to get the club back where it should be. I know other managers have tried to do that, and I'll be trying my best."
His appointment at Elland Road represents the full circle for a Yorkshireman who started his career as a teenager on schoolboy forms during the first tenure of Eddie Gray.
Grayson made just two senior appearances during his six years with the club, but after leaving in 1992 he embarked on a successful playing career that saw him make over 500 senior appearances before eventually moving into management with Blackpool.
"When I first came as a 14-year-old I never thought I'd get to this stage, but as time goes by you get into the coaching side and this is one club I have always wanted to manage," he added.
"I'd like to thank the chairman for giving me the opportunity to come into the club and hopefully it will be as successful partnership."

Yorkshire Post 23/12/08
Seaside shuffle as Simon Grayson joins Leeds amid legal row
SIMON Grayson's defection from Blackpool to Leeds was shrouded in acrimony today as the Coca-Cola Championship outfit threatened legal action against him and his new employers.
Grayson, 39, was announced as the League One outfit's new manager after Gary McAllister was axed on Sunday following a dismal run of five straight defeats.
Yet Grayson's move across the Pennines to his native Yorkshire and to Elland Road - where he began his playing career - has been met with a furious response from Blackpool.
They refused his resignation and are unwilling to release him from his contract, which has 18 months remaining.
Talks about compensation are believed to be still ongoing but Blackpool said in a statement: "Blackpool FC can confirm that Simon Grayson tendered his resignation at 0830 on Tuesday morning.
"The resignation was not accepted by the board of directors and the club and are now considering legal action against both Simon Grayson and Leeds United."
Nevertheless, Grayson becomes the ninth manager at Elland Road in the last 10 years after he built up an impressive cv and reputation at Blackpool.
He enjoyed a six-year stint at Bloomfield Road, first as a player then as manager, during which he guided the club to promotion to the Championship in May 2007 before staving off the threat of relegation last term.
Grayson's brief at Leeds is to repeat that feat with the fallen Yorkshire giants after their recent slump raised fears of failing to even make the play-offs.
Howard Wilkinson managed Leeds between 1988 and 1996 and believes Grayson, who played for Leeds, Leicester, Aston Villa and Blackburn before joining Blackpool, fits the bill perfectly as the club seek to reignite their promotion bid.
Grayson's first game in charge will be the visit of former club and current League One leaders Leicester - with whom he won the League Cup in 1997 - on Boxing Day.
Wilkinson said: "Simon Grayson is an ideal choice for Leeds - for lots of reasons."I've followed his career closely and he's worked hard at everything he has done.
"He's worked hard to have a career as a player - he was not as gifted as some and would tell you that himself - but he made a good career for himself as a player.
"When he got into management, he applied himself equally diligently.
"He's a student of the game, he's been on a lot of courses and getting Blackpool to where they are is a massive achievement.
"He's had to compete with people with far greater resources than he has but he's got the results for Blackpool. He's shown he has got talent."

Yorkshire Evening Post 23/12/08
Grayson appointed as Leeds boss
Leeds United have named Simon Grayson as their new manager.
The 39-year-old left his job with Blackpool this morning to take up the vacant manager's position at Elland Road.
But both Leeds and Grayson appear to be facing legal action following his appointment.
Blackpool have revealed that Grayson tendered his resignation to the board at Bloomfield Road this morning, and confirmed that his resignation was refused.
A statement from the Championship club read: "Blackpool FC can confirm that Simon Grayson tendered his resignation at 0830 on Tuesday morning.
"The resignation was not accepted by the board of directors and the club are now considering legal action against both Simon Grayson and Leeds United."
United had been locked in negotiations with Blackpool over compensation for Grayson, whose contract at Bloomfield Road was due to run until 2010.
He was identified as Leeds' preferred option for the vacancy at Elland Road after McAllister was sacked on Sunday following his 50th game in charge. Grayson began his playing career with United and has been Blackpool's manager for three years, leading the club to promotion from League One in 2007 and firmly establishing them inside the Championship.
Leeds are still to confirm the length of Grayson contract and the make-up of his backroom team.

Yorkshire Evening Post 22/12/08
Nightmare end to dream return
Never go back, as the wise and cynical are bound to say whenever the return of a local legend ends in tears.
Gary McAllister may have shed a few when word reached him yesterday that Leeds United's board had lost faith in his management, but his tears of regret will not relate to his original decision to accept such an emotive position.
Eleven months ago, McAllister wore the honoured look of a man who had returned to two of his spiritual homes – to Leeds United and to professional football. At no point then or since did he reveal any suspicion that reacquainting himself with Elland Road might have been the wrong decision.
It was his second job in management and his first since leaving Coventry City to care for his wife, Denise, who died in 2006 after developing breast cancer. After such difficulty in his personal life, it was arguably the perfect, idealist offer to convince him that his career was ready to start afresh.
McAllister brought to Elland Road a previous association with Leeds which guaranteed him favour. As a member of the squad which won the Division One title in 1992, the Scot did not have to worry about support from the terraces nor wonder whether, like Dennis Wise before him, sections of United's fans would be willing him to fail.
What his prior career could not guarantee him was a successful tenure, or immunity to the consequences of poor results. The same rule applied to Billy Bremner, the iconic captain of United who was sacked as Leeds boss without a second thought in 1988. In neither instance could the outcome be described as a cause for celebration.McAllister's exit will seem like a sensible, inevitable decision to many – not least the 4,000-plus fans who watched Leeds capitulate to MK Dons on Saturday, the 43-year-old's day of reckoning – but it is deeply regrettable that a man who gave so much to United as a player could not reach his first anniversary as their manager.
What Leeds have lost is a decent, diligent character who adored his job and was desperate to fulfil the potential it offered him. He was clean-cut, polite and extremely professional, the last man to pick a fight in an industry which encourages conflict. McAllister, to his credit, has not left Elland Road with many enemies.
Those are reasons to sympathise with him, but not reasons to dispute his sacking. As Paul Ince discovered last week, and another manager will discover soon enough, there is no greater currency in football than results and no greater danger to a boss than the sense among his employers that his magic touch has worn off.Ken Bates, United's chairman, was one of the 17,073 spectators at Stadium:mk on Saturday, and he could not ignore what his eyes were telling him.
The fragility of McAllister's team was exposed by their concession of two goals inside the first 17 minutes, and the issues confronting the manager were displayed in full.
His team did not often look like scoring yet were liable to concede whenever MK Dons turned the screw. It was telling that within six minutes of Robert Snodgrass swinging the momentum towards Leeds, Aaron Wilbraham's 54th-minute header put the game to bed. In that moment, Bates may have asked himself where United's backbone had gone.In time, and on the evidence of the more positive periods of his reign, I still maintain that McAllister had the qualities and the vision to carry Leeds forward, but Bates was entitled to push for change. The League One table on Saturday night made damning reading.
United are 15 points behind leaders Leicester, and 11 behind MK Dons who lie second. Probability says that Leeds will not overturn those margins, especially if the decline which set in under McAllister continues into next month.
More troubling still for Bates should be the five-point margin between Leeds and the play-offs, a deficit which brings home the reality that United are dicing with a third season in League One. The Elland Road club cannot afford that, and Bates knows it. So, too, does McAllister.
The uncomfortable reality is that United have not moved forward from their defeat in last season's play-off final. Their squad is better man for man but, in terms of their standing in the league, the club have gone backwards, falling to a position which is only one place higher than the lowest ranking held under McAllister last term.
Blessed with one of the largest pools of players in the division and, quite possibly, the highest wage bill, it has been clear for several weeks that Leeds are punching below their weight. Bates and Shaun Harvey, United's chief executive, offered meaningful statements of support, but McAllister was unable to feed positively from them.
Bates' musings were followed by defeats to Tranmere Rovers and Colchester United, and Harvey's by the loss to MK Dons. No result was more damaging than the 2-1 win collected by a mediocre Colchester at Elland Road on a day when Leeds were expected to steady their ship in time for a difficult run over Christmas.
It was that game more than any other which pushed McAllister to the edge of the cliff, creating considerable and understandable doubt about his capabilities.
United's muddy defeat at Histon and narrow losses away to Northampton Town and Tranmere were poor results, but their performance against Colchester was devoid of confidence and riddled with nerves. It was clear that the players were beginning to doubt themselves, if not their manager.
In the end, McAllister's fate was intrinsically linked to the shortcomings of his squad, and the failure of his defence to grasp the advice that he and assistant manager Steve Staunton were offering them.
United's production of clean sheets has been appalling, and it was the failing from which McAllister was most likely to hang. Dissecting the root of their defensive problems has been almost impossible, for him and the fans.
Prior to the campaign starting, he gave no indication that his squad was weaker than he would have liked. In fact, McAllister stated openly that only one of his intended summer signings – thought to be Jay Bothroyd – had said no to an approach from Elland Road and gone elsewhere. The ineptitude of his defenders must therefore have staggered him.United do not lack quality in defence – the point has been made before that four of the players in his squad provided an excellent back line towards the end of last season – but there is no explaining the endemic loss of form.
Professionals who performed impressively and consistently in 2007-08 have visibly regressed.
On Saturday, Lubomir Michalik's half-time substitution was a fair reflection of a player whose confidence and reading of the game has deserted him. Michalik looked shell-shocked during the first half, and he was not alone. It is fair to ask whether McAllister's future was on their minds, and hardly surprising if it was.
On reflection, the Scot might agree that it was a mistake not to add to his squad before the end of the emergency loan market. Financial issues appeared to hinder him and he also implied that persuading players to drop into League One was extremely difficult (without question, the move for Hull City's Wayne Brown met both obstacles).
But I wondered in November whether the extent of the defensive problems on McAllister's hands dawned properly after Leeds' defeat at Northampton, a result which came 48 hours before the emergency loan deadline and too late for decisive action.
The lack of fresh blood left him to work with his existing squad and players who were struggling to make first-team shirts their own. In no position has the absence of a definite first-choice been more unsettling than that of United's goalkeeper, something which McAllister may well have looked to address next month. It was symptomatic of a defence built on sand rather than rock.
To balance the criticism, it should also be said that McAllister was unfortunate – unfortunate to see Leeds stumble into poor form before a passage of pivotal and difficult fixtures; unfortunate to see Jermaine Beckford and Andy Robinson tear hamstrings at the very moment when he needed a full squad; unfortunate that the pressure and expectation on him was hiked up from the start.
This month was always likely to be decisive for McAllister, containing the fixtures it did, and Bates saw enough on Saturday to make up his mind.
The sacking will not please United's chairman – if anything, it will probably astonish him that McAllister's tenure has come to this – but it would have been difficult for him to hand a transfer budget to a manager in whom he lacks confidence. January could be the last chance saloon for United's season.
In a sense, Leeds are back where they started when Wise departed Elland Road at the start of 2008 – without a manager and with their term in the balance. The only difference is that McAllister's replacement will have a window to play with and a little more time. Yet to describe it as a difficult job is a crass understatement.
As for McAllister, I hope we will see him in management again. I watched him closely at full-time on Saturday as he applauded United's supporters and listened as he paid an honest tribute to them, remarking painfully that the city of Leeds "deserves better".
McAllister loves his sport and he loves Leeds United. His failure will wound him gravely.
But that is football and that is management, a game where sentiment holds no real value when results have run dry.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Yorkshire Evening Post 20/12/08
The cavalry is coming says Mac
By Phil Hay
Gary McAllister is confident that Leeds United will sign their key transfer targets next month after admitting the club's initial approaches have gone "beyond enquiries".
The Elland Road manager has identified a number of possible recruits after conceding that his existing squad lacks the strength in certain positions to see Leeds through the rest of the League One season.
McAllister will pay special attention to improving his vulnerable defence next month – the United boss made an early addition to his ranks by recruiting out-of-contract centre-back Mansour Assoumani on a month-long deal this week – and he is hoping to bring a quick conclusion to his dealings in the January transfer window.
Leeds failed with an attempt to sign Wayne Brown on loan from Hull City last month, and the club's performances since have left McAllister in no doubt that new defenders are needed to keep United in contention for promotion to the Championship.
McAllister said: "We're going to have to strengthen in that department and we've made progress with that already.
"I'm positive about the two or three enquiries we've made, and they're beyond enquiries now."
McAllister's comments indicated that Leeds were hopeful of completing their business in the early stages of the transfer window and avoiding lengthy negotiations with rival clubs.
Despite having one of the biggest squads in League One, United have struggled to find an established and reliable defence, but McAllister may receive another boost next month with the return to fitness of Paul Huntington.
The ex-Newcastle United player underwent surgery this week to repair a long-standing injury to his groin, but he has started work in the gym at Leeds' Thorp Arch training complex already and could return shortly after the turn of the year.
Huntington's last first-team appearance came in September.
McAllister said: "They've repaired the slight bit of damage that was in there.
"In years gone by it would have been a six or eight-week absence but the technology of that operation has moved on and you can be back much quicker.
"But we're wary of not rushing him. It's been preying on his mind for a while so he's got to be right mentally before we start thinking about him."

Sunday, December 07, 2008

New pages uploaded at

At a time when life doesn’t feel good ... comfort yourself with stories of better times

2 August 1969 – Leeds United 2 Manchester City 1
The curtain raiser to the 1969/70 season pitched United against Cup holders Manchester City - the trophy wasn't the most highly prized but Leeds now had a thirst for silverware

17 September 1969 – Leeds United 10 Lyn Oslo 0
Finally United had a shot at the biggest prize of all, and didn't they take advantage of a woefully outclassed amateur team from Norway as they set a club scoring record

Read the full story at

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Times 30/11/08
Histon humble Leeds in FA Cup second round
Blue Square Premier promotion chasers Histon today secured a famous FA Cup upset with a stunning 1-0 victory over Leeds United, and earn a home tie with Swansea City in today's draw for the third round.
Matthew Langston, a postman, scored the only goal of the game in the 39th minute at a wet and wild Glassworld Stadium when he headed in Gareth Gwillim's cross.
And Leeds paid the price for poor finishing against a non-league team 42 places below them, just seven years after reaching the Champions League semi-finals.
Histon dominated the first half in awful conditions and could have gone into the break further ahead, but they had to withstand a barrage of pressure in the second half.
Lubomir Michalik twice came within a whisker of equalising for Leeds, first seeing his shot cannon back off a post then a fierce drive headed off the line by Jack Midson late on.
"It was a magnificent rearguard action in the second half," Steve Fallon, the Histon manager, said. "We had a bit of luck when we needed it but we were magnificent.
"We deserved that victory. This will do this club the world of good."
Despite not getting a dream tie with Premier League opposition, Fallon said he regarded the draw with Swansea as a good opportunity to progress in the competition.
"It's a good draw for us," he said. "Obviously, we wanted to be at home; that's all you want. You could have the big boys but Swansea are a big side in their own right.
"It's a good little tie for us and I'm sure we'll have a full house again and maybe a chance of getting to the fourth round.

Saturday, November 29, 2008 26/11/08
26 Nov 2008
Leeds United announce accounts show profit of...
The directors of Leeds United Football Club Limited are pleased to be able to confirm that the audited accounts for the 14-month period to the 30th June 2008 show a profit of £4,553,000.
During the period the club made an operating profit before player trading of £902,000 from a turnover of £23,249,000.
On the field the club are seeking to gain promotion to the Championship at the earliest possible opportunity and to continue strengthening the club's Academy.
Off the field, the directors have identified that the re-purchase of both the Thorp Arch Training Facility and Elland Road as a priority within the next 12 months.
We are also seeking to gain planning consent for the development of the East Stand of the stadium to both increase income generated by the club on non-matchdays and improve matchday facilities for fans.
We would like to thank the club staff and fans for their support.

BBC 26/11/08
McAllister tells Leeds to battle
Leeds United manager Gary McAllister has called on his side to toughen up after their 2-1 defeat at Northampton.
The result saw Leeds slip outside the League One play-off places and McAllister told BBC Radio Leeds: "We've got to be up for these battles.
"When we're going away to grounds - I don't watch Northampton week-in week-out, but the effort used by them, is that the same every week here?
"If it was, they'd maybe be up in the similar position as us in the league."
The defeat came just eight days after Leeds won 5-2 at Sixfields in the FA Cup, and McAllister's prediction that Tuesday's League One clash would be a different affair proved prophetic.
"We knew it would be different from the cup tie," he said.
"They made it very difficult, they got in our faces and in the first half we never got going at all.
"In the second half we responded well and got on the front foot, but two bad goals again.
"We go in at half-time and I'm looking for a response again and I did get that - it was like night and day.
"I'm not looking for excuses for the first half but Northampton came and pressed and pressed and we were a little bit naive I felt - still trying to play too many passes when it might have been a night for knocking it a little bit longer.
"Second half we did knock it a little bit longer and got up behind it and looked a better team."
Jermaine Beckford's second-half equaliser was his sixth goal in just three games, but United's top scorer had to be withdrawn 10 minutes from the end.
"He's got a hamstring so we need to wait to see the degree of the problem," McAllister said.
But should Beckford be sidelined, McAllister said he would not rush into the loan market, which closes on Thursday.
"There's no point in bringing people in that aren't going to better the side - if there's somebody that can come in and make us better then we're going to be there trying to act.
"I don't think there's any need to panic and make massive changes - the crux and the ethos is going to stay the same and the 20 players have bought into that."

Yorkshire Evening Post 26/11/08
Cobblers gain quick revenge
By Phil Hay
Northampton 2 Leeds United 1
It was, as Gary McAllister predicted, a different game at Sixfields last night.
Victors by a healthy margin on the same pitch two games ago, Leeds United were not reckless enough to think that they would be allowed to take liberties with Northampton Town twice in the space of a week, but their unassuming attitude could not prevent the result which came at their expense last night.
The feeling among Northampton's staff that a second home game against Leeds could not possibly prove more humiliating or dissatisfying than their first was justified by a 2-1 victory that displayed the will to win they had lacked eight days previously.
Stuart Gray's team were cut down in last week's FA Cup first round tie by a hat-trick from Jermaine Beckford and their own lack of authority, losing 5-2 in front of a live television audience, but they tackled yesterday's game with more authority and refused to allow Beckford – or any of United's players, for that matter – to decide the outcome.
That honour was left to Nicholas Bignall, Northampton's on-loan striker who won the game with his first senior goal three minutes from time.
The odds were piled in Leeds' favour after their heavy defeat of Hartlepool United on Saturday, but United allowed Gray's team to edge ahead before the interval last night during their least convincing half of football for some time.
Liam Davis' opening goal was a splendid finish from 20 yards but it was not a strike from nothing, more the cumulative effect of one of the rare periods of League One football in which Leeds have been thoroughly dominated this season.
A midfield that, on its day, has had the measure of better teams than Northampton, saw their time on the ball limited and watched Gray's players control the flow of the game in a way which had seemed unlikely after United's excellent win at Sixfields nine days ago. The inevitable effect for 45 minutes was a complete lack of service to a set of forwards who had hit a purple patch before yesterday's game.
The improvement from Leeds after an inexplicably poor first half was unmistakable and deserving of praise, but Northampton had a goal to defend by the start of the second period and were under no obligation to show risky ambition.
United hit the post before the break and the crossbar after it, and Beckford's strike on 69 minutes placed a victory within their grasp, but McAllister will rue the time taken by his team to find a way into the match as greatly as he rues Bignall's basic winner. United's defending was again required to take its share of the blame for that goal.
Gray had hinted that he would counter the ability of Beckford with a man marker, but he did not follow through with the threat, leaving his defenders to share the responsibility of sticking to the striker like glue.
The task was carried out to good effect for over an hour, but was ultimately shown to be fallible.Included in their back four was the experienced figure of Andy Todd, signed by Gray on an emergency loan from Derby County, and the sense that last night's fixture would be more competitive than the most recent game between the clubs was borne out by the early skirmishes.Northampton's creativity was apparent from the fourth minute when Scott McGleish headed a flighted cross wide from six yards out, and there was more sting in the shot from Ryan Gilligan which clipped the frame of Leeds' goal five minutes later. David Lucas, United's goalkeeper, would not have reached the long-range effort had it curled inside his right-hand post.The energetic style of the hosts' marking and pressing contrasted with the ill-advised manner in which they stood off United's players during their FA Cup tie.
That they held the lead after 45 minutes was hardly a surprise after a half in which Leeds continually danced to their tune and played at the pace set by their hosts.
The opening goal came from the right boot of Davis, a screaming finish on the volley that beat Lucas' full-stretch dive on 28 minutes but which McAllister might have expected his defence to prevent.
The midfielder lost his balance as a cross from Gilligan rolled across the field from the right wing, but Davis regained his footing before Andrew Hughes could reach the ball, controlling it and dispatching it beyond Lucas with speed and precision.
United's performance before the goal had lacked the inspiration and ingenuity they had shown at Sixfields in the FA Cup, and Northampton were worth no less than their narrow lead.
Gray's defence lost Beckford momentarily in the 31st minute, calling on their keeper Frank Fielding to palm away a lovely curling strike from the forward.
But the examination of Fielding – a player whose previous two performances against Leeds had been more than a little eccentric – was disappointingly tame until the 10-minute spell before the break.
Beckford tested Fielding again when he reacted first to a loose ball inside Northampton's box and drove it against the keeper's legs, and he crashed another shot against the foot of a post after Kyle Walker misjudged Andy Robinson's high cross and let it drop over this head. It was through their leading scorer that Leeds looked most likely to reply.
Less pleasing was the foul committed by Fabian Delph on Luke Guttridge which incurred the midfielder's fifth booking of the season and an automatic one-match suspension, and the break was of far more use to McAllister than it was to his counterpart. Gray's team who left the pitch to a standing ovation.
The patting of backs was soon halted, however, as Robinson forced Fielding into two goalline parries after the break and then crossed to Becchio who drilled a sliding effort against the underside of the bar.
Fielding was as helpless at that moment as Lucas had been when his own goal was rattled in the first half.
By that fine margin, Northampton were allowed to retain their lead, though they succumbed to the temptation to defend increasingly deeply, perhaps through tension but also because of United's lingering and threatening presence inside their half. The pressure told in controversial fashion after 69 minutes.
Becchio and Jason Crowe contested a high ball 30 yards from goal and Northampton's defender crumpled to the ground under the challenge, but in the absence of any decision from referee Chris Foy, United played the ball out to Robinson whose cross from the right wing took a small deflection and found Beckford waiting to dispatch a fierce header at the far post.
McAllister sensed a victory at hand but Beckford then left the field with a hamstring strain, removing United's most vibrant attacking player and lessening their hope of crafting a second goal.
With three minutes to play the opposite occurred when Bignall rose to head home a Danny Jackman corner in a perfect copy of the two strikes conceded by Leeds at Sixfields last week, unchallenged in the air inside the six-yard box.
Deja vu, at a much higher cost.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Guardian 22/11/08
Delph delivers for Leeds
Leeds 4 Hartlepool 1
Philip Dorward at Elland Road
'You're not famous any more,' is the most common chant sung by visiting supporters to Elland Road these days. It is a fair, if cruel, point, but it is also a brave punter who mocks the plight of Leeds, as Hartlepool found out. Gary McAllister's combative side showed that actions can speak louder than words.
Not that Leeds fans aren't capable of speaking for themselves. 'Fabian Delph, he's not for sale,' is the song du jour among their supporters. But wily Leeds chairman Ken Bates has no plans for selling their latest prodigy - who scored a terrific goal in this game - to prying Premier League clubs.
The canny West Yorkshire side recently secured Delph, who made his England Under-21 debut on Tuesday and turned 19 on Friday, on a long-term contract until 2012.
There is a good chance that Delph will become famous sooner than his current club. That is not to say Leeds will not be famous again, but you know your stock in football is falling when the most high-profile mentions you get these days are from celebrities. Leeds were back in the news last week courtesy of an interview from Sir Alan Sugar at a charity event at Elland Road.
Showing an unenviable lack of knowledge of the Blue Square Premier League, the seemingly always bitter Sugar was claiming that Leeds should have been dumped from the Football League for going into administration. 'They should be thrown out, down to the fifth division, and have to work their way back up, playing on Hackney Marshes,' harrumphed the tennis-loving former Tottenham chairman.
Yet there is still ambition and support here and the club recently announced plans to turn Elland Road into a leisure and retail complex, while mini-buses from as far away as Plymouth and Shropshire are testament to the pull of the best backed club in the Football League.
In an enjoyable, attacking game, Leeds deservedly went in front on the quarter-hour when Jermaine Beckford redirected Andrew Hughes's whipped-in cross. But the team briefly put their fans through the traditional ringer when Hartlepool equalised courtesy of Joel Porter's well-taken 25th-minute volley.
But McAllister kept his nerve, even if 20,000 Leeds fans were questioning theirs. 'There was no panic. We tried to get the ball down and pass and create,' said the Leeds manager. 'We made their keeper work, which at times this season we haven't with the amount of possession we've had. But I think we got our just reward today.'
Leeds regained the lead in the 50th minute when Luciano Becchio broke through the Hartlepool midfield and laid the ball off for Delph. Showing his burgeoning talent, Delph took the ball on the run and adroitly not only made room for a shot but then placed the ball perfectly into the net.
After last week's home defeat by Huddersfield, there was palpable relief when the third goal came. Beckford flicked goalkeeper David Lucas's punt over his shoulder into the path of the onrushing Becchio and he made no mistake, slamming the ball home.
Beckford's second goal, in the final minute, wrapped up a victory that wasn't exactly famous but was another important one on the way back up.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Yorkshire Evening Post 18/11/08
Jermaine gives the Cobblers the boot!
By Phil Hay
Northampton Town 2 Leeds United 5
Gary McAllister's least desirable scenario at Sixfields was a third defeat in succession for Leeds United.
Close behind in his list of unwanted possibilities was an FA Cup first-round replay which dragged his tired squad through extra-time. Neither eventuality came to pass and no-one inside Northampton Town's stadium can have been happier to see last night's tie settled in United's favour by half-time.
The club's 5-2 win over Northampton was their first victory in an FA Cup game for five seasons, but the priority for Leeds at Sixfields was not the improvement of slightly embarrassing history. After a League One defeat to Huddersfield Town on Saturday, the brief last night was to come safely through the tie and to do so with the minimum of fuss.
Rarely has McAllister, in his guise as United's manager, looked as angry as he did after Huddersfield's victory at Elland Road but the outcome of their swift turnaround to Northampton – a fixture which, in truth, was more than a little unwelcome two days after a West Yorkshire derby – lifted that exasperated expression.
Leeds emerged from their attacking shell and scored four goals before the interval and Jermaine Beckford, the club's leading striker, did likewise by scoring for the first time since October 11.
By the final whistle, Beckford had recorded his second hat-trick of the season and improved his personal tally of goals to 16, and Leeds were assured of a visit to non-league Histon in round two of the FA Cup, a televised tie which will reward United with an £80,000 broadcast fee.
Leeds agreed to an untimely Monday night game at Sixfields on the basis that Irish broadcaster Setanta would screen the replay live and pay almost £40,000 for the privilege, and the financial gamble paid off handsomely.
Aside from the excellent result, McAllister now has the benefit of an extra day to work with and recuperate his squad before Saturday's league game against Hartlepool United at Elland Road. If he feels hyper-critical, he might only remind Leeds' players of the list of chances Northampton were able to create but incapable of finishing last night.
He delivered on his promise of changes at Sixfields and made a total of six to his team, the most intriguing of which was the starting place given to Malcolm Christie.
Leeds have been working towards a contractual agreement with the striker for the past fortnight and confirmation of his registration for yesterday's tie was not entirely unexpected.
Previous questions about Christie were repeatedly met with positive noises from McAllister, but there was never an indication that his debut might come so suddenly.
His last competitive appearance was made in April of last year, towards the end of a contract at Middlesbrough which promised much but ultimately fell victim to Christie's merciless list of injuries, and his involvement against the Cobblers was the welcome end of 18 months spent waiting for a fresh start.
Furthermore, it lessened the strain on a squad that, while bigger than any other in League One, was beset by slight fatigue during Saturday's West Yorkshire derby. Fabian Delph took up a position on the bench – a rest which should allow him to debut for England's Under-21s this evening – and Luciano Becchio did the same, breaking the Argentinian's draining sequence of nine consecutive starts in five weeks.
Becchio's recent reliability in front of goal had lifted a degree of pressure from Beckford who before yesterday had not scored for seven matches, but the one certainty about Beckford was that his drought would not last. It was broken after 13 minutes at Sixfields and positively shattered by full-time. The architect of his and United's first goal was Town defender Liam Dolman who let a soaring clearance bounce on the edge of his box, and David Prutton's glancing header set up Beckford to bring the ball under control and cushion a shot past Frank Fielding.
His deft touch and composed finish was the one moment of quality in an otherwise forgettable opening, a spell dictated to some extent by a wet and heavy pitch, and David Lucas' one-handed save from Liam Davis was a rare flicker of drama before Beckford's goal.
But the early lead had the desired effect for McAllister, settling his players and drawing Northampton out earlier and in greater numbers than they might have planned, and the pace of Beckford on the counter-attack was immediately apparent.
United's advantage was threatened twice in the space of a minute.First Gary Holt shot wide of Lucas' goal from an excellent position – his chance presented to him by Lubomir Michalik's indecision under a free-kick from Davis – and then Luke Guttridge dipped a shot from 25 yards over the crossbar.
But Leeds strangled the game with a second goal before the half-hour.
Jonathan Howson's 28th-minute finish was reliant on a fortunate deflection off the boot of Mark Hughes which diverted the ball past a committed Fielding, but the football which preceded the midfielder's strike was deserving of a goal.Howson exchanged a quick one-two with Christie to leave Northampton's defence stationary and helpless, and Hughes' flailing foot did the rest. The towel was not thrown in immediately by Northampton, but it came before half-time.
Scott McGleish headed a reasonable chance wide amid ponderous marking and Guttridge's deflected free-kick was brilliantly saved by Lucas on his goalline, but Northampton made a mess of clearing a 41st-minute corner and watched as Ben Parker drilled home a shot from outside the box and claimed a memorable first goal for Leeds.
The cushion fashioned by McAllister's players was more comfortable than he could have envisaged, but a needless concession in the final minute of the half briefly made Northampton's task less thankless than it had been.Guttridge's corner was glanced home by the unmarked Jason Crowe – not the first Northampton player to be left without an attendant inside United's box – but a frantic finish to the half saw Beckford cut in from the left wing and score a clinical second goal on the break, restoring calm to the away dug-out. The situation demanded that Town attack Leeds at every opportunity.
But that desperation made their defence vulnerable and Neil Kilkenny's beautifully weighted pass cut through their backline and invited Beckford to complete his hat-trick in the 55th minute with a shot to the right of Fielding.
It gave Leeds enough confidence to showboat through the rest of the game – until, that was, Crowe scored again on 90 minutes – and handed their supporters the assurance to taunt Northampton with chants of "you should have watched on Setanta."
It was a medium though which United's evening could not have appeared any better – or Northampton's any worse.

Yorkshire Post 18/11/08
Northampton Town 2 Leeds United 5: Beckford blasts Leeds into next round
By Richard Sutcliffe
THE chants about a May visit to Wembley may have been a tad optimistic but the sense of relief evident among the travelling Leeds United supporters last night was understandable as their FA Cup misery finally came to an end.
After nine unsuccessful attempts and a wait of almost six years, United finally progressed in the world's oldest competition courtesy of a five-goal demolition of Northampton Town and earned a second-round visit to non-League minnows Histon. Leeds – and hat-trick hero Jermaine Beckford, in particular – put the boot into the Cobblers in merciless fashion to seal a first FA Cup win since a fifth-round defeat of Crystal Palace in February 2003 under Terry Venables. A surprise last night was the inclusion of Malcolm Christie in the starting line-up. The 29-year-old striker has been without a club since being released by Middlesbrough in the summer of 2007 and a couple of unsuccessful trials at Hull City and Leeds, the latter brought to an abrupt end by a back injury.

However, after spending the past two months building his fitness and then impressing in a reserve team outing and two behind-closed doors friendlies, Christie had clearly done enough to persuade Gary McAllister to give him a chance.

He showed enough promise without doing anything spectacular to suggest the former England Under-21 international could have a role to play in the push for promotion from League One.

Beckford, meanwhile, notched a second hat-trick of the season after being restored to the side as one of six changes. He started the rout on 13 minutes after David Prutton had flicked a towering clearance from Lubomir Michalik into his path and he fired an unstoppable right-foot shot past Frank Fielding in the home goal.

After the disappointment of Saturday's last-gasp derby defeat to Huddersfield Town, it was just the fillip Leeds needed and they doubled their advantage in the 28th minute when Jonny Howson's shot was deflected past the Northampton goalkeeper by Mark Hughes. Four minutes before the break Fielding somehow allowed Ben Parker's shot from 35 yards to squirm under him on the line.

The highlight of Northampton's night followed when Jason Crowe met a left-wing corner sweetly to beat David Lucas in the 44th minute, but Beckford netted his second during stoppage time.Northampton's misery continued after the break with the outstanding Neil Kilkenny playing Beckford through on 55 minutes and the striker showed terrific composure to score his hat-trick goal.

Leeds, who were so in control that Fabian Delph was able to stay on the bench and, therefore, remain fresh for a potential England Under-21s debut at Bramall Lane tonight, did concede in the final minute when Crowe met another corner sweetly but it could not detract from a fine night for McAllister's men.

Daily Mail 17/11/08
Leeds chairman Bates mocks Chelsea youngsters and fires warning to Delph suitors
Leeds chairman Ken Bates has reopened his bitter war of words with former club Chelsea - and issued another defiant hands-off warning to the Barclays Premier League clubs coveting 18-year-old midfielder Fabian Delph.
Bates used his match programme notes at the weekend to mock the lack of progress of two young players lured from Elland Road to Stamford Bridge amid a furious poaching row in 2006.
Leeds eventually accepted £5million in compensation from Chelsea.
Bates, who was chairman at Stamford Bridge from 1982 to 2003, contrasted those players' fortunes with those of Delph, who is attracting rave reviews playing in the first team and has just received his first call up for the England Under 21 squad.
'Michael Woods and Tom Taiwo. Remember them?' asked Bates in Leeds' programme for the 2-1 home defeat to Huddersfield on Saturday. 'No? The names came back to me when we received a circular from a firm of football agents as follows: "Tom Taiwo - Chelsea central midfield/right-back. Former Leeds United. £2m. England youth international who had a spell at Port Vale this season".
Remember them now? Great players with outstanding potential. They were invited down to Chelsea with their parents. They visited the Chelsea training ground, stayed at a good hotel, watched Chelsea and then signed for the club. Haven't heard of them since until the above circular, offering Tom on loan, arrived at our door.
'The problem is that young players and their parents are sometimes seduced by short-term promises. It must be very tempting to see short-term gains and the glamour of moving to a so-called "big club". In reality the truth is very different. The kids disappear into the anonymity of the nether regions, rarely to be heard of again.
'Meanwhile, back at their origins, other youngsters are nurtured, encouraged and progress through the ranks. [Danny] Rose, Woods and Taiwo versus Delph, [Jonny] Howson, [Aidan] White and [Ben] Parker speak for themselves. Short-term gain, long-term loss. Leeds United are committed to caring and fostering our youth for the long-term benefit of the kids' future.'
So far 18-year-old Woods - who was an unused substitute in Chelsea's Carling Cup defeat to Burnley last week - has made just two substitute appearances for the Blues, which total less than half an hour on the pitch in FA Cup games against lower League opposition in January 2007.
Taiwo, also 18, has yet to play for the Premier League giants and does not even have a profile on the Chelsea website. He made five appearances - two as a substitute - during a loan spell at Port Vale earlier this season.
Rose, 18, has been similarly anonymous at Spurs since a controversial move in the summer of 2007. He is yet to make his debut, though he did not play for Leeds either.
By contrast Delph, who the Elland Road hierarchy now value at more than £10m , has now made 17 starts for Leeds, scoring three goals and has attracted interested from Arsenal, Manchester United, Newcastle, Portsmouth and Sunderland - and played in front of a League One crowd of 32,028 in the Yorkshire derby on Saturday.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Yorkshire Evening Post 13/11/08
We're ready for step up – Kilkenny
By Phil Hay
Neil Kilkenny walked out of Pride Park on Tuesday night with the feeling that Leeds United are now equipped for a year in the Championship.
But the Australian international says the club's performance against Derby County should not be seen as absolute proof of their ability to cope in England's second division.
Leeds emerged from a 2-1 defeat to Derby in the fourth round of the Carling Cup with immense credit after outshining their Championship opponents for three-quarters of the game, but Kilkenny insisted the one-off tie would be quickly forgotten if United fail to follow it up with an equally convincing display against Huddersfield Town this weekend.
United were given little time to reflect on Tuesday's narrow defeat – a result which obscured one of their most creditable displays of the season – with a West Yorkshire derby awaiting, and the club will potentially move to the top of League One for at least two hours if they take three points from Saturday's 12.15pm kick-off.
Kilkenny admitted confidence was flowing through United's squad after their performance at Pride Park, an emotion tempered only by the concession of two cheap goals and disappointment at their failure to qualify for the quarter-finals of the Carling Cup.
But he was reluctant to accept that their domination of Derby or their second-round defeat of Crystal Palace in August had increased Leeds' chances of reaching the Championship at the end of this season.
"I'm sure Derby's players would admit that we deserved to win, and I feel we've proved to everyone that, on our day, we're capable of performances like that against teams at this level," said Kilkenny. "We're capable of matching up to teams in the Championship.
"We did the same against Crystal Palace, and when you look back at that game now you'd have to say that we beat them easily. It wasn't too much of a contest and that was down to the way we played.
"But I think we'd be stupid to look at the game at Derby and say 'that's us ready for the Championship'. If the club get promoted then we'll be ready.
"We've got another huge match to play against Huddersfield on Saturday in front of a full house and the fans who didn't have the chance to see us at Derby will expect us to perform in the same way at our own ground.
"You win and lose promotion in your league games, and we've got a lot of them left to play. "We'll take confidence from the Carling Cup game, and it's a really good sign about what we can achieve this season, but the performance against Derby will be worth more if we follow it up with another good display on Saturday."
News of United's excellent performance at Pride Park travelled quickly – Derby manager Paul Jewell admitted freely that his side had been "battered" for 70 minutes by Leeds – and reports of their creditable display are unlikely to hinder the sale of tickets for Saturday's League One game.
Leeds were already anticipating a crowd in excess of 30,000 after opening the upper tier of Elland Road's East Stand for the first time this season, and a sixth home win of the term would place United at the top of their division until present leaders Leicester City fulfil their fixture later in the day – provided second-placed Scunthorpe fail to win at Bristol Rovers on Friday night.
The schedule facing Gary McAllister's squad is growing in intensity – the club will have 48 hours to recover from Saturday's match before contesting an FA Cup first-round replay at Northampton Town – but Kilkenny expressed his disappointment after United narrowly failed to add a Carling Cup quarter-final to their busy fixture list.
"There's so much in that performance for us to be pleased with – except for the fact that we lost the game," he said. "We gave away two silly goals and that's going to frustrate us.
"The team deserve credit for the way we played but we've missed out on a place in the quarter-finals and that's a big deal to a club like Leeds.
"To be fair, whilst we made things difficult for ourselves, we didn't have a lot of luck either. Robert (Snodgrass) hit the post and Derby's keeper made a great save from Andy Robinson so in a way we were unfortunate and I think we did enough to deserve better.
"It's disappointing to be talking about how well we played and then realising that we're not through."
The Carling Cup may have ejected Leeds, but the League One table is looking increasingly satisfying for McAllister. Although Leicester climbed into first place on Tuesday night with a victory over Yeovil Town, Leeds trail them by two points and have established a gap of four over the club immediately below the play-off zone, Oldham Athletic.
Kilkenny was both a Championship and a Premier League footballer with Birmingham City, and he would be optimistic for United's chances if the club were thrown into the second tier with immediate effect.
But the midfielder said: "As a footballer, when you play well you want to win. Good performances don't register as much if the result goes against you.
"I've been confident since the start of the season that we'll do it (win promotion) and playing like we did against Derby is proof that we can, but we won't go up because of that game. It's our results from here that count.
"We've got good enough players and a good enough squad to have a go in the Championship.
"I've been at that level before so I know what it takes, and the manager's probably thinking about doing one or two things to the squad in January. I'd imagine that others will come in if we do go up, but that's all down the line.
"The best thing about the Derby game was the belief the players showed against a team who everyone expected to beat us. Let's do the same against Huddersfield and show that we can dominate like that twice in a week."

Yorkshire Evening Post 12/11/08
I'm gutted but proud says Mac
By Phil Hay
Leeds boss Gary McAllister admitted to mixed emotions of pride and dejection after a Carling Cup quarter-final place slipped through United's fingers last night.
His men suffered a 2-1 defeat to Derby County in the fourth round of the competition and McAllister was left to rue two soft goals which saw a fine performance against Championship opponents go unrewarded at Pride Park. Leeds conceded twice in the opening 18 minutes, allowing Emanuel Villa and Nathan Ellington to give Derby a commanding lead, but United fought back in inspired fashion to reduce their deficit through Luciano Becchio's 41st-minute header and had County hanging on in the second half.
Robert Snodgrass hit the post shortly after half-time and Andy Robinson was denied an equaliser by a brilliant save from Derby goalkeeper Roy Carroll, but United's supreme display – led once again by rising star Fabian Delph – failed to ease McAllister's disappointment at failing to reach the last eight.
"The last thing I wanted to say was that we played wonderfully well but we're out," he said. "Unfortunately that's the case, and we're disappointed.
"Football's a cruel game at times, but it's about winning. In a couple of weeks' time, people won't be talking about how well we played at Derby.
"I've passed on my thoughts to the players and I think you can imagine what I was saying to them. I'm not a massive follower of stats but (Derby) had four attacks and scored twice. I'm lost for words really."
Frustrated though he was, McAllister acknowledged his side's spirited response to a dreadful opening spell in which two moments of poor defending allowed Derby to place one foot in the quarter-finals with just 18 minutes gone.
United appeared to be heading for a humiliating rout, but Becchio's goal – his 10th of the season – gave Leeds the impetus to dominate Paul Jewell's side after half-time.
McAllister said: "When you're in trouble you've got to show bravery.
"At 2-0 down we went back to what we know best – that's keeping the ball and trying to get some passing together. "We worked our way back into the game and that's what impressed me most."
Derby manager Jewell watched his players struggle through a torrid second half to take their place in the last eight and said: "In between the two boxes they battered us for 70 minutes.
"Sometimes as a manager you have to hold your hands up and say that they played better than us. We've been fortunate, but you need that in football."
McAllister, meanwhile, reserved special praise for the contingent of 3,416 away fans who travelled to Pride Park last night and provided deafening support for his players throughout the fourth-round tie.
"I've got to divert praise to our fans," said McAllister.
"The enthusiasm and the support we got from the fans was repaid by the players, and I felt that we all worked hand-in-hand.
"The fans and the team showed where we're trying to get to, and this is what Leeds United is all about."

Wednesday, November 12, 2008 12/11/08
12 Nov 2008
Macca hails players and fans after Derby defeat...
Gary McAllister hailed both the players and fans of Leeds United after Tuesday's Carling Cup fourth round defeat at Derby County.
United fell behind to two early goals at Pride Park, but hit back to dominate the contest with a fantastic display of football.
Luciano Becchio pulled a goal back before half-time, but for all the domination United were unable to find a second goal to level matters.
"I didn't want to say how wonderfully we played and how we moved the ball around as a team, yet leave Pride Park having been beaten," said the manager.
"We warranted something, extra time at least...They had four attacks at the most and scored twice. That is becoming our Achilles heel.
"They were poor goals. Unforced errors. We hadn't been put under pressure. Teams aren't having to work for the goals at the moment.
"But our possession was outstanding. We reverted to form and by that I mean it's what we know best and that's by working our way back into the game by passing it.
"We had all sorts. There was a great save by Roy Carroll and it was wave after wave of attacks.
"The players must take on board the fact that if they had any doubts of playing at Championship level they showed they could.
"They can be proud of their performance."
United were backed by almost 3500 fans at Pride Park and the support on offer at Pride Park was not lost on either the manager or his players.
"Our fans were outstanding," said Macca.
"It was like a home game. That is what Leeds United is all about.
"The fans sung for 90 minutes and the players gave them something to shout about.
"We were unlucky, but we have to move on.
"When we come back on Saturday against Huddersfield - and what a game that is to come back to - we have to repeat it and do it again."

BBC 11/11/08

Derby 2-1 Leeds

Derby County qualified for the Carling Cup quarter-finals at the expense of Leeds thanks to first-half goals from Emanuel Villa and Nathan Ellington.

Villa got the better of Lubomir Michalik and, with a curling left-foot shot, gave the home side an early lead.

Ellington doubled the advantage with a simple tap-in after great work by Kris Commons before Luciano Becchio's header from eight yards halved the deficit.

Leeds dominated after the break with Jermaine Beckford going close.

It was an audacious 35-yard effort from Leeds' substitute striker and the shot would have left the backpedalling Roy Carroll red faced had it hit the target.

The visitors twice came close to an equaliser either side of the hour mark, with Robert Snodgrass' curling free-kick clipping the outside of a post before Carroll was called into action to keep out Andy Robinson's well-struck 10-yard effort.

But Derby held on to reach the last eight of the League Cup for the first time since 1990.

The home side got off to the best possible start when Villa, hat-trick hero from the previous round against Brighton, opened the scoring in the sixth minute with a superb solo effort.

In the 11th minute, Paul Connolly deflected Becchio's goal-bound effort over the crossbar but then the home side doubled their lead in exquisite style.

Commons played a neat one-two with Przemyslaw Kazmierczak on the edge of the area, Commons then dummied to shoot before rolling the ball to Ellington for his fifth goal of the competition.

Becchio converted Frazer Richardson's right-wing cross before the break but for all their second-half dominance, Leeds could not manage an equaliser.

Derby manager Paul Jewell: 
"After 18 minutes it was one-way traffic and I was wondering how many goals we were going to score.

"I thought I might be able to actually sit back and enjoy a game for once. Every time we went forward we looked like we were going to score.

"But then, give Leeds credit, they absolutely dominated possession and scored a good goal and hit a post. They battered us for 70 minutes.

"I don't know whether we took a step back but the game totally transformed and sometimes as a manager you have to hold your hands up and say they played better than us."

Leeds manager Gary McAllister: 
"I am lost for words really. I passed on my thoughts to the players and I think you can imagine what I was saying to them.

"I am not a massive follower of statistics but they had four attacks and scored twice.

"Our football was good but the last thing I wanted was to have to come out after the game and say we played wonderfully well but we are out, and that is the case and I am disappointed.

"It was the best they (Leeds) played this season but it is a cruel game at times and it is about winning."


Sunday, November 09, 2008

Guardian 7/11/08
Leeds' agonising wait for win in the Cup continues
Guardian report
Match facts
FA Cup First Round
Leeds 1 Northampton 1
The consolation for Leeds United is that they avoided the ignominy of becoming the first Football League club eliminated from this season's FA Cup. Yet in failing to overcome a Northampton side reduced to 10 men for the majority of the match, they extended their 5½-year wait for a win in this competition. Not since February 2003, when Leeds were accustomed to beginning their campaign in the third round, have they triumphed. With a replay at Sixfields to come, the second round would represent progress now.
A simpler route towards Wembley appeared probable when Giles Coke was cautioned for the second time within the first half-hour and then Andy Robinson equalised from a penalty 10 minutes later. "It's a missed opportunity," said the Leeds manager, Gary McAllister. "Doom-and-gloom people will say it's a bad result but I'm not going to lose any sleep."
It was evident that Leeds' threat came from the flanks. The wings, Robinson and Robert Snodgrass, adopted starting positions on either touchline, allowing them to stretch the game and embark on angled runs towards the penalty box. Each struck the woodwork after veering infield to shoot. Paul Telfer was similarly unfortunate when his header was cleared by Danny Jackman, who was on sentry duty on the line. "On another night we could have got four or five," added McAllister.
"The harder you work, the luckier you get and we rode our luck at times," said the Northampton manager, Stuart Gray. "It was backs to the wall, like a forwards-versus-defence training exercise."
Among the crowd at the sparsely populated Elland Road was Tony Adams, the new Portsmouth manager, who saw proof of the precocity of the 18-year-old Fabian Delph. Already the subject of a bid from Newcastle, the Leeds midfielder displayed explosive speed and skill, producing a counter-attack curtailed only by the illegal challenge which resulted in Coke's exit.
At that stage Northampton had led after Scott McGleish, on loan from Wycombe Wanderers, pounced from close range to net his 203rd career goal after a swift break by Ryan Gilligan. Leeds require added firepower themselves and may offer a contract to the former Derby and Middlesbrough forward Malcolm Christie. 7/11/08
08 Nov 2008
United held at home by Northampton in FA Cup...
UNITED 1 (Robinson 37 pen), NORTHAMPTON 1 (McGleish 9)
United: Ankergren, Richardson, Michalik, Telfer, Parker (White 83), Snodgrass, Douglas, Delph, Howson (Showunmi 78), Becchio, Robinson. Subs: Lucas, Prutton, Kilkenny, Hughes, Webb.
Northampton: Fielding, Crowe, Hughes, Doig (Dyer 12), Jackman, Gilligan, Coke, McGleish (Bignall 53), Holt, Constantine (Davis 73), Dolman. Subs: Henderson, Dunn, Jones, Taylor.
Referee: M Oliver
Booked: White (United), Coke, Holt, Jackman (Northampton)
Sent-off: Coke (Northampton)
Att: 9531
nited's first round clash against Northampton marked the start of the FA Cup proper, and the game got off to a fiery start when Giles Coke was booked for a lunge on Ben Parker.
Luciano Becchio fired an early effort over the top, but the visitors shocked Elland Road when Scott McGleish fired Northampton into an early lead.
Ryan Gilligan escaped down the left and his low cross was converted by McGleish, after former United striker Leon Constantine made a nuisance of himself on the edge of the six-yard box.
nited were almost back on level terms eight minutes later when Paul Telfer had a header cleared off the line, following a corner.
Worryingly, Northampton had the ball in the net again on 20 minutes, but the strike was ruled out by an offside flag.
But there was drama after just 26 minutes when the visitors were reduced to 10 men. Coke received his second yellow card of the night for a cynical challenge on Fabian Delph in the middle of the park.
And, from the resultant free-kick, Lubo Michalik almost became an unlikely goal hero when he sent a powerfully struck volley fizzing wide of the mark.
United had a couple of chances, but Northampton had another chance after Andy Holt played in Gilligan who was denied by Casper Ankergren. His block fell to McGleish who tried his luck from 40 yards, but fired over the top.
At the other end, Jonny Howson forced Frank Fielding into making a save after good work by Becchio.
But on 36 minutes, United were awarded a penalty after Mark Hughes was adjudged to have fouled Howson. Andy Robinson stepped up to take the spot-kick and coolly executed his finish.
There was a bizarre incident on 40 minutes when visiting goalkeeper Fielding attempted to keep a Michalik shot in play and Becchio seized upon the loose ball, but fired wide.
Moments later, Robinson rattled the upright with a right-foot shot from distance. Jonathan Douglas also had a shot blocked by Hughes.
Howson was next to go close when he hit the side-netting from a tight angle following a Frazer Richardson cross. From the resultant corner, Delph lifted a shot over the top.
United also fashioned out the first chance of the second period when Robinson fired over the top after cutting inside.
The second goal almost came in style moments later when Rob Snodgrass let the ball go across him before delivering a superb left-footed strike which rattled the post.
Snodgrass also tested Fielding with a well-struck free-kick on 63 minutes as United continued the search for a second.
Howson had an opportunity with a header after finding space, while Robinson tried his luck with a curling shot from distance.
United were dominating the clash, but the visitors were defending doggedly with men behind the ball in the hope of keeping parity.
On 72 minutes, Fielding was called upon to get down well to deny Delph after the youngster broke from midfield.
With 12 minutes remaining, McAllister made his first change of the game, introducing Enoch Showunmi in place of Howson. His first involvement sparked a goalmouth scramble as United continued to press in the hope of settling the tie.
Showunmi thought he had claims for a penalty after falling in the box, and Jonathan Douglas had a shot deflected into the arms of Fielding, but United were unable to find a way through as the clock started to tick down.
Robinson had a free-kick saved in the final minute of normal time, but there was no winning goal, and the two sides must now meet again.
The replay is set for Sixfields on Tuesday November 18 (7.45pm).