Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Yorkshire Evening Post 30/1/08
Macca eyes Leeds United promotion
By Phil Hay
Elland Road icon Gary McAllister was launching his reign as Leeds United's manager today – with the sole and immediate aim of returning the club to the Championship.
McAllister was meeting United's squad for the first time this morning after finalising an emotional return to the club yesterday, and his first challenge will be to grasp the chance of promotion which set up by his predecessor Dennis Wise.
United have handed McAllister an initial contract until the end of the season, resisting the option of tying him down to a long-term deal immediately, and the 43-year-old revealed he had been recruited by chairman Ken Bates with the order to secure a route out of League One this season.
McAllister said: "The job brief is promotion. I'm here until June initially and, quite simply, my job is to come here and kick-start it.
"There's a lot of hard work to be done. They've got themselves in a fantastic position and that's credit to Dennis and the players. When a new manager is appointed late in January it's usually to pick up the pieces of failure, but this is different. I'm joining a winning club."
McAllister agreed the terms of his short-term deal during a meeting with Bates in Monaco yesterday, and he flew back to England after signing the contract to prepare for his first encounter with his squad at Thorp Arch today.
The news of his appointment failed to save Leeds from a 1-0 defeat to Southend United at Roots Hall last night, but United's decision to name their former player and captain as Wise's successor has been met with widespread approval among the club's supporters.
Technical director Gwyn Williams revealed that McAllister had not been an automatic choice to replace Wise, but said United's interest in appointing him had been overwhelming after an initial meeting with the Scot revealed his passion and enthusiasm for the position.
Williams, who acted as caretaker boss at Roots Hall yesterday evening after Leeds dispensed with the services of Dave Bassett and John Gannon, said: "When we met Gary, he didn't hesitate in saying he wanted to come here. He's a young guy with experience of working as a manager, and he's got good ideas of how to take the club forward.
"We drew up a shortlist, and the important thing for us was to try and establish someone, and to get someone who was available to do the job straight away.
"We've taken Gary for that reason, but we've also taken him because he was positive and he wanted the job. He's got good credentials and he's a Leeds legend.
"There were many people we discussed and many people were approached. In the end, everyone was happy with Gary coming in."
McAllister's popularity grew during almost 300 appearances for Leeds as a player between 1990 and 1996, and he won the Division One title with the club in 1992 during Howard Wilkinson's tenure at Elland Road.
He also enjoyed a successful and high-profile spell with Liverpool and won more than 50 caps for Scotland before taking his first and only previous managerial position at Coventry City in 2002.
His reign as Highfield Road lasted for 76 matches and almost two years, but he stood down at the start of 2004 for personal reasons with his late wife fighting to overcome cancer.
McAllister was subsequently linked to the manager's job at Leeds around the time of Wise's appointment in October 2006, but the opportunity arose again last week after Wise agreed to join Newcastle United in the unusual role of executive director (football).
Confirmation of Wise's replacement was initially expected to made after last night's game, but the announcement of McAllister's return came through shortly before 6pm yesterday evening after a day of speculation linking him to the job.
Bates said: "We decided to move quickly and Gary was always in our minds.
"On Friday when we heard that Newcastle were interested in Dennis, we immediately started our contingency plans and identified Gary.
"His mission is to complete the good work and get us back into the Championship. Gary was happy to accept on those terms because he is confident in his own ability."
Leeds have already relieved Bassett from his duties as assistant boss, while first-team coach Gannon has also left the club after just over two months with the backroom team at Elland Road.
Williams, meanwhile, has operated as United's technical director since the summer of 2006, with particular responsibility for the club's scouting network, and asked if he would still have a role to play under McAllister, he said: "That's down to the new manager. I'm happy to stay but if he feels that I'm not part of it then I understand."


Times 29/1/08
Gary McAllister given task of finishing job started by Dennis Wise at Leeds United
Tom Dart
An abrupt departure was followed by a swift arrival yesterday as Leeds United quickly replaced Dennis Wise with Gary McAllister, another forty-something former international midfield player. Ken Bates, the Leeds chairman, has agreed an initial deal until the end of the season with McAllister, who is understood to have flown to Bates’s home in Monaco last weekend to discuss personal terms as Wise prepared to join Newcastle United. McAllister’s first match in charge will be at home to Tranmere Rovers on Saturday.
The 43-year-old is likely to prove a popular choice with supporters because he evokes memories of past glories that seem very distant. He was in the Leeds team who won the old first division title under Howard Wilkinson in 1992 and spent six years at the club, making almost 300 appearances. He left for Coventry City in 1996 before a surprise switch to Liverpool in 2000, playing a pivotal role despite being in his mid-thirties as the club won three trophies in 2000-01.
While Wise, who has joined Newcastle as an executive director, had a reputation as an abrasive midfield force, McAllister was more silk than steel. He won 57 caps for Scotland and is remembered for his set-piece expertise and passing ability, although he infamously missed a penalty against England during Euro ’96.
McAllister is quite short of managerial experience, however. He returned to Coventry as player-manager in April 2002 but left 20 months later to help to care for his terminally ill wife, Denise, who died of breast cancer in 2006. “He has a strong affection for the club and will be relishing the chance to return to management with a club of Leeds’s stature,” a source close to McAllister said.
Dave Bassett, Wise’s assistant, and John Gannon, a coach, were relieved of their duties yesterday. They had been preparing the team for last night’s Coca-Cola League One match away to Southend United and Bassett had been expected to take charge for the fixture. That task passed to Gwyn Williams, the technical director.
Bassett was appointed as Wise’s right-hand man in November after Gustavo Poyet left to take up a similar role under Juande Ramos at Tottenham Hotspur. “Dennis was very sorry to leave,” Bassett said. “I was surprised when he said he was going, but Newcastle was a job he fancied and it gives him a bit more time with his family.
“At first it was hard for him at Leeds, but he had grown to like the job and had some success this season. I think that Leeds will get promoted through the play-offs.
“I was only there three months and was only going to stay until the end of the season, but I was enjoying it and would have liked to see it through. Myself and John know the score, though. New people coming in want to bring their own team.”

White knight: Gary McAllister
Born on Christmas Day, 1964, he started at Motherwell, moving to Leicester City in 1985.
He joined Leeds United in 1990 and stayed at Elland Road for six years, moving to Coventry City for £3 million before switching to Liverpool on a Bosman free transfer in 2000.
His last-minute 40-yard free kick goal won the Merseyside derby at Goodison Park in April 2001. The next January he was appointed MBE for services to football.
He left Anfield to become player-manager of Coventry in 2002, staying less than two years as he resigned to take care of his wife, who had breast cancer.


Yorkshire Evening Post 29/1/08
Southend United 1 Leeds United 0
Leeds United signed off from the Dennis Wise era with a 1-0 loss to Southend United at Roots Hall.
A first-half goal from Lee Barnard condemned Leeds to their sixth league defeat and prevented the club from celebrating the appointment of Gary McAllister as their new manager with a positive result in Essex.
McAllister had been confirmed as United's replacement for Wise two hours before kick-off at Roots Hall, and he will meet the club's players for the first time tomorrow before beginning his reign in earnest during Saturday's clash with Tranmere Rovers at Elland Road.
But Barnard earned Southend three important points in the 41st minute by turning home the rebound after a free-kick from Steven Hammell was parried on the United's goalline by keeper David Lucas, who was standing in for the injured Casper Ankergren.
Leeds' chances were few in number, but Tresor Kandol should have cancelled out Barnard's goal on the hour. Jermaine Beckford's flick played Peter Sweeney clear inside Southend's box, but the winger's hanging cross was driven wide by Kandol at the back post with Darryl Flahavan's goal gaping.
Kandol had earlier glanced a header inches wide of the post but it took Lucas' brilliant late saves from Barnard and substitute Damian Scannell to prevent a heavier scoreline as Southend closed out their win with confidence.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Leedsunited.com 29/1/08
NEW BOSS NAMED
Gary McAllister is the new manager of Leeds United.
The 43-year-old, former Elland Road midfielder, joins the club initially until the end of the season.Gary takes over from the departed Dennis Wise, who left the club today after 15 months as manager.
The former Scotland international, who made almost 300 appearances for Leeds United during a six-year spell as a player, will meet the players for the first time on Wednesday.
Gary was a member of Howard Wilkinson's Football League title winning side of 1992 and formed part of a formidable midfield that also included Gordon Strachan, David Batty, and Gary Speed.
He also enjoyed spells at Motherwell, Leicester, Coventry, and Liverpool, making over 700 career appearances and winning 57 international caps.
His honours include a League Cup winners medal, an FA Cup winners medal, a UEFA Cup success, and he was part of Liverpool the side which won the European Super Cup in 2001/02.
Gary's previous management experience came at Coventry City in 2002/03.

Yorkshire Evening Post 29/1/08
McAllister is new Leeds United manager
Leeds United have named Gary McAllister as their new manager on an initial contract until the end of the season.Leeds United have named Gary McAllister as their new manager on an initial contract until the end of the season.
The 43-year-old has agreed a short-term deal after a day of talks with United, and he is set to meet with the club's squad for the first time tomorrow.
Leeds moved to appoint their former midfielder after allowing previous boss Dennis Wise to join Newcastle United as the club's executive director (football). Wise's confirmed his departure from Elland Road earlier today, and United also announced the departures of his assistant Dave Bassett and first-team coach John Gannon ahead of tonight's clash with Southend United at Roots Hall.
Leeds' technical director Gwyn Williams has been handed control of the first team this evening, but McAllister is poised to take charge for the first time against Tranmere Rovers at Elland Road on Saturday.
The ex-Scotland international is returning to the club where he made almost 300 appearances during six years as a player at Elland Road, and he helped Leeds to the 1992 Division One title under the management of Howard Wilkinson.
He also played for Liverpool, Leicester City and Coventry City before becoming the Sky Blues boss in 2002, his only previous managerial position. He was forced to leave Highfield Road in 2004 for personal reasons as his late wife battled cancer.

Daily Mail 29/1/08
Leeds legend McAllister takes the hot seat at Elland Road
Leeds have confirmed the appointment of former skipper Gary McAllister as their new manager. Chairman Ken Bates has wasted little time in naming the 43-year-old as successor to Dennis Wise, who quit Elland Road yesterday to join Newcastle as executive director.
Leeds technical director Gwyn Williams will take charge of the side for tonight's Coca-Cola League One clash at Southend following the departure this afternoon of assistant manager Dave Bassett. A club statement read: "Gary McAllister is the new manager of Leeds United.
The 43-year-old joins the club initially until the end of the season and will meet the players for the first time on Wednesday."
Former Leeds midfielder McAllister becomes the club's third manager in 16 months following the sacking of Kevin Blackwell in September 2006. Since David O'Leary's departure in June 2002, Leeds fans have seen seven different managers, including caretaker-boss Eddie Gray, come and go at Elland Road. But in contrast to the arrival of predecessor Wise in October 2006, McAllister can count on the red carpet treatment from fans. The Scot, who also counts Motherwell, Leicester, Coventry and Liverpool among his former clubs, enjoyed hero status among Leeds supporters during his six years at the club. He helped Leeds win the last Football League Championship in 1992 under Howard Wilkinson before the inception of the Premier League the following season. Leeds paid £1million to Leicester to bring the Scot to Elland Road in the summer of 1990 and he became part of a revered midfield quartet alongside Gordon Strachan, Gary Speed and David Batty. McAllister, who famously missed a penalty at Wembley against England while captain of Scotland during Euro 96, moved on to Coventry for £3million in 1996 before enjoying an Indian summer with Liverpool. Then Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier snapped up McAllister on a free transfer in July 2000 and at the age of 36 the Scot went on to win the League Cup, FA Cup and UEFA Cup with the Reds in 2001. He returned to Coventry for a spell as player/manager in April 2002, but quit in December 2003 to help care for his wife Denise, who died of breast cancer in March 2006. McAllister, who has since made no secret of his desire to one day return to management, was awarded the MBE in December 2001 for his services to football. He was capped 57 times by his country. Victory for Leeds at Southend tonight could see the club placed second in the table when McAllister takes charge of his first game against Tranmere at Elland Road on Saturday.

Times 28/1/08
Dennis Wise’s departure another hurdle for Leeds to overcome
Rick Broadbent
Dennis Wise’s love-hate affair with Leeds United ended last night with the Coca-Cola League One club looking for their sixth manager since the bubble burst under David O’Leary in 2002. After suffering relegation, administration and a 15-point deduction during Wise’s reign, the battle-scarred supporters await another would-be saviour to arrive at a club who are preparing to sue the Football League. Wise’s appointment by Newcastle United as general manager is a shock. After the clubs agreed compensation, it is believed that he will be responsible for recruitment and youth development, but will have no day-to-day involvement in the first team. Wise, the former Chelsea and England midfield player, views his move as a big step up. “He said he was sorry it was such short notice, but it was too good an opportunity to miss,” Ken Bates, the Leeds chairman, said. “In football, you never stand in the way of anyone who wants to better themselves.” Despite overseeing Leeds’s descent into the third tier of the Football League for the first time, Wise had done enough to impress Mike Ashley, the Newcastle owner, during troubled times at Elland Road. Those are set to continue, with Bates taking to the High Court his disgruntlement over the 15-point deduction handed the club before the start of the season. Leeds fans had been vehemently against Wise’s appointment 15 months ago, but he won over the majority during an excellent start to the present campaign. However, he lost Gustavo Poyet, his assistant manager, to Tottenham Hotspur in October and Leeds have won only two of their past seven matches. Gary McAllister has been installed as the bookmakers’ favourite to take over, with Dave Bassett, Billy Davies and Sam Allarydce also attracting short odds.

Leedsunited.com 28/1/08
KEN ON DEN
United chairman Ken Bates has moved quickly to explain the situation regarding the departure of manager Dennis Wise.The club confirmed on Monday afternoon that a compensation package has been agreed with Newcastle for Dennis - and he will leave Leeds United on Tuesday afternoon after preparing the team for the trip to Southend United.
The announcement came after a morning of intense speculation surrounding the future of Wisey as Leeds boss.
The chairman told Yorkshire Radio : "There was a speculative article in the Mail on Sunday last week which we just ignored, then on Friday I got a phone call from Shaun Harvey who said Newcastle had asked for permission to speak to Dennis.
"I wasn't too surprised, but we wouldn't allow permission until we had it in writing that they would pay compensation
"Dennis had a one-year rolling contract, and if either party breaks it we have to agree on compensation.
"I thought it only right to advise Dennis. He said he would like to talk to them and I said he could once we had it in writing."That duly arrived and I told Dennis first thing this morning that he could meet the Newcastle chairman, and he said he would like to take the opportunity if he could.
"He said he was sorry it was such short notice, but it was too good an opportunity to miss. In football you never stand in the way of anyone who wants to improve themselves.
"We've agreed that he will prepare the team for tomorrow, but it wouldn't be appropriate if he was at the game. He will get them ready for the game and hopefully he will go out on a high.
"Newcastle said they were impressed with what he'd done in a difficult situation at Leeds United. He leaves the club in a much stronger position on very solid foundations.
"Attentions will now turn towards a successor for Dennis Wise - and the chairman says there will be no further comment from the club until an appointment is made.
"You only have to look at the frenzy that has taken place at Newcastle since they sacked Sam Allardyce and it's ridiculous," he added.
"We don't have leaks at Leeds United. We don't comment because the more you do the more people put more of a slant on it.
"We'll go about our business the same way as we do with our players. We don't talk about what we're going to do, we do it and then we announce it."

Leedsunited.com 28/1/08
DENNIS WISE
We have agreed a compensation package with Newcastle United for the services of our manager Dennis Wise and he will part company with the club on Tuesday January 29 after completing the preparations for our game at Southend United that evening.Newcastle had approached us for permission to speak with Dennis on Friday and since then things have happened very quickly.
We will always be grateful to Dennis for the way he has turned things around at the club on the playing side and he goes with our best wishes for the future.
We are not prepared to comment on the inevitable speculation that will now follow about who will replace Dennis. That is not the way we do our business at this club.

Daily Mail 28/1/08Newcastle prise Wise away from Leeds with lure of an office jobLeeds chairman Ken Bates has expressed his disappointment that Dennis Wise is to leave Elland Road for Newcastle. Sportsmail understands that the former Chelsea and England midfielder has accepted an office-based position that will allow him to work closer to his family, who have remained in the south-east while Wise has been in Leeds. It is believed that Wise will not be part Kevin Keegan's coaching staff at St James' Park and that negotiations with chairman Chris Mort have been ongoing for several weeks. Wise is expected to take up a role at St James' Park similar to the one currently occupied by Frank Arnesen at Chelsea. Bates, who was Wise's chairman at Chelsea during the 41-year-old's playing days and is a firm family friend, said: "We are sorry Dennis is going but he has been offered a big opportunity at Newcastle and you don't want to stand in anybody's way when they have such a good chance as this. You would be a bad employer if you did. "His contribution to Leeds has been fantastic. He took the place over on the playing side when it was a mess and he has now got us where we are in the play-off positions having been deducted 15 points. That situation speaks for itself." Former Elland Road hero Gary McAllister is the early favourite to manage Leeds, who have accepted a compensation package from Newcastle for the services of Wise. The 41-year-old will depart the Yorkshire club tomorrow after preparing the side for their Coca-Cola League One clash at Southend. Asked if he could comment on the situation, Keegan said: "Not really, other than to say that's a question for Chris Mort, the chairman, to answer when he comes back. "He will be back on Wednesday or Thursday. I am just wanting to concentrate on Arsenal." Leeds, who are likely to put former Wimbledon boss Dave Bassett - currently Wise's No 2 - in temporary charge of first-team affairs - released a statement, which read: "We have agreed a compensation package with Newcastle United for the services of our manager Dennis Wise and he will part company with the club on Tuesday January 29 after completing the preparations for our game at Southend United that evening. "Newcastle had approached us for permission to speak with Dennis on Friday and since then things have happened very quickly. "We will always be grateful to Dennis for the way he has turned things around at the club on the playing side and he goes with our best wishes for the future. "We are not prepared to comment on the inevitable speculation that will now follow about who will replace Dennis. That is not the way we do our business at this club."

Dennis Wise Factfile
Last updated at 16:56pm on 28th January 2008
1966: Born London, December 16.
1985: Joins Wimbledon on a free transfer. Makes his debut under Dave Bassett.
1986: Wimbledon win promotion to the old First Division.
1986-87: Scores four goals in 27 starts as Wimbledon stagger the critics by finishing sixth in the table in their first season in the top flight.
1988: Plays a key role in Wimbledon's amazing 1-0 FA Cup final triumph over Liverpool at Wembley.
1990: Signs for Chelsea in £1.6million move. Scores 13 goals in 44 games in first season as his side finish in the top half of the table but serves two spells of suspension. Awarded his first full England cap against Turkey and scores only goal of the game.
1994: Chelsea manager Glenn Hoddle strips Wise of the captaincy after he is sent off for foul and abusive language at Newcastle.
1995: Wise is jailed for three months for an assault on a taxi driver, although he is later acquitted on appeal.
1996: Misses selection for Euro 96.
1997: Leads Chelsea to victory in the FA Cup final.
1998: Chelsea capture League Cup and European Cup Winners' Cup under Wise's captaincy but Wise is passed over by Glenn Hoddle for World Cup squad.
1999: April - Wise is charged with biting the arm of Real Mallorca defender Elena Marcelino in the second half of Cup Winners' Cup semi-final first-leg 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge. He is later cleared by UEFA.
September - Tackles Kurdish protester during Champions League match with Galatasaray.
October - Earns recall to England squad for friendly against Belgium.
2000: February - Charged with misconduct by the FA following an alleged confrontation in the tunnel after the 3-1 defeat of Wimbledon at Stamford Bridge.
April 13 - Fined £7,500 by FA for his part in tunnel bust-up.
April 29 - Makes 400th appearance for Chelsea in 2-0 victory over Liverpool.
May 20 - Lifts FA Cup - accompanied by baby son Henry - following 1-0 win over Aston Villa at Wembley.
May 31 - Named in England squad for Euro 2000.
July - Signs one-year extension to Chelsea contract, with the club indicating they will reward him with a coaching position at the end of his deal.
2001: June - Chelsea accept £1.6million bid from Leicester for Wise.
2002: May - Leicester relegated to Nationwide League at end of season.
July - Sent home from Leicester's Finland pre-season training camp after a "breach of club discipline" when he breaks the jaw of team-mate Callum Davidson.
August - Leicester terminate Wise's contract but an independent disciplinary commission rules they were not allowed to do so.
September 3 - Leicester take case to the High Court.
September 18 - Leicester win the right to sack Wise.
September 24 - Wise joins Millwall on a two-season deal.
October 16 - Appointed caretaker player-manager, with Wilkins as his assistant, following the departure of Mark McGhee.
October 18 - Sent off - the 13th red card of his career - just four minutes after bringing himself on against Sheffield United for two-footed lunge at Chris Armstrong.
November - Appointed Millwall player-manager until the end of the 2004-05 season.
2004: February - Charged with abusive behaviour by the FA after launching a tirade at referee Frazer Stretton following a 2-1 defeat at Sheffield United which was marred by a mass brawl.
April 4 - Millwall beat Sunderland 1-0 at Old Trafford, with Wise playing, to reach the FA Cup final for the first time in their history.
April 14 - Fined £3,000 and warned as to his future conduct by FA for his abuse towards referee Frazer Stretton in February.
May - Wise's Millwall lose 3-0 to Manchester United in the FA Cup final at the Millennium Stadium, gaining European qualification.
2005: May 8 - Millwall finish 10th in the Coca-Cola Championship and Wise steps down as manager following a meeting with new club chairman Jeff Burnige.
June - Joins Southampton on a free transfer and takes over as joint caretaker manager with Dave Bassett.
December - Leaves Southampton following the appointment of George Burley.
2006: January - Joins Coventry on pay-as-you-play deal.
May - Appointed Swindon manager with Gustavo Poyet as his assistant.
October 24 - Confirmed as new manager of Leeds.
2007: February 9 - Denies a Football Association charge of improper conduct after being ordered to leave the technical area during Leeds' Coca-Cola Championship defeat by West Brom at Elland Road on January 20.
May - Relegated to League One, finishing bottom of the table with 36 points.
2008: January 3 - Interviewed by police after he chased a youth who allegedly threw stones at his family car on New Year's Day.
January 28 - It is confirmed he will join Kevin Keegan's backroom team at Newcastle.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Yorkshire Evening Post 26/1/08
Late strike denies Leeds United
Luton Town 1 Leeds United 1
The long-term health of Luton Town depends heavily on their move out of Kenilworth Road, and the sight of the bulldozers moving in on the club's present home will not upset Leeds United.
Leeds gave a good impression of a team on their way to the gallows at Kenilworth Road last season, and the 1-1 draw they were forced to accept today left a similar feeling of sickness in Dennis Wise's dressing room.United's visits to Bedfordshire rarely produce scrapbook material, and the 5-1 defeat inflicted on the club by Luton last term was consigned to the category of matches best forgotten. It cost John Carver his job as caretaker manager, and left several of the players involved on borrowed time. Even by United's standards, the fall-out was extreme.Their performance this weekend was not comparable with the club's abject surrender 15 months earlier, but neither did it rank among their most convincing displays this season. That fact was of little importance, however, until Sam Parkin's header in the fourth minute of injury-time drove a stake through Leeds' chance of an eighth league away win.
The lack of inspiration at Kenilworth was glaring, but a 1-0 victory would, from Wise's perspective, have been utterly priceless. The points were on a plate after Paul Huntington's first-half goal, and United's manager was visibly upset by the timing and the ease of his team's late concession. The result will sting, if only until Tuesday's visit to Southend United.
Wise's ambition of reaching the Championship automatically is likely to depend on how his players fair against the teams surrounding them near the top of League One, but securing a play-off position will come down to how ruthless Leeds are against clubs in trouble.
Luton fell into the latter group yesterday, troubled as they are by administration and their position in the relegation zone, and Wise was unable to rejoice at the acquisition of a point at Kenilworth Road.
His midfield had displayed a strong hint of disorganisation during their defeat to Doncaster Rovers last weekend and, with Neil Kilkenny suspended, there was no surprise created by the decision before kick-off to reinstate David Prutton on the right wing.
Prutton has moved steadily through this season, and last Saturday's tepid loss in his absence was ironically an endorsement of his contribution. United's dominance at Kenilworth Road was fleeting in a game which was largely devoid of composure, but Luton failed to manipulate Wise's midfield as Doncaster had done seven days earlier. They were, however, resilient enough to force a result.
United's self-assurance was strained by Rovers' victory at Elland Road, but as a means of motivating and reinvigorating Wise's players, the results produced by the three League One fixtures staged on Friday night were perfect.
Doncaster, Carlisle United and Leyton Orient were all forced to register unflattering defeats, giving Leeds the opportunity to take hold of second position yesterday. It was, though, Mick Harford's first home match as Luton's manager, ensuring an immediate display of endeavour from his newly inherited players.
A shot from Matthew Spring deflected a foot beyond Casper Ankergren's post in the first minute, and the dogged defiance in Town's performance was crafted in the image of Harford as a player. The hosts were uncompromising and gave Leeds little to feed on until a beautifully crafted goal gave United the lead in the 27th minute.
Chris Perry sent Jermaine Beckford sprawling with a sliding tackle outside the box, and Peter Sweeney's measured free-kick was headed into the net at Dean Brill's near post by a glancing finish from Huntington, the centre-back's second goal of the season.
The strike came at a crucial moment, undoing the patient work that Luton had completed from the kick-off, but the opening goal had almost fallen to Leeds 14 minutes earlier.
Tresor Kandol was played through by Sweeney's lob, and the striker's instinctive chip cleared Brill before dipping over the crossbar. Luton's goalkeeper wore the look of a man who feared he was beaten, but he was helpless to intervene when Huntington's anticipation brought about the first goal.United's lead was protected until the half-time, despite Wise's players inviting trouble in and around their own box.
Ankergren spilled a high cross from Drew Talbot in the 41st minute, forcing Frazer Richardson to hack the ball behind off the toes of Darren Currie, and a crucial intervention from Darren Kenton prevented Keith Keane from sweeping a finish into the net after the resulting corner from Currie was allowed to bounce around six yards in front of United's keeper.
A lead at the interval was more than either club deserved, but the continuation of a disjointed and scrappy match suited Leeds while their noses remained in front.
Talbot's cross landed on the top of United's net at the start of the second half and Spring's volley from the edge of the box struck a body before it could reach Ankergren, but Luton's effort was undermined by an obvious lack of quality in attack.
The run of the ball did not favour them either. A fierce volley from Talbot which appeared to be goalbound hit Keane as it flew towards goal, but a clearer chance fell to Kandol in the 78th minute when he played himself clear with a gentle header and lashed a volley wastefully over Brill's bar.
A calmer finish would have extinguished the life in Luton, and United were reprieved when Paul Furlong nodded a header off target with only Ankergren to beat in the 90th minute. But when Richardson allowed substitute Dean Morgan to tee up another chance for Parkin in added time, the striker's precise finish found the corner of the net.


Leedsunited.com 26/1/08
LUTON LATE SHOW
LUTON 1 (Parkin 90), UNITED 1 (Huntington 27)
United boss Dennis Wise made two changes from the side which lost to Doncaster last weekend. David Prutton returned to the right flank - Andrew Hughes reverted to a central role in place of the suspended Neil Kilkenny - and Tresor Kandol replaced Tore Andre Flo in the front-line.
Ian Westlake and Seb Carole both returned for bench duty while Finnish winger Seb Sorsa was also named among the subs for the first time.
New Luton boss Mick Harford received a noisy welcome ahead of his first home game, and it was Luton who had the first attempt on goal when former United midfielder Matt Spring had a shot deflected wide after just 50 seconds.
United's first opening came after 12 minutes when Hughes picked out Kandol, but the striker lifted his shot over the top.
It was a scrappy first 20 minutes, punctuated by a series of free-kicks, with neither side stamping their mark on the contest.
When Luton threatened again, Paul Huntington and Darren Kenton combined well to make two timely blocks to thwart the hosts.
And Huntington starred at the other end on 27 minutes as United took the lead from a well-worked free-kick. Peter Sweeney whipped the ball in, United's movement in the box was excellent, and Huntington found the space to head home.
It was a terrific set-piece, but Huntington's celebrations earned him a yellow card from referee Mike Dean.
Five minutes before the interval more good defending by Kenton denied Luton again, following a corner, but United went in 1-0 up at the break.
United started the second half brightly, and after Jermaine Beckford lifted a shot over the top on 55 minutes, Luton keeper Dean Brill came off his line well to collect a Prutton cross.
At the other end Spring had another shot deflected wide, before Beckford fired into the side-netting from the narrowest of angles after a good ball from Hughes.
There was a slight delay midway through the second half as Casper Ankergren underwent lengthy treatment after a clash with Calvin Andrew.
With 22 minutes remaining, Luton introduced substitute Dean Morgan, a player who had almost joined United two weeks ago.
The next opportunity fell to United, though, when Hughes released Kandol and the striker lifted his shot over the top.
As the clock started to tick down, United were looking comfortable with the lead, although Spring did try his luck from distance with a shot that went wide.
Ian Westlake was introduced in the final minute of normal time, but the fourth official indicated four minutes of added time, ensuring a tense finish.
Paul Furlong headed wide as Luton mounted one last push, but Leeds got men behind the ball and stuck to the task.
Then, in the fourth minute of added time, United were hit by a late, late leveller. Morgan delivered a cross from the left and Sam Parkin placed his header to leave Ankergren with no chance.

Yorkshire Evening Post 24/1/08
United caught in battle between taxman and Football League
By Phil Hay
Leeds United will argue that a conflict of interests between the Football League and Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs left the club powerless to stave off a 15-point penalty when their bid to revoke the punishment reaches the High Court.
United chairman Ken Bates announced on Saturday that he was issuing a writ against the Football League over what Leeds claim was a "wrongful decision" to deduct them 15 points before the start of this season.And the club's argument is expected to rest heavily on the dispute over football creditors which contributed to the collapse of Bates' proposed Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA).
Leeds United 2007 Ltd – the company fronted by Bates – were handed ownership of Leeds by KPMG through an administrator's sale on July 11 of last year after HMRC launched a legal challenge against the CVA put forward by United's chairman.
Bates' CVA had been agreed in principle at the start of June with the support of the required majority of 75 per cent of United's creditors. The deal initially promised to pay 1p in the £ to unsecured creditors – among them HMRC, who alone were owed more than £7million by Leeds – but government tax officials lodged a legal challenge against the deal an hour before the end of the 28-day cooling-off period provided by law for creditors to consider and contest a CVA.
United are likely to claim in court that the HMRC's prime motivation for fighting the deal was their dissatisfaction with Football League rules, which state that all football creditors – including players, managers and other clubs – must be paid in full before a club in administration is allowed to regain their 'golden share' in the League.
HMRC were until recently preferential creditors but their unsecured status left them in line to receive around £77,000 of the seven figure tax bill they were owed, while United's football creditors received full repayment.Confirmation of HMRC's legal challenge saw administrators KPMG collapse the CVA and complete a private sale to Bates' company.The move brought Leeds out of administration, but it conflicted with another area of Football League rules which requires insolvent clubs to implement an agreed CVA before their membership of the League is returned.
United's failure to move forward with a CVA in place began the sequence of events which saw their golden share returned through an "exceptional circumstances" clause within the League's regulations – but at the cost of a 15-point deduction.Leeds are expected to present the timeline as evidence that the HMRC's policy towards the issue of football creditors left little or no prospect of the club adhering to Football League rules by agreeing a CVA.
At the time of the administrator's sale in July, KPMG expressed concern that the weeks and months spent deciding HMRC's legal challenge would threaten United's survival due to uncertainty over how the club would be funded in the interim.
HMRC's challenge was originally made on July 3 but their case against Leeds was not scheduled to begin until September 3 – a month after the start of the League One season. KPMG's decision to carry out an administrator's sale rendered the CVA redundant, and ultimately led to HMRC dropping their legal challenge.
Bates told the YEP: "We were in an impossible position.
"We'd agreed a CVA with a 75 per cent majority, as Football League rules said we had to, and then the taxman decided to challenge the agreement in court. They weren't happy with the fact that football creditors were being paid in full.
"If we hadn't paid our football creditors in full then we wouldn't have received our golden share in the Football League, because their rules also state that every club in administration must pay every penny they owe to football creditors.
"By meeting that requirement, we brought on a legal challenge from the taxman which meant we couldn't follow through with the CVA. We were damned if we did and damned if we didn't."
HMRC's attitude towards the issue of football creditors was confirmed in a letter sent by Richard Fleming, the joint administrator of KPMG, to Colin Burgon MP on July 10 – 24 hours before Bates bought back United.
In his letter, Fleming stated that "the policy of HMRC, as detailed in the Voluntary Arrangements Service Worksheet, makes it clear they would decline any proposals made by any member of any organisation that requires debt owed to its members to be paid in full, when all other unsecured creditors become bound on approval of the arrangement."
United's writ against the Football League was due to be issued this week, and League officials have so far declined to comment.But the Football Association has rejected claims made by Bates in his match-day programme notes on Saturday that it advised United to sue the League rather than pursue independent arbitration against the FA itself.
Leeds requested arbitration under FA rules after failing to persuade the governing body to support their challenge to the 15-point penalty, but the club have now abandoned that route and proceeded directly to the High Court.
The FA has consistently maintained that the League followed their own rules appropriately by punishing United. A spokesman for Soho Square also refuted Bates' suggestion that the governing body had used "evasive behaviour and delaying tactics" during the dispute.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Yorkshire Post 17/1/08
Ken Bates unveils his big plans for the future of Leeds United
By Richard Sutcliffe
Ken Bates will celebrate his third anniversary in charge of Leeds United next week. Here, he outlines to Richard Sutcliffe his vision for the future.
GAZING out of the window in Ken Bates' office at Elland Road on a wet and windy afternoon in January, the view is one of contrast. In the distance, the lights of the city centre shine brightly with the imposing new 32-storey Bridgewater Place acting as a beacon for the new-found prosperity that has saw vibrant Leeds christened the 'Knightsbridge of the North'. A world away from this Harvey Nichols existence, however, is Holbeck, a suburb of red brick terraced houses and potholed wasteland that makes it very much a poor relation to the affluent city centre. It is this down-at-heel suburb that the back of the East Stand at Elland Road looks out on to and with an ugly motorway running through it, the view is distinctly underwhelming. Unless, that is, you are the Leeds United chairman.
Talking exclusively to the Yorkshire Post ahead of next Monday's third anniversary of taking over United, Bates is outlining his vision for the future. And he has plans. Big plans. Not only is the United chairman wanting to build a brand new multi-million pound West Stand to raise the Elland Road capacity to 50,000, he also has ambitious plans for the stand we are sitting in. Two hotels are on the agenda along with the type of classy shopping arcade that makes the centre of Leeds stand out. Also included in the blueprint is a nightclub, new restaurants and a club museum. While outlining all this, he suddenly jumps to his feet before beckoning this correspondent to the window.
He said: "It excites me what can be done. I was ridiculed at Chelsea (when announcing the plans for Chelsea Village) but now West Ham, Reading, Oxford, Derby, Leicester, Bolton and Sheffield United have all adapted that model.
"The key for this club's future is utilising the land 365 days per year. We have to attract income that is not dependant on how things are going on the field." Clearly, the Yorkshire Post suggests, Bates is not planning on leaving Elland Road any time soon? "Of course, I'm not. I have a vision for this area and I want to be able to say to the next man 'follow that'."
At one stage last year, of course, there was a time when it seemed there might not be a "next man". Or, for that matter, a football club at all.Administration followed relegation and the club's future was only assured a week before the 2007-08 season was due to kick off.
Even then, salvation came at a price with the Football League hitting Leeds with an unprecedented 15-point penalty. This punishment was subsequently upheld at a meeting of the other 71 member clubs with only five voting in United's favour. Dennis Wise's players may have overcome the handicap to battle their way into the promotion reckoning, but Bates still rankles at what he perceives as a grave injustice.
He said: "We have used it to our advantage by creating a siege mentality, but I have a long memory and I will not forget. Revenge is a dish best served cold.
"The chief executive of Leyton Orient told me quite frankly 'we had a board meeting and I was instructed to vote for the 15-point deduction because you are a competitor'. Where is the justice in that?
"It is not a surprise they voted how they did. When we go away, we effectively write a cheque for £70,000 to the home club. It is easily their biggest gate of the season.
"And the League Two clubs voted against us because they wanted some of that next year. The Championship clubs voted against us because it was another competitor out of the way.
"It was all self interest.
"Going into administration was a painful experience but they have since emerged in good shape. The £35m debt has gone with the settlement for creditors having been paid into the account of the administrator, KPMG. This will, in turn, be dished out to creditors once the identity of the liquidator can be agreed.
Bates said: "The fire-fighting is over, and we are now able to plan properly for the future. For example, we will be announcing a new commercial sponsorship next month that will add between £3.5m to £4.5m profit to our bottom line over the next four years.
"This season, we have spent £1m on players. But against that, we sold players for £3.9m. That helped pay the administrator and fund the losses made by the Conference and Banqueting section over the summer, which was about £900,000.
"We also paid the football creditors off. What we are trying to do now is deal with people who lost money with us. Some don't want to, and I fully understand that."But, by and large, we are dealing with a lot of them and hope to continue to do so for the long term. I feel that is very important.
"We are also setting sensible budgets. (Peter) Ridsdale not only predicted that Leeds would be in the Champions League every year, but also that they would get to the semi-final every two years.
"Our budget for this season is much more sensible, being based on getting knocked out of the cups in the first round. We predicted £80,000.
"But even though we are out of all the cups and have had little or no television coverage, we have still actually raised £288,000. That is how I like to do budgets."

Ken Bates is confident England will win the right to stage the 2018 World Cup and is determined the city of Leeds will not miss out.
The Football Association officially launched their campaign to stage the finals last year and are likely to face stiff competition from China, America, Russia and Australia plus a joint bid from Belgium and Holland.Despite that, Bates believes the World Cup will return to this country for the first time since 1966 and is adamant Elland Road will be one of the 12 host venues.
To make that a reality, the United chairman plans to build a new multi-million pound West Stand to raise the capacity to 50,000 and put the stadium on a par with the likes of Sunderland's Stadium of Light and St James' Park, Newcastle.
Bates, who last month revealed ambitious plans to transform the area behind the East Stand by building two hotels and a shopping arcade in an attempt to generate revenue all-year round, last night told the Yorkshire Post: "We have looked into what can be done.
"For example, to get 3,000 to 4,000 more seats in the South Stand, a second tier would have to be cantilevered over Elland Road. The questions then are 'Is it worth it? And is it cost effective?' The answer to those are both 'no'.
"There is nothing we can do with the East Stand, it has 17,000 seats anyway. So it has to be the West Stand, which offers us a first class opportunity to add 10,000 seats.
"The current West Stand was built more than half a century ago and a firm of architects have spent recent weeks drawing up proposals to replace it.
Bates is, however, at pains to point out that the clock is ticking and that the support of Leeds Council is imperative: "Time is not on our side, but I am determined to build a world class stadium for Leeds."If we do get the 2018 World Cup – which I think we will – then obviously the council will want us to be a host city. My answer to that is if we don't get a move on then we won't be.
"It is 10 years away, which sounds a long time. But it isn't. Suppose we pushed the button today, it would take 12 to 18 months to get the plans drawn up, agreed and planning permission granted.
"Then, we have to go through the tender process and I would not expect site work to start until 2011. Building football stadiums is complicated by having to be planned around the time slot of May to August.
"With the kind of stand I am envisaging, I would think you are looking at two years to build and that takes us to 2013.
"The new facility then has to be run-in, such as making sure every switch and toilet works, before you can even think about staging a World Cup."
United sold Elland Road to Manchester businessman Jacob Adler in November, 2004, with ownership subsequently passing to Teak Commercial Limited the following year.
Little is publicly known about the British Virgin Islands-based company, but with the original deal including a buy-back clause that United can trigger at any time, Bates insists the club will regain ownership of their home in the future.
He said: "Elland Road is quite simple; it is owned by Adler and we pay him a substantial rent. We have an option to buy it for 21 more years. The price goes up at three per cent per annum, but inflation is the same so that is fine.
"At the right time, we will borrow the money and buy it back. But, at the moment, due to Leeds' chequered record, naturally financial institutions are cautious about lending it. They want to see what new Leeds are doing.
"I am pleased to say that six months in, we have our costs under control, we are making money and have cash in the bank. It means we are starting to build up a record that will hopefully make institutions comfortable with lending to us.
"As for the new West Stand, It will be expensive, but that is why we are looking to utilise the ground 365 days per year by developing the hotels and conference facilities."

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Yorkshire Evening Post 14/1/08
United third after beating Crewe
By Phil Hay
Crewe Alexandra 0 Leeds United 1 Leeds United might prefer for Jermaine Beckford to keep a low profile until January is out, but the striker witnessed the familiar sight of his name in lights at Gresty Road last night.
The official line from Elland Road states that Beckford is not for sale, but the 24-year-old is tempting other clubs to test the extent of United's resistance. His 16th goal of the season completed a routine but important victory over Crewe Alexandra and reminded Dennis Wise why Leeds must reach the end of the month with Beckford intact. Paul Jewell, Derby County's manager, was present at the Alexandra Stadium yesterday evening, an appearance which was enough in itself to set the rumour mill in motion. County have been linked - somewhat tenuously - with a £3million bid for Beckford, and if Jewell's attendance was not purposeful, it was certainly convenient. Wise has already indicated that he would reject such a sum and advise Beckford against a transfer to Pride Park, but he will be privately hoping that Leeds reach the end of the transfer window without receiving an offer they cannot refuse. Every player has his price, yet few are as important to a club as Beckford is to United. Even below his best, as he was last night, the striker has the ability to settle matches in a flash. Beckford's performance against Crewe was not his finest or his most inspired, but the fact that his 36th-minute header separated the teams at full-time simply reiterated his value to both Leeds and Wise. Either side of the goal his chances were limited, but United carried the confident look of a side who expected to protect even the narrowest of advantages. Once the visitors pushed ahead through Beckford's bravery, a seventh away win of the season was almost a formality. The winning goal owed much to Crewe's goalkeeper, Ben Williams, whose rush of blood gave Beckford the simple task of cushioning a header into an empty net. Ben Parker and debutant Peter Sweeney exchanged passes on the left wing, and the latter's cross coaxed Williams into competing for a ball he had little chance of claiming. The keeper ran from his goalline and clattered clumsily into Beckford on the penalty spot, but the forward held his position and directed his finish goalwards before Williams' challenge left him on his back.
Crewe's manager, Steve Holland, described the winning goal as soft but, through patient endeavour, United had earned their lead. Before Beckford's strike, Leeds had hit the crossbar through Andrew Hughes and seen Tore Andre Flo miss Williams' goal with a chance he would have expected to take. Gresty Road did not throw up a classic last night but, in the shadow of their convincing victory over Northampton, United's confidence underwent a second round of repair.
Beyond the result, United's performance was another indication that Wise's activity in the transfer market has successfully tackled the problematic areas of his squad. Sweeney made an excellent debut on the left wing, supplying the thrust and quality of crossing that Leeds have been yearning. Darren Kenton was asked to fill the sizeable shoes of Rui Marques at centre-back, and did so with the confidence of a player who has coped at a level far above League One. He and Paul Huntington kept Crewe in check, and though United were not always comfortable beneath high deliveries into their box, their clean sheet was only briefly threatened.
Crewe's record this season suggested it might be so, yet their unpredictable form made the comfortable nature of last night's victory especially satisfying.
United have strong designs on automatic promotion in spite of the advantage held by Swansea City and Nottingham Forest, and a draw at Gresty Road would have been of limited value. Titles are not won in January, as Wise reiterated before kick-off, but this month had the potential to break Leeds.
The early weeks of the transfer window, however, have rejuvenated United in the way that their manager predicted, and the club have reacted responsibly to the problems experienced in the closing weeks of 2007. A spectacular victory was not essential last night; a win of any sorts was.
The signs were promising after only four minutes when Sweeney's corner was headed against the bar by Hughes, and the first half belonged almost exclusively to Leeds. Sweeney - signed last week from Stoke City - was involved again in the build up to Flo's opportunity on 17 minutes, tricking his way off the left flank and slipping a pass to Beckford inside the box. The striker's lay-off gave Flo space to pick out the corner of Williams' net, but an uncharacteristic finish sliced off the outside of his boot and sailed wide of the keeper's right-hand post.
Casper Ankergren was troubled only once before the interval, diving at the base of his post to block Gary Roberts' header, and Beckford's goal provided a fair relection of a half which Leeds had controlled.
Their lead would have been more substantial, however, had Wise's side been awarded a penalty two minutes after the break. Frazer Richardson's shot from the edge of the box was turned past the post by Ben Rix, and replays later exposed clear use of his arm. Referee Kevin Friend, whose habit of waving away big decisions was hand-washing on the scale of Pontius Pilate, ignored the appeals from Leeds' players, and Wise later exonerated the Leicestershire official by claiming he was unsighted. It is unlikely that United's manager would have been so gracious had Crewe restored parity during the second half.
Within a minute of Rix's intervention, the midfielder was cursing his fortune at the other end of the field, denied a goal by the quick reactions of Ankergren who rushed from his goal to throw his body in front of Rix's low shot.
But the chance fuelled Crewe's optimism, and Ankergren pushed Nicky Maynard's header off the line before Chris McCready nodded the ball against the bar amid a crowd of jostling players in the 69th minute. It was a threat that United took seriously, and from there on Holland's players created little.
Crewe were eventually reduced to 10 men when, having used three substitutes, Holland was forced to withdraw the injured Julien Baudet. With his departure went the Alex's chance of a point.
Jewell, meanwhile, left the stadium shortly before the final whistle, keeping his thoughts to himself. If Derby intend to bid for Beckford then they will show their hand soon enough but, one way or the other, Jewell will expect to see the striker playing in the Championship next season. So will Wise.


Leedsunited.com 14/1/08
BECKS-ELLENT
CREWE 0, UNITED 1 (Beckford 36)
After a busy week in the transfer market, Dennis Wise handed debuts to two of his new signings with Darren Kenton, on loan from Leicester, and Peter Sweeney both being named in the starting line-up. Another new recruit, Bradley Johnson, was named among the subs while skipper Alan Thompson also returned to the bench after injury.
It was one of those new signings, Sweeney, who had the first shot at goal when he fired wide after 90 seconds, following a half-cleared free-kick.
Moments later, Andrew Hughes headed a Sweeney corner against the bar as Leeds started brightly.
It was a good opening by United, who passed the ball well and looked a threat from the first whistle. United's movement was good, and Tore Andre Flo was next to go close after 17 minutes when scooped a shot wide after Jermaine Beckford held the ball up.
But it was Casper Ankergren who made the first save of the game when he got down well to deny Michael O'Connor with a powerful header on 20 minutes.
United's final delivery in the box was the key factor in keeping chances to a minimum during the opening half-hour - Crewe only threatened briefly - but the deadlock was broken on 36 minutes when Beckford bagged his 16th goal of the season.
The striker latched onto a deep cross from Sweeney and headed beyond the reach of a struggling Ben Williams to give United a deserved lead in the contest.
Sweeney was again the tormentor in the final minute of the half when he delivered another threatening cross from the left, but no one was able to make a connection.
United were also quick out of the blocks at the start of the second period, and just 90 seconds in, there were furious protests aimed at the referee after claims that a Frazer Richardson was blatantly handled on the line by Ben Rix.
Crewe responded immediately by forcing Ankergren into making another good save, and the entertainment continued as both sides moved the ball quickly.
Both Kenton and Ben Parker made timely blocks to deny the hosts as they started to look more of a threat when in possession.
The crossbar also came to the rescue after 69 minutes when Chris McCready rattled a header against the woodwork.
With 19 minutes remaining, Bradley Johnson became the third debut of the night when he replaced David Prutton. The youngster's first involvement was to release Andrew Hughes in a good position, but his cross-cum-shot fizzed across the face of goal.
Tresor Kandol was introduced on 77 minutes and his first real involvement was to hold the ball up and create a chance for Beckford - but the striker was unable to apply the finishing touch.
As the assistant referee signalled four minutes of added time, Frazer Richardson tested Williams with a shot from distance as United looked to seal the points.
And that proved to be the last action of the game as United recorded a first away win since November to move back into third place in League One.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Yorkshire Evening Post 11/1/08
Promotion is in reach for Leeds United
By Phil Hay
It sounded like a figure plucked from the air, and to most observers it was.
The date was August 9, and Dennis Wise was at his most defiant. News had reached him that Leeds United's appeal to the Football League against their 15-point deduction had been dismissed with what amounted to a near-unanimous vote against the argument from Elland Road.
In response, Wise vowed that Leeds would aim for 105 points and finish the season in May as League One's champions. It was a bold comment, but one which seemed to invoke a herd of flying pigs. The city of Leeds was more inclined to feel that the Football League was attempting to relegate their club.
United's position at that beleaguered point in their history did not lend itself to such a target. Wise had been hindered by a transfer embargo until the third day of August, a week before the first weekend of the season. The group of players he had hastily assembled was now being asked to drop no more than 33 points over the course of 46 games.
In 20 previous seasons, only Wigan and Fulham had gathered 100 points on their way to this particular trophy, and both clubs were experiencing a renaissance at the time of their success. On average, 92 has been the highest total a championship-winning team could expect to produce. But Wise's optimism was not misplaced and nor was his aim unrealistic. United, at the turn for home, are halfway there.
It is dangerous to sniff at ambition, however extreme it may be. That master-of-words Ian Holloway once said that those who reach for the sky are most likely to claim the stars, and the first half of United's season has travelled forward with that attitude.
Had Wise allowed their campaign to revolve solely around the task of avoiding relegation – and for all his protestations and words of caution, that was never the case – it is likely that they would be presently engaged in such a battle. But his plan to amass 105 points has been pursued with methodical and commendable consistency, to the point where survival is taken as read.
Their league position – fourth after 25 games – has no more surety than that of any other club, and promotion is too far away to appear fated. But in a contest which can finally be described as even five months after it began, Leeds are in a position to reap what they have sown. It was not the year envisaged by the Football League when they imposed United's deduction, and not the revival expected by the club chairman who supported it. But this season has moved exactly as Wise hoped and believed it might.
The door to a successful term was opened by the unbeaten sequence of 13 league matches which ran from the first game at Tranmere to the 4-2 defeat of Millwall at the end of October. Without it, Leeds may have entered 2008 as nothing more than an outside chance for the play-offs.
Managers fear the consequences of a poor start to a season, but the margin for error becomes ridiculously small when a penalty on the scale of United's is handed out.
Wise knew that an average of a point from every game would leave his club with a negative tally until the first week of November. Their form was of such a standard that by the time their 14th match ended in a 3-1 defeat at Carlisle, they were already in League One's top six.
Wise's players trampled over the division with the ferocity expected of a team stung by injustice, and by the time their 15-point penalty was removed by a victory over Hartlepool on September 8 it was clear that Leeds had no business in the bottom four.
Their performances were not as flawless as their results, but until Leeds began to drop points with increasing regularity during their matches either side of Christmas, the club remained beyond reproach.Wise's squad are the highest scoring in the division and their prolific statistics have been underpinned by the league's most prolific striker, Jermaine Beckford.
Their defensive record, meanwhile, is comparable with every other team inside the top six, and thoroughly respectable. This is clearly an untimely moment at which to lose Rui Marques to the African Cup of Nations, but Darren Kenton arrived at Elland Road yesterday to fill the void for a month. Marques himself was quick to point out that individual players do not decide promotion; the success of a club is generally dictated by the strength of their squad.
This month should see to it, then, that Leeds attack the second half of the season with greater strength in depth.
Wise has attended quickly to United's midfield, the one area of his squad which has failed to inspire confidence, and his signings appear to be progressive transfers rather than safe options.
Leeds have the potential to increase in strength from here, and if the club complete the season as they started it, they will leave this division in May.
From their 21 remaining games, they require 50 points to meet Wise's pre-season target and around 45 to have a realistic chance of automatic promotion, a rate of more than two points a match.
The figures are daunting but less so when compared to United's initial goal of 105, and Wise's opinion that his players have achieved nothing of note is not strictly true. Their sparkling half-season has been a delight to watch. It is also the very reason why Leeds have everything to fight for.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Yorkshire Post 10/1/08
Leeds trying to fill defensive hole by bringing in Kenton
By Richard Sutcliffe
LEEDS UNITED want to sign Leicester City defender Darren Kenton on loan to plug the gap left by Rui Marques's African Nations Cup call-up.
The Elland Road club must do without the highly-rated Angolan for several weeks so Dennis Wise wants to bolster his options at the back with just Paul Huntington and Matt Heath being available for Monday's trip to Crewe Alexandra.
Marques, who has been an ever-present in League One this term, could be away for up to seven games and the United manager admitted his interest in Bolton Wanderers defender Lubomir Michalik ahead of the transfer window opening 10 days ago.
However, the Yorkshire Post understands that Wise has this week approached Foxes manager Ian Holloway over a possible loan move for Kenton and is now awaiting a response from the East Midlands club.
The 29-year-old has made 14 appearances this season but was substituted at half-time in last Saturday's FA Cup defeat at Southampton.
Kenton started his career with Norwich and made 172 league appearances during a seven-year spell before moving to Premier League Southampton in the summer of 2003. Three years later, he joined Leicester on a free transfer after impressing during a two-month loan spell at the Walkers Stadium the previous season.
Kenton can play anywhere along the back four and has even deputised at times in midfield this season for Foxes captain Stephen Clemence.
The London-born defender could, however, become part of the clearout promised by Holloway following his side's FA Cup exit. The Foxes manager promised after that defeat to field a "brand new" team for Saturday's match with Coventry City and has so far been as good as his word with no less than five signings in line to make their home debuts against the Sky Blues.
That could work in Leeds' favour as Wise looks to bolster his own options ahead of Monday's trip to Gresty Road.
One player who should be involved for Leeds against Crewe is Peter Sweeney with the Stoke City winger expected to this morning finally complete his switch to Elland Road for a nominal fee.
The 23-year-old agreed personal terms with United after meeting them over the weekend and underwent his medical yesterday afternoon. Sweeney, who played for Wise at Millwall, is expected to return to Thorp Arch today to sign the contract. He spent time on loan with Walsall earlier this season and impressed in last month's 1-1 draw with United.
Providing the deal is completed, the wide man will become Leeds' third signing in four days. Neil Kilkenny joined on an emergency loan from Birmingham City before the weekend win over Northampton and made the deal permanent on Monday. Bradley Johnson followed suit on Tuesday in a £250,000 switch from Northampton Town with the midfielder expected to join Kilkenny and Sweeney in the squad to face Crewe next week in front of the live Sky Television cameras. United are also understood to remain keen on Walsall left-back Daniel Fox despite having a £250,000 bid turned down late last year.
Wise was given a further boost yesterday when Jonny Howson made his first appearance for the reserves since being stretchered off against Swansea City on December 29.

Leedsunited.com 10/1/08
SWEENEY'S DELIGHT
Midfielder Peter Sweeney was delighted to finalise his move to Leeds United on Thursday morning.
The 23-year-old signed a two-and-a-half-year deal with the club, after terms were agreed last weekend.
"I'm delighted it's all done," said Peter.
"It took a bit of while, there were a few things to sort out because I was on loan at Walsall, and I had to get my release papers from there first.
"But this is a massive football club, and the fact that Dennis Wise is the manager made it even easier for me. He gave me my chance at Millwall and the rest is history."
Peter, a left-sided midfielder who can play anywhere in the middle of the park, was a member of the Millwall side which reached the FA Cup final in 2004 under the stewardship of Dennis.
That was the same season United slipped out of the Premiership, and Peter says he is hoping to play a part in helping the club climb the ladder back towards the top-flight.
"I used to love watching Leeds in the Premiership," he said. "Now it's great to be here and be a part of it.
"It's a Premiership club without a doubt and it'd be nice to be a part of getting back there, but first we have to get into the Championship.
"I was at Elland Road on Saturday and saw the atmosphere. There's nothing better than playing in front of crowds like that.
"I don't expect to jump straight into the side, but I want to get in and do whatever needs doing for the team."

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Yorkshire Evening Post 8/1/08
Beckford not for sale
By Richard Byram
LEEDS United have today insisted that star striker Jermaine Beckford is not for sale.
The 24-year-old has been linked with a £3m switch to Premier Division strugglers Derby County who are managed by former Bradford City and Sheffield Wednesday boss Paul Jewell. Beckford is the leading scorer in League One with 15 goals to his credit so far this term and United boss Dennis Wise rewarded him for his efforts with a new improved three-year contract in October.
The London-born striker moved to United from non-league Wealdstone for just £50,000 in March 2006 and his sale would represent an enormous profit for the Whites. But with the financial problems which have dogged United in recent years no longer an issue, the club is under no pressure to sell its prized asset.
A United spokesman said: "Jermaine Beckford is not for sale. He is a key part of the club's progress on the pitch under Dennis Wise and there is no reason why he cannot reach his ambitions of playing at the highest level with Leeds United.
"It is an exciting time for the club and Jermaine is very much part of the future here."


Yorkshire Evening Post 8/1/08
United preparing to confirm winger's arrival
By Phil Hay
Leeds United were preparing to confirm their fourth signing of the transfer window today by finalising the arrival of Bradley Johnson from Northampton Town.
The 20-year-old was due to undergo a medical at Thorp Arch before putting pen to paper on his contract following successful negotiations with United. It is anticipated that Johnson will sign a three-and-a-half year deal.Leeds held preliminary talks with Johnson and his agent on Friday evening and, after spending the weekend considering the transfer from Sixfields to Elland Road, the winger has moved to accept United's offer.
Northampton will receive a fee in the region of £250,000 for Johnson, who was interesting as many as four other clubs and had already rejected a move to Colchester United, and the youngster's transfer will taken the number of signings secured by Leeds since the start of the month to four.
Stoke City midfielder Peter Sweeney has agreed terms with United and will finalise his move once he passes a medical.
Leeds are expected to pay a nominal amount for the 23-year-old, who was in Millwall's squad while Dennis Wise was in charge at the New Den between 2003 and 2005. He recently completed a loan spell with Walsall and should be eligible for next Monday's League One game against Crewe Alexandra at Gresty Road.
Sebastian Sorsa has also linked up with Wise's squad on an 18-month deal after reaching the end of his contract with Finnish club HJK Helsinki, while Neil Kilkenny's emergency loan from Birmingham City was promptly converted into a permanent deal yesterday afternoon.
Kilkenny, who has cost United £150,000, agreed a temporary deal last week to allow him to play in Saturday's 3-0 win over Northampton, but he has signed a three-and-a-half year contact which will keep him at Elland Road until the summer of 2011.
Wise has repeatedly stressed the importance of signing players capable of building lengthy careers at Elland Road, and the deals handed to Kilkenny and Johnson have followed that strategy. Sweeney is also expected to receive a long-term agreement once he completes his medical.
But there is no room in Wise's squad for Dean Morgan, the Luton Town winger who looked set to join Leeds last week.
United had agreed a fee with Luton Town's administrators and were at the head of a line of three League One clubs interested in signing Morgan, but despite the ex-Reading player claiming that he expected to move to Elland Road, Leeds withdrew their offer around lunchtime yesterday.
Sources within the club were claiming on Friday that Morgan's wages might prevent a deal from being reached, and a statement released from Elland Road said United had been "unable to agree acceptable personal terms with the player's representatives".
The development has come as a blow to Luton, who were declared insolvent in November and are in desperate need of financial income. The Kenilworth Road side – managed by Kevin Blackwell - were expected to learn today whether a buyer for the club had emerged ahead of last night's 5pm deadline set by the administrators.
United, meanwhile, are still considering whether to launch a bid for Hull City's Damien Delaney, who was the subject of a failed offer from Colchester United last week.
Leeds are searching for cover for Rui Marques, who has flown out of England to link up with Angola's squad before the African Cup of Nations, and Wise's plan to sign Bolton's Lubomir Michalik – a former loanee at Elland Road – has so far come to nothing.
Hull boss Phil Brown appears ready to consider bids for Delaney, who was signed by City for £50,000 from Leicester in 2002. The Irishman has made more than 200 league appearances for Hull, however, and United would have to top the £450,000 bid which Colchester saw rejected last week.
But Wise may be creeping closer to the signing of Walsall left-back Daniel Fox, who has lodged an official transfer request at the Bescot Stadium.
Leeds have already offered £250,000 for the full-back, a sum which was immediately turned down by Walsall, but Fox is out of contract in the summer and has refused new terms presented to him by the club. Fox, 21, is keen to move to Elland Road, and his decision to demand a transfer has been seen as a deliberate attempt to force the issue. But Walsall are determined to retain him until the summer, when a tribunal would set the price of his departure, and sources in the West Midlands suggest interest among rivals clubs may drag Leeds into a bidding war if Wise seeks to secure Fox before the end of the month.
Leeds could still return to Wolves for permission to sign Jamie Clapham if their chase of Fox comes to nothing, while the Elland Road side are also understood to have cast on eye over young Rochdale left-back Tom Kennedy.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Leedsunited.com 5/1/08
THREE AND EASY
UNITED 3 (Richardson 43, Marques 52, Weston 90), NORTHAMPTON 0
The game was preceded by the announcement that the club had agreed terms to sign Stoke City midfielder Peter Sweeney, and boss Dennis Wise continued his shake-up on the field.
New recruit Neil Kilkenny made his debut alongside Andrew Hughes in the middle of the park, Ben Parker was handed a starting role at left-back, Ian Westlake returned in place of Seb Carole on the left, and Tore Andre Flo made his first start of the season in place of Tresor Kandol.
Paul Huntington also made his first league start in place of the suspended Matt Heath.
Kilkenny got himself involved immediately as United, on the back of run that has produced one point from a possible nine, started the brighter of the two sides and looked the more threatening.
Leeds played some good passing football during the opening 20 minutes and the home side were forced to defend deep and in numbers.
On 23 minutes United were denied by a double block from Northampton. Huntington picked out Beckford with a terrific pass, but the striker was denied by goalkeeper Mark Bunn. And Flo's follow-up effort was hacked off the line by Brett Johnson.
United continued to dominate with Huntington providing three more delightful passes as Leeds enjoyed a great spell of possession. Kilkenny was instrumental alongside Hughes in the middle and both full-backs overlapped well to keep the visitors pegged back.
The opening goal finally came in the 43rd minute and was very much deserved. It came from an unlikely source with defender Frazer Richardson, looking rejuvenated, advancing to the edge of the box before picking his spot to leave Bunn with no chance.
The goal was just rewards for a terrific opening half of football from Leeds.
The United boss made a change at half-time with Carole replacing Westlake on the left-hand side.
And it was 2-0 seven minutes into the second half, following another well-worked goal. Hughes knocked Kilkenny's corner back into box and Rui Marques, playing his final game before joining up with Angola, headed home in style.
The visitors finally showed some ambition after United went two-up and substitute Ian Henderson cllipped a Dean Bowditch cross over the top.
But Flo almost made it three on 67 minutes when after working himself an opening, cutting in from the right, he curled his shot narrowly wide. Moments later, Bunn got down well to deny Parker after the defender turned a Kilkenny free-kick goalwards.
On 73 minutes Beckford had a shot cleared off the line after showing great skill to force the chance. Just 90 seconds later a curler from Beckford was headed onto an upright by a Northampton defender as United continued to run the game.
The Mexican Wave even returned to the stands as the fans enjoyed one of the most comfortable performances of the season.
Amazingly, the determined Beckford was denied yet again as the clock ticked down. First Bunn made a good block and as Beckford stuck at it, and got another touch, a defender cleared off the line.
And in the final minute, Bunn clung onto a Beckford header after Carole supplied a good delivery.
But there was more to come, and in the third minute of stoppage time, substitute Curtis Weston scored his first goal for the club with a terrific low finish which left Bunn with no chance and put the seal on a comfortable win.
The performance was more than enough to ensure a return to winning ways and United moved back to fourth in the table.
Yorkshire Evening Post 4/1/08
Argentina defender ready to join Leeds
By Richard Sutcliffe
ExclusiveLEEDS UNITED are in talks over a proposed partnership with top Argentinian club San Lorenzo, the Yorkshire Post can reveal.
Under the plans, a host of star names will make their way to Elland Road with discussions understood to be at such an advanced stage that Argentinian international Jonathan Bottinelli is due to fly in next week.
The highly-rated defender will be joined at Thorp Arch by San Lorenzo team-mate, Under-20 international Nicolas Bianchi, and both will be assessed by manager Dennis Wise.
The Yorkshire Post understands the duo's arrival could be the first of many as Leeds and the Argentinian Premier League side, whose 2008 season does not start until February 10, look to forge a link-up that will be mutually beneficial.
San Lorenzo have long been established as one of the top clubs in Argentina and were last year crowned champions of Torneo Clausara, the first of the two 19-game tournaments played each year in the top division.The Clausura stretches from February to June and San Lorenzo finished six points clear of second-placed Boca Juniors to be crowned champions. The period August to December is covered by Torneo Apertura, San Lorenzo suffering a dip in form to finish ninth.
Over the full season, however, the club collected the third highest tally of points behind Apertura champions Estudiantes de La Plata and Boca Juniors.Despite the slump from August onwards, the Buenos Aires based club still qualified for the 2008 Copa Libertadores – the south American equivalent of the Champions League.As part of the link-up, both Bottinelli and Bianchi are due to arrive in England next week to join the United squad and the duo arrive with an excellent pedigree.
Bottinelli, 23, made his full international debut in Argentina's goalless draw with Chile last April and can play at either left-back or in the centre of defence. Last season, he made 29 appearances for San Lorenzo and scored four goals.
Bianchi, meanwhile, will celebrate his 21st birthday later this month and is an Under-20 international. The central defender made 14 appearances during 2007.
If Bianchi or Bottinelli impress sufficiently – and providing the two clubs can come to some sort of agreement over the partnership – then Leeds will look to sign the duo, subject to work permits. The impending arrival of the two Argentinians adds a further intriguing element to a transfer window that Wise admits has arrived "at the right time".
The Elland Road club are suffering their first genuine blip of the season with back-to-back defeats to Swansea City and Oldham Athletic having seen United lose ground on the League One leaders.
Wise has responded by stepping up his search for new faces with the Yorkshire Post understanding Luton Town's Dean Morgan could arrive as early as during the next 24 hours after a bid was lodged with the administrators of the struggling Bedfordshire club.
The United chief has also admitted his interest in Barnet's 10-goal attacker Jason Puncheon, and a £250,000 bid for left-back Daniel Fox was turned down by Walsall last month.
Wise said: "I am hoping by the morning that something will have moved on. We have put offers in for some players and we are hoping we can get them.
"I am looking at a few places, five or six. The transfer window has come along at the right time. Signings give everyone a lift. The players may be becoming slightly complacent by thinking 'he is injured, so I will get a game'.
"Lubo Michalik (the Bolton defender who was on loan at Leeds last season) is someone I am still interested in but I am having to wait patiently for that one. Puncheon and Morgan are others I am interested in. I know Dean very well."
Wise believes the arrival of new faces to add to Sebastian Sorza, the Finnish winger who signed on a free this week, will act as a major fillip to a squad that is under-performing.
He added: "They need a kick up the backside. We are going to go back to basics. We are going to bore the pants off the players (in training). They won't like it, but too bad. When you put a performance in like that, then you go back to basics.
"What I won't forget is these players got us in this position. But the pressure now is a different kind of pressure and they have to cope with it. At the moment, they are not doing."


Sky 3/1/08
Leeds snap up Kilkenny
Wise's January shopping spree continues
By James Pearson
Leeds United have made the surprise capture of Birmingham City midfielder Neil Kilkenny on loan with a view to a permanent transfer.
Kilkenny spent the first half of the League One season with Oldham and he even starred in The Latics' impressive New Year's day win at Elland Road.
Oldham had offered the 22-year-old a permanent stay at Boundary Park while Doncaster were also interested, but now Leeds have landed his services.
Leeds have signed Kilkenny on an emergency loan meaning he may feature in Saturday's clash with Northampton, before pushing through a permanent deal early next week.
Kilkenny, who began his at Arsenal before joining Birmingham, was born in England but committed his future to Australia after growing up in Brisbane.
The Australia international becomes Leeds' second signing in January behind Sebastian Sorsa, while he could swiftly be joined by Northampton's Bradley Johnson.

Yorkshire Post 3/1/08
Leeds's players must show they can finish the job – Bassett
By Richard Sutcliffe
DAVE BASSETT believes Leeds United's dip in form over the festive season will act as a wake-up call to the players.
United's assistant manager admitted to having had concerns over their form in recent weeks with the New Year's Day defeat at home to Oldham Athletic meaning Dennis Wise's side have claimed just five points from as many games.
Wise is hoping to bring in "four or five" new signings during the transfer window with Finnish winger Sebastian Sorsa yesterday having agreed an 18-month deal after joining on a free transfer.
More are tipped to follow with speculation in the Midlands suggesting United had increased the £250,000 bid for Walsall left-back Daniel Fox that was rejected last month.
Barnet attacker Jason Puncheon has also been linked with a £150,000 switch to Elland Road, though the Yorkshire Post understands talk of a loan move for Danny Mills is well wide of the mark.
Bassett believes any new arrivals can only help freshen up a squad whose form has reached a plateau in recent weeks after a scintillating first four months of the season.
The Leeds assistant manager said: "When you look back, we haven't played well in those five games and we had been warning the players that if they weren't careful, a performance like Oldham would happen.
"This is a questionable time for this set of players – to show what they can do.
"That is the big question mark because people will ask 'have Leeds cracked?'
"Our record is good, 52 points from 24 games. No other team has got that sort of figure. No team has done that in the last 10 years. But unfortunately for us, we have the 15-point deficit.
"The players have done fantastic to get here, but they have got to push on now and show us they can finish the job. It may well be that they have worked so damn hard to get there that there are repercussions because they relax and take the foot of the pedal.
"We are not knocking the players, but this is a wake-up call. We have been on their case and realise it needs freshening up, because some will suffer a burnout.
"We are certainly going to bring in four or five players."
The manner of United's performance in the first half against Oldham was a major concern with Wise being so upset he sent the players back out a full five minutes before the restart was due.
There was a slight improvement after the break, with Leon Constantine's goal reducing the deficit, but not enough to suggest Leeds could fight their way right back into the game.
Attention has now turned to Saturday's League One game at home to Northampton Town when Wise will be without Alan Thompson and Matt Heath through suspension.
Bassett said: "The management are very disappointed and Dennis was very angry after the game. The players could not complain; if you play like that then you will lose more than you will win.
"The goals we conceded were poor, our attacking play was poor and we had no creativity. We looked very static and mentally tired.
"There were too many players who went missing and were lacking in confidence. When they were on the ball, they treated it like a hot potato."
Wise will, at least, have one new face at his disposal following the capture of Sorsa on a free transfer from HJK Helsinki.
The 23-year-old spent time on trial at Thorp Arch last year and impressed sufficiently to be offered an 18-month contract.
Bassett added: "Sorsa is a young lad who plays as a wide player, usually on the right. He has good pace."

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Yorkshire Evening Post 1/1/08
Wise's silence speaks volumes
Leeds United 1 Oldham Athletic 3
In an uncharacteristic moment of silence yesterday, Dennis Wise gave the most telling verdict on the torturous manner of Leeds United's arrival at the gates of 2008.
Wise sent his assistant, Dave Bassett, to dissect United's first league defeat of the season at Elland Road, too livid to address the media himself. Managers can reveal a great deal through silence, and if saying nothing was Wise's way of expressing his anger, it had the desired effect.
United's boss may feel that comments made behind closed doors are better left in private, but it was not difficult to gauge the mood of his dressing room after the club's torrid loss to Oldham Athletic.
An irate Wise sent his players out for the second half five minutes early, trailing as they were by three goals, and the verbal battering they received at the interval is said to have been repeated at full-time. Wise may have felt he had said enough for one day, and Bassett to his credit put forward an assessment of United's recent performances which was as accurate as it was honest.
esterday's result was brought about as much by United's ineptitude as it was by Oldham's quality, but to view the loss in isolation would be folly. Leeds have gathered deserved acclaim this season, and their defeat to Oldham should not be allowed to question unfairly their ability to escape League One, but it was, as Bassett admitted, indicative of a five-match period in which Wise's side have been deeply unconvincing.
Since routing Huddersfield Town on December 8, United's confidence has faded. They are no longer the invincible side who crashed through the first half of the term with devastating effect, a fact which is now apparent to both Wise's players and their opponents.
Their 1-1 draw at Walsall was fashioned through a deflection in the final minute, and an own goal was required to account for a Bristol Rovers team who should not have run Leeds close. Since then, an act of salvage at Hartlepool United has been followed by a narrow loss to a talented Swansea City side, and a thorough defeat to a more ordinary Oldham team. Five points from as many games is not the definition of a good Christmas.
Leeds were outclassed in Wales on Saturday but at least reached the final whistle knowing they had made a contest of their meeting the League One's leaders. Yesterday, there was no such consolation.
Their defeat was in order before half-time, and with it came the end of an unbeaten league record at Elland Road which had run not only through this season, but as far back as March 3. Ten months of resilience came apart inside the 12 first-half minutes when Oldham took a turgid game and shook it violently with three rapid goals.
United's display, and the atmosphere of a crowd of 25,906, was eerily reminiscent of last season when Wise became accustomed to the sight of his plans going awry. Over the last five months, though plain hard work and a hugely ambitious attitude, United's manager and his players have regained the faith of their supporters, and it is unreasonable to think that one desperate defeat will hinder that relationship.
But with the transfer window open and a month to improve and rally his squad, Wise will concur with the onlookers yesterday who witnessed a team in need of refreshment.
His midfield appeared jaded and fractured once more, clearly missing the robust presence of Jonathan Douglas, and continuity in that area alone would restore United's resilience. Injuries have caused untold problems, and it seems inconceivable that Shaun Derry will make another appearance for what is, for now, his parent club. On loan with Crystal Palace and improving by the game, Derry would have been welcomed home with open arms yesterday. United's failure to draw him back to Yorkshire is likely to facilitate a permanent transfer out of Elland Road this month.Oldham's victory was the result of ruthless opportunism and, as Swansea had three days earlier, John Sheridan's players took advantage of every error made by Leeds.
Their win, as deserved as it was, had been difficult to predict during the mundane spell of 27 minutes which preceded their first goal, but Oldham acknowledged the pressure that Reuben Hazell's strike placed on Leeds and quickly harnessed the fractious atmosphere. Sheridan knew Leeds would eventually mount a response; to his delight, his team were out of sight by the time it came.
Hazell's strike was a delightful finish, a searing volley from the edge of the box, yet United's concession lay in their lack of defensive conviction. Matt Heath's weak header from inside his own penalty area dropped awkwardly to Hazell, who controlled the ball with his chest and was given enough time to lash a dipping shot beyond Casper Ankergren before the goalkeeper could move.
Sensing the initiative and a potential feather in their cap, Oldham lunged purposefully for the jugular.
A superb save from Ankergren dug Frazer Richardson out of trouble after the full-back's mis-placed pass in the 36th minute left Craig Davies free 10 yards from goal, but Oldham increased their lead from the resulting corner.
Neil Kilkenny's delivery dropped lazily into the box where Neil Trotman rose unmarked to nod a free header into the net. It was a soft goal, though not as charitable as the attack four minutes later which left United three goals adrift.
Davies whipped a low delivery across goal from the left wing, and when Oldham striker Lee Hughes missed his connection, his namesake Andrew could not avoid adding the deflection which carried the ball beyond Ankergren at his far post. Elland Road groaned and, after dragging his players from the field at half-time, the walls of Wise's dressing room shook.
Tore Andre Flo and Leon Constantine were introduced as substitutes at the start of the second half, a deliberate demonstration of Wise's dissatisfaction. He did not have to speak publicly to concur with the frustration of the home crowd, and the sight of United's players on the pitch fully five minutes before the restart spoke volumes. It could not be argued that Wise accepted yesterday's defeat with good grace.
Within a minute of the kick-off, his substitutions brought a reward as Tresor Kandol's knock-down was headed into an empty net by Constantine, and Wise was almost tempted to raise a smile in the 66th minute when Kandol leapt onto David Prutton's deflected shot and hammered the ball past Mark Crossley.
An offside flag rained on Kandol's celebrations, however, and thereafter United rarely threatened to find the second goal they needed to test Oldham's nerve.
If anything, the visitors were as likely to extend their lead, even though Leeds were operating with four strikers; the Alamo it was not. A fascinating year lies ahead.
Leedsunited.com 1/1/08
NEW YEAR WOE
UNITED 1 (Constantine 46), OLDHAM 3 (Hazell 28, Trotman 36, Hughes OG 40)
Dennis Wise paired up Alan Thompson and Radostin Kishishev in midfielder, and also recalled David Prutton to the starting line-up with Seb Carole switching to the left flank in place of Ian Westlake.
The game marked the return of former United favourite John Sheridan in his capacity as Oldham boss, and it was visiting striker Craig Davies who forced Casper Ankergen into making the first save of the afternoon.
It was an untidy opening to the contest, Tresor Kandol had a shot blocked for United and Oldham's Chris Taylor tried his luck from distance.
Taylor's afternoon came to an end after just 19 minutes, though, when he limped out of the action, being replaced by Deane Smalley.
The sluggish nature of the contest continued until Oldham took the lead with an unbelievable effort from Reuben Hazell. The Latics defender seized on a poor clearance, chested the ball down, and unleashed a looping strike from 25 yards.
It should have been 2-0 on 35 minutes when Davies seized upon a mis-placed pass from Frazer Richardson, but Ankergren made a good save.
It was 2-0, though, from the resultant corner, Neal Trotman heading home Oldham's second.
Worse was to follow before half-time when Davies was allowed to send in a low cross. Lee Hughes attempted to turn it goalwards, but it was United's Andrew Hughes who got the final touch to turn it over the line.
The half-time interval was cut short for United, with Wise's men emerging a full five minutes before their opponents. The boss also made two changes with Tore Andre Flo and Leon Constantine replacing Kishishev and Carole.
The changes reaped an immediate reward with Constantine scoring with his first touch. The striker converted from close range, following a Jermaine Beckford pass, just 30 seconds into the half.
The goal lifted Elland Road and moments later, the duo combined again when Constantine screwed a shot wide of the mark.
But, with United effectively playing with a four-man attack, Oldham had another opportunity on 53 minutes when Hughes seized after Ankergren failed to hold a Trotman shot. The striker's finish was wide of the mark.
United had the ball in the net again on 66 minutes, but Kandol's close-range effort was ruled out by an offside flag. Beckford also lifted a shot over the top as the home side continued to press in search of another goal.
Yet it was Ankergren who made another good save to deny Mark Allott with 15 minutes remaining. Rui Marques also made a tremendous block to deny Craig Davies just three minutes from time as the clock started to tick down on a first home league defeat for 10 months.
Sheffield Wednesday were the last team to beat United in the league at Elland Road - last March - and the Owls were also the last visiting team to score three goals at Leeds.