Saturday, October 31, 2009

Leedsunited.com 31/10/09
UNITED HIT YEOVIL FOR FOUR
UNITED 4 (Johnson 42, Gradel 69, Beckford 78, Kandol 84), YEOVIL TOWN 0
United: Ankergren, Bromby, Naylor, Kisnorbo, Hughes (Gradel 59), Snodgrass, Doyle (Kilkenny 59), Howson, Johnson, Beckford (Kandol 81), Vokes. Subs: Martin, Prutton, Grella, Michalik.
Yeovil: McCarthy, Jones, Forbes, Alcock, Caulker, Welsh (Murtagh 73), Kalala, MacDonald, Obika, Mason (Lindegaard 89), Williams. Subs: Stam, Murtagh, Martin, Smith, Hutchins, Clowes.
Referee: A Haines
Booked: Welsh, Kalala (Yeovil)

Manager Simon Grayson named an unchanged side as United looked to follow up the midweek success at Bristol Rovers with another victory on home soil.
Yeovil arrived on the back of a six-game unbeaten run, but Leeds started on the front foot and after Micky Doyle saw an incisive pass to Jermaine Beckford blocked, Sam Vokes tested visiting goalkeeper Alex McCarthy for the first time in the third minute.
But the visitors also showed some early enterprise in terms of passing the ball around, it was Yeovil who created the first good chance when Casper Ankergren was called upon to save from John Obika, who had got himself in a decent position.
Both sides looked to play football, and there was a lot of cancelling out during the opening 20 minutes or so with neither side taking firm control.
As it was Yeovil had another decent opportunity when Craig Alcock rose unchallenged to meet a free-kick, but his header sailed across goal and went wide of the post.
The Elland Road atmosphere was strangely muted and while the football on view was pretty enough for the biggest part, there was little in the way of decent chances being created as the game went past the half-hour mark.
On 38 minutes, United's persistence won a free-kick on the edge of the box when Rob Snodgrass was fouled, but McCarthy was able to collect Bradley Johnson's delivery.
But it was Johnson who scored the opening goal on 42 minutes, although there was some confusion as to the scorer. Johnson's pass for Beckford took a deflection and the ball appeared to cross the line without the striker getting an additional touch.
There was no doubt at the start of the second half as to who put the ball in the Yeovil net when Beckford converted, but was denied by an offside flag. Vokes also tried his luck from distance a couple of times during the opening 10 minutes of the second period.
United also had some defending to do, Richard Naylor and Andrew Hughes combining well when Sam Williams threatened to force an opening.
Shortly before the hour, Grayson made two changes, introducing Max Gradel and Neil Kilkenny in place of Hughes and Micky Doyle.
Gradel immediately supplied a cross for Beckford that had Yeovil goalkeeper McCarthy scrambling to save and from the resultant corner Vokes headed over.
Howson was next to test McCarthy with a terrific effort, but United were 2-0 up in the 69th minute, courtesy of Gradel. The winger worked himself a good opener and delivered a finish to match which left McCarthy with no chance.
And it was 3-0 and game over on 78 minutes when Beckford reacted well to convert a flick from Vokes with another good finish.
There was still time for more as well, with Kandol getting in on the act to score his second goal in as many games as he netted United's fourth. Snodgrass supplied a cross from the left and Kandol got up well to head home before performing his trademark somersault celebration.
It was United's second four goal haul in the space of five days and was also the second successive time Yeovil had been hit for four at Elland Road.
New pages uploaded at mightyleeds.co.uk

14 April 1971 – Liverpool 0 Leeds United 1
European Fairs Cup semi final first leg - Anfield
Billy Bremner returned from injury to score a marvellous headed winner against old rivals Liverpoool in the first leg at Anfield and put United in the driving seat
Read the full story at http://www.mightyleeds.co.uk/matches/19710414.htm

17 April 1971 - Leeds United 1 West Bromwich Albion 2
First Division - Elland Road

In one of the most controversial games ever played by Leeds, perverse refereeing by Ray Tinkler makes an indelible mark on United's history as their championship challenge collapses
Read the full story at http://www.mightyleeds.co.uk/matches/19710417.htm

26 April 1971 - Leeds United 1 Arsenal 0
First Division - Elland Road
In a vital end of season League clash, United got the rub of the green for a change as Jack Charlton's controversial goal was allowed to stand and they moved ahead of Arsenal in the table
Read the full story at http://www.mightyleeds.co.uk/matches/19710426.htm

28 May 1971 - Juventus 2 Leeds United 2
European Fairs Cup final first leg - Stadio Communale
After a farcical first staging of the game was abandoned, United showed great fight to stage a fightback with goals from two heroes who were largely unsung
Read the full story at http://www.mightyleeds.co.uk/matches/19710528.htm

2 June 1971 - Leeds United 1 Juventus 1
European Fairs Cup final second leg – Elland Road
After the disappointment of losing out to Arsenal in the chase for the League title, United could finally pick up some silverware after an exciting struggle against Juve at Elland Road
Read the full story at http://www.mightyleeds.co.uk/matches/19710602.htm
Yorkshire Evening Post 30/10/09
Probe is no problem – Bates
By Phil Hay
Leeds United say they are optimistic of having "no problem" with the Football League over the issue of who ultimately controls the club.
United are in the process of clarifying the ownership structure at Elland Road after the Football League wrote to them requesting clarification over the identity of the individuals behind Forward Sports Fund (FSF).
FSF – an off-shore company based in the Cayman Islands and administered in Switzerland – holds a 100 per cent stake in United and has done so since the club exited administration in the summer of 2007.
The identity of FSF's beneficiaries has never been revealed, though club chairman Ken Bates, chief executive Shaun Harvey and solicitor Mark Taylor were named as directors of Leeds at the time of the 2007 takeover.
The buy-out was sanctioned by the Football League after the governing body ran its fit and proper persons' test on the people named as United's owners, but the matter was revisited at a League board meeting earlier this month following allegations that Bates had no stake in Leeds and had claimed "in error" that he was a part-owner of the club.
Those allegations raised doubts about whether the owners confirmed by United two years ago do indeed have ultimate control over the club.
The Football League contacted Leeds asking for fresh details, but it has not made any comment on the matter since issuing a brief statement on October 8.
United, however, are confident that the information they have supplied will settle the matter conclusively. Neither the club nor the League are obliged to make that information public.
Bates told the YEP: "We don't think we'll have a problem with the Football League.
"We're a member club with a professional management team which is trading profitably. Seventy one other clubs are looking at us and wishing they were in our position.
"The Football League was unavailable for comment when contacted by the YEP, but in a statement released almost three weeks ago, it said: "The board noted recent allegations made about the ownership of Leeds United Football Club.
"The league has written to the club seeking clarification. No further comment will be made on this matter until a response has been received."
The League's rules require that every "ultimate beneficial owner" of a member club with a shareholding of 30 per cent or more passes its fit and proper persons test before a takeover can be sanctioned.
The test was introduced in 2004 and was designed to guarantee standards of the integrity among club owners.
The Football League previously confirmed to the YEP that it received "F&PPT papers relating to Leeds United" when the 2007 takeover was completed.

Yorkshire Evening Post 30/10/09
We have that spark back in our play – Johnson
By Phil Hay
Tuesday's demolition of Bristol Rovers brought a tacit admission from Bradley Johnson that the month of October found Leeds United slightly off-colour.
A resumption of familiar service took place at the Memorial Stadium, where Leeds scored four unanswered goals in their most comprehensive victory of the season. "That's more like the performances we expect of ourselves," said Johnson in a veiled warning to the rest of United's division.
Johnson suggested that a win of that margin and conviction had been coming but he was honest enough to admit that it had also been needed. After two draws and a defeat from their previous four league matches, it was apparent that Leeds were waiting to draw a second wind.
Privately, United's players were saying the same. "You don't want to talk yourselves down," said Johnson, "but we all felt that in the last few games we haven't been at our best.
"The results were okay and our league position's as good as it has ever been, but something in our performances wasn't quite there. I'm not sure if that was down to a bit of tiredness but our spark was missing.
"In a way, this (the victory over Bristol Rovers) had been on the cards. It was quite frustrating, even for three or four games, to come off the pitch feeling that you haven't played as well as you can do, and eventually it was all going to come together into a big performance. That's one of our best of the season, if not the best."
Even the best of seasons have little down periods and maybe we've come through ours. It hasn't done us any harm and, if anything, our confidence is higher than it's ever been."
The past week has seen varied emotions from Simon Grayson and his players, ranging from the disappointment of their first league loss at Millwall on Saturday to a win in Bristol that Grayson described as "brilliant".
United's manager is level-headed in his assessment of results – never too ecstatic with victory or too despondent about defeat – and his objection to knee-jerk reactions was demonstrated by the unchanged line-up he named at the Memorial Stadium. As he later admitted, a 2-1 loss to Millwall had forced him to think carefully about whether the same 11 players deserved another chance.
There is a degree of irony about the fact that, six days after foregoing their unbeaten league record, United hold a tighter grip on League One than they have at any point of the season. A lead of four points over Charlton Athletic will be carried into tomorrow's match at home to Yeovil Town, a club who have avoided defeat in all of their last six matches but who hold a mediocre away record.
Yeovil might feel that Leeds are as susceptible at home as they have been for some time – Charlton and Carlisle have both drawn there in the past month, and Norwich City were seconds away from doing the same until a goalkeeping blunder cost them a point – but the stadium has not been kind to the Somerset club.
Beaten there in 2007 by an 89th-minute header from Mark De Vries, Yeovil conceded four goals without reply at Elland Road last season and were spared a fifth by a wild penalty missed by Luciano Becchio in the second half. The Argentinian is presently injured and is unlikely to play tomorrow, but three of Grayson's other strikers – Jermaine Beckford, Sam Vokes and Tresor Kandol – scored against Bristol Rovers on Tuesday night.
"We wanted to make a point by getting the Millwall result out the way quickly," said Johnson. "People might have seen us losing there and thought we'd shown weakness but they won't be so confident about that after watching us score four against Bristol Rovers. They're a team who've been in the top six since the start of the season.
"In the end, the way the games fell was probably perfect. It's not easy going to Bristol straight after Millwall but there was no doubt that we'd have to play somewhere near our best to beat them. Complacency was never a worry and I think this shows how badly we want to win the league. It also showed that we're not just assuming that it's going to happen."
Leeds were accused this week by Charlton manager Phil Parkinson of trusting to luck at stages of their season, but the pressure is resting on him to keep his squad in touch with the Elland Road club.
Charlton are already detached from United and take the long, arduous trip to Carlisle United tomorrow while Leeds host Yeovil. Likewise, Colchester United – an in-form team who are third and a point further back – provide the next opposition at Millwall, a stadium where points are likely to be dropped regularly by visiting clubs this season.
Johnson will not look back on Leeds' defeat at the New Den with any injustice – "we weren't up to it," he said, "and we probably got what we deserved" – but the midfielder believes that the first peak in United's season has been conquered by their ruthless victory in Bristol. It was, he agreed, the mark of a team with the necessary composure and ability to win League One.
"The thing about being at the top of the league is that you know that you'll stay there for as long as you look after your results," he said.
"If we win tomorrow, we'll be at least four points clear. Other teams need to win just to make sure that the gap doesn't get any bigger. It's good to be able to say that we don't have to count on anyone else.
"Everybody wants us to lose and when we do, they're happy. But the worst thing you can do is worry about another team and I'm quite pleased if clubs are looking at us to see what we're doing. We're not looking at them."

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Yorkshire Evening Post 28/10/09
Becks brace puts Whites clear at top
By Phil Hay
Serious about being champions? As if there was any doubt. Back on the wagon after three days of reflection, Leeds United have not dithered over the answer to that question.
It required a response, if for no other reason than the question was posed by one of their own. Michael Doyle's analysis of last night's game at Bristol Rovers, 72 hours after Leeds' first league defeat of the season, was to view it as an examination of how capable the club were of not merely heading their division but of winning it. Very, came the reply.

Leeds were entitled to explain their loss to Millwall on Saturday as a blip on an upwards trajectory – precisely what it is with 14 matches played – but a similarly poor result in Bristol would have given rise to the thought that United were faltering in a month when five of nine available points had already been dropped.

Doyle spotted that scepticism hiding around the corner and knew how best to negate it. "People are going to love the fact that we've been beaten," he said. "There's a point to be made now." Four unanswered goals at the Memorial Stadium made it perfectly.

The Irishman it was who created United's first in the ninth minute and helped nip a single result in the bud before it had the chance to become a streak. When Grayson said on Saturday that he was delighted to be talking about a first league defeat of the season with November coming into view, he was not putting on a brave face. He was rather considering the possibility that Leeds might stand four points clear of the rest of their division this morning.

When Sam Vokes added to Jermaine Beckford's ninth-minute goal early in the second half, that immediate target was realised, though not before Beckford and Tresor Kandol plugged the Pirates for a third and fourth time. Leeds were free to journey home with the feeling that six points gained from three recent games against clubs with ambitions as high as theirs might be more than an acceptable return.

United are no longer unbeaten but they are, conversely, more secure in their leadership than they were before Norwich City came to Elland Road last Monday. So trusting was their manager that he did not feel it necessary to take retribution for the adverse result at the New Den.

Grayson is scarcely renowned for changing his line-up at the best of times, and Saturday's defeat did not break that philosophy either. All 11 players fielded in Bermondsey were used again last night, every one of them avoiding what might have been viewed as inevitable consequences of Leeds' first loss of the league term.

A hint at that continuity came from Grayson's demeanour at Millwall and his apparent satisfaction with the performance of his players at the weekend. The defeat, however, begged the question of how tempted he would be to rethink his line-up. "I thought about it," he admitted, "but I made the right decision."

The worry beforehand was, in any case, as much Paul Trollope's as his, fresh from three successive defeats and a sharp reality check. Rovers have struggled to sustain the sharp pace they picked up at the start of the season, and Grayson had the assurance of realising that last night's opposition were not in particularly fine shape.

Another thrashing will hardly help.

The vote of confidence he applied to his own players was vindicated inside nine minutes by the simplest of goals, created by a delicate through-ball from Doyle and claimed with finish which bore Beckford's hallmark.

Doyle's pass from a benign position split Rovers' defence and rolled to Beckford inside the box.

The striker's first touch was sound enough to tee up a shot across Mikkel Andersen and into the goalkeeper's net with the help of his right-hand post. So quickly was the goal conceived that three-quarters of the stadium echoed with shocked silence.

If it seemed then that the night would be United's, the events of the 22nd minute, when Stuart Campbell struck the crossbar, did not dispel that mood.

The midfielder struck a speculative volley at Casper Ankergren and looked on as the Danish keeper misjudged the ball, allowing it to slip beneath his arms and ricochet off the turf before striking the underside of the bar.

Andy Woolmer, the referee, took a long look as the ball bounced down onto the goalline and, without any useful assistance from his linesman, he let the game continue. Those close enough to see implied that Leeds had dodged a bullet and a clear goal.

That was the first half in a nutshell, without recanting the countless fouls and debatable decisions that disrupted the flow of the game.

Steve Elliott was booked for pulling Beckford's shirt in the first minute and Doyle received a caution towards the end of the half after catching the ankles of Jeff Hughes. With the exception of Ankergren's moment of suspect concentration, Rovers teased little in the way of space or chances out of Leeds' watertight defence.

Ankergren's error, however, was no more severe than Andersen's failure to collect Bradley Johnson's cross in the first minute of injury-time.

His mis-timed jump knocked the ball to Beckford's feet but the striker was not expecting such charity and could not hold his balance for long enough to turn it into the net.

A goal in those circumstances would have been fortuitous. Vokes' strike 10 minutes into the second half was sublime. Beckford sparked panic in Rovers' defence with a clever pass to Robert Snodgrass who rampaged towards goal and generously laid the ball off to Vokes six yards from goal.

A striker of Premier League stock could not have asked for a simpler chance.

With that finish and the match sown up, United's confident swagger returned, apparent in a way that it has not been since Gillingham were routed at Elland Road last month. Their penultimate goal oozed as much quality as their second, created by a long ball from Jonathan Howson that set Beckford's pace and skill against that of Byron Anthony.

The full-back attempted to contain the striker but was wrong-footed by Beckford's quick feet. Andersen could only dive helplessly as Beckford curled a shot to his left, a finish of enough brilliance to draw polite applause from the home crowd.

Not for the first time, Rovers were at risk of a severe flogging and Tresor Kandol lashed them again by converting Max Gradel's cross in the 87th minute, almost his first touch.

With the final throes upon them, Leeds were happy with their lot, a phrase which could be applied to the club's season.

In amongst so many good results, last night's stood out.

Some would call it the mark of champions.


Leedsunited.com 26/10/09
GRAYSON - MILLWALL WASN'T MEANT TO BE
Leeds United manager Simon Grayson reflected on his side's first league defeat of the season by admitting: "Saturday just wasn't our day."
The unbeaten league start came to an end with a 2-1 defeat at the hands of old rivals Millwall after Gary Alexander scored a late winner for the home side.
Paddy Kisnorbo had cancelled out an early goal from Neil Harris, but it was Millwall, our Play-Off conquerors last season, who emerged victorious from a tight contest.
"I was disappointed because the game was finely balanced," said the Leeds boss.
"We'd gone 12 unbeaten before Saturday and we'd have taken that run, but it was disappointing that we were undone by two balls into the box.
"I felt we were well and truly in the game. They were hard working and organised, but we created some decent chances and both sides had some half-chances.
"It was end to end and there was some decent football, but unfortunately we came out on the wrong end."
With the score locked at 1-1 at half-time, Grayson felt his side could go on and win the game in the second period, but it was Millwall who enjoyed the best spell of the game late on and were rewarded with the winning goal.
"I thought we could win the game at half-time," said the Leeds boss. "We kept it tight for a long period which we had to do and I didn't feel we would be too far away.
"It's a fine balance sometimes. We had one off the bar and one cleared off the line, but it wasn't our day.
"We huffed and puffed, and there were half-chances. It was the same both ways. It was finely balanced and one ball into the box and a good header and we've lost the game.
"Sometimes you look at the opposition. Maybe we could have defended better, but give them credit.
"Our tempo was decent, but our decison making at times wasn't."
The United boss could have felt justified in complaining about Millwall's opener which appeared to come after a push on defender Andrew Hughes, but Grayson was loathe to point any fingers.
"I don't think the ref could see the push," he said. "It's clever forward play. These things happen.
"Paddy felt we had a penalty shout as well when there was a shirt pulled, but I don't go on about decisions because you accept over a season your quality will see where you want to be.
"We didn't get the breaks on Saturday, we have no complaints after the start of the season we've had.
"It's the first time we've lost and that's credit to the players. We move on though and get ready for Bristol Rovers."

Yorkshire Evening Post 26/10/09
Den of gloom strikes again
By Phil Hay
Millwall 2 Leeds United 1
Thirteenth time unlucky, so perhaps it was fated. Typical, certainly, that Millwall of all teams should have the satisfaction of chalking the first stroke in Leeds United's column of league defeats.
Incentives are not necessary when Millwall's guests for the day are arriving from Elland Road – "I can't wait for the game to start," wrote their captain, Paul Robinson, in his programme column – and the unbeaten record that Leeds waved in front of them was the sporting equivalent of a red rag to a bull.
For 12 consecutive league matches, reaching back to August 8 and the first day of the season, United maintained a level of resilience that no other English club were capable of, but it went without saying that the trend would be bucked eventually. Were he a betting man, Simon Grayson would not have looked far beyond the New Den for the likely location of Leeds' first loss.
As a venue, Millwall's stadium is beginning to niggle at United for more reasons than simply the inhospitable aura it prides itself on. Twice before in the past 12 months Leeds have visited the New Den and twice they have been beaten, each result a fair reflection of the 90 minutes that went before. Saturday was no different.
Grayson claimed after full-time that his players were better than the scoreline, a case of "two decent teams having a decent go at each other", but United's manager was swimming against the general consensus which said that Millwall had deserved to win. Where Norwich City failed a week ago, Kenny Jackett's players chipped away with enough persistence to realise the victory that 12 other League One clubs were unable to achieve.
United's squad lack the time for serious reflection on the outcome in Bermondsey – their relentless season continues at Bristol Rovers tomorrow night in another game drawn from the division's top drawer – and the speed of the turnaround may serve them well.
The club's afternoon at Millwall was not one to dwell on, nor was Grayson in any mood to allow it to detract from the sublime results he has basked in this season.
In their performance, though, were elements of uncharacteristic weakness. Two cheap goals, conceded to free headers 10 yards from goal; a tentative attacking line that flourished only when the game was lost; and a midfield that lacked the authority and cohesion to pin Millwall down as it had against Norwich.
The header from Gary Alexander that separated the teams on 83 minutes had been on the cards for some time.
They are critical observations of a collection of players who have been largely above criticism this season. For that reason alone, Grayson must have slept soundly enough on Saturday night. One point clear at the top of their division with a game in hand, the club's advantage over Charlton Athletic could grow to four by tomorrow evening. Jackett would gladly trade places.
It was Millwall's manager who dictated the crucial half-hour of Saturday's game by involving Alexander as a substitute with 60 minutes played, an astute decision made at the appropriate time.
Prior to that, Jackett had watched with increasing concern as the control his team were exerting amounted to no more than badly-missed chances.
Alexander's introduction in place of the sluggish Steve Morison gave Millwall a more bullish streak, provided by a player whose appetite for Saturday's game seemed as ripe as the crowd's. His close-range header met the expectations of the biggest turn-out at the New Den for around five years.
The atmosphere instilled by an attendance in excess of 14,000 was typical of the New Den, though nothing that Grayson's players have not seen before.
What seems now to be an obligatory Turkish flag was flown provocatively to the left of the visiting end before kick-off and an indistinguishable object was thrown at Casper Ankergren early in the first half. The incidents were isolated and the flag was quickly confiscated by a diligent steward; Millwall as a club are nothing if not proactive when addressing problems associated with their supporters.
For Leeds, the opportunity to deflate the crowd was not even offered to them.
With three minutes gone, Richard Naylor bundled Neil Harris to the ground 10 yards outside United's box and invited Chris Hackett to test the organisation of Grayson's defence with a hanging free-kick.
The instinct of United's players should have been to smother Harris, a player who scored three times against Leeds last season, but space opened around the striker as Hackett's set-piece glided towards the penalty spot.
Grayson argued later that Harris' marker, Andrew Hughes, had been slyly nudged in the back and replays supported him, but Mark Clattenburg – by some distance the best referee that Leeds have played under this season – saw nothing. Harris saw only a glorious chance and nodded it gleefully to Ankergren's right.
As United's manager admitted, it was a woeful start and an unusual position for Leeds to find themselves in. Cowed they were not. Eight minutes later, Patrick Kisnorbo met Robert Snodgrass' corner with a header which Jimmy Abdou could only block on the line, leaving Kisnorbo to crash the rebound into David Forde's net.
An improvised save from Forde had dealt with a looping shot from Jonathan Howson in the attack which preceded the corner and Grayson might have hoped that his players had gained the measure of Millwall's defence.
Only one further chance followed before the end of the first half, a half-hit effort from Sam Vokes that Forde parried. Vokes was otherwise peripheral, tightly marked by Jackett's defence and lacking a clear understanding with Beckford. After one previous game together, their partnership was always likely to have its flaws.
Beckford’s freedom was equally limited and on the one occasion when his pace took him beyond Millwall’s centre-backs early in the second half, Robinson pulled his shirt cynically and received a yellow card. Had keeper Forde not already run out to gather the ball on the edge of his box, Clattenburg would have thought seriously about dismissing Jackett’s captain.
Soon, however, Millwall’s opportunities were mounting. Morison headed weakly at Ankergren after meeting Marc Laird’s cross and Tony Craig’s far-post finish was a dismal waste of a perfect delivery from Danny Schofield, bouncing wide.

Composed
Former Huddersfield Town midfielder Schofield was no less culpable when Alexander worked himself into space on the right wing and cut the ball back to Schofield’s feet, inviting a more composed finish than the shot which swung away from Ankergren’s goal and disappeared into the stand behind.
Grayson was encouraged to send on Tresor Kandol and then Max Gradel, a repeat of the substitutions that masterminded Leeds’ injury-time victory over Norwich, but they were beaten to the punch by Alexander. With 83 minutes gone, Gradel lost his footing as Jack Smith attacked the left wing and he teed up Schofield for a cross that Alexander anticipated before any of Grayson’s defenders and nodded into the net.
If United’s pride was dented by the situation that stared them in the face with seven minutes to play, it showed in their reaction.
A deflection off Kandol’s body was cleared from Millwall’s goalline by Laird and a vicious shot from the striker shook Forde’s crossbar in injury-time.
In those anxious moments, United fought with the air of a team whose season depended on the result. Two outstanding months have ensured that it does not.

Times 26/10/09
Gary Alexander puts Millwall back in touch
Millwall 2 Leeds United 1
Dean Jones, The New Den
Gary Alexander, the Millwall forward, has promotion in his sights after ending Leeds United’s record as the only remaining unbeaten side in the country.
Alexander, who steered home a headed winner seven minutes from time, now believes that the South London side can produce a run of form that will help them to cause more agony for Simon Grayson, the Leeds manager.
“Talk that Leeds and Charlton are running away with it [the league title] is premature,” Alexander said after his first league goal of the campaign. “It’s still tight up there and it doesn’t take long to climb this division. So it’s not over by a long shot.”
Leeds must hate travelling to this part of London because it was here that they suffered their previous defeat. That came in last season’s play-off semi-finals, and 14,165 fans, the biggest crowd at The New Den since November 2004, witnessed this success for Millwall.
There is always a threat of violence when these opponents meet, too, and despite an intimidating atmosphere it passed without any big incident. In the first half an object appeared to be thrown in the direction of Casper Ankergren, the Leeds goalkeeper, and late in the game two seats were thrown on to the field from the visitors’ section. However, the huge police presence ensured that the real action was kept for the game itself.
Neil Harris, the forward, scored his tenth goal of the season for Millwall after only three minutes when he turned home a cross by Chris Hackett from the left flank. Patrick Kisnorbo, the Leeds defender, equalised soon afterwards, however, ramming home from close range after Jimmy Abdou had blocked his initial effort.
Millwall dominated the second half and Alexander’s goal, after coming on as a substitute, was no less than they deserved. “We’re their bogey team, and to turn them over is a brilliant feeling,” he said.
Leeds go to Bristol Rovers tomorrow when Grayson will discover how his side respond to adversity. “I’ve a lot of confidence in these players,” he said. “We need to go on another 12-match unbeaten run.”

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Yorkshire Evening Post 21/10/09
Whites cool on Becks deal
By Phil Hay
Leeds United say Jermaine Beckford's contractual position at Elland Road remains "unchanged" amid talk that QPR plan to bid for the striker in January.
The Championship club have been heavily linked with a move for Beckford in the forthcoming transfer window, and the 25-year-old's future is as unclear as ever with his dwindling deal at Elland Road yet to be extended.Contract talks between Leeds and Beckford broke down during the summer, leaving the forward on the transfer list for several weeks, and United are not believed to be in active discussions with his agent, Nick Rubery.
Leeds are presently running the risk that Beckford will leave Elland Road on a free transfer when his existing three-year deal – signed in October 2007 – expires in June of next year, a gamble the League One club opted to take before the start of this season by reversing their decision to transfer-list him.
United's board were understood to have subsequently rejected offers from Coventry City and Sheffield United, while West Bromwich Albion were also seriously interested in signing the striker for around £2million ahead of the 2009-10 term, and Leeds remain adamant that Beckford will not be sold before the end of this season, regardless of whether an agreement is reached over a new deal.
Leeds chief executive Shaun Harvey said: "The situation with Jermaine is unchanged.
"His winning goal against Norwich City on Monday night was his eighth of the campaign, and QPR are said to be showing enough interest in Beckford to be lining up a seven-figure bid in January for a player who could be available for nothing five months later. A flood of offers are expected to reach him next summer.
Beckford was offered a new three-year deal by Leeds after the end of last season but the proposal was swiftly rejected by the forward's agent, prompting Leeds to transfer list their top scorer.
He was removed from the list during pre-season and remained at Elland Road while Leeds sold midfielder Fabian Delph, the other prized asset whose future had been the subject of intense speculation throughout the summer.
United would be highly unlikely to consider offers for Beckford in January with the club presently leading League One and bidding confidently for promotion.
His goal on Monday night inflicted a 2-1 defeat on a major rival in Norwich, earning Beckford glowing praise from a manager in Simon Grayson who has counted on the striker's reliability on many occasions in the past.
Grayson said: "Jermaine can have average games and miss chances but one thing he doesn't do is shy away from any opportunities.
"Credit to him for that because there've been a number of occasions this season and last season when I've been thinking 'should I take him off?' because it doesn't look like it's going to be his night. But I have to leave him on because he's a major threat."

Mail 20/10/09
Leeds 2 Norwich 1: Jermaine Beckford nets to clinch last-gasp victory for Leeds
By MICHAEL WALKER
Jermaine Beckford produced one of those good, bad and ugly performances, presumably of the sort that has stopped anyone taking him away from Leeds United.
But, like a showman, Beckford saved the good until last with a composed finish in injury-time that gave Leeds a win their previous 90 minutes and more did not deserve.
They did not care at Elland Road about that. Less than 60 seconds after Beckford had missed an open goal, Norwich goalkeeper Fraser Forster scuffed his clearance straight to the Leeds talisman.
Clincher: Beckford punishes Forster's error with the late winner
Beckford raced 20 yards into the area and chipped the advanced goalkeeper. The ground erupted like the old times. On the touchline, Norwich manager Paul Lambert could not believe it.
His side had pushed and pulled Leeds all over their home turf with a creative, energetic performance, but once Simon Grayson introduced Max Gradel late on, the game’s momentum changed.
Gradel, a sprightly 21-year-old attacker, only arrived on loan from Leicester yesterday, but his vim lifted Leeds.
Instead of a worrying draw, they had a morale-boosting win that took them two points clear at the top of League One with a game in hand. As a consequence, Leeds remain the only unbeaten club in England’s top four divisions.
They take that record to Millwall on Saturday.
‘We looked dangerous in the second half,’ Grayson said, ‘but I thought Norwich were excellent. We played Liverpool a few weeks ago and weren’t given those problems.
'But we were better in the second half and one thing we have got is the desire to keep going. And one thing Jermaine doesn’t do is shy away from chances.’
Lambert said: ‘I might be biased but we deserved to win it. We never deserved to lose it. I thought we were brilliant. I’m pretty sure Leeds had a fright tonight.’
Bouncing back: The beach ball craze hits Leeds
Norwich’s long journey home will have felt sickening, but once the pain dims there will be the consolation that they played with confidence and fluidity.
Wes Hoolahan and Darel Russell were prominent throughout, while Grant Holt’s equaliser shortly before half-time was his fifth goal in six games.
Norwich were undefeated in six games beforehand and they could have taken the lead on two occasions before Bradley Johnson scored for Leeds in the 15th minute. Hoolahan and Russell had the shots.
Both efforts were saved by Shane Higgs, but not particularly comfortably, and Higgs, who has just returned from a thigh injury, was replaced on 17 minutes. That was two minutes after Johnson had headed the home team in front.
Beckford’s spirited run earned Leeds a corner which was struck by Robert Snodgrass to the far post. Johnson climbed highest to nod in from two yards. Beckford was close to doubling the lead on the half-hour and Leeds could have done with it.
Norwich were unperturbed by their deficit and continued to probe. It was no less than they deserved when Holt ran on to Stephen Hughes’s sweeping inswinger six minutes before half-time to poke a shot beyond Higgs’s stand-in Casper Ankergren.
The goalkeeper was rooted to his line. Ankergren redeemed himself with a save from Holt on 67 minutes but then Leeds began to drag themselves back. Forster made a flying save from Snodgrass’s free-kick, then blocked superbly from Beckford when one-on-one. Then came Beckford’s glaring late miss.
It seemed that Leeds just could not win. Then Beckford came again.


Sky 19/10/09
Grayson hails Leeds desire
Leeds boss delighted with his side's willingness to go to the death
By Richard Bailey
Simon Grayson hailed his side's desire after they snatched victory at the death against in-form Norwich at Elland Road on Monday.
Jermaine Beckford profited from a mistake from Canaries goalkeeper Fraser Forster to run through on goal and dink the ball over the young shot-stopper to earn Leeds a 2-1 win to send them back to the top of League One.
The result was harsh on Norwich who dominated possession for much of the match, but it was the hosts who took the lead through Bradley Johnson on 15 minutes.
Grant Holt equalised for Norwich seven minutes before the break but Beckford had the final say when he ensured all three points in injury time.
"I think you have to give credit to Norwich they passed the ball around and caused us a lot of problems," Grayson told Sky Sports 1.
Norwich credit
"But we had a number of chances first-half but Norwich are a very good team so you have to give them credit.
"We had to alter things tactically at half-time to get back into the game and we did that.
"Second-half we were better, we kept going. For all the possession that Norwich had they didn't have too many great opportunities to win the game but what I will say about this group of players is they have this great desire to go to the very end and we have got players who can win the game for us."
Grayson admitted his side had been second best for long periods throughout the game and stated that he did feel sorry for Forster in the Norwich goal.
"You certainly do feel sorry for Norwich," he added."Their keeper made some great saves and it is a horrible way to lose a game but Jermaine Beckford is always a handful. We have won the match today when maybe we didn't deserve to."

Monday, October 19, 2009

Times 19/10/09
Forster error gifts Leeds all three points and top spot
Leeds United 2 Norwich City 1
Jeremy Cross
An horrendous blunder from Fraser Forster, the Norwich City goalkeeper, in stoppage time gifted Leeds United a late and undeserved victory at Elland Road last night to enable them to stumble back to the top of the Coca-Cola League One table.
Bradley Johnson’s sixth goal of the season put Leeds ahead but Norwich refused to buckle and went on to dominate the contest to such an extent that Paul Lambert, their manager, must have wondered how his team left Yorkshire empty-handed.
Johnson had given Simon Grayson’s side the lead after rising the highest to beat several Norwich defenders and convert Robert Snodgrass’s corner in the fifteenth minute to break the deadlock.
But Grant Holt’s tenth goal of the season just before the interval — he beat Jason Crowe at the back post to head home off a cross by Darel Russell — hauled Norwich level and from this point on it was the home side who looked second-best, until Forster’s botched clearance gave Beckford the chance to score.
Grayson handed a debut to Sam Vokes, the Wales player, after his arrival on loan from Wolverhampton Wanderers until January. Vokes tried his luck from long range for what would have been a dream start, but it was Norwich who created the better openings without converting them.
Shane Higgs, the Leeds goalkeeper, almost fumbled Darel Russell’s strike into his own goal in the sixth minute before Wes Hoolahan wasted an even better chance, shooting straight at Higgs from close range after Holt’s intelligent pass.
Norwich were made to pay just moments later when a static defence failed to challenge Johnson, allowing him to score with Leeds’ first genuine attacking threat of the game. Jermaine Beckford should have doubled the home side’s advantage in the 31st minute but dragged his shot agonisingly wide after breaking free of Gary Doherty’s challenge.
Norwich continued to take the game to Leeds, with Doherty heading over from Simon Lappin’s corner before another corner from Lappin was flapped at by Casper Ankergren, who replaced Higgs. Jens Berthel -Askou saw his goalbound strike blocked in the penalty area, however.
Leeds United (4-4-2): S Higgs (sub: C Ankergren 17min) — J Crowe, R Naylor, L Bromby, A Hughes — R Snodgrass (sub: M Gradel 80), M Doyle, J Howson, B Johnson — S Vokes (sub: T Kandol, 74), J Beckford. Substitutes not used: D Prutton, N Kilkenny, M Grella, L Michalik. Booked: Crowe, Naylor, Doyle, Johnson.
Norwich City (4-4-2): F Forster — J Otsemobor, G Doherty, J Berthel-Askou, A Drury — D Russell, S Hughes (sub: M Gill, 90), G Holt, S Lappin — W Hoolahan, C Martin. Substitutes not used:D Rudd, J Cureton, T Adeyemi, P McVeigh, L Darley, C McDonald. Booked: Holt, Hughes, Russell.
Referee: L Mason.
Attendance: 19,912


Leedsunited.com 19/10/09
BECKS SENDS UNITED BACK TO THE TOP
LEEDS UNITED 2 (Johnson 15, Beckford 90), NORWICH 1 (Holt 38)
United: Higgs (Ankergren 16), Crowe, Bromby, Naylor, Hughes, Snodgrass (Gradel 80), Doyle, Howson, Johnson, Beckford, Vokes (Kandol 74). Subs: Prutton, Kilkenny, Grella, Michalik.
Norwich: Forster, Otsemobor, Drury, Doherty, Berthel Askou, Holt, Russell, Hughes, Hoolahan, Lappin, Martin. Subs: Rudd, Gill, Cureton, Adeyemi, McVeigh, Darley, McDonald.
Referee: L Mason
Booked: Johnson (Leeds), Hughes, Russell (Norwich).
Att: 19,192
Leeds United manager Simon Grayson sprung a few surprises in his starting line-up for the visit of Norwich City.
Not only did Jason Crowe and Robert Snodgrass make their returns from injury, but the boss also revealed two new loan signings when he named his team with striker Sam Vokes coming into the starting line-up and winger Max Gradel joining the substitutes bench.
The Leeds boss had been keen to keep his new signings under wraps until the 11th hour as United looked to spring a surprise on visiting Norwich.
Paul Lambert's side have crept up the table in recent weeks, and it was United's recalled goalkeeper Shane Higgs who was called into action early doors when he pulled off a terrific save, clawing a goalbound effort off the line after a cross from the Norwich right.
It was a lively opening and after Vokes tried his luck with an effort from distance, Norwich's Chris Martin fired wide at the other end. The visitors were finding some space and Higgs made another good save to deny Wes Hoolahan, who should have done better from close range.
But Leeds were 1-0 up inside the opening 15 minutes. Snodgrass whipped in a corner and Bradley Johnson rose well to power home his sixth goal of the season to give United the advantage.
It was the perfect start for Leeds, but the early goal was tempered slightly when Higgs limped out of the game. However, United almost bagged a second while waiting to make the change in goal when Leigh Bromby quickly turned defence into attack, instead of looking to play the ball out to enable to the substitution, and Micky Doyle had a shot blocked after a great break by Snodgrass.
Jermaine Beckford also went close on the half-hour. The striker showed great skill to work himself an opening, skipping past two players, but his shot was fractionally wide of the mark.
But Norwich were level seven minutes before half-time. A Simon Lappin cross came from deep on the Norwich right and Grant Holt ousted Johnson at the far post to convert from close range.
Half-time gave an opportunity for United to re-group and within minutes of the re-start, Beckford worked himself an opening before firing wide.
The visitors were on the front foot once again, though, and Ankergren had to recover quickly to block an effort from Jens Berthel-Askou on the hour-mark.
Moments later, Ankergren saved well from Holt, and the Norwich striker was in the thick of the action again when he fired wide on 68 minutes.
But it was Norwich goalkeeper Fraser Forster who pulled off the save of the half when he palmed away a powerful free-kick from Snodgrass.
With 16 minutes left on the clock, Grayson made his first change, replacing Vokes with Tresor Kandol, who was making his first league appearance for the club since May 2008.
The Leeds boss also handed Gradel his debut with 10 minutes remaining, in place of Snodgrass, and his first touch was to deliver a quality ball for Beckford.
Gradel wasted little time in lighting up Elland Road. He linked up well with Kandol to provide Beckford with another great ball, but Forster pulled off a terrific save to deny the United striker. And, moments later, Gradel tried his luck from distance after winning the ball in midfield.
The loan man was also involved in firing in a low cross which Beckford almost converted in the dying moments.
But the winning goal in stoppage time was a solo effort. Norwich goalkeeper Forster delivered a weak clearance, and not to be outdone, Beckford was rewarded for all his hard work as he returned the kick down field before delivering a superb finish to win it at the death.
Elland Road erupted and chants of "top of the league" echoed around at the final whistle as Leeds regained leadership of the division.


Leedsunited.com 19/10/09
LEEDS UNITED MAKE DOUBLE SWOOP
Leeds United manager Simon Grayson has made a double swoop ahead of Monday's Elland Road clash with Norwich City.
Grayson moved to snap up Wales striker Sam Vokes on loan from Wolves until January 1 while winger Max Gradel arrives from Leicester City on a month-long loan. Both players are eligible to play in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy.
The duo played alongside each other for Bournemouth at Elland Road two seasons ago, and impressed despite a 2-0 win for Leeds.
The highly-rated Vokes joined Wolves at the end of the 2007/08 season and went on to score eight goals in 39 appearances last season, 32 of which came as a substitute.
The 19-year-old Welsh international has made five appearances for Premier League newcomers Wolves this season.
Gradel, who scored 10 goals in 37 appearances while on loan at Bournemouth from Leicester in 2007/08, made 31 appearances for the Foxes last term as they won promotion from League One.
The 21-year-old is a speedy winger and both players went straight into the squad for Monday's Elland Road clash with Norwich City.
"We're delighted to bring in both players," said Grayson.
"Both lads are still young, but they have good quality about them and they add to what we have at the club.
"Sam is a highly-rated goalscorer and Max has plenty of pace, and both players fit in well to the squad we have here.
"I'm looking forward to working with them both."
While Vokes has been strongly linked in the media, Gradel's arrival was kept under the radar until his inclusion on the team-sheet for Monday's game.
"I'd like to thank both Wolves and Leicester for allowing them to come here," added the Leeds boss.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

New pages uploaded at mightyleeds.co.uk



13 February 1971 - Colchester United 3 Leeds United 2






Ray Crawford's astonishing swansong performance for Colchester inspires one of the greatest FA Cup upsets of all time and one of the darkest days in the history of Leeds United


Read the full story at

http://www.mightyleeds.co.uk/matches/19710213.htm

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Leedsunited.com 16/10/09
KEN BATES ON THORP ARCH
Leeds United chairman Ken Bates has revealed more about the club's decision not to exercise the buy-back clause on the Thorp Arch training ground.
The club confirmed on Friday morning that, following discussions with Leeds City Council, the buy-back option would not be exercised.
"We've been in negotiations for three months, but these have dragged on inevitably because of the way any Council works with checks, balances, and so many committees," the chairman told Yorkshire Radio.
"Things weren't being resolved as quickly as they might have been up to last week when obviously the deadline started coming up.
"We kept trying to put pressure on to get the outstanding matters resolved, but it was like dragon's teeth. As soon as one problem was solved up came two more, and some of them were a bit nonsenical to put it mildly, without going into details.
"I think it wasn't helped by the fact the Council employed a firm of outside lawyers who have to justify their existence. It didn't mean we were getting anywhere very fast.
"It came to a situation at 4pm on Thursday afternoon where we were faced with 13 demands, most of which could have been raised weeks or even months ago and we only had seven hours to solve them all.
"This wasn't helped by the fact that their lawyers weren't there on Thursday night and Paul Rogerson (Council CEO), the poor man, was left there until midnight tyring to cope on his own without any back-up or assistance from his side.
"The deal had moved as they inevitably do to a bit of extra protection here, extra cover there, community use which wasn't a problem, and use for the 2012 Olympics and the 2013 and 2015 Rugby World Cups, some of which was contrary to the convenant which was in the covenance when the land was bought from the Council in 2000 and we weren't prepared to take a risk.
"We had to sign unconditionally with Jacob Adler by 11.59 on Thursday night and the Council still wanted to give their agreement with a number of 'subject to...' We weren't prepared to take that risk.
"So, I sat down and evaluated the options of accepting the conditions or not, and unfortunately the financial requirements of the Council had grown so much it became very much touch and go whether it was really an advantage to the club.
"I decided at 11.40pm it wasn't up to the risk because we couldn't find Adler £5.8m in 28 days time and we would have been relying on the Council to keep their half of the bargain.
"It wasn't worth periling the club after all the hard work we have put in over the last five years and we decided to not to proceed.
"A lot of people in the Council worked very hard, but in the end it came down to red tape that no one could resolve, but that's beside us. We have the 2018 World Cup bid which we are working on."

Leedsunited.com 16/10/09
THORP ARCH - CLUB STATEMENT
Leeds United Football Club did not exercise the option to purchase Thorp Arch before the 23:59 deadline on the 15th October.
The club will remain a tenant of Barnaway Limited for the next 20 years under the terms of the current lease. The club's use of Thorp Arch during that period will remain unchanged from our current use.
Discussions continued with Leeds City Council until the deadline, however the Council were not able to provide the club with an unconditional letter of commitment to purchase Thorp Arch and then lease it back to the club. This meant that if the club was to have exercised the option the club would have been at risk of completing the transaction in 28 days time without the guarantee of funding. That was a £6m risk the club was not prepared to make.
It is the club's belief that the conditions that the Council sought to attach to the offer could all have been satisfied before the expiry of the 28 days, however as they were not all in the gift of the club therefore it was decided not to proceed.
The club would like to thank all those involved from the Council, and our solicitors Walker Morris and King Sturge for their efforts in assisting the club in trying to repurchase Thorp Arch.

Yorkshire Evening Post 16/10/09
Council Thorp Arch buy back deal collapses
By Paul Robinson and Dave Marsh
Leeds City Council's deal to buy Leeds United's Thorp Arch training ground has dramatically collapsed.
The council agreed terms earlier this month for the £6m purchase of the complex from its current owner, Manchester-based company Barnaway.
The flagship site, on prime development land near Wetherby, would then have been leased back to United.
Council bosses also warned, however, that the proposed deal was subject to the satisfactory completion of due diligence checks.
Those checks had to be done and dusted before midnight last night, when the club's exclusive option to buy Thorp Arch from Barnaway for a fixed price of £6m expired.
Yesterday it appeared the deal was set to go through, with the council's joint leader, Coun Andrew Carter, saying "most of the work" had been finished.
But, in a statement today, United revealed the midnight deadline had passed without the option being exercised.
Leeds also said the decision not to proceed had been taken because of conditions the council sought to attach to the deal.
The club will still be able to stay as tenants at Thorp Arch for the next 20 years, under the terms of the site's original sale to Manchester businessman Jacob Adler.
But once the lease runs out, there would be nothing to stop the facility's owner of the time evicting United.
Barnaway could in theory agree to sell Thorp Arch to Leeds or a third party prior to the expiry of the lease.
The amount the buyer would have to pay, however, is no longer fixed at £6m.
Thorp Arch's current market value is estimated to be £11m.
Reacting to the collapse of the deal, Coun Carter said: "There were certain conditions that had to be met in the interests of protecting the council taxpayers' position.
"We would have very much liked to have moved ahead with this but protecting the council tax payers' position was always in our mind.
"The negotiations have been conducted professionally, and in a good spirit, and the council, like the club, wishes to thank all of those involved."
Leeds would have surrendered their exclusive option on Thorp Arch to the local authority to allow the proposed deal to be done.The club, then under the chairmanship of Gerald Krasner, sold the site for £4m in 2004 as it tried to stave off financial collapse.


BBC 16/10/09
Leeds' Thorp Arch deal collapses
Leeds United have failed to buy back their Thorp Arch training ground but will continue to rent the site for the next 20 years.
Leeds city council had planned to buy the training ground for £6m and lease it back to the club.
However that deal has fallen through because of what the council are describing as 'uncertainties'.
Leeds have exercised a clause in the current contract to remain a tenant of Barnaway Limited for another 20 years.
The original deadline for the club to buy back the facilities was last Saturday (10 October).
The owners extended that to Thursday (15 October) but, just hours before the midnight deadline, the council asked Leeds for clarification on a few final issues.
A statement on the Leeds United website read: "The council were not able to provide the club with an unconditional letter of commitment to purchase Thorp Arch and then lease it back to the club.
"This meant that, if the club was to have exercised the option, the club would have been at risk of completing the transaction in 28 days' time without the guarantee of funding. That was a £6m risk the club was not prepared to make.
"It is the club's belief that the conditions that the council sought to attach to the offer could all have been satisfied before the expiry of the 28 days. However, as they were not all in the gift of the club, therefore it was decided not to proceed."
As well as helping Leeds United, the council believed owning Thorp Arch would help in any bid to host the rugby union and league world cups and become a stronger candidate to become a host city in English football's bid for the 2018 World Cup.
Council leader Andrew Carter said: "We note with some regret that Leeds United felt unable to exercise its option to acquire Thorp Arch before the deadline.
"Both parties have worked hard to remove the uncertainties surrounding the deal and only a small number remained outstanding.
"We concur with the club that given more time these uncertainties could have been removed. Unfortunately, the two parties didn't have that time."

Leedsunited.com 15/10/09
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO US!
Saturday October 17 marks the 90th anniversary of the formation of Leeds United. As recorded in detail in the current edition of Leeds Leeds Leeds, if not for events nine decades ago we might all be supporting a team still called Leeds City, writes NEIL JEFFRIES.
As it happens, though, Leeds City were expelled from the Football League in a scandal that arose when a disgruntled player threatened to "blow the whistle" on payments made to temporary players enlisted while the regular league programme was interrupted by World War I - and many Leeds City players saw active service in France, Belgium and beyond.
LLL reveals a long and complicated story which came to a crux on October 13, 1919, when at a meeting in the Russell Hotel in London Leeds City were expelled from the Football League in an unprecedented punishment. Port Vale inherited Leeds City's points, goals and fixtures - and carried on in their place.
The good footballng folk of Leeds, though, were determined to continue and on October 17 - after an auction at the Hotel Metropole in Leeds city centre formally wound up the old club - over a thousand unhappy Leeds City supporters turned up at the Salem Hall in Hunslet, and started a new one… the Leeds United we all know and love today!

Times 13/10/09
Manchester City agree to compensation for Leeds United teenagers
Gary Jacob, Tony Evans
Manchester City have agreed to pay about £800,000 in compensation to end their row with Leeds United over the signing of two teenagers.
The Coca-Cola League One club were unhappy that City had lured Louis Hutton and George Swann, both 14, from their Thorp Arch academy this summer.
Ken Bates, the Leeds chairman, wrote in a recent match-day programme that a deal had been agreed, but did not announce the sum. City, who were not been accused of breaking any regulations, have not made any announcement. But the compensation fee is important because it could be used as a benchmark by lower-league clubs in similar cases.
Leeds rejected City’s initial offer of £70,000 for the pair, citing that they were awarded an initial payment of £600,000, rising to £1.55 million, by a tribunal for the transfer to Everton of Luke Garbutt, a 16-year-old defender. In the wake of the ruling, Shaun Harvey, the Leeds chief executive, said that Premier League clubs should lose points if they are found to have poached players.
While there are no suggestions that Everton and Manchester City did anything wrong, Leeds felt hard done by after losing several other youngsters in recent seasons. Chelsea agreed to pay them £4 million in compensation for the signings of Tom Taiwo and Michael Woods three years ago.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Yorkshire Evening Post 7/10/09
Tresor does the trick for United
By Phil Hay
Leeds United 2 Darlington 1
An unnecessary hindrance or a competition worth winning?
Casper Ankergren, Leeds United's goalkeeper, took a positive view when asked to analyse the Johnstone's Paint Trophy. Others, including his manager, might have begged to differ while yesterday's fixture hung over the club.
Thrown into the Football League's minor competition at its second stage, Simon Grayson's vision was blurred with complications created by the mass of fixtures thrown at his club in the first two months of the season.
Six of his players were injured last night and two others were committed to international matches.In deciding how to manage those absentees while obeying competition rules preventing token line-ups, Grayson pieced together the strongest team he could justify while topping up his bench with an untested striker in Davide Somma and a junior goalkeeper in Ryan Jones. The approach paid off but only just.
Among the small but respectable crowd at Elland Road, Jones would have been familiar only to those who followed United's reserve squad closely last season. United's losses were so severe that even Frank Fielding – signed on loan from Blackburn Rovers specifically to compensate for an injury to Shane Higgs – was stationed elsewhere with England's Under-21s, leaving Jones to deputise for Ankergren. It was, to that degree, a case of muddling through.
With every professional available to him, the demands of the Johnstone's Paint Trophy would not have bothered Grayson, but a second-round tie against Darlington in a competition of low priority was not a game his squad needed. Were it not for the postponement of Saturday's league game at Bristol Rovers, United would have been cursing it. Satisfactory, then, was the win delivered by his carefully-constructed team; less so the performance or the loss of another player – Somma – to yet another injury. United imposed themselves on Darlington with two goals claimed inside half-an-hour, scored by players who have seen little or no football this season and should feel happier this morning for the chance of acknowledgement. Not all of their team-mates will be so content.
Andy Robinson registered Leeds' first goal and Tresor Kandol their second, a source of confidence for United's winger and a red letter day for the club's striker. On the last occasion that Kandol scored in a first-team match at Elland Road, Leeds were days away from the 2008 play-off final. It has been that long.
His contribution over 45 minutes may convince Grayson that Kandol is worth more than simply a squad number, particularly while Luciano Becchio deals with an injured ankle. Robinson too enjoyed the type of lively first half he probably needed. To that end, the fixture had its uses, though Grayson made no effort to disguise how angry he was with his team's failure to kill the tie.
Despite the Trophy's meagre profile, its regulations dictated that he field six of the 11 players with most club appearances on their records this season, a requirement that Grayson was able to meet despite making six alterations to the team that drew with Charlton Athletic on Saturday.
Anxious though he was to avoid incurring a fine, Grayson's options were not exactly vast. They did, however, include Kandol, a player who has been virtually anonymous at Elland Road for the past year and a half. Promoted to the starting line-up – an announcement that drew applause from the crowd – his rare inclusion spoke of the lengths his manager had gone to in fulfilling last night's match.
Perspective was still necessary against a club with more endemic problems. Darlington came to Elland Road as the Football League's lowest-ranked team and one who, until this morning, were technically without a manager.
Steve Staunton, Leeds' former assistant, was appointed on Monday with the intention of taking charge today, and while he attended last night's game, he declined the chance to watch his squad from the touchline, preferring to take a seat in the directors' box. Ken Bates, the man who ordained that Staunton should take his leave of Elland Road 10 months ago, was not there to greet him.
From that vantage point, Staunton's early viewing was not particularly pleasant. Darlington made the effort to be expansive and use possession carefully but their defence was only ever one clean strike away from being breached.
Nick Liversedge, their goalkeeper, dealt with one firm header from Kandol by touching it over Darlington's goal and did so again with more urgency when a second header from the striker dropped beneath his crossbar.
Those two efforts materialised inside 15 minutes; by the 20th, Robinson and Aidan White were pulling shots wide from positions where Liversedge would have anticipated having a save to make. No surprise, then, that the damn should burst four minutes later.
A foul on White gave Robinson his first chance to attack Liversedge with a free-kick and his low set-piece crept inside the keeper's near post, carried over the line by a very minor deflection. It should, even then, have been the beginning of a ruthless end.
In the 28th minute, Neil Kilkenny fed Kandol from the halfway line and the forward's screaming shot from the edge of the box ripped into the roof of Darlington's net. It gave Staunton much to ponder as he prepared to sit down behind his new desk. In Darlington's favour will be their reaction to United's goals and their improvement in the second half. Caretakers Craig Liddle and Neil Maddison immediately removed defender Matthew Plummer to make space for substitute and forward Mark Convery, and the change brought a goal in the last minute of the first half.
Jamie Devitt, who had earlier curled a wild shot over the bar after Gary Smith cut open the left side of Grayson's team, picked out Convery with a cross which Ankergren failed to reach and Convery side-footed into an empty net. Darlington's sixth goal of the season did not flatter United's defence.
Kandol was substituted at half-time after illness overcame him, and Enoch Showunmi appeared in his place, a meaningful comparison between fringe strikers with similar attributes. Forty-five stagnant minutes followed, however, and Convery was inches from equalising at Ankergren's back post with an hour gone. Grayson – aware of the decreasing intensity – was vocal in demanding better from his technical area.He gave Somma his debut as the game wore on but the contest was petering out, save only for Kevin Gall's shot at one end and a low strike from Showunmi at the other, parried with one hand by Liversedge.
Liversedge's night would later end with a red card, shown to him in injury-time for a professional foul on Showunmi. The unnecessary dismissal came so late that midfielder Jeff Smith, improvising as a keeper, had only one wayward free-kick from Robinson to worry about.
Four minutes before the sending off, United's bewildered staff looked on as Somma collapsed without a player near him and was helped from the pitch, leaving Leeds with no remaining substitutions and 10 players. Somma had appeared from the bench no more than 15 minutes earlier; Grayson could not make it up.

Clarkeonenil review of the season so far
Leeds United 2009-10 quarter season review: Introduction
October 4th, 2009
still burning in the soul.
Back in May as the third season of League One football was confirmed I penned a long, angry (although to be fair I did leave it about 10 days so it could have been even angrier) but detailed analysis of what the issues were and what also what barriers existed to our great club progressing. This early “classic” of the Clarkeonenil style can be found here:http://clarkeonenil.co.uk/front-page/contributions-on-the-leeds-united-quagmire/surveying-this-seasons-inevitable-car-crash . It is now 5 months on and for all intense and purposes we are a quarter way through the season, how are we doing and how have things changed/improved/gone backwards?
The post had 5 distinctive sections around which the then less than positive outlook was molded, they were “The Board/Ownership”, “The Football Management Team”, “The Players”, “The League we play in” and “Us the support”. Over the next five days I will be revisiting those sections to bring us bang up to date. The intention is not to point out where my perspective was accurate (or to dwell on where it was too pessimistic) but to provide a clear comparable between back then and now.
The scene in the attached photo should still be fresh in our minds, as should some of the extremes the last 5 months has brought us. One thing’s for sure, I have plenty of material.

Leeds United 2009-10, quarter season review, part 2: Board/owners
October 5th, 2009
Did I say I own the club?
Only at Elland Road could the team be top of the league, manager get lauded, players yet to hit a rough patch, support averaging above lots of CCC teams and yet have an element of permanent crises about it. In the last 7 days we have had good old fashioned investigative journalism expose the sheer scale of subterfuge and ineptitude that runs Leeds United, and do you know what, there is so much more to come.
For a few fleeting days after the play-off defeat to Millwall you could make a case that a rational businessman might look to cash in, try and rescue something from the carnage of 2006-09 (mostly of the present regime’s making) and allow a more stress free and integrity loaded ownership to come in. But we know, we have known from day one, you not dealing with a clear business rational with our glorified fund manager Chairman, Mr K Bates, no you’re dealing with a complex, ego driven, underhand, sneaky and just plain disreputable operation which constantly needs to peddle furiously. Only this Chairman at this club would have two very public court cases on the go and lose one of those in such spectacular style, would have to go cap in hand to the local authority over a land issue, would put itself at risk from Football League rules on ownership and transparency of ownership, including the “fit and proper” rule (and if being accused of ripping off savers in Ireland doesn’t fail you a “fit and proper” rule then it has no meaning at all), would spend the summer claiming “we have no need to sell” then do exactly that and let’s not forget his unique capacity for arguing with a score or more of clubs, chairmen, managers, players and this clubs loyal support. This should have been a period of quiet in terms of finance and business management, it has been anything but.
Before we explore the headline stuff from the last few months we need to backtrack a little because the one thing that is always constant under this regime is the inconsistency of its public uttering’s. There are a million and one allegations/preconceptions/speculative notions that cloud the issue around Bates, this fog was made 1000x worse by KMPG and the blatant administration con (lest we forget how hundreds of local businesses lost out with that stunt). So we need to list what we now know/have had confirmed/can no longer be denied. So here goes, follow the points as they blend into each other, things could get circular:• Bates hasn’t invested a penny into Leeds United; we know that because he told a judge that in a court case (the non Levi one). In order to make that statement Bates had to contradict a previous statement that he owned Leeds United.• Leeds United is owned by Forward, no-one will tell anyone, including the FL who owns them. Bates is a fund manager; he has “a management share”. The FL requires all “significant” ownership shares to be publically known.• Bates hasn’t got any liquid assets; he told a judge that in another court case.• There was once a business and ownership relationship between Forward and Astor, that was confirmed by the club. Only an idiot accepts the line about that link being fully severed. Interestingly KPMG still deny their ever was any evidence of a link….• A judge in his judgement of the Levi case says he finds it “strange” that Astor gave away £17m to the club to spend over 9 months in 2006-07 (a period when the clubs liabilities went from a public stated £5m to £30m) and then allowed the club to disregard that for coming out of administration purposes, only so long as Forward won the bid to take over the club.• Forward took £7m out of the club last season; we know that because it’s in the accounts (in the small print). The club claimed to have made £4.5m pre-tax profit.• Fabian Delph left for £6m up front and “extra’s”, we received since coming out of admin, £5m for two kids from Chelsea, £1m from Spurs for a kid, and also £600k plus from Everton for Garbutt, and we will be getting a bit off Manchester City.• Leeds United told Leeds City Council that we could not find the £7m or so required to meet the October 09 deadline for purchasing Thorp Arch, despite Mr Bates constantly informing fans via his programme notes that the club would do so. The club admits no banks will do business with us because of a low credit rating caused by the 2007 administration.• Thorp Arch and Elland Road (both sold by the Krasner/Levi consortium) are valued at about £35m, the cost of repurchase is £18m.• The cost of the Levi case is £1.5m and counting, the cost of appealing (as yet no legal route to do so have been found) would be to double that cost, all to save £50k damages. Remember, Mr Bates has no liquid assets.• The Judge in the Levi case criticised Bates, Harvey and Taylor for contradicting themselves with their court statements and evidence…which brings us back to where we started!As I have said, this is just the tip of the iceberg, the Guardian have clearly got the bit between their teeth and we may be looking at some interesting revelations around who actually does own Forward and this Leeds United.
Of course one aspect of the confused ownership tangle yet to be resolved is this: is Bates the glorified fund manager liable personally for the £1.5m costs accrued making a fool of himself over Levi? Well if you look at his statements on the subject he tends to use club channels to indicate “we are going to appeal”. The clear implication being that come what may (and at the moment leave to appeal is unlikely) the club will cop for the costs (and of course the £50k damages). Well we all wanted to know that the Delph money has gone somewhere useful!
The other court case (Weston) has also provided us recently with some perils, I have referenced the admission around ownership already but the real meat in the Channel Islands case is the stuff around why Bates/the Owners sent us into administration. You will recall all the nonsense about removing the yoke of the Ridsdale’s years (which the £25m rise in debts in 2006-07 puts the lie to), well now, from the court papers we know it was actually an attempt to avoid paying back a loan the club took out under Krasner that Bates/the owners agreed to repay when purchasing the club. The inter-connections between the two court cases means that the judge who criticised Bates, Harvey and Taylor also praised the evidence provided by the other side in the Channel islands case. That case is ongoing and is likely to yield more information about some of the present regimes business practices that don’t seem to winning any ethical awards.
As an aside nothing quite takes my breath away as some of the dysfunctional shite some people will write/say in defence of Bates and co, despite the evidence and despite those apologists (and I make no apology for the use of that term) having no real interest in such a position, it borders sometimes on mass hysteria, leads to intellectual contortions being performed but much more importantly distracts from the scrutiny required of this regime. I will be expanding on this in the 6th instalment of this review; I will not be very restrained in my distaste of it all.
It goes without saying that if the mainstays of the present regime had spent more of the last 6 months dealing with income generation ideas rather than court cases they might have been able to conclude the Thorp Arch deal with ease. However as we know, because the club has told us, they don’t have the resources alone to achieve this, this statement, an indictment in itself of the last 4 years, opens up an whole new set of issues. Factually not even Bates’s biggest fan can deny that isn’t pretty, the owners Bates fronts for knew in 2005 that they had till October 2009 to repurchase our training academy (but minus the first team training pitch), at below the expected market rate, a very simple thing really, find £7m acquire a £15m asset, simples, ah no not for George, Zippy and Bungle, no instead they repay a similar amount to Forward then go cap in hand to Leeds City Council for a loan, get the offer of a “novate” instead and finish up (on the assumption Alder don’t find a rational to refuse to accept the repurchase, something I wouldn’t put money against happening) getting a new landlord. Of course you can extrapolate some marginal benefits for the club (apparently the club saves between £1k and £3k a year on rent increases, the equivalent of 1% of the court costs over Levi) but as indicated here:http://clarkeonenil.co.uk/front-page/contributions-on-the-leeds-united-quagmire/thorp-arch-2-the-implications%20there are also some dangers for the club.
One aspect of the club’s board/owners I can’t criticise over the last 6 months is its ability to keep trying to pull the wool over people’s eyes. When you get more information from the Guardian than KPMG, Leeds City Council and the Yorkshire Evening Post can muster (the Phil Hay article over the weekend on Leeds being “in no rush” to find investors was one of the most obvious and sickly soft PR jobs I have read for years) you either believe the latter’s are all in cohorts with the present regime (which is possibly true for one of them) or you have to accept that this kind of machiavellian behaviour is a core life skill for the clubs representatives. In some respects you can’t blame them, they know it works, witness the lead up to administration, the coming out of administration and all the public utterances since. The Leeds United covering media seem still to have a difficulty noticing the contradictions between statements of financial success and those telling the world they “have no other feasible source” for TA purchase money. Similar to the Yorkshire Radio issue back in 2007, Bates brags about the money it generates for the club but fails to remember telling us all it wasn’t club owned when it suited over the bids to take us out of administration!
What Leeds United needed over the last few months was an administrative and finance side that reflected the team, if it couldn’t quite match that at least is quiet and dutiful. Instead we have had controversy after controversy with as many questions opened up as resolved. There is almost an element in which it looks like somebody is losing their touch (having never really been touched by losing libel cases or proper investigative journalism before), and if that is the case, what are the implications for the future? Could we win this division just in time to be told the owners inability to come clean about who they are jeopardises our position? Will we spend another £1.5m to fail to save 50k, who will Bates fall out with next? All these questions remain as difficult to answer as they always have (but are a dam sight easier than trying to concoct a rational that places Bates and Forward as open, transparent drivers of a successful and respected Leeds United). What isn’t however difficult is to make the following prediction, Conn hasn’t really started yet, a man of his integrity will burrow away until that Astor-Forward smoking gun is exposed and when it is, life will get interesting!

Leeds United 2009-10, quarter season review part 3: Football Management Team.
October 6th, 2009
The manager and the unofficial coaching staff.
This section should be sub-titled “what more do I need”? Simon Grayson’s coaching team, and let us be clear modern football management is a coaching team situation with one man taking the lead role, it’s far too complex, even at L1 level to be one man and some assistance, are sitting pretty, top of the table, the only defeat coming against PL opposition and a feeling around that Leeds could and should be wrapping up automatic promotion come next May. Is it really that simple with us this season, are Grayson’s team the new messiah’s?
As the season was about to start I penned the following: http://clarkeonenil.co.uk/front-page/contributions-on-the-leeds-united-quagmire/new-dawns-i-see-one-of-them-every-morning, basically a plea for the support to restrain the pressure on Grayson’s team. This was a sort of balance for my views back in May where I felt the management team had shown a timid side in the play-offs and that reflect a limited ambition. I didn’t place their win percentage in any great reference, pointing out that each of the previous 3 managers had managed a similar run of results at some point in their tenure. I suggested that the win percentage was unsustainable (and it probably still is but no point wishing it away) and I also implied that the jury was out on his transfer choices (notwithstanding the Williams influence on such matters). The SG believers (those who see things around one man rather than a coaching team) will have you believe all those concerns have been answered, and they would be half right.
We need to start with transfers and specifically those who “team SG” have brought in and those they wanted to sell (so not point referencing Delph). Binning Douglas was as a good a start as it was possible, the dispatching of Richardson and Lucas felt right. Where perhaps you could raise a minor grumble is the keeping of some of our fringe players where it’s difficult to see how they would ever get a decent first team run or sufficient evidence exists to call them superfluous, an example of the former being Prutton and a couple of examples of the latter being Kandol and Showunmi. In terms of signings well its so far so good, Higgs has been great, Kisnorbo a real find, Crowe has done ok, Doyle still needs to show a bit but isn’t letting anyone down, Bromby is a mixed bag of defensive solidity and ball-playing tosh and Somma, well anyone’s guess but time will tell. Equally important has been the faith the coaches have shown in players already at Elland Road, Howson getting the captaincy, Johnson back in with a bang, Parker first choice before injury, can’t fault it.
The results have been excellent so far this season, where points have been dropped you can make a case that mostly the sharing of the spoils was a true reflection of the game. We have won games we in the previous 5 seasons might have slipped down to draws and taken points where performance wasn’t particularly impressive. You can’t argue with that, we have played decent teams and potential promotion challengers in Charlton, MK Dons and even Colchester and we have done well. We will still have stern tests to come with the likes of Norwich, Southampton and Huddersfield but we don’t seem to be letting the “lesser” clubs upset progress, it’s all very encouraging. The question is how much of it is down to the coaching team?
I think what continues to raise questions in my mind is the contrast in how the team approaches home and away games. At fortress ER we are almost cavalier sometimes, certainly attacking and bristling with intent and yet away we can be stiflingly restrained, tending to lower our footballing standards to the level of the opposition and never really taking other teams on in their own backyard. It has happened too consistently to be co-incidence and as such brings out the old concerns of timidness. I suppose to be fair I could call it pragmatic, if that is what it takes to get out of the pit of a division L1 is, but having watched it unfold from the away ends it feels like a mistake. Not only must it confuse the players as swift ball passing in Yorkshire gives way to slugball in Buckinghamshire but it also invites teams to believe in themselves and if there is one opponent clubs don’t need encouragement against it is us!
My other minor gripe is our bench and specifically the lack of balance: Michalik seems to be the only defender ever on the subs list, I assume that will change once Parker is fit again and Hughes will become a main-stay, but it looks a dangerous ploy given how our fullbacks are dropping like flies to injuries. If I’m brutally honest I hate seeing Robinson in the 16, don’t see what he brings either in the team or as a sub but I suppose the options for the flanks are limited.
As the season has developed so has a feeling we are slowly replacing the amount of skill the team posseses with a more physical approach, not in large lumps but small bits game by game. I understand this is considered a good thing by those on the Kop that think all Leeds teams should be as hard as nails, the return of Naylor reinforcing that creep. Maybe team SG prefer it that way, certainly any analysis of Grayson’s time at Blackpool suggests so, and again the shout of pragmatism is flouting around. Personally I would rather that Howson, Becchio, Kilkenny and Snodgrass were added to rather than subtracted from but as they are still part of the mix I can’t really criticise.
The one aspect where team SG gives way to the aura of Mr Simon Grayson is in the PR stakes, our local Skipton boy is in demand as an example of “a young manager making his way in the football world”. Obviously any publicity strategy is affected by the over-bearing shadow of Bates and his cohorts but to be fair to Grayson he seems to handle it all well. This is even more surprising given that his accent can give a false impression of a limited vocabulary. In this personality obsessed media world perhaps it’s fitting someone like Grayson has come through to public notice on something a little more substantial.
Regular readers will have noticed the usual Clarkeonenil half pint empty approach hasn’t been used in this section, mainly because its self-defeating if I write something even I recognise as counter-intuitive. Grayson and his team still are not my idea of football management of choice, the present win ratio is unsustainable, the away style is mind-numbingly frustrating, the blackpoolisation of Leeds United is still apparent to me but it seems to work for him and them, little I say otherwise.
I have long ago recognised two things in life, the first is that my bar when it comes to football managers is raised excessively high but I am used to that now and accept it for what it is. The second is that heroes are a waste of time and effort, they inevitably disappoint. Grayson and his team are the first Leeds United managerial team in 7 years to be the lucky recipients of those two truths coming together. I want to see more before I am convinced they can even get us out of L1 never mind take us back to the promised land of the Premier League, but if they repeat in results terms (in a results business) over the next 12 games what they have already this season, I will be able to have some faith and trust in them rather than feel the need to elevate them to something more.

Leeds United 2009-10 quarter season review part 4: Players.
October 7th, 2009
happy with things lads?
“You have all done very well”, the temptation to just say “14 games, 10 wins, 3 draws and a solitary defeat at the hands of PL Liverpool, what else is there to say” is great. But would that really reflect the way the individual components of our squad have contributed since the season started? Yes and no, whilst a certain appreciation of a good well done is valid there is a sense in which now is the time to reference flaws and future potential difficulties.
If you class Hughes as a midfield player and Bromby as predominately a right-back you can make the case that we have at least two players for all 11 positions (and in fact in attack we have at least 3 for each striker place), the vast majority of which you could make a case are as good as if not better than a template L1 automatic promotion player. Obviously we could do with the odd addition; another ball-passing midfielder wouldn’t go amiss, but all in all the squad should be good enough to go up (yes this is not what I was saying back in May but hey, time matches on).
So given that we have established the football management team seemed to be on a roll we can only conclude that any failure to secure that promotion will be down to the players, form, mood, attitude, selflessness/selfishness etc. I see no point in just lauding a long list of players (like Higgs, Kisnorbo, Howson, Johnson, Snodgrass, Becchio etc) for how they have performed since August, that is after all what they get paid to do, nor do I see a point in listing the players that constantly cause concern whenever they venture near the team (like Hughes, Robinson, Showunmi, Kandol etc and to a lesser extent Doyle) instead what I think would be of more use is to identify 5 players who if they can just add a little to what they are and have shown recently will bring that little bit extra that could make all the difference when the business end of the season comes around. That 5 for our consideration are Ankergran, Michalik, Kilkenny, Grella and Beckford (yes Beckford!)
Before I examine their season’s so far and what might be to come perhaps I should expand on why this is no standard review; being top, unbeaten and with no over-riding sense of grievance (except where it should be directed, Bates) has distorted the judgement of some of our support. Unable to cope with the idea that you enjoy the results while you can we have witnessed this season a machine-gun mentality when it comes to players criticism, one weeks its Marques, next week Howson, week after Johnson, then its Becchio’s turn then Snodgrass isn’t the golden boy anymore and this week it is Ankergran. Now in all of those cases that criticism has been delusionary garbage to put it mildly, but blogs have to be written and forums given content! At best some low level mutterings about Hughes being out of position might be valid, or irritation at Robinson’s inability to impose himself in league appearances or even Showunmi’s touch, but even them we are talking about players who are unlikely to be first choice in a fully fit squad. I know old habits die hard but given the additional presence of Kandol, Sheehan, Prutton and Huntingdon (and I’d be more than happy to see them all come good in a Leeds shirt again) in our squad I see no rational for criticising the better players!
What the dullards on the kop were thinking when they started ironic cheering of Casper’s kicks I do not know, price you pay for having 30k+ crowds it seems to me. Ankergran has played in 5 games this season (counting his sub appearance at Franchise FC), he has conceded 2 goals, that to me is decent enough given how it adds to Higgs stunning record. Yes he has kicking and box commanding issues but his shot-stopping and reactions, as witnessed against Charlton, is still top-notch. He would commend a first team place in any CCC side, which is why the recent questioning of him grates so much. We are going to need Casper at his best if Higgs is injured or not, giving that position real competition and cover for injuries and suspensions. In order to ensure that might i humbly suggest people get off his back.
I have to admit that in the case of Ludo I thought the die was cast, lacking in confidence, probably fifth choice at the start of the season it was difficult to see how he could work his way back. Well he has, doing extremely well when brought on (usually early on) and in the pressure games. I think he has been superb, against MK Dons and Liverpool, I am surprised that wasn’t rewarded with a start against Carlisle, his form has certainly been noticed by his country as he is back in the fold again. Michalik is a decent player and will contribute significantly to our season given a chance to, a little encouragement, from team SG and us the fans, could go a long way.
Kilkenny isn’t a difficult issue, he is better than Doyle, brings more to the table, he should be in the team. Granted the early season injury didn’t help him but given he has become established on our subs bench one can only assume he is now fit enough to start games. Killa is consistent in his passing and all round game, apart from some bottler criticism he gets from idiots there is very little to fault in his contribution to the club, he looks like he could play with ease at higher levels, if we don’t fully utilise him soon we might find in January he is doing just that.
When you see a player who his stretching every muscle to contribute to the team and you notice a bit of skill to go with it that is always a good sign for a player still working his way into the picture. Grella has really impressed me with his cameo’s this season, works hard, seems to have decent control, wants to try things occasionally, the only issue seems to be confidence in the penalty box (hang on where have I seen that issue before, oh yes 2006-07 and a chap we bought from Wealdstone). I think he has what it takes to overcome that issue and start to contribute in the goals department and we are going to need him to do that, mainly because we can’t continue to over-rely on the next player from my little list.
I don’t care how many goals you get in a season, if you don’t have an all round game or an understanding of the teams needs you next to useless in my book (insert own example of this type of player). Jermaine Beckford hasn’t changed a dot since he returned from his confidence boosting spell at Scunthorpe, he still needs far too many chances to get his goals, always missing more than he gets, his passing and lay-offs are still erratic, his work-rate indulgent, his attitude and temperament suspect, we have had all this over the last few months and the usual redeeming supply of goals. One issue that has changed, it has gone from theory to confirmed, is his big-game mentality, it’s got worst, no point his fans denying it, we now have nearly 20 examples from the last few seasons to show for it. This is where Beckford can give more, if he isn’t prepared to improve his team game that’s fine, just do what he does when the big games come along and that will be fine, after all if he wants that transfer he is going to have to earn it!
As we approach the next 12 league games what seems to me as the core issue for the players is how much do they, individually and collectively, want to win this division? To me I’m indifferent to which players contribute, if the team that takes us up includes Martin, Huntingdon, White, Prutton, Robinson, Kandol and Somma, who am I to complain? There is no scope for taking the foot off the gas, team SG have options which should ensure no complacency. There is a lot of talk when discussing tactics about “whatever it takes” well that is a two way street and if it takes dropping Beckford or Kisnorbo later in the season so be it, no sacred cow players this season please.

Leeds United 2009-10, quarter season review part 5: League 1.
October 8th, 2009
What we want.
The essence of good competition is a vital part of the sporting experience, hence why the supporters of the so called “big 4” have such limiting excitement in their life, same old, same old. Yet whilst it is true that the range of opportunity improves the further down the food chain you go with modern English football there is an element of sameness about L1 this season that you can either see as a threat (i.e. we are destined to repeat the last two seasons with play-off heartache) or as an opportunity (we are the exception in a league of similar), as they say in “A” level exams (gosh best part of 30 years ago) “discuss”.
So far no-one in L1 has pushed us, we have let some teams drag us down a little but no-one has really exposed any limitations our rose tinted outlook has missed. The nearest to being turned over (in points sense) was Southend where the penalty save from Higgs ensured a reasonable return on a turgid night in Essex. Charlton competed with us but again showed no signs of dominating, could be a interesting test at their place late on in the season.
Of course we still have significant tests to come, Norwich, Millwall, Huddersfield, Southampton (just about starting to find some form) and the surprise kid on the fringes of promotion block, Swindon! It is also true that despite us seemingly having resolved not to lose to the “poxy” clubs on the usual basis that threat remains. I have indicated in part 3 how the tendency to lower our standards away to reflect the opposition isn’t a tactic that I believe will work for ever.
Of the teams we have played so far Charlton are clearly the nearest to competition for the title, next, not so much in terms of how they played but on how they responded to our win at their place is Colchester, I wasn’t too impressed but I can see already what Boothroyd is doing to turn them into contenders. As an aside its good to see that Exeter are holding their own so far, I do like a small club with a positive footballing attitude, should god forbid Grayson fall under a passing Blackpool tram I’d suggest Paul Tisdale as the man to get!
So other than admitting that the competition is yet to come up to the standards expected of it every little else is let to ponder, except the old debate around “footballing playing sides” verses “hoofballers” in terms of how you get out of a league like L1. You won’t be surprised to learn not only do I support the former approach I also point out that evidence from recent seasons also supports that approach (well partly, the clubs I point to were 75% football and 25% physical at most and that’s a divide I can live with) with Doncaster, Peterborough, Swansea all in the higher division.
Life is never going to be simple at this level, injuries, appalling refereeing (special shout to Durso for that this season but also to Mr Phillips for the Colchester game), shocking playing surfaces or the sheer slog involved might all conspire to make the next few months a bit stressful. Personally i think we have “sorted enough nuts” to survive a bad patch, we could go through all of October without a win and still be top 2 at the end of it. This is an unusual experience for us and we should be aware someone always comes out of the pack (well outside the PL) but let’s saviour it first. L1 where is thy sting?
Additional: I did say I would do another section on “us the fans” but having thought about it as this series has progressed I have come to the conclusion that a) what would I say, the two extremes of good and bad don’t change in that short a time scale and b) it’s probably worth a whole series of its own sometime.


Guardian 3/10/09
Leeds and Charlton draw a blank as the leading pair settle for stalemate
Barney Ronay at Elland Road
Leeds United continue to march on at the top of League One – with a slightly stuttering stride, perhaps, but with great spirit and the support of a brilliantly committed 31,838 crowd, Elland Road's biggest of the season so far. A point at home to Charlton Athletic left Leeds still three points clear of their second-placed visitors, confirming their status as muscular and persuasive autumn pace-setters. And in truth it was the muscular side of their game that was to the fore as for long periods the visitors played the more constructive football in a match they might easily have won.
Not that anyone inside Elland Road really minded. "We're all in this together," Simon Grayson wrote in his programme notes, and togetherness has been the key: this week Leeds fans were being offered the chance to purchase "an evening with Simon Grayson" (cost £25), and tomorrow afternoon Elland Road will host a wedding fair, with Ken Bates, the chairman, promising to offer himself as godfather to the first born of one lucky prize draw winner. Presumably there is also an opportunity to decline.
Home support has been a real source of strength for Leeds. Last week's 1-1 draw with Carlisle had been preceded by five straight home wins. They started on the front foot here, although much of their early pressure consisted of hopeful punts in the direction of Jermaine Beckford and Luciano Becchio, twin strikers in a 4-4-2 formation. It was just such a pass from Neil Kilkenny that gave Beckford the match's first chance on 10 minutes, but he shot narrowly wide under no real pressure.
Sam Sodje was making his debut in central defence for Charlton and he caught the eye with some meaty headed clearances. "We brought him in because we needed another physical presence," Phil Parkinson, the Charlton manager, said afterwards, and Sodje was certainly game, repeatedly hurling himself into the path of the Leeds barrage.
Leeds' attempts to impose themselves were not helped by a nasty swirling wind that decorated the pitch with a scurf of litter, but by the time Becchio had left the field on 35 minutes, injuring his ankle treading on the ball, Charlton had begun to dominate quietly, with the composed and elegant Jonjo Shelvey to the fore. "For a 17-year-old kid coming into this environment I thought he put on a really good display," Parkinson noted, and for much of the first half Shelvey looked the most interesting player on view in a withdrawn attacking position behind the lone striker Deon Burton.
Leeds may be desperate to escape this division, but so are Charlton, another of League One's contingent of the formerly buoyant. The last time these teams met was on the last day of the Premier League season five years ago, a game that saw Alan Smith chaired off in his final appearance for his home-town club.
Leeds' team that day contained nine international players, plus Frazier Richardson, who played right-back for Charlton here, and for a while either side of half-time he was a potent threat from the flank as Charlton gave Leeds, if not a footballing lesson, then a brief informal tutorial.
With Jonathan Howson tucking in on the right there was a distinct lack of width about Leeds. They were not helped greatly by Becchio's replacement, Enoch Showunmi, a striker with considerable bulk but the deft first touch of a croquet mallet. Still, roared on by an unquenchably noisy support they pressed and fought and harried after the break. On the hour Showunmi turned neatly on to Johnson's pass and drew a smart low save from Rob Elliot.
It was a lack of precision rather than willing that undermined their efforts. Beckford received very little service, while a Showunmi stepover inside the penalty area that left him sprawled on the turf drew howls of anguish and some laughter.
Charlton flickered: Shelvey had a shot from 25 yards and later Izale McLeod looked lively as Parkinson introduced another striker with 15 minutes remaining. But gradually the game closed up as both teams scented the compromise of a point.
Grayson was asked if he was disappointed his team had not pressed harder for victory: "You don't want to be the one that makes a mistake in that sort of game, but why would I be disappointed? We're the only unbeaten team in the League after 11 games." Norwich City won 5-1 today and are the next visitors to Elland Road. The race to escape from League One, you feel, has a great deal of life left in it.




Sunday Times 4/10/09
Ken Bates lifts spirits at Elland Road
Leeds 0 Charlton 0
Barry Flatman at Elland Road
ON A DAY that was supposed to exemplify the endeavour, quality and entertainment value of two resurgent clubs who believe they belong in or close to the top flight, it fell to unlikely wit Ken Bates to provide a little levity. Leeds United may have failed to score at home for the first time this season but today the club stage a wedding fayre. As a special incentive to prospective customers, Bates, the Leeds chairman, has offered to be the godfather to the first child of whoever wins a special raffle.
Unfortunately for Bates, the Leeds strikers lacked the same entrepreneurial qualities and against their nearest challengers Charlton, they can count themselves fortunate to have gathered even a point.
Had goalkeeper Casper Ankergren not been so alert in the last 20 minutes as the south Londoners repeatedly threatened, this would have been another black date to rue.
Watched by Leeds’ biggest crowd of the season — more than 31,000 — it was a perfect day for Simon Grayson’s team to show why they are destined for better things. Instead, Charlton manager Phil Parkinson was the happier. He said: “This was an excellent performance. After being under pressure for the first 10 minutes we stood up really well for the rest of the match.”
Two Charlton players had something to prove. After 10 years at Leeds, Frazer Richardson was offloaded at the end of last season. Charlton snapped him up and his tireless performance down the flank emphasised Leeds’ glaring lack of width.
Sam Sodje played for Leeds, on loan from Reading, in last season’s playoffs but was not offered a permanent deal. Charlton took him on and they were rewarded with a commanding display that largely thwarted the highly rated Jermaine Beckford.
Star man: Sam Sodje (Charlton)
Yellow cards: Leeds: Bromby Charlton: Sodje
Referee: S Mathieson
Attendance: 31,838
LEEDS: Ankergren 7, Kisnorbo 7, Naylor 7, Bromby 6, Doyle 6, Kilkenny 5 (Grella 79min), Howson 5, Johnson 6, Hughes 5 (Robinson 65min), Beckford 5, Becchio 5 (Showunmi 36min, 4)
CHARLTON: Elliot 6, Richardson 7, Youga 6, Sodje 8, Dailly 7, Bailey 6, Shelvey 7 (McLeod 76min), Racon 6 (Basey 89min), Sam 6, (Wagstaff 45min, 5), Spring 6, Burton 6