Monday, April 26, 2010
Leeds United 4 MK Dons 1: Becchio, Gradel and Beckford on target for Whites
By Richard Sutcliffe at Elland Road
AT the end of a week when the Billy Bremner statue that proudly sits outside Elland Road were given a timely makeover, Leeds United's own promotion hopes benefited from a much-needed polish.
The tribute to United's greatest captain had been in need of a good sprucing up for some time with Mother Nature having washed away much of its initial colour and vibrancy. A similar thing could have been said on Saturday morning about Bremner's former club following a largely disappointing 2010 that has seen what once appeared to be an unassailable lead at the top of League One gradually eroded away.
Come 5pm, however, Leeds' hopes of escaping the third tier had, just like the statue outside the stadium, taken on an altogether healthier glow thanks to the manner in which managerless Milton Keynes Dons had been dispatched in comprehensive style.
The winning margin was three goals, but it could – and probably should – have been much more with Simon Grayson's side rediscovering the attacking verve that had characterised their efforts during the first half of the season.
The United manager had rung the changes to send out a starting XI that dripped with attacking intent as speedy winger Sanchez Watt was brought in alongside Bradley Johnson.
With defensive midfielder Michael Doyle dropped to the bench along with the out-of-form Jonny Howson, the clear intention was to take the game to the visitors.
It proved an astute move with the energetic home side taking such a firm control of proceedings that the Dons lost not only the game but also their discipline as Mathias Doumbe, David McCracken and Peter Leven were all sent off.
The dismissal of Doumbe for a high challenge on Watt just before the break was harsh, but there could be few complaints about the two red cards that followed in the final four minutes.
By the time of the late dismissals, the game was already effectively over with Leeds having built a 3-1 lead.
Grayson's men had gone ahead on 13 minutes when Watt, making his first start after three previous appearances from the bench, dispossessed Doumbe on the United left.
The Arsenal teenager then cleverly rolled a pass for Luciano Becchio to chase and drill a shot beyond Willy Gueret. Milton Keynes hit back just six minutes later when slack marking by the Leeds defence allowed Dean Lewington to plant a shot past Shane Higgs after being picked out by Lever's free-kick.After the previous week's first-half defensive collapse at Gillingham, there were more than a few anxious expressions in the 25,964 crowd at seeing their side pegged back, only for Max Gradel to restore the home side's advantage.
Watt was again the creator with a determined challenge on the edge of the area after Neil Kilkenny had intercepted a stray pass from Leven. The ball subsequently ran from Watt to Gradel, who finished coolly. Then came the game's decisive moment as hapless referee Michael Oliver harshly sent off Doumbe to leave the Dons facing an uphill battle in the second half.
Leeds continued to dominate after the break but it took the introduction of Jermaine Beckford from the bench 14 minutes from time to bring the vital third goal, the top scorer firing in from close range after being picked out by Johnson. Beckford then added a second, taking his season's tally to 30 in the process, from the penalty spot after being hauled down by McCracken – an offence that earned the defender a straight red card.
This time Oliver got it right, just as he did in stoppage time when Lever was guilty of an atrocious challenge on Neill Collins that saw the midfield player become the third visiting player to receive his marching orders.
Seconds later, the final whistle blew and there was no mistaking the delight on the faces of the Grayson's men as they took the deserved acclaim of the United fans.
Watt, so impressive on his full debut, typified the feeling within the Leeds camp that automatic promotion is now within touching distance.
The 19-year-old said: "It would be great to help Leeds go up as it would mean me being able to go off on holiday with a big smile.
"I will also then be able to go back to Arsenal for pre-season with a lot more confidence from achieving something.
"There is still a lot of work to do and a lot is riding on the last two games as we have to go out and win them.
"But I personally can't wait for the Charlton game (this Saturday). I am from London and this is a big game so I want to get a lot of my people to the game."
Hero: Max Gradel
Just pipped Sanchez Watt as the United hero with an energetic display that saw the January signing from Leicester put the visiting defence under intense pressure throughout. Great link-up play with Watt.
Villain: Michael Oliver
A hapless performance from a referee who, on this evidence, will be lucky to officiate at another game between now and the end of the season. Left both sets of players scratching their heads in bemusement.
43rd minute: Matthias Doumbe may have caught Sanchez Watt slightly high but it was not a red card offence.
Michael Oliver: Wrongly dismissed Doumbe and turned down penalty when Gradel was fouled – two of his 'lowlights.'
MK Dons are clearly a team for whom the summer cannot come soon enough but Leeds still deserve credit for blowing the visitors away in the second half.
Charlton Athletic v Leeds United, Saturday, May 1, League One.
Quote of the day
Footballers are entertainers so we should enjoy the spotlight and be confident. It is our job to show people what we can do.– Sanchez Watt gives an insight into his footballing beliefs.
Yorkshire Evening Post 26/4/10
Goal fest a plus point for Leeds
By Phil Hay
Leeds United 4 MK Dons 1
Gambling Leeds United's promotion on the mere margin of goal difference would not be Simon Grayson's idea of fun, despite his appreciation of the institution he manages.
"We never do things the easy way here," he said last week, acknowledging the never-ending trials of a complex football club. His is a refrain often heard in Leeds, the grumble of a city which should have known that promotion by Easter was as whimsical as it sounded far back in August.
If fate deals United a favourable hand in London next weekend, their elevation to the Championship will be ratified with one game to spare.
Grayson is not alone in sensing that Leeds will need their 46th and final match to be certain, and perhaps the factor of goal difference too.
"It could be vital," he admitted openly after a 4-1 defeat of MK Dons, aware that league tables are rarely so tight with two fixtures to play.
Should his prediction come to pass, Leeds will count the value of a rousing victory bizarrely constructed with the help of Michael OIiver, Saturday's embattled match official, and a club in MK Dons whose disarray is every bit as deep-seated as reports from the south suggest.
The result defended Leeds' one-point lead over Millwall, the team who lie second in what is now a three-horse sprint towards automatic promotion.
Charlton might influence that race but they can surely not win it, five points back with a game at home to Leeds to come.With three more points accrued, it mattered greatly to Grayson that the scoreline against MK Dons restored parity with Millwall's goal difference, addressing another possible trip wire.
Still, he was only just satisfied, and the media corps at Elland Road had the strange experience of listening to a manager gently bemoaning a 4-1 victory.
The criticism was not entirely irrational. MK Dons played for 42 minutes with 10 players, finished normal time with nine and lost another to their third red card of the afternoon in the additional time allowed by Oliver.
Grayson, therefore, saw their concession of four goals as damage limitation, strange though it sounded.
The toll on MK Dons was a high one nevertheless. Karl Robinson, their assistant manager who has the unenviable task of acting up in the absence of Paul Ince, had seven senior players fit enough to train on Thursday. At full-time on Saturday, he estimated that a grand total of four would be available for their game at Brighton later this week.
"If you don't smile you'll cry," Robinson said. He wasn't joking.
Ince served the second game of a five-match touchline suspension on Saturday, though he was nowhere to be seen at Elland Road. Having agreed to stand down as manager when the season finishes, his tenure has ended to all intents and purposes, leaving Robinson to do what he can with a paper-thin squad. It is a blessing for the club that their last two matches are immaterial.
Leeds benefited from two cheap goals gifted to them but they were more indebted to Oliver for sending off Mathias Doumbe late in the first half, issuing a straight red card for his foul on Sanchez Watt near the halfway line.
There was little in the game before his dismissal; MK Dons were never in it afterwards, bailing water in a futile attempt to stay afloat.By the final whistle, Jermaine Beckford had scored twice in six minutes and David McCracken and Peter Leven sat alongside Doumbe in the visiting dressing room, McCracken sent off for a professional foul on Beckford and Leven banished for a more unprofessional foul on Neill Collins.Elland Road delighted in the drama, free from the tension which seemed likely to impinge on the game.
For much of the first half, a pensive mood was evident but United finished it with a 2-1 lead and a numerical advantage. Grayson's players dealt ruthlessly with MK Dons' errors, the source of better chances than anything Leeds could conjure themselves, and Doumbe's punishment allowed Leeds to play freely after half-time, more freely than Grayson could have expected.
For Doumbe, the day started badly and descended downhill at pace. He was culpable for MK Dons' first concession in the 13th minute, carelessly losing possession to Watt and watching helplessly as Luciano Becchio met the winger's delicate through ball with a slick finish. McCracken appealed in vain for an offside flag which failed to rise.
Watt's involvement in the opening goal was the first act of a fine full debut, justifying Grayson's feeling that Saturday was the perfect time to make full use of his teenage loanee from Arsenal.
It was a risky decision on Grayson's part and not a little brave, one of three alterations made to the team beaten senseless by Gillingham. Bradley Johnson and Ben Parker also joined the throng as their appearances for United's reserves in midweek suggested they might.
The scale of the occasion at Elland Road was never likely to hinder Watt; his debut for Arsenal was made earlier this season in front of a crowd of 56,000 at the Emirates Stadium. He needed no encouragement to involve himself in the contest, and his bubbly performance was only cut short by a series of minor injuries that eventually persuaded Grayson to replace him with the game effectively won. He left the field with two assists to his name.
His second came in the 33rd minute when Neil Kilkenny anticipated an irresponsible pass from Leven and drove towards the edge of MK Dons' box. Dean Lewington met him with a firm tackle but Watt forced the ball through to Max Gradel who stabbed a shot under the body of Willy Gueret, the visitors' erratic goalkeeper.
The goal re-established United's lead after Lewington himself had found the net six minutes after Becchio's strike.
The left-back ran clear of Johnson and met a free-kick from Leven six yards from goal, slipping a clinical shot to the right of Shane Higgs.
Returning the ball to the halfway line was Higgs’ only meaningful task of the game, and his afternoon became quieter by the minute.
Doumbe’s dismissal tied the hands of Robinson’s remaining players, though the red card he received was dubious. Oliver almost hinted at his own error when he immediately declined to award a penalty for a foul on Gradel by Gueret, who put his goal in peril by making hard work of sweeping up a loose ball. The Frenchman redeemed himself within seconds when his legs repelled a shot from Robert Snodgrass who slipped through a gap in Robinson’s defence.
For the next half-hour, Leeds toyed with their visitors who fought to a standstill in the face of a siege.
Grayson flexed his muscles by using Beckford as a substitute in the 75 minute and the straw broke MK Dons’ back, preceding the most eventful period of football that Elland Road has seen this season.
Beckford scored United’s third goal with a flying volley at the end of Johnson’s cross and he converted a penalty five minutes from time after leaving McCracken in his slipstream.
The defender could not resist the temptation to pull on Beckford’s shirt and he paid with a red card. Beckford forced the ball to Gueret’s right, claiming his 30th goal of the season.
Not content with two red cards, Oliver found good reason to show another when Leven lunged for the ball and caught Neill Collins on the shin.
A club can tell when their luck is out and MK Dons are patently in arrears. United might finally feel that theirs is in, though Grayson will be loath to push it as far as goal difference.
Saturday, April 24, 2010
History of the Club – The organising of the game
The Victorians bring form and order to the British game.
Read the full story at
History of the Club – Origins of football
How the game began and was introduced to and popularised in Britain.
Read the full story at
Players – Dickie Morris (1905-06) – City’s first international
Welsh inside-forward who was the first Leeds City player to win international honours while on the Elland Road club's books - he made a valuable contribution to their early days.
Read the full story at
Players – Fred Parnell (1905-08) – Dashing and dapper
The dashing and skilful winger was one of the stars in the Leeds City ranks as they navigated their way through the club's first few seasons - first man to notch 100 League appearances for City.
Read the full story at
Leeds United 4 MK Dons 1: match report
By Will Swanson at Elland Road
Leeds United are counting down the games. The vagaries of the end-of-season encounters have seen them miraculously emerge from their desperate turn-of-the-year run occupying the second automatic promotion spot and with their fate in their own hands.
With out-of-favour marksman Jermaine Beckford again only making the bench, Simon Grayson once more put his faith in the twin strike-force of Luciano Becchio and Max Gradel.
They didn’t disappoint. Both found the net in a comfortable win against an injury-ravaged MK Dons reduced to eight men by the final whistle. It was a victory that saw Grayson’s men take another confident step towards the Championship.
In an Elland Road bathed in warm afternoon sunshine, Leeds started brightly and were ahead with quarter of an hour.
Defender Mathias Dombe was dispossessed in midfield allowing on-loan Arsenal winger Sanchez Watt to power down the left.
He slipped the ball on to Luciano Becchio who calmly slotted his 17th goal of the season past the onrushing Willy Gueret.
The early breakthrough settled the nerves, the Leeds faithful were in full cry.
That was, however, until the 20th minute when, from a long free kick from Peter Leven, Dons captain Dean Lewington crept out of a packed six-yard box to poke home from three yards to double his season’s tally and silence Elland Road.
Leeds restored their lead thirteen minutes later when, after the Dons failed to clear, the ball fell invitingly into Max Gradel’s path and he gratefully slammed home his sixth of the season low past Gueret.
A minute before the break and an already difficult task was made harder for the visitors when Doumbe was shown a straight red card by referee Michael Oliver for an agricultural challenge on the fleet-footed Watt.
In the 63rd minute excellent interplay between Gradel and Watt almost fashioned another chance, but Gueret was equal to the latter’s low shot.
In the 75th minute Grayson sought to finish the contest, adding Beckford’s pace to the attack. Five minutes later he wrapped the points up flicking athletically home from a delicious Becchio cross.
With four minutes to go the sought-after striker doubled his tally from the penalty spot after being hauled down by David McCracken who was subsequently dismissed.
Darren Powell followed him down the tunnel in the final minute after a fracas in the centre circle to complete a miserable day for the Dons.
Sunday, April 18, 2010
Grayson’s men grateful to still be second as rivals also slip
Gillingham 3, Leeds United 2
Leeds manager Simon Grayson described his side’s first-half performance at Priestfield as “a shambles and hugely disappointing”.
United remain in second place but after three successive wins they were cut down to size by Gillingham, whose victory aided their quest for League One survival.
Huddersfield’s win over third-placed Millwall on Friday night had offered Leeds a huge boost but Grayson’s men failed to take advantage.
Fortunately for United, Swindon drew at home to Walsall and Charlton lost to promoted Norwich, leaving the Whites still a point ahead of Millwall in second place.
Grayson said: “You can’t give teams a three-goal start and expect to win. We gave ourselves a lifeline with a goal just before half-time but we made too many bad decisions and didn’t compete enough.
“I said to the lads beforehand that this would be the most difficult of our remaining games because Gillingham have such a good home record. But at least our destiny is still in our own hands.”
Jermaine Beckford again started on the bench as Grayson kept the side that won at Carlisle.
After being called into the action in the 56th minute, the leading scorer made little impact until he was fouled by Mark Bentley inside the box and tucked away his 28th goal of the season from the penalty spot.
The 86th-minute goal raised Leeds’ hopes of rescuing a point but anything less than victory would have been harsh on the Gills, who lost right back and captain Barry Fuller after injuring his nose in a first-minute collision with team-mate Darren Dennehy, teenager Jack Payne leaving the bench.
Yet the Gills, who have an excellent home record, steam-rollered their way to a three-goal lead inside the opening 33 minutes.
With eight minutes gone, Leeds captain Richard Naylor tried to head clear a long throw but the ball bounced kindly for Adam Miller, who headed into the top corner.
Max Gradel should have equalised four minutes later but, after good work by Robert Snodgrass and Luciano Becchio, he had his shot well saved by Alan Julian.
Dennis Oli and Renee Howe made it an uncomfortable afternoon for United central defenders Naylor and Neil Collins and Gillingham doubled their advantage on the half hour. Becchio conceded a free-kick, taken by Miller, and the unmarked Bentley scored.
It was a soft one to concede – and Leeds shot themselves in the foot again as Naylor’s header struck colleague Bromby in the face and rebounded into the net for an own goal.
Becchio’s fourth goal in three games offered United some hope as he produced a neat turn and shot into the bottom corner shortly before the break, which arrived with Leeds trailing 3-1 and needing a pep talk from their manager.
Beckford and Ben Parker replaced Snodgrass and Andrew Hughes early in the second half with United desperately trying to repair the damage.
Leeds gave away far too many free-kicks, with central defenders Naylor and Collins spending much of the match in danger of incurring a second yellow card and dismissal.
Gradel, who wasted possession with a procession of misdirected crosses, was also cautioned by referee Alan Wiley before Leeds made their third substitution, Sanchez Watt replacing Becchio 13 minutes from the end.
Watt provided some much-needed quality service and Beckford’s penalty, tucked confidently into the bottom corner, made it a nervous finale for the Gills, who stretched their unbeaten home record to seven matches.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Whites reveal financial results
By Phil Hay
Leeds United have announced an operating loss of £1.6m for the last financial year, with player sales allowing the club to post a slim overall profit of £15,000.
United's accounts for the 12 months to June 30, 2009 reveal a huge drop in overall profit from the £4.5m made by the League One side in the previous financial year.
Leeds' results for the 14 months prior to July 2008 suggested their finances were in rude health after their exit from administration in the summer of 2007, but the latest set of accounts from Elland Road – published by Companies House yesterday – make for more worrying reading.
The club's operating loss of £1.6m compares with an operating profit of £902,000 in the 14 months prior to July 2008, and their overall profit has also fallen dramatically.
Player trading generating income of more than £1.6m wiped out the operating loss and ensured the club recorded a minimal bottom-line gain.
But the results raise the concern that Leeds' future profitability will depend on player sales unless the club can secure a return to the Championship and increase their cash-flow.
The figures for the 2008-09 financial year do not include the sale of midfielder Fabian Delph to Aston Villa in August, the earnings from this season's Carling Cup tie against Liverpool or revenue generated by Leeds' FA Cup clashes with Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur.
United's turnover for the 2008-09 financial year stood at £23.5m, a slight increase on the previous 14 months.
Merchandising income grew by 43 percent to £4.9million but commercial revenue and broadcast earnings showed marginal falls.
Gate receipts at Elland Road dropped by over £1million during a campaign in which Leeds lost to Millwall in the League One play-off semi-finals. Their receipts for the previous term, however, were strengthened significantly by an appearance in the 2008 play-off final at Wembley.
The board at Leeds have consistently budgeted for home crowds of 22,000 in League One, a figure which they estimated would allow United to break even.
The average attendance at Elland Road during the 2008-09 term exceeded that target by falling narrowly short of 24,000.
Director and chief executive Shaun Harvey said greater investment in the playing squad at Elland Road ahead of the 2008-09 term was partially responsible for the fall in profit.
Harvey said: "The accounts may not reveal the same financial success of the previous 14 months but they are still positive in so much as the profits shown.
"The club's decision to invest more heavily in the playing squad was down to us utilising some of the profits from the previous year. Unfortunately, we fell just short by losing to Millwall in the play-offs.
"The board of directors remain committed to achieving success on the field and achieving the growth off the field required to support that success.
"Accounts are only ever a snapshot of a financial position at any one time."
Leeds' current accounts reveal a total wage bill for playing, management and administrative staff of just under £12.3million.
Harvey received a salary of £150,000 while almost £130,000 was paid in legal fees to a company controlled by fellow director Mark Taylor. Chairman Ken Bates did not receive any wages or benefits.
United's accounts value their playing squad at £8,760,000, while the buy-back option held by the club on Elland Road stood at £14.138m on June 30, 2009. The stadium itself is valued at £49million.
Leeds pay around £2million a year to rent the stadium and their training ground at Thorp Arch near Wetherby, a huge financial burden for a club in League One.
Among United's other liabilities is a possible future payment of £5million to creditors owed money as a result of the club's insolvency, due in the event that Leeds win promotion to the Premier League before the 2017-18 campaign.
United could also pay up to £2million in seasons to come depending on player appearances and success on the pitch.
Yorkshire Evening Post 15/4/10
Much more drama to come – Grayson
By Phil Hay
The strain of grasping and retaining second place in League One has been amply demonstrated in the past fortnight, a spell which Simon Grayson sees as a warning of inevitable drama ahead.
His Leeds United squad were the division's incumbents for many weeks until a 3-0 defeat to Swindon Town at Elland Road on April 3 passed the baton to Danny Wilson's squad and forced Leeds down to fourth.
Swindon's momentum was compelling but their retention of the last automatic promotion place lasted for little more than a week before their loss at Colchester United on Saturday made way for Millwall. Some 72 hours later, another shift in power saw Leeds return to second with the aid of an impressive win over Carlisle United.
Grayson predicted long ago that numerous "twists and turns" would occur as League One's clubs attacked the final straight, and nowhere has changing fortune been more apparent than at Elland Road. For a time, Leeds were incapable of buying a win; since their demotion from the top two, they have delivered three in succession, their finest form since December.
The reward for Grayson is the assurance that automatic promotion will be United's provided his squad successfully navigate their final four matches. Twelve points from those fixtures would put second place beyond any of the three clubs beneath them, but Grayson has seen too much movement in recent weeks to make presumptions about his team's league position.
"We've been up at the top of the division before and we've had the pressure of being first and second," he said. "It's a different type of pressure being in those positions, especially when you're not expected to be there.
"I'll be more than satisfied when we're in second place and no other team can catch us. Until then, all we can do is approach our games with the same attitude.
"In a few weeks' time, I'll hopefully be talking about what we have achieved and not about what we might achieve."
More encouraging for Grayson than United's presence in second place is the resurgence which has carried them up the league and halted the wayward form which threatened to define their season.
Their defence of League One's final automatic promotion place was nervous and unconvincing during the weeks of February and March, and their loss at home to Swindon earlier this month relegated Leeds from the top two for the first time since the end of August.
Their descent seemed symbolic and the manner of their collapse against Swindon – conceding three goals in the space of 12 minutes either side of half-time – spoke of a crisis of confidence in Grayson's dressing room.
Talk in Leeds centred around the safety of his own position as manager when Leeds travelled to Yeovil Town on Easter Monday, desperate to avoid a fifth successive defeat, but a 2-1 win at Huish Park was the catalyst for a swift revival, bringing further victories over Southend United and Carlisle.
United's performance at Brunton Park was as complete a display as Grayson's players have produced in a league fixture in 2010, allowing them to profit easily from what was in theory a difficult game. Two goals from Luciano Becchio and one from Max Gradel settled it inside an hour.
Grayson said: "We're winning games in a different manner now. In the early part of the season we played fluid football but at this stage, as much as you'd love to be winning by getting the ball down and knocking it around, you'll take any victory however it comes.
"That's what we needed after Swindon – a victory to stop the rot. You can see the confidence coming back into the players. There's a strong mental approach from them and they wanted to respond to the criticism they've had over the last few weeks.
"I said that we could win seven out of our last seven games and we've won three so far. It would be a great achievement to win all seven but what we've done is to turn around a minor blip and give ourselves an opportunity again."
It is an opportunity which still exists for three clubs beneath Leeds, led by Millwall who are unbeaten in 11 matches after they snatched a 1-1 draw at Yeovil Town with an injury-time goal on Tuesday night.
Swindon's backward steps have come through a 3-0 defeat at Colchester United and a scrambled draw at home to Exeter City but Wilson showed no sign of conceding automatic promotion.
The Swindon manager said: "The one thing we don't want to do is to let this chance just drift away.
"We don't want it to peter out, to be satisfied with being in the play-offs and give ourselves a pat on the back. We want to give second place a good go and if we don't manage it and don't get there, then fine. But I don't want to be regretting it in four games' time, saying 'we wish we had done this, that or the other'."
Grayson adopted much the same attitude when he reacted to Leeds' defeat against Swindon by asking his players to return a maximum haul of 21 points from their remaining games.
Scepticism about United's season was rife but Grayson cut through the negativity by promising that he would reverse a trend of costly form before it damaged United irreparably. He was least surprised of all to see Leeds back in second place on Tuesday night, 10 days after the club's term reached a worryingly low ebb.
Grayson said: "I expected my players to stand up and be counted – to go out and prove people wrong. People started writing us off and that was up to them but we genuinely thought that we could still do it. You can sense the confidence in the players now and that plays a big part in any team in any sport."
Bradford Telegraph and Argus 15/4/10
United hoping Terriers can do them a favour
By John Wray »
Leeds United and their fans will be backing West Yorkshire rivals Huddersfield Town tomorrow night when third-placed Millwall visit the Galpharm Stadium in Coca-Cola League One.
Leeds’ victory at Carlisle on Tuesday night lifted them above Millwall into the second automatic promotion place, and the hope is that Town can do their neighbours a favour by taming the Lions.
Huddersfield have enough incentive as they look to secure their place in the end-of-season play-offs, but victory over Millwall would be a huge boost for Leeds as well.
Elland Road manager Simon Grayson knows his players’ destiny is back in their own hands and he wants maximum points from the remaining four games against Gillingham, MK Dons, Charlton and Bristol Rovers.
Although Leeds have won their last three, Grayson is taking nothing for granted as he prepares his squad for Saturday’s trip to Gillingham.
He said: “We have won three on the trot but you are only as good as your last game. You can’t get too down or too carried away because anything can happen. I am sure there will be a few more twists and turns before the season is over.
“If other results happen for us, all well and good. If they don’t, we just have to keep going and try to finish the job we set ourselves at the season’s start.”
Grayson admitted the decision to drop Jermaine Beckford to the bench at Carlisle wasn’t easy, but it was justified.
He said: “Of course it was a big decision to leave out our leading scorer, who has got so many goals for us over the last two or three seasons, but we felt he was going through a barren time.
“Luciano Becchio and Max Gradel did ever so well at the weekend (against Southend) and they carried that on at Carlisle on Monday night. "Jermaine accepted the decision. He knew it was about the team and that strikers exist on goals. It just hasn’t been happening for him so we decided the best option was to leave him out. He understood that and it paid dividends.”
Ken Bates blasts reports of Australian takeover at Leeds United
Ken Bates, the Leeds United chairman, has poured scorn on suggestions that Australian billionaire Frank Lowy is weighing up a takeover bid for the club.
By Rob Stewart
Bates went on the offensive after reports in Australia claimed Lowy, the chairman of the Football Federation of Australia, had commissioned a review into the state of the Elland Road club’s finances.
Leeds chief executive Shaun Harvey insisted the League One club had had no contact with the property tycoon and then Bates hit out after it was claimed in the Australian press that Lowy was plotting a buy-out.
Bates also took a swipe at former Leeds chairman Gerald Krasner, who is now an insolvency specialist, as he vented his spleen over the takeover rumours as the club’s race for promotion to the Championship hots up.
“I had never heard of [Lowy],” Bates said in an interview with the Yorkshire Radio station. “I know of this story now because someone sent me a printout of an Australian newspaper the report was in but it is the usual rubbish – a source said, somebody claimed, and nobody was available for comment.
“This Lowy, I think he runs Westfield, the property company. Aren’t they the one that has completely buggered up the town centre of Bradford? Hardly the best reference for someone who wants to buy a football club 12,000 miles from home. Interestingly he [reportedly] has a Leeds-based agent examining Leeds United – let’s hope it’s not Gerald Krasner.
“It is no secret we would welcome further investment. But we are quite blunt – name and money. The moment you say that they all disappear.”
Leeds’ promotion challenge appears to be back on track and Bates is convinced the club are heading in the right direction off the field as well following the release of the 2008-09 financial results. He said: “The results demonstrate ... that it is a very expensive club to run and it is significant that on £23 million turnover we made £15,000 profit.”
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Jermaine Beckford in Simon Grayson's plans for Leeds
Leeds United manager Simon Grayson insists Jermaine Beckford still has a big part to play for the club.
The side's top-scorer was dropped for the first time in three years for Tuesday's win at Carlisle after failing to score in his last five matches.
Grayson told BBC Radio Leeds: "It's a big decision to leave your leading goalscorer out - he's been fantastic.
"After the last few games his confidence is probably a little bit low and we're there to make that decision."
Beckford has already scored 27 goals this season but was booed by sections of the home crowd during Saturday's win over Southend at Elland Road.
The 26-year-old was replaced for Tuesday's game at Brunton Park with Luciano Becchio partnering Max Gradel - a decision Grayson felt was justified, with both strikers scoring in the 3-1 win.
"Luciano affected the game on Saturday and that's why we went for it tonight. Him and Max were a real handful for the Carlisle back four and could have had a hat-trick each.
"I'm sure throughout the game they kept looking over to the bench and when you see Jermaine and Mike Grella there, then you've got to keep working and putting in a performance."
It has been a mixed season for Beckford, who is out of contract in the summer.
While his goals have kept Leeds in the hunt for automatic promotion, he also submitted and withdrew a transfer request, with Everton rumoured to be a likely summer destination.
Grayson, however, believes the London born player still has a major part to play in his side's promotion push.
"If Jermaine remains on the bench from now until the end of the season then it proves the other two are doing their job. But there is that competition for places which we need from now until the end of the season," Grayson said.
"He has a massive role for us, whether it's from the bench or starting.
"Every other team in our division and probably in the league above us would like to have Jermaine Beckford when he's scored the amount of goals that he has - he'll play a big part for us.
The Leeds boss added: "Just because he didn't start for us tonight doesn't mean he won't start at the weekend, but he's affecting the other two lads that have the shirt at this moment in time.
"They've got to keep doing the same job that they've done tonight to keep him out of the team."
Carlisle United 1 Leeds United 3: match report
By Rob Stewart at Brunton Park
Leeds United surged back into the League One automatic promotion places as manager Simon Grayson’s bold decision to drop Jermaine Beckford was handsomely rewarded thanks to Luciano Becchio.
Grayson’s club jumped above Millwall into second place and closed in on leaders Norwich as Beckford’s replacement, Becchio, struck either side of fellow front-runner Max Gradel’s flashing header to secure a comfortable victory over Carlisle United that invigorated the push for the Championship.
The former League One pacesetters rediscovered their old verve from the outset, starting vibrantly as 27-goal leading scorer Beckford stewed on the substitutes’ bench and a chance came and went for Gradel before Becchio struck.
He was first to react when goalkeeper Adam Collin surprisingly spilled Robert Snodgrass’ curling 25-free-kick in the 13th minute and the Argentine forward slotted the ball in from close range.
Becchio went close from distance before wasting a glorious opportunity following Snodgrass’ cross but got became disorientated and knocked the ball wide with the goal at his mercy.
Former Leeds defender, Ian Harte, inadvertently aided his old club’s cause when he nodded the ball straight to Gradel but Collin repelled his close-range volley with his legs on the half-hour.
Grayson was left to rue Gradel’s lack of a finishing touch in the 43rd minute as Leeds lost their composure and right-back Richard Keogh stooped to nod Harte’s free-kick past the impressive Shane Higgs after Naylor recklessly fouled Gary Madine.
Beckford might have been expecting to get the nod at half-time but Grayson stuck with Gradel who repaid his faith when he rose above Carlisle’s defence to powerfully head in Leigh Bromby’s cross two minutes after the break.
Becchio doubled the lead three minutes later when he raced clear before confidently tucking away a low left-footed shot beneath Collin for his 15th goal this term following Gradel’s through-ball before Beckford entered the fray late as â What a waste of money’ taunts echoed around Brunton Park.
Bradford Telegraph and Argus 13/4/10
Becchio and Gradel repeat dose
Carlisle United 1, Leeds United 3
Leeds climbed back into second place in League One by a point from third-placed Millwall, with Luciano Becchio and Max Gradel again the goal-scoring heroes.
Argentinian Becchio and Ivory Coast marksman Gradel were on the mark in the 2-0 home win against Southend on Saturday and they carried on where they left off by gunning down Carlisle at Brunton Park.
Leeds made it three successive wins for the first time since December, while Millwall could only manage a draw against Yeovil.
Becchio netted Leeds’ first and third goals, Gradel restoring the lead after Richard Keogh had headed an equaliser shortly before the break.
The exploits of Becchio and Gradel fully justified manager Simon Grayson’s decision to demote leading scorer Jermaine Beckford to the bench.
With steadier finishing, Leeds would have won by a much bigger margin.
Gradel should have given them an eighth-minute lead when clean through but he delayed his shot and, from the resulting corner, Richard Naylor had a headed goal disallowed, referee Mark Halsey ruling that keeper Adam Collin was impeded.
Leeds were ahead in the 13th minute when a free-kick from just outside the penalty area by Robert Snodgrass was held by Collin but the keeper then inexplicably dropped the ball, enabling Becchio to punish the error with a simple tap-in.
With Leeds well on top and Carlisle’s defence far from solid, Becchio should have had a hat-trick in the opening 18 minutes but after his goal he missed two good opportunities and skipper Naylor was also guilty of a bad miss.
Greg Abbott’s men snatched a surprise 43rd-minute equaliser when former Leeds defender Ian Harte delivered an excellent free-kick for right back Keogh to head powerfully into the bottom corner.
There was still time before the break for Snodgrass to squander another golden chance for Leeds, shooting over the bar with the net at his mercy.
There were fears that Leeds would be made to rue their many squandered opportunities but Gradel headed them back in front two minutes into the second half and Becchio fired home his second of the match three minutes later to leave Carlisle a huge task.
The Cumbrians were in such disarray that Becchio had yet another chance when Andrew Hughes picked him out with a measured cross but this time the Argentinian headed straight at the keeper.
Carlisle’s best chance of the second half fell to substitute Marc Bridge-Wilkinson but he shot wide with only Shane Higgs to beat.
Beckford and Mike Grella replaced Becchio and Gradel with two minutes left.
Since Grayson challenged his team to win their final seven matches and Leeds have taken maximum points from three games to date, with Saturday’s visit to Gillingham next on the agenda.
Sunday, April 11, 2010
Gradel the difference again as Leeds triumph over Southend
Leeds United recorded their first back-to-back wins of the year with a 2-0 home win over struggling Southend. In a game the Whites dominated, Leeds also recorded their first clean sheet since the 2-0 victory over Oldham back in February.
The game is unlikely to be remembered for another match-winning performance from Gradel and an improved Leeds United side unfortunately, as the headlines will undoubtedly focus on the fans continued criticism of Beckford. After failing to challenge the keeper for the ball, Beckford was booed by the fans and subjected to a chorus of ‘You’re not fit to wear the shirt’ before the Leeds fans sang for Luciano Becchio.
There’s no denying Beckford’s loss of form lately, but the fans reaction was completely out of order. There’s plenty of other players in the squad who have given inadequate performances and escaped being singled out because the fans know this squad is heavily reliant on our top goalscorer. It’s an unfortunate position to be in for Jermaine as any loss of personal form usually leads to a loss of form for the entire team (or vice versa I guess). For me, the fans anger once again reflects the clubs failings in January and the lack of goals provided from elsewhere. Not getting another striker in then was a major failure in my mind and is a big part of why we’re currently occupying third place.
After 58 minutes of frustration, Jermaine Beckford was replaced by the returning Luciano Becchio. It was unquestionably the right move from Simon Grayson as Beckford simply doesn’t look like scoring at the minute. After his antics earlier in the season, it was good to see Beckford had learnt his lesson and left the field in a sporting manner seemingly accepting his performance was below-par.
Just two minutes after that substitution, Leeds United finally took the lead when Max Gradel’s deflected shot beat the Southend keeper to give the youngster a much deserved goal and settle the nerves inside Elland Road. His excellent performance was capped with seven minutes to go when he provided the cross for Luciano Becchio to double the lead and secure the three points for Leeds United.
A game of ups and downs considering the frustrations prior to the goal, but Southend were kept back all day. The stats show Leeds had ten shots on target as opposed to Southend’s one, so this really was pretty straight forward stuff.
What has to be noted is that Leeds United aren’t doing anything different from what they were when Swindon visited, it just seems things are starting to run for us again. Against Swindon, we dominated almost entirely until they scored (rather fortuetously) and then the heads dropped and we were destroyed. Yesterday, we kept pressing and got our just desserts. Confidence is clearly key and hopefully the back-to-back wins signal a corner well and truly turned.
What was also nice to see today was a left footed player on the left-hand side (Johnson). What wasn’t nice to see was the same player getting booked which means he now has to serve a suspension. Collins also gave a solid performance at the back and looks like he may have been a clever signing by Larry. Let’s hope he can deliver the goods in the tougher games.
TSS man of the matchBack to back man of the matches for Max Gradel and no less than he deserves. The lad was tireless in his efforts today and once again proved the difference for Leeds United. Hopefully he’ll be the second consistent goal-scorer we’ve been looking for all season.
Beckford jeered in Leeds win: Match Review
Leeds claimed a vital 2-0 win at home to Southend but their fans turned on below-par Jermaine Beckford and their leading scorer responded with an angry gesture that surely confirms he will move on when his contract expires this summer.
When Beckford failed to challenge Southend goalkeeper Steve Mildenhall in the 38th minute, he was jeered by his own supporters who shouted "You're not fit to wear the shirt" and chanted the name of fellow striker Luciano Becchio.
Beckford, who has failed to score for a month, sportingly accepted being replaced by Becchio in the 58th minute and two minutes later Max Gradel opened the scoring for Leeds with a deflected 15-yard shot off Pat Baldwin after taking a pass from Robert Snodgrass.
Becchio then delighted the home crowd by heading Gradel's chip into the net in the 83rd minute.
Troubled Southend were so short-handed that manager Steve Tilson could name only five substitutes, but with captain Adam Barrett outstanding in defence, Leeds had to graft for the win.
Matt Paterson went closest for the relegation-threatened Shrimpers with a long-distance lob in the 39th minute.
Becchio makes difference for Leeds
Leeds made hard work of beating lowly Southend United at home to maintain their chances of automatic promotion.
Luciano Becchio proved to be the difference, involved in the first goal and scoring the second after coming on with just over thirty minutes remaining.
It was their first back-to-back wins in the league since Christmas as goals from Max Gradel and Luciano Becchio earned them the three points.
Simon Grayson stuck with the same side that won at Yeovil on Monday, he also welcomed back Luciano Becchio to the bench after missing the last two games.
Southend who were struggling towards the bottom of the table started brightly but without testing Higgs in the Leeds goal.
It took Leeds a while to settle, Snodgrass was the first to test Mildenhall in the Southend goal when he tipped his shot over the bar.
Snodgrass was next to test the keeper again, this time he shot straight at Mildenhall.
Beckford saw a header just go wide of the post after a good ball by Kilkenny as Leeds turned up the pressure.
Southend had a great chance on the stroke of half time, Vernon broke into the box but failed to find the unmarked O`Keefe.
A disappointing first half as Leeds struggled to break down a battling Southend side.
Leeds came out in the second half hoping to open the scoring, Howson was first to have a chance but his shot was saved by Mildenhall.
With Leeds looking short of ideas Simon Grayson made two changes, Becchio and Johnson replacing Beckford and Hughes.
Within minutes Leeds had the lead, Becchio`s flick dropped to Gradel whose deflected shot found it`s way into the net.
Substitute Becchio scored a second for Leeds after a ball into the middle from Gradel.
Bradley Johnson was booked for a poor challenge, it was his tenth of the season and will now miss the next two matches.
Becchio`s downward header gave Mildenhall no chance in the Southend goal.
Leeds were now in total control, good work again from Gradel found Howson, his shot was saved by Mildenhall.
Neither side looked like scoring in the final two minutes as Leeds wound down the clock.
The win moves Leeds back up to third place, one point behind Millwall who won 4-0 against Gillingham. Swindon who started the day in second place lost 3-0 at Colchester United.
Sydney Morning Herald 10/4/10
Lowy looking at adding Leeds United to portfolio
FOOTBALL Federation Australia chairman Frank Lowy is considering buying one-time English giants Leeds United after commissioning a report into the venture.
The Sun-Herald can reveal Lowy engaged a Leeds-based sporting agent to compile a due diligence report on the club in January.
Lowy, whose personal fortune is estimated to be more than $6 billion, is understood to now have a paper that states despite Leeds being in England's third-tier competition - Football League One - they remain a strong brand with a massive supporter base, drawing crowds of 25,000-plus.
While FFA said Lowy was overseas and unavailable for comment yesterday, the reasons for his interest in the club could be to give Australian players a base, to reinforce Australia's World Cup bid or simply an investment opportunity.
The Leeds squad contains two Australians - Patrick Kisnorbo and Neil Kilkenny - and Harry Kewell, Mark Viduka, Paul Okon, Tony Dorigo and Jacob Burns all had stints at Elland Road.
"I don't think United's tradition for signing Australians had anything to do with his [Lowy's] interest," a source told the Herald.
"I do know, however, he is making quite an impression on a lot of people in trying to win Australia the right to host the World Cup.
''He has corporate credibility in England through his business [Westfield] while football-wise he's seen as both passionate and intelligent. The view is any English club would be lucky to have him buy into it."
However, Lowy has been informed of Premier League giants Manchester United and Liverpool drowning in debt, players commanding inflated wages and concerns about falling broadcast revenues.
"He has a lot to consider," said the source. "I heard about this when Lowy's interest in Leeds was in the embryonic stages almost four months ago.
''His interest has been kept quiet, but that's not unusual as these things [ownership] are normally staged behind closed doors and away from the public glare. They'll involve the 'golden circle' of lawyers, accountants and the like in somewhere like London now."As Lowy's agent compiled the report in January, Sulaiman al-Fahim, who brokered the deal for Sheikh Mansour to buy Manchester City and was a former owner of Portsmouth, ranked Leeds - fourth in League One heading into this weekend - a great investment opportunity in English football.
Bradford Telegraph and Argus 9/4/10
Grayson thinks other promotion hopefuls could succumb to fear factor
Leeds manager Simon Grayson believes the fear factor could cripple the club’s promotion rivals.
Leaders Norwich look certainties to climb out of League One as they are nine points clear of the pack with six games left.
Fourth-placed United are just two points behind Swindon, who are second, and one adrift of Millwall, while fifth-placed Charlton are level on points with Leeds but with an inferior goal difference.
Grayson’s men have home advantage tomorrow against relegation-threatened Southend, who have won just one of their last 16 matches.
But the Leeds boss has his eye on the teams jostling for a place in the Championship and the psychological effect being in touching distance of promotion could have on them.
He said: “A lot of sport, and football in particular, is played in the head. You have to be mentally strong and determined to make things happen for you but you also need a relaxed attitude to certain things.
“Pressure is a major factor that can do strange things to people. We have had to deal with it all season, so I would like to think the players can deal with it now.
“One or two clubs who are up there will have to deal with a different type of pressure. Nobody expected them to be in the position they are. We were expected to be up there and that comes with playing for Leeds United.”
Grayson’s men ended a four-match losing sequence at Yeovil on Easter Monday and the manager hopes it will prove a significant turning point.
“Although I was hugely disappointed with the run of four defeats before the win at Yeovil, there were encouraging signs in all the games we lost,” he said.
“In our last home game, for instance, Swindon could have been out of it by half-time. Unfortunately they got the break from a mistake by Andy Hughes – but we have moved on from there.
“We still have a great opportunity. Our fans have been outstanding for us all season and we have three home games to send them home with three victories to edge ourselves closer to being promoted.”
United are likely to be unchanged but Luciano Becchio, Gary McSheffrey and Aidan White are all available after injury.
Leading marksman Jermaine Beckford has failed to score in his last four appearances and needs a goal to boost his confidence for the season’s last few hurdles. Defender Jason Crowe is to have ankle surgery today and has been ruled out of the remaining games.
STRIKING SWITCH COULD PAY DIVIDENDS
Simon Grayson is backing Max Gradel's switch to striker as a platform to kick-start the January signing's season.
The former Leicester flyer was handed a rare striking role on Monday at Yeovil - and he responded by turning in his best performance in a starting role since joining the club.
"What you get is enthusiasm, quality, and you saw his work rate and quality," said Grayson.
"Mike Grella was unfortunate because he did okay on Saturday, but we just felt we would go for fresh legs against the teams we are playing against.
"Hopefully that will kick-start him for the remainder of the season and if he maintains that level of performance he has a great chance of doing it."
The 22-year-old has been predominantly used as a winger - his natural position - but Grayson was rewarded with a hard-working display after handing Max the chance to partner Jermaine Beckford in the front line.
"I'll do a job for the club if it helps," said Max.
"We haven't been playing well and the manager has been looking for a solution - you have to be ready to do a job and I'm more than happy with that.
"I thought I did okay, I worked hard for the team, and as long the team are winning I am happy."
Gradel's performance summed up a re-energised United at Yeovil Town on Monday, and the new-found striker believes the character shown at Huish Park can carry Leeds into the Championship.
"We need to back each other and believe in ourselves," he added.
"People were giving us stick and we showed the kind of character that was needed.
"Criticism hurts, but I understand where it comes from. The main thing is you come back stronger.
"As long as we are winning, nothing else matters."
Bradford Telegraph and Argus 6/4/10
Gradel firing again
By John Wray
Simon Grayson is backing Max Gradel to make the grade at Leeds United after all.
Gradel, 22, from the Ivory Coast, made a big impact while on loan from Leicester, especially when coming off the bench, but after he signed a permanent deal his form slumped.
Yet when manager Grayson gave him a role alongside Jermaine Beckford for his first start since mid-February in Saturday’s 2-1 win at Yeovil, Gradel responded with arguably his best game for the club.
Grayson said: “Max has enthusiasm and real quality. We saw his tremendous work-rate and desire to affect the game at Yeovil.
“I left out Mike Grella because I wanted a fresh pair of legs a couple of days after the defeat against Swindon and Max grabbed his opportunity.
“Hopefully that display will kick-start him for the rest of the season. If he can maintain that level of performance he has a great chance.”
Tuesday, April 06, 2010
United boss Simon Grayson targets automatic promotion
Leeds United manager Simon Grayson believes the Whites can still win automatic promotion from League One.
Monday's 2-1 victory at Yeovil means United remain fourth in the table with six games remaining.
Grayson told BBC Radio Leeds: "We've got a group of players that can quite easily go and win seven on the trot.
"We've won one today, we're not getting carried away with it but we know we've got a group of fixtures coming up that we can go and win."
Captain Richard Naylor scored twice at Huish Park to end a run of four successive defeats and reignite hopes of finishing in the top two.
It remains tight at the top of the table, and with all the other teams around them also winning on Monday, Leeds are still two points behind second-placed Swindon Town.
"Today we had a belief and desire to put things right," said Grayson.
"The players are wounded at times when they've underperformed and not got the results.
"It has been tough for them but hopefully it's been a major kick up the backside and now we realise what we need to do.
"I've never criticised my players about anything really, but they're criticising themselves and trying to put right what went wrong over the past four games."
Bradford Telegraph and Argus 5/4/10
Leeds skipper turns goal-scorer to boost promotion bid
Yeovil Town 1, Leeds United 2
No-one is more determined than Naylor to see his home city regain Championship status and his experiences over Easter could hardly have been more contrasting.
On Saturday he was substituted for tactical reasons during the 3-0 home defeat against Swindon, yet his two headers in six minutes at Yeovil ended a run of four successive United defeats without a goal.
Naylor’s only previous goal for the club came against Southend in January, 2009, soon after his arrival from Ipswich.
He said: “It’s all to play for and we have enough about us to win promotion. We were determined to turn things around and it was good to get back on to the field so quickly after losing to Swindon.
“As players we had been letting the manager down but we never lost our belief.”
Yeovil striker Dean Bowditch tested Leeds’ nerves by scoring with 23 minutes left but his side could not conjure up an equaliser.
United manager Simon Grayson reacted to the defeat against Swindon by replacing striker Mike Grella and defender Shane Lowry with Max Gradel and Leigh Bromby. Andrew Hughes switched from right back into the problem left-back spot, Bromby filling the right-back vacancy.
Yeovil, defeated 4-0 at Elland Road in October, have never beaten Leeds, who gained a 29th-minute advantage with their first goal in 414 minutes of football.
Neil Kilkenny played a free-kick out wide to Jonny Howson and he hoisted the ball into the goalmouth where keeper Alex McCarthy failed to challenge and Naylor headed into the net.
Jermaine Beckford and the impressive Gradel went close before Naylor headed his second in the 35th minute, following Kilkenny’s corner to the near post.
Naylor almost completed his hat-trick from another corner by Kilkenny two minutes after the break and from an identical build-up just before the hour Naylor’s header was cleared off the line.
Gradel was also a danger to Yeovil’s overworked defence but he was denied a goal when his fierce shot struck McCarthy’s legs.
Yeovil hit back in the 67th minute, much against the run of play, Bowditch giving Naylor the slip before shooting into the bottom corner.
Micky Doyle made a goal-line clearance to prevent an equaliser, following a corner won by lively substitute Andrew Welsh.
Sanchez Watt, on loan from Arsenal, made his debut for Leeds as he and Bradley Johnson replaced Beckford and Kilkenny with two minutes left and Grayson’s men held on for a precious win.
Grayson said: “It was a game we should have won comfortably. We had enough chances to have won two matches.
“It was strange to see big Richard Naylor score two goals but we have been looking for goals from different parts of the pitch and we can be a threat from set-pieces.“The players have been criticised and put under a lot of pressure. We are not getting carried away after this win but I said to the players before the game that we were capable of winning seven games on the trot. We’ve won one and now we have six more to come.”