Tuesday, August 31, 2010

leedsunited.com 31/8/10
Leeds began transfer deadline day by agreeing a deal with Honduran international Ramon Nunez.
The 24-year-old, who can play in midfield or attack, signed-on for United after impressing manager Simon Grayson and his staff sufficiently during a month-long trial.
Nunez, who has made regular appearances at international level for Honduras played in this summer's World Cup finals.
United have received a work permit for the player who first joined United on a trial basis at the start of August. He scored in a friendly match against Bradford Park Avenue.

Central defender Lubomir Michalik today joined League One side Carlisle United on a loan deal until January 3.
The 27-year-old Slovakian international was a regular choice at centre back for Leeds during the first half of the 2008-2009 season but struggled to retain his place in the side once Richard Naylor joined from Ipswich Town.
Michalik first came to Leeds on loan from Bolton Wanderers in 2007 and in 2008 he signed a permanent deal with United.

Another departure from Elland Road today was defender Alan Sheehan, whose contract with United was cancelled by mutual consent to allow him the chance to join League One side Swindon Town.
Alan had limited opportunities at Leeds last season and spent the majority of it out on loan - first with Oldham Athletic and then Swindon, where he reached the play-off final with the Robins.
He began his career with Leicester City and played on loan at Mansfield Town before joining Leeds in January 2008.

Leeds today agreed a deal with Manchester City to sign England Under-20 international midfielder Adam Clayton on a permanent basis for an undisclosed fee.
The 21-year-old Manchester-born player initially signed on loan for United on Friday, August 6, and made his debut for the club 24 hours later against Derby County at Elland Road on the opening day of the season.
Now United have made the deal a permanent one, manager Simon Grayson saying: "He has only had a couple of brief appearances and he is desperate to try to break into the first team here.
"He is a young developing player and we haven't got too many players in the 19, 20 and 21 age group who we think we can work with and make them better. With Adam we feel we have got someone we can work with," added the boss.
Clayton, who has six England Under-20 caps to his name, joined Manchester City as a youngster and earned his first professional contract at the beginning of the 2008-2009 season.
At the end of that season he signed a two-year extension to his contract and though a promising young player he found his route to first team football at mega-rich City blocked by big-money signings.
Although he earned a place on City's subs bench on a couple of occasions he was not called into action. He went out on loan to Carlisle United last season where he made 36 appearances and scored three goals during his time at Brunton Park.He was among the Carlisle goalscorers when we lost out to the Cumbrians in last season's JPT Area Final.

Yorkshire Evening Post 30/8/10
Let's keep our cool, says Grayson
By Phil Hay
BOSS Simon Grayson insisted talk of a promotion push at Elland Road was premature after a 1-0 victory over Watford sent Leeds United into the Championship's play-off positions.
Grayson played down the significance of United's early-season form, describing a return of seven points from the opening month as a "positive start" but refusing to give any credence to a league table which is four games old. A Richard Naylor goal earned Leeds a second successive league win at Vicarage Road and brought United to the first international break of the season with only one defeat sustained from their Championship fixtures to date.
United hold sixth position, three points short of the top of the division, but Grayson said: "The only importance of that is being sixth after 46 games.
"We want to be somewhere near there at the end of the season and I've set my players the target of getting promotion, like every other manager in the division will have done. But what I wanted was for us to make a positive start and we have."
Grayson said United's haul of seven points had not exceeded his expectations of the club's squad but admitted a passage of positive results, including a draw at Nottingham Forest and a victory at home to Millwall, had left his players in no doubt about their ability to compete with the vast majority of the teams in the Championship. Leeds and Watford produced a forgettable spectacle at Vicarage Road, but United succeeded in defending Naylor's sixth-minute strike and left the field to jubilant acknowledgement from the 2,199 supporters who filled the away stand in Watford.
"There's always a high expectancy level at this club," Grayson said. "The players have to handle that. All you can ask of them is to work hard and to perform.
"Our fans have big levels of expectancy and they'll be happy to have seen us make a decent start but by no stretch of the imagination have we achieved anything.
"We'll try to play things down, and we came to Watford as underdogs. We're new to the division and they've been in it for a few years. It's new territory for us and we'll achieve whatever we can.
"We've only had four games and many teams have been in our position before and then fallen away. But what I didn't want was for us to be in or around the bottom three and the players can believe now that they're able to compete in this division."
United's squad were due to be given time off this week with the current break for international fixtures delaying the resumption of the club's term until September 11.
The interlude should allow Robert Snodgrass and Billy Paynter to edge closer to a full recovery from injury, increasing the depth of a squad which is growing stronger by the week.
Grayson said: "I'll work the players hard when they're in training but they'll also get a chance to have a breather and a few days off. The games will come thick and fast when the season starts again."

Yorkshire Evening Post 30/8/10
Leeds avenge Watford woes
By Phil Hay
WATFORD'S idea of setting the tone on Saturday was showing footage of Leeds United's humiliation in the 2006 Championship play-off final. Never let it be said by anyone at Vicarage Road that Leeds are guilty of clinging to old glories.
Wistful reflection was rife for many years at Elland Road but obsessing with bygone eras is no longer United's style. Six games into the season, they are not even dining out on promotion from League One, the most recent peak in their 90-year history. The club seem content with their present circumstances and, for now, unhindered by a more illustrious past.
Promotion gave Simon Grayson protection against an inhospitable welcome to the Championship, a means of keeping himself in credit and favour in the event that the transition between divisions found him wanting. Over the short distance of four league matches, he has not gone so far as thinking about that defence, let alone using it.
He and his players entered the season's first international break on Saturday with seven points accrued, a total increased by a match in Watford which will fall into the category of forgettable fixtures. It was nothing like a forgettable result.
Grayson professes to ignore league tables while so few games have been won and lost, and he was underwhelmed by Leeds' ascension to a play-off position over the weekend. An under-developed division can always deceive, he said. But the statistics do not lie.
No amount of self-deprecation will lead United's manager away from the telling fact: that only four squads in the Championship have had a better month than his. One belongs to a London club seemingly laden with cash; another consists of the flesh of a team who participated in last season's play-off final. As for Millwall, the comparison drawn with Leeds last weekend was deeply unflattering for them.
The concerted brilliance of United's victory over Millwall on August 21 ran the risk of setting exacting standards for Grayson's squad. A consensus of voices talked afterwards about the most complete exhibition of football witnessed in the whole of his tenure. In failing to break the club's stride, Watford were still able to send Leeds away from Vicarage Road with a more sober mind.
Richard Naylor's sixth-minute goal, the defining moment on Saturday, gave rise to an impromptu rendition of 'Leeds are going up' among an away crowd in excess of 2,000. To what extent that stemmed from the euphoria of Naylor's finish or from genuine conviction about the 42 games ahead is unclear, but the sound of Grayson discussing a defensive masterclass after full-time was a warning to anyone counting their chickens.
United's manager might delight in and rail against rash talk of promotion on the terraces: it is confirmation that the club's most searching critics – their own supporters – are warming to the season, but a failure also to see August in context.
Grayson will address the play-offs at a carefully-chosen time, most likely around Easter if his club hold a good enough league position to allow him to do so.
At Vicarage Road, he discovered that Watford – one of the few Championship clubs unbeaten after three games – are another side with whom Leeds can expect to compare favourably. He witnessed also the true aptitude of a defence who essentially settled a game of dubious quality and no panache. Naylor's goal was only as important as his tenacity inside his own box. United's captain cast his influence over the entire contest, as precise with his positioning and tidy with his defending as he has been for many months. He and Neill Collins defended a goalkeeper in Kasper Schmeichel who showed the handling skills of a circus juggler and the dominance of a lion tamer. He more than either of Leeds' centre-backs was the pain in Malky Mackay's neck.
Ten days ago, Millwall manager Kenny Jackett was impressed enough by Schmeichel's distribution to single him out for positive comment. Mackay witnessed a different area of expertise, helpless on the touchline as United's bargain signing of the summer swallowed cross after cross. Watford's attempts to rattle Grayson's players and test the surety of their single-goal lead were belittled by an impervious keeper.
Schmeichel's afternoon was busier that it seemed likely to be when Naylor scored after six minutes. His goal was the profit gained from United's first spate of attacks, culminating in efforts from Luciano Becchio, Bradley Johnson and Jonathan Howson.
Scott Loach stopped the first with his fingertips and was protected by a mass of bodies when Johnson and Howson tried to attack him, but he was in no position to rescue Watford when Lloyd Doyley glanced a header towards his own goal.
Becchio nodded the loose ball at Loach, whose parry dropped apologetically to Naylor's feet. The defender – a striker in his younger years – had drifted far from his usual stamping ground and was only too happy to strain an open net.
Eight minutes later, Sanchez Watt missed the cue for a second goal when his header from Lloyd Sam's cross bounced across Loach and wide of a post. Grayson could not have know then that Watt's header would be United's last clear opportunity beyond the spate of half-chances that arose after the interval.
He had taken the decision to turn back to the line-up he used against Millwall, a choice afforded to him by Sam's recovery from an ankle injury. But the most telling decision related to Watford's team and the inclusion or otherwise of Danny Graham.
The striker sustained a groin strain in a Carling Cup fixture last week, and Mackay was unable to recall him against Leeds.Without Graham, an equaliser eluded Watford throughout their flourish at the end of the first half and their passages of dominance in the second.
Marvin Sordell dipped a header over United's crossbar and John Eustace, playing against the club he nearly joined in May, scuffed a shot into the advertising hoardings after striking the ball with his shin.Schmeichel earned his win bonus by gathering another Sordell effort and punching Eustace's header off his goalline, but pleased though Grayson must have been to reach half-time with the tide threatening to turn, his team's resistance was not a re-enactment of the Alamo.
The second half promised little and offered less. Schmeichel dealt with Jordan Mutch's shot along the ground but earned more appreciation for the improvised, shoulder-height volley with which cleared Paul Connolly's backpass from his six-yard box.
Grayson ensured that Watford would not be allowed to chase the game unhindered by calling up Max Gradel and Ross McCormack, United's new signing, from the bench, and Loach kept his team in touch by blocking Bradley Johnson's volley and diving at the feet of McCormack as the forward chased Johnson's bouncing header 17 minutes from the end.
Leeds braced themselves for Watford's final throw of the dice but, in keeping with their day, it stuttered to a halt after four minutes of injury-time. "We huffed and puffed," Mackay said, "but on another day we come out of that with a draw."
Grayson avoided hyperbole, willing only to acknowledge the mileposts of a second league win and a first clean sheet in a league game away from Elland Road since December of last year. In the programme printed before United's Carling Cup tie against Leicester City, he and his chairman suggested that the start of October was the best time to start worrying about results and tables, but both men will like what they see with August ticking away.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Yorkshire Evening Post 29/8/10
Grayson looks to take heat off Somma
Three goals in four days spilled the secret of Davide Somma's talent but Simon Grayson wants to protect the striker from unfair expectation during his first full season as a senior Leeds United player.
Somma announced himself with two goals on his league debut against Millwall last weekend and his header in the Carling Cup tie with Leicester City on Tuesday night gave further credence to talk of his finishing prowess.
The 25-year-old returned from a successful loan at Lincoln City last season with the reputation of a natural goalscorer and quickly caught the attention of Elland Road on his comeback from a three-match suspension eight days ago.
Grayson introduced Somma from the bench with United's match against Millwall finely balanced at 1-1, 15 minutes from time. The forward's clinical finishes in the closing stages wrapped up the club's first league victory of the season and underlined his own standing as an excellent prospect.
The performance earned him a first start against Leicester and his first half header on Tuesday, while coming in a 2-1 defeat at Elland Road, was another indication that the former Perugia player has the makings of a reliable forward in the Championship, a division in which he had never played before last weekend.
Grayson offered Somma due credit but said his impressive debut was not a reason to place excessive pressure on the shoulders of a footballer who has already vowed to replicate the form of Jermaine Beckford, United's leading scorer for the past three seasons.
"He's obviously hit the ground running in terms of winning the game last weekend," Grayson said. "But he knows he's got a lot of work to do to get into the team on a regular basis. What he did against Millwall should certainly give him a boost but any time he puts on a Leeds shirt, people shouldn't automatically assume that he's going to come up with the goods.
"I'd like him to score regularly and be a successful player, but he knows what's required and we've got to lower the expectancy levels of the fans a bit by reminding them that he won't do this every week."
Beckford was a constant source of goals during his final three years with Leeds, scoring more than 30 in two successive campaigns and performing with enough consistency to earn a free transfer to Everton in May. The Football League named him League One's player of the year for the 2009-10 campaign.
Somma discussed the challenge of matching Beckford's form after his debut against Millwall, saying: "That's asking a lot of me but why not?
"Anyone's capable of doing it here. We've got a brilliant team and brilliant staff.
"I scored nine goals in 14 games for Lincoln and that's the sort of strike rate that I'm looking for here, maybe more. After a whole year here it's great to be scoring at last.
"You have to make an impact when you get the chance because it might make the gaffer change the team and this has given him another option. I think I've done pretty well.
"I really hope I can be a 20-goal striker at this level and I'll give everything to do that."
Somma's display against Millwall was the final part of a near-perfect performance from Leeds last weekend and his brace prevented Kenny Jackett's side from holding out for a draw.
United's first league win arrived at the third time of asking, following a narrow defeat to Derby County and a draw at Nottingham Forest and Grayson took his squad to Watford yesterday with the intention of finishing a steady first month in style. Leeds do not play again until September 11 when a clash with Swansea City ends a two-week international break.
The competitive nature of the Championship was shown by only one club – Queens Park Rangers – holding a perfect record after three matches and Leeds were ninth prior to kick-off yesterday in a division which Grayson expects to start taking a definite shape around the start of October.
United's manager said: "I do think it's important that you get your first league win on the board as quickly as possible. The longer you go without one, the more people get impatient, even if you're playing well.
"People always look at the table but that's a ridiculous thing to do at this stage of the season. The way we've started has been encouraging, both in terms of results and performances – we could have had a few more points.
"It's a demanding league and you have to work hard for any results. That's what we did against Millwall and I know there's more to come.
"You take stock when the international break comes along and that's what we'll do.
"We'll re-focus the players for the group of games leading up to the next break (at the start of October).
"But we've competed well in all our games so far and we've not looked out of place."
Yorkshire Evening Post 29/8/10
Long wait may soon be over for listed players
Leeds United manager Simon Grayson expects to receive approaches for some or all of his transfer-listed players before Tuesday's deadline, potentially ending their frustrating summers at Elland Road.
Grayson offered hope to Alan Sheehan, Andy Robinson and Lubomir Michalik – all of whom have waited for almost four months for moves out of Leeds – by stating that interest in them was likely to increase before the transfer window closes.
The three players were made available by Grayson at the end of last season, along with striker Tresor Kandol.
Leeds agreed to terminate the remainder of Kandol's four-year contract this month after failing to find a new club for him, but Sheehan, Robinson and Michalik remain on the books at Elland Road with the summer window set to close in little more than 48 hours time.
Grayson said: "They're good lads, they've trained hard and they've done what's been asked of them but it's in their interests to play football. They know they won't play many games here.
"I'm sure there'll be one or two inquiries before Tuesday."
Swindon were expected to pursue Sheehan's signature after taking the left-back on loan last season, but a permanent switch to the County Ground has not developed while interest from Swansea City failed to lead to a move.
United's manager revealed that he had received no offers for any of his senior players, despite rumours of interest in certain professionals.
Scottish Premier League club Celtic were said to be monitoring Luciano Becchio, whose contract at Elland Road is less than 12 months from expiring, but Grayson said he would not invite or entertain any attempts to capture key members of his squad.
"I've had no phone calls about players who are in the team or out of the team," he said.
"That might change in the next few days but I'm certainly not looking to sell any player who is in my team.
"The only ones I'm looking to let leave are the ones who've been available since the start of the summer."
United's signings this summer have run towards double figures and, beyond his immediate transfer dealings, Grayson revealed this week that former West Ham United defender Calum Davenport is likely to be added to his squad in the near future.
The out-of-contract 27-year-old is training with Leeds with a view to joining the club permanently.

Sporting Life 28/8/10
Leeds manager Simon Grayson paid tribute to his side's defensive display after they registered their first away win of the season with a 1-0 win at Watford.
Richard Naylor's sixth-minute strike was enough to see United claim the points and notch up back-to-back npower Championship wins after last week's victory over Millwall.
The Hornets pushed forward for an equaliser, but they came up against a Leeds defence who were in no mood to give anything away to the delight of Grayson.
"It's a good result because it's our first away win of the season, a clean sheet as well and this is a difficult place to come and get a result," he said.
"Watford have a way of playing, we have to deal with that and show different sides of our game. We passed the ball as well as we can do, although we were not creative as we like to think we can be.
"But we had to show a resilience, defend properly, head things, keeper coming for the ball and catching and we showed a lot of good aspects in terms of our defending.
"When you get the early score, it gives you something to, not hang on to, but it gives you the opportunity to make sure that you try and keep a clean sheet and we did that."
Watford boss Malky Mackay was left frustrated after his side failed to take anything out of the game.
He said: "We huffed and puffed and we had some near misses but once Leeds got the early goal they set out their stall to be very resilient but, on another day, the break of the ball goes the other way and we come out of that with a draw."
Mackay disputed the suggestion that his side struggled to create many clear-cut chances and said: "John Eustace had a real clear-cut one in the first half where it bounced to him on the six-yard line and I thought Marvin Sordell, on another day, when he was slipped in on the right-hand side, he scores.
"I thought we had a lot of pressure and we had three or four at least where, on another day, they would have been in the net."

WATFORD 0, LEEDS 1 (Naylor 6)
Watford: Loach, Doyley, Taylor, Mariappa, Hodson, Eustace, McGinn (Buckley 64), Cowie, Mutch, Deeney Sordell. Subs: Gilmartin, Henderson, Bennett, Jenkins, Walker, Bryan,
Leeds: Schmeichel, Connolly, Naylor, Collins, Bessone (Hughes 46), Sam (Gradel 60), Howson, Kilkenny, Johnson, Becchio, Watt (McCormack 70) . Subs: Bruce, Higgs, Clayton, Somma.
Referee: J Linington
Booked: Watt, Howson, Schmeichel (Leeds)
Att: 14.039 (2199 Leeds)
United manager Simon Grayson named an unchanged side from the one which beat Millwall last time out, and his squad was further styrengthened by the presence of new signing Ross McCormack, who was among the subs.
But it was Luciano Becchio who forced the first save of the game when Scott Loach tipped over a firm header from a Neil Kilkenny corner.
Bradley Johnson and Jonny Howson both had shots blocked from the resultant corner and when the ball came back into the box, Richard Naylor was on hand to stab the ball over the line from close range to make it 1-0.
It was a great start for Leeds, but Watford responded immediately by carving out an opening that led to an unmarked Marvin Sordell heading over Kasper Schmeichel's bar.
Around 2,400 United fans packed into the away end belting out chorus and chorus of last season's anthem "Leeds are going up" as the travelling army continued to enjoy what has been an entertaining start to life in the Championship.
Lloyd Sam, back from injury, carved out the next chance on 14 minutes when his cross from the right was headed wide by Sanchez Watt. United were playing some good football once again and were a threat going forward.
Watford were on the back foot, but on the break, Sordell played in Troy Deeney who tested the advancing Schmeichel. The United keeper also spread himself well to deny Sordell, but more significantly he was causing Watford major problems at the other end with his powerful kicking.
Watford did enjoy a spell of possession leading up to half-time and Schmeichel was called upon to make another decent save, this time from a John Eustace header.
It hadn't been the most entertaining 45 minutes, but United went in at the interval with the advantage. Grayson made a change at half-time with Andrew Hughes replacing Fede Bessone at left-back.
The second half continued in the same vein as the first with little for either set of fans to get excited about. Schmeichel was called into action early on, but only to make a routine collection from a Deeney header following a cross from the right. The Dane also smothered a low drive from distance from Jordon Mutch.
The game also started to be littered with free-kicks and Naylor headed clear one such set-play.
On the hour, Grayson made his second change with Max Gradel replacing Sam on the right flank.
But Leeds were on the defensive again when Schmeichel hammered the ball clear after Don Cowie battled with Hughes on the United left.
United had been under some pressure, but the response came when Gradel had a shot deflected and when Johnson seized on the loose ball there were shouts for a handball.
With 20 minutes left on the clock, Grayson handed McCormack his Leeds United debut, and the striker immediately made a nuisance of himself as Loach was forced into making a save.
The game was becoming increasingly stop-start, Loach was ordered back five yards when taking a free-kick, and both sets of fans were venting their frustrations.
McCormack, pictured above, also forced Loach into a hasty rearguard action when he look to turn the ball goalwards from close range. Becchio was crowded out while trying to seize on the loose ball.
But it was Schmeichel who had to be alert moments later when Martin Taylor back-headed towards goal.
United were again having to get men behind the ball, Naylor and Collins both making good headed clearances, yet Leeds always looked capable on the break, and Loach had to save a deflected effort from McCormack on 82 minutes.
The new signing looked lively and keen to make an impression and had a free-kick blocked as the game headed towards the final whistle.
He also played a key role in teeing up Johnson who fired wide of the mark in the first minuite of time added on as Leeds looked to make the game safe.United did come under some more pressure, but some resolute defending ensured a hard-fought forst away win of the season.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Yorkshire Evening Post 28/8/10
Grayson eyes more signings
By Phil Hay
Leeds United manager Simon Grayson has indicated that further signings are in the pipeline after securing the services of Scotland international Ross McCormack.
United's patient attempts to sign McCormack from Cardiff City paid off yesterday when the 24-year-old striker accepted a three-year contract at Elland Road.
Leeds paid an undisclosed, six-figure fee to Cardiff and concluded the transfer in time to name McCormack in their squad for today's league game at Watford, their last before the Championship's two-week international break.
The former Rangers and Motherwell forward is one of the most high profile additions to Grayson's squad since United's promotion from League One, and he is a proven Championship striker having scored 23 times for Cardiff during the 2008-09 season.
McCormack became the club's 10th summer signing when he put pen to paper after completing a medical, but Grayson is unlikely to draw a line under the Scot's arrival.
Leeds have another 72 hours in which to target other viable options in the transfer market, prior to Tuesday's deadline.
The club have inquired about 32-year-old Cardiff midfielder Gavin Rae and are continuing to be linked with Tottenham Hotspur defender Steven Caulker.
Honduran midfielder Ramon Nunez, meanwhile, has been on trial at United's Thorp Arch training ground for several weeks and was expecting to receive a verdict from Grayson before the end of the week.
Grayson said: "We've done a lot of work over the summer in recruiting players but we feel that one or two others would help us through the season.
"I'd like to bring in a couple of people because I want to keep improving the squad. We've got players coming back from injury over the next few weeks, which will help as well, but in this division you need serious competition.
"Ross has a proven goalscoring record and he really does improve the competition among the strikers here. That's why we identified him."
leedsunited.com 27/8/10
Scotland international striker Ross McCormack has joined Leeds United for an undisclosed sum.
Ross joins from Cardiff City and has signed a three-year contract with the club.
The 24-year-old put pen to paper on Friday morning before travelling south with his new team-mates ahead of Saturday's game at Watford.
United manager Simon Grayson was delighted to complete the deal.
"Ross is a player of good quality," said the boss. "He's proved in the Championship he can score goals and hopefully he will continue that with us."
Ross, who started his career with Rangers before joining Motherwell, scored 25 league goals in 53 league starts since joining Cardiff City from Motherwell in the summer of 2008.
His overall record with the Welsh side is 33 goals from 88 appearances, including two goals from three sub appearances so far this season.
leedsunited.com 24/8/10
UNITED 1 (Somma 32), LEICESTER CITY 2 (Wellens 66, Howard pen 88)
United manager Simon Grayson made four changes to his starting line-up from the team that comprehensively beat Milwall on Saturday. Max Gradel replaced Lloyd Sam for his first start of the season while Davide Somma also came in for his first start in place of Sanchez Watt. Alex Bruce returned at the back in place of captain Richard Naylor and Kasper Schmeichel made way for Shane Higgs in goal.
Gradel had excited during pre-season and after missing the first four games of the season due to suspension, his first contribution was to play in a teasing ball, but Luciano Becchio couldn't quite get on the end of it.
After the excitement of Saturday's win against the Lions this game was always going to need something special to match up, and it was a tentative if steady opening from both sides.
The opening 20 minutes produced nothing in the way of meaningful chances, although both sides looked to play decent football.
Higgs was called upon to make a save on 25 minutes following a strike from distance, but Leeds replied immediately when Somma turned Jack Hobbs. The ball wouldn't sit for the striker, though, and Moreno cleared the danger.
Bruce also went close before the half-hour when he got up well to head a corner just wide of the mark. Leicester's response was a low cross into the box which no one failed to connect with while the end to end affair continued with Gradel firing over the bar.
But it was Leeds who got the breakthrough when Somma headed home his third goal of the season. Higgs played a long ball out from the band Somma was well-placed to steer home a header from a Gradel cross to make it 1-0.
Moments before half-time, Bradley Johnson almost added a second when his cross-cum-shot from distance was turned away for a corner.
And Leeds almost started the second half with a goal. Gradel rode two challenges in twisting and turning his way into the box, and after being denied by Conrad Logan, Becchio saw his follow-up blocked and cleared.
Leicester responded by pushing forward, but it was Leeds who went close again on 55 minutes when Johnson headed a Neil Kilkenny cross over the top.
Gradel was next to go close when he weaved his way into the box once again before finding his route to goal blocked by Logan.
Leeds were the more lively of the two sides and were playing some good football in the quest for a second, but Leicester were looking to hit the home side on the break by exploiting any gaps.
Bruce made a good block after Michael Lamey raced from the midfield and Leeds were assured in defence when Frank Moussa pumped the ball back into the box.
And Leicester were level on minutes 66. A deflected cross looped into the box, Leeds failed to clear, and Richie Wellens profited from some quick passing to stike the ball sweetly beyond a helpless Higgs.
Moments later, Paul Connolly did enough to put off an advancing Steve Howard after Paul Gallagher whipped in a cross from the right.
It was Higgs who saved United on 71 minutes when Gallagher sent in a superb low ball which Howard turned goalwards.
Grayson's response to the spell of pressure was to make two changes with Andrew Hughes and Watt entering the fray.
With extra-time looming, both sides were pressing to win the game within the 90 minutes.
As both sides searched for a winner, Somma came close for Leeds when he screwed a shot over the bar after working himself an opening outside of the box.
But there was some late drama and it was Leicester who were handed the opportunity to win the game when an unfortunate Neill Collins was adjudged to have handled a bouncing ball inside the area. Howard stepped up to take the spot-kick and slammed the ball home to effectively seal the game and secure Leicester's passage into the third round.
Yorkshire Post 21/8/10
Leeds United 3 Millwall 1: Somma praise from Grayson
By Richard Sutcliffe at Elland Road
WHISPER it quietly, but something may well be stirring down Elland Road way.
Leeds United, in recent years a byword for the heavy price football clubs can pay for over-reaching themselves, are back in the Championship and looking to make a big impression.
Against a Millwall side sitting proudly on top of the fledgling Championship table and who had arrived in Yorkshire on the back of having won 19 of 27 league games in 2010, they did just that.
After claiming a creditable draw from the trip to strongly-fancied Nottingham Forest the previous Sunday, Leeds produced a stunning display of attacking football to tame the in-form Lions.
United may have needed two late opportunistic strikes from substitute Davide Somma to claim the points but no one in the 25,067 crowd could deny at the final whistle that the right team had won.
Not only did Leeds score a trio of well-worked goals, they also struck the woodwork three times, had one shot cleared off the line and were left frustrated by three stunning saves from goalkeeper David Forde.
Some of their attacking play – and particularly in the first half – was a delight with the incisive running of Sanchez Watt and pinpoint passing of Neil Kilkenny meaning the visitors defence was led a merry dance by the Yorkshire side.
It all added up to a hugely encouraging afternoon for United, who let us not forget are still without their two best players from last season, Robert Snodgrass and Patrick Kisnorbo, due to injury along with new signing Billy Paynter.
Get that trio back in action along with Max Gradel, who has now served the four-game ban that followed his red card on the final day of last season, and the future really could be very bright for Simon Grayson's side.
The United manager said: "Millwall are a good team. They came here on top of the division with six points, seven goals and none conceded.
"The manner of our display was very pleasing. Getting the first win is always important. It means you are not looking over your shoulders any longer.
"It is encouraging that we will have players coming back in the next month or so that will make us stronger. That will push those already in the team.
"We have set ourselves a standard but now must maintain it."
Only time will tell whether Leeds can maintain the attacking swagger that brought a first win over Millwall in five attempts.
But if they do then Grayson's men must surely have as good a chance as any of forcing their way into the promotion race.
Reverting to the 4-4-2 formation that had brought an escape from League One, United immediately looked much more at ease.
Watt, in particular, seemed to relish being moved up front alongside Luciano Becchio as the loanee displayed the footballing pedigree that comes with being schooled by Arsenal. From the opening exchanges, the 19-year-old Londoner was giving the Millwall backline a torrid time. He had already fired off two shots by the time the visitors took the lead against the run of play courtesy of two defensive blunders.
First, Federico Bessone, who on the basis of his first few displays seems to be continuing the trend of United not having had a quality left-back since the days when Tony Dorigo patrolled the flank, fired the ball against Steve Morison and then allowed the highly-rated Lions striker to loop a towering cross into the penalty area.
Mistake No 2 followed a second or two later when Richard Naylor allowed himself to be manoeuvred out of the way by Kevin Lisbie, meaning that the Leeds captain was off balance when heading and the ball flew beyond the helpless Kasper Schmeichel and into the net.
To United's credit, they responded in admirable fashion as Sam had a shot cleared off the line by Darren Ward and Jonny Howson struck a post.
The equaliser, when it came on 32 minutes, saw Watt again involved with a neat pass to Becchio, who then found Sam and the former Charlton Athletic wideman finished with a low shot from 20 yards.
David Forde's stunning double save to deny Watt and then Howson was followed by Neill Collins heading against a post as Millwall somehow survived to go in at the break level.
Kenny Jackett's response to his side's mauling was to switch to 4-5-1 just before the hour mark but it did little good as Leeds continued to look the more likely to score.
The breakthrough finally arrived 11 minutes from time when Forde, under pressure from Becchio, flapped at a right-wing cross and Watt returned the ball into the centre for Somma to score.
Almost straight away, Schmeichel had to save acrobatically from the otherwise anonymous Liam Trotter before Somma sealed the points in stoppage time with a fine finish after being found by an outstanding 50-yard pass from Howson.


Hero: Davide Somma
Neil Kilkenny may have been the game's outstanding performer, just pipping Sanchez Watt to the accolade, but Somma's introduction from the bench with 15 minutes remaining ensured Leeds claimed the win their play had deserved.

Villain: Millwall fans
Usually, being forced to get up early and then face the inconvenience of collecting match tickets from Wooley Edge services would be cause for sympathy. But the disgusting 'Istanbul' chant emanating from the 550 away fans just before Richard Naylor's own goal meant it was in short supply.

Key moment
David Forde flaps at a right-wing cross allowing Sanchez Watt to claim possession and cross for Davide Somma to put Leeds in front for the first time.

Ref watch
Colin Webster: At times, he seemed swayed by the vociferous home crowd but, overall, the Tyne & Wear official had a decent match and got the major calls correct.

A hugely encouraging afternoon for Leeds, who produced arguably the best attacking display of Simon Grayson's 20-month reign against an in-form Millwall side who could have had few complaints with a four- or five-goal losing margin.

Quote of the day
We knew he was a goalscorer and we've seen in training that he can finish with both feet.
Leeds United manager Simon Grayson's verdict on match-winner Davide Somma.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

New pages uploaded at mightyleeds.co.uk

Matches – 18/3/72 – Leeds United 2 Tottenham 1

United introduce their pre-match routine and socking tags in a move to improve their public image and then go on to give Spurs a tremendous tanning to reach the Cup semi final

Read the full story at


Matches – 4/3/72 – Leeds United 7 Southampton 0

Don Revie's Leeds United side give a performance that would be cited forever as their coup de grace, hammering a hapless Southampton and demonstrating the cruellest form of possession football

Read the full story at


Matches – 26/2/72 – Cardiff City 0 Leeds United 2

Cardiff City sought to pull off a Cup shock on a quagmire pitch at Ninian Park, but Irish schemer Johnny Giles turns in a match winning performance to put United in the last eight

Read the full story at


Saturday, August 21, 2010

Sky 21/8/10
Somma brace downs Lions
Leeds bag first Championship win against Millwall
Substitute Davide Somma was the hero as his brace off the bench gave Leeds United a fully-deserved 3-1 success over Millwall at Elland Road.
The Lions drew first blood with defender Richard Naylor's own goal putting the visitors in front with 15 minutes played in West Yorkshire.
Lloyd Sam maintained his scoring streak to bring Leeds level and the score remained the same until Somma's (79, 90) late brace clinched Leeds' first Championship success since promotion.
The defeat ended Millwall's superb 100 per cent start to the campaign while Simon Grayson's Leeds now have four points from their opening three league games.
Kenny Jackett's men arrived in fine form after impressive 3-0 and 4-0 wins over Bristol City and Hull, but Leeds offered the greater goal threat for much of the game and nobody impressed more than Sanchez Watt.
The on-loan Arsenal winger, 19, was pivotal throughout and had already had three attempts on goal by the time Millwall hit Leeds with a sucker-punch.
Top corner
Steve Morison's high cross from the right was hopeful at best but Naylor, under minimal pressure from Kevin Lisbie, headed the ball straight into the top corner past Kasper Schmeichel.
Yet Leeds fashioned an impressive response, with Watt and homegrown midfielder Jonathan Howson at the heart of their best moves.
In the 23rd minute, Howson teed up Luciano Becchio for a shooting chance from 10 yards but the Argentinian could only blaze wildly over the crossbar.
Three minutes later Howson burst into the box and showed some delightful footwork to engineer the space to rifle a low shot against the outside of a post as Millwall survived.
The Lions' goal began to lead a charmed existence and after Sam had a shot cleared off the line in he 27th minute, he drew Leeds level five minutes later.
Watt drifted across the face of Millwall's penalty box before finding Becchio. He kept the move flowing with a neat touch into the path of Sam, who struck a fierce low right-footed shot past Forde and into the bottom right-hand corner.
The goal poured confidence into Leeds and they could have been comfortably ahead by half-time.
Fine save
Defender Neil Collins headed wide when he should have hit the target, Watt shot weakly wide at David Forde when well placed, and he then produced a fine save to tip Howson's 20-yard strike around a post.
From the resultant corner by Neil Kilkenny, Collins headed the ball against a post as Millwall were again rescued by the woodwork.
Millwall improved vastly after the break but genuine chances were scarce for both teams. Leeds always looked the more likely to claim maximum points and so it proved as Somma struck with 11 minutes remaining.
More intelligent play by Watt saw him drive a low cross across the face of goal and Somma was perfectly placed to smash the ball into the net from 10 yards.
Schmeichel then produced a fine stop at the other end to preserve Leeds' advantage before Somma reclaimed centre stage in added time.
Somma showed brilliant footwork to engineer the space to hit a superb left-footed shot past Forde from 12 yards.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Yorkshire Evening Post 19/8/10
Grayson plays waiting game over transfers
By Phil Hay
Leeds United manager Simon Grayson is optimistic of landing his remaining targets before the transfer window shuts – but admitted a number of potential signings were "hanging fire" with 12 days to go.
United have less than two weeks to tie up permanent deals or long-term loans with players contracted to other clubs, and Grayson said progress at Elland Road had been slow since the arrival of Adam Clayton from Manchester City on August 6.
Clayton became Leeds' ninth close-season signing when he accepted a month-long loan in Yorkshire but Grayson has not concluded his recruitment despite daily discussions with agents and clubs.
United have the fall-back of the Football League's emergency loan market, which opens a week after FIFA's transfer window closes on the final day of this month, but Grayson remains hopeful of completing his 10th deal before the start of September.
The club appear intent on taking advantage of new rules requiring Premier League sides to select a fixed 25-man squad for league fixtures between the August and January transfer windows, a restriction which is creating a crowd of surplus players in England's top division.
Cardiff City exploited the situation by signing striker Craig Bellamy on a season-long loan from Manchester City on Tuesday, and other Championship sides are likely to follow suit with Premier League managers deciding which players to include in their designated squads and which to ostracise from their first-team plans.
Grayson said: "A lot of people are playing games as such, testing the water and holding out for certain things."Some of the players we're looking at might be hanging around to see if they can remain in the Premier League, and one or two others will still want to try and make it with the clubs that they're already at.
"The options we've got and the players I've targeted are just hanging fire a little bit to see where they are. It's an ongoing process.
"But I'd like to think we'll have people in before the window shuts. Premier League teams are seeing where they are with players and players might soon realise that they're not going to be involved. Things could develop after that.
"We're always in talks and there isn't a day goes by without an agent talking to me or a representative of another club offering me players. But it's not as if we've gone in for somebody in the last few weeks and they've chosen to go elsewhere. That's not the case."
While he waits for the transfer market to fully unravel, Grayson's squad is gradually improving itself from within.
Davide Somma completed an untimely suspension last weekend and Max Gradel will do likewise on Saturday when his four-match ban ends after Millwall's visit to Elland Road.
Injured forwards Billy Paynter and Robert Snodgrass might conceivably declare themselves fit next month, leaving Ben Parker and Patrick Kisnorbo as the only players in United's treatment room. Parker's projected comeback from a damaged Achilles tendon was set for October.
United's manager knew that his resources on the first day of the season were as weak as they were likely to be at any stage of the opening months – no fewer than six senior professionals missed the club's 2-1 defeat to Derby County – and the performance of his available players at Nottingham Forest on Sunday convinced him that the framework of his squad is strong enough for a Championship campaign.
Leeds' 1-1 draw at the City Ground was achieved in spite of a concerted onslaught from a Forest side who scored after nine minutes and hit a post while leading 1-0. United claimed a point through Lloyd Sam's header towards the end of the first half and left Nottingham in a healthy frame of mind, ready to prepare for a meeting with familiar rivals and a newly-promoted club who sit at the top of the Championship.
Grayson said: "The players were proud of that performance and so they should be. They showed a lot of character.
"There have probably been games like that over the last couple of years in which the team folded and went under but there was something about them on Sunday. The way we dealt with being under the cosh was good. Once we got over that hurdle we were able to push the game and take it to Forest.
"I've got a good group here and when we had the defeat against Derby, I wanted to make sure that we still had a vibrant atmosphere on the training ground. There are going to be stages of the season when results don't go for us but you have to make sure you feel the same way about yourself as you do when you win a game. It's really important."
Grayson has consistently promoted the need for strong camaraderie among his players, something Millwall have also nurtured impressively under Kenny Jackett. The clubs are similar in so far as neither possesses a plethora of sizeable egos or reputations, and Saturday's fixture at Elland Road should extend a rivalry which grew ever more competitive in League One.
United's manager took his squad to Slovakia in pre-season and also subjected them to a training session with the army's Yorkshire Regiment in early July. He saw the value of those collective events in Sunday's performance when United fought off Billy Davies' side under severe pressure.
"You always want togetherness and I've tried to instil it for as long as I've been here," Grayson said. "That's why you do team-bonding exercises and why you go away to a foreign country for pre-season – to let the players get a feel for the person who's alongside them in the team."
It makes you do things for them that otherwise you might not do and as well as having pride in the shirt, part of a successful team is having a bond amongst you. We're going to need it this year."

Yorkshire Evening Post 19/8/10
Whites unhappy with agents report
By Phil Hay
Leeds United have criticised the Football League's latest report on agents fees, claiming the governing body has overstated their payments to players' representatives during the 2009-10 season.
United disputed the claim by the Football League that more than £330,000 was earned by licensed agents directly from the Elland Road club in a year when fees in the Championship, League One and League Two showed a marked increase.
Total payments generated by transfers and contractual agreements between July 2009 and June 2010 rose by £3.9million to £12.7million, a leap described by Football League chairman Greg Clarke as "worrying" to an organisation that has fought to reduce the amount of money spent by its members on agents' fees.
In contrast to the overall picture, Leeds saw their own official expenditure fall from £376,500 during the 2008-09 campaign to £335,723 last season, but the club insisted the stated figure was a misrepresentation of their actual outlay.
Leeds said the Football League's total included sums which were potentially due to agents in the future and had not yet been paid. They also argued that money given to agents acting on the behalf of players, rather than on behalf the club, was a "taxable benefit" which could justifiably be classed as part of a player's payment package.
In a statement, chief executive Shaun Harvey said: "In our case, less than £100,000 of the £335,723 was paid to agents acting on the club's behalf.
"The report constructed by the Football League under their guidelines includes payments that are to be made in the future and payments that are being made by the club to players' agents on behalf of the player.
"This payment is a taxable benefit on the player and in many ways could be viewed as part of their overall remuneration package, rather than a club payment to an agent."
A spokesman for the Football League defended its annual report, saying: "The Football League's agents fees regulations are very clear and very specific.
"They're designed to highlight the amount of money leaving the game."
According to the League's latest figures, Leeds carried the third highest agents' bill in League One last season, behind Southampton (£401,248) and Norwich City (£381,681).
United's payments were the result of 51 transactions, including 21 permanent transfers, seven deals over new contracts, nine contract cancellations and 14 loans.
The cost of all three clubs were dwarfed by Middlesbrough's pay-out of £1,464,200, the highest in the Football League and part of an overall outlay of more than £10million among Championship clubs.
In response to the report, Clarke said: "Given the current climate, it is worrying to see such a significant amount leaking from the game."It's essential that clubs work to reduce this liability over the coming campaign."

Yorkshire Post 16/8/10
Nottingham Forest 1 Leeds United 1: Grayson's tactical switch helps United make their Forest point
By Richard Sutcliffe
'JOB done,' was how Billy Davies, as the manager of Preston, famously chose to sum up his feelings halfway through a play-off semi-final clash against Leeds.
The Scot had just seen North End claim a 1-1 first leg draw at Elland Road and considered his side to be favourites to reach the final.
Three days later, however, Davies's words came back to haunt him as Leeds triumphed 2-0 and their players left the Deepdale dressing room walls daubed in graffiti that read 'job done'. After 20 or so minutes yesterday, Davies must have been tempted to feel a similar sense of satisfaction after watching his Nottingham Forest side assume such control that a rout of newly-promoted Leeds seemed a distinct possibility.
United, employing the same 4-3-2-1 formation and personnel that Derby County had found to their liking on the opening day, simply weren't in the same class as their hosts.
Run ragged in midfield and with Luciano Becchio receiving little support as a lone frontman, Leeds offered nothing to suggest a fightback was on the cards.
But, after having seen his side opened up almost at will once too often, United manager Simon Grayson took decisive action as Sanchez Watt was pushed forward in a 4-4-2 formation. The transformation was instant.
Freed from the duties that had come with being the holding player in a three-man midfield, Neil Kilkenny began to exert more and more influence.
Bradley Johnson also became a major threat along with Lloyd Sam and the pair combined beautifully for United's 36th minute equaliser.
Not, however, that the joy of the 4,240 travelling army of fans was shared by the Forest manager.
Davies said: "After 35 minutes, the game should have been over and done with. If it had been a boxing match, it would have been stopped.
"Then, Leeds had one chance that came from our bad play. To go in at half-time level was unbelievable."
As impressive as Leeds were in the final hour or so, there must also be concern at just how insipid their display had been in the early stages.
But for a combination of Kasper Schmeichel's reflexes and poor finishing, the game could, as Davies suggested afterwards, have been over. Forest took less than two minutes to expose United's vulnerability down their left, Gunter finding sufficient space to curl a cross that Paul Anderson bundled goalwards only for Schmeichel to block with his knees.
Three minutes later, Gunter burst into the penalty area and was shaping to shoot when Federico Bessone slid in to make a crucial tackle.
At this stage, it seemed a question of when and not if Leeds would concede and the answer came on nine minutes.
Sloppy play by United allowed Chris Gunter to collect a return pass from Rob Earnshaw after taking a quick throw-in. The full-back then drilled a first-time cross that Dexter Blackstock flicked past Schmeichel from close range.
Buoyed by going ahead, Forest poured forward with even more vigour as a neat one-two with Blackstock allowed Earnshaw to race clear.
Schmeichel, clearly adopting a tactic that served his dad Peter so well in his career, duly raced from his line to spread himself in front of an on-rushing striker. Whether it was the sight of the Dane racing towards him or not, Earnshaw slightly mis-cued his shot and the ball bounced to safety off the post.
Grayson, to his credit, acted swiftly and the change of formation quickly paid dividends.
Almost straight away, Becchio was presented with an excellent chance by neat inter-play between Kilkenny and Sam only for his first touch to be heavy and Lee Camp blocked.
The Forest goalkeeper was less impressive in trying to deal with a Paul Connolly cross moments later, his punch only going as far as the edge of the penalty area where Becchio hooked the ball wide.
United equalised nine minutes before the break, a sloppy pass from Morgan being the catalyst. The powerfully built central defender had clearly not heeded the lesson of midweek when casual play by the Forest defence had allowed Bradford City a route back into a Carling Cup tie that the League Two side would eventually win.
Instead, Morgan, in attempting a risky pass to left-back Ryan Bertrand, could only kick the ball against Becchio's heel.
Jonny Howson collected possession and fed Bradley Johnson, whose inviting cross from the left wing was headed past Camp by Sam to claim a first point of the season for Leeds.
Not quite job done for Leeds, but a satisfying result nonetheless.
Guardian 15/8/10
Lloyd Sam strikes again to earn Leeds a point against Nottingham Forest
Nottingham Forest 1 Leeds United 1
John Ashdown at the City Ground
A game that began with Nottingham Forest on fire and in the end, if you take Billy Davies's version of events, saw more stamps than Phileas Fogg's passport leaves both sides searching for their first win of the Championship season, but offers both reason for optimism.
The home side, briefly, were ominously good, but Leeds United clung on and turned the tide. If it had not been for the late fracas, both managers might have gone home reasonably satisfied.
Instead there was frustration. Davies has already pleaded for patience more than once this season, pointing out that it will be "nine or 10 games before we settle down as a squad" and that his side "need to shake up the pecking order by bringing players in". This Jekyll and Hyde performance gave weight to those claims. For 30 minutes they were vibrant, slick, a constant threat – "If it was a boxing match, it would have been stopped," Davies said. For much of the remaining 60 they struggled to string two passes together.
The Forest manager's watchword, though, was "naivety", both in his team's failure to cope with Leeds' "long back-to-front" style of play and in the 18-man melee 10 minutes from time that should have resulted in a red card for the right-back Chris Gunter, who appeared to stamp on Sanchez Watt as the two jostled ahead of a throw-in. Davies, though, felt his player had been provoked.
"If you look at the video and you'll see Gunter is stamped on and I think he's reacted very naively," Davies said. "It's clear that he reacted very poorly and he should not have got involved in what he got involved with.
"Look at the one on Gunter, look at the one that started it. There was two or three before that on [the Forest goalkeeper Lee] Camp. Buy, hey, welcome to professional football. That's what they've got to learn. There comes a point in the game when you bide your time, and you deal with what you have to deal with. But what you don't do is what we've got in the dressing room at the moment, you don't react stupidly. You learn through experience."
Davies's Leeds counterpart, Simon Grayson, unsurprisingly, disagreed with the decision to punish both players with nothing more than yellow cards. "Gunter's a lucky boy," he said. "How they've come to the conclusion of two yellow cards – Sanchez hasn't deliberately stood on his foot and Gunter has deliberately stood on it."
The ruckus added an edge to the final 10 minutes, but Forest's incisiveness had long since deserted them. Davies has been his usual outspoken self in the past week, grumbling about the trouble of the transfer window ("We have players in our dressing room who might not be here soon") and the scourge of rising player wages ("At our club and everywhere else, there are players who have had too much, too early"), but the manager could have found little to gripe about with his team's opening here.
It took only nine minutes for the home side to open the scoring, and by that stage Kasper Schmeichel had already saved well from Paul Anderson and a penalty shout had been turned down after Chris Cohen tumbled under a challenge from Federico Bessone. Dexter Blackstock gave Forest material reward for their dominant start, flicking Gunter's cross home.
Five minutes later, with Forest still rampant, gorgeous interplay between Blackstock and Robert Earnshaw put the latter clean through, but his shot pinged off the post. Indeed it was midway through the first half before Leeds had their first chance, and it was not one of their own making.
Gunter's pass skewed at right angles to its intended trajectory, Watt fed Luciano Becchio but the opportunity was smothered by Camp.
Yet Forest faded, Leeds switched to 4-4-2 and another defensive error gave the visitors an unlikely equaliser nine minutes before half-time. Wes Morgan's shocking pass out of defence was intercepted and the ball was worked wide. From Bradley Johnson's cross the 5ft 8in Lloyd Sam was allowed to run across his marker and glance a clever header beyond the goalkeeper.
With the wind already sapping from Forest's sails, the goal seem to becalm them completely. The Yorkshire side dominated the second half with the Arsenal loanee Watt, in particular, a bungler turned marauder, but they could find no way through.
"It's vital," Grayson said of the result. "If we had lost the first two games people might have got a bit downhearted, and looking for that next point or the first win, but the result can be very encouraging for us."

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Yorkshire Evening Post 11/8/10
Leeds United v Lincoln City: Job done - Grayson
Leeds United cruised into the Carling Cup's second round with a rousing win over Lincoln City, fuelling Simon Grayson's hopes of claiming the scalp of Nottingham Forest this weekend.
United averted any chance of a first-round upset at their expense by inflicting a 4-0 defeat on Lincoln at Elland Road last night, and their manager welcomed a strong surge in confidence ahead of Sunday's Championship clash at the City Ground.
Grayson sought a convincing victory against Chris Sutton's side after Leeds' first league match of the season ended in a 2-1 defeat to Derby County on Saturday, and his players reported in for a routine warm-down this morning as thoughts turned to a major fixture in Nottingham.
Forest featured in the Championship's play-off semi-finals last season and are expected to compete for promotion again, but Grayson said he would take his players south in positive mood after the clash with Lincoln brought their first win of the new term. Grayson said: "I wanted us to respond to the result against Derby, even though I thought we played well enough to get something out of the game.
"Four goals and a clean sheet is very satisfying and I wanted the Carling Cup to be a springboard for our league campaign. We did well in the competition last season and I think it helped us.
"Our confidence should be high now and although it's a different kettle of fish at the City Ground, we think we can beat anybody on our day and we'll go there believing we can do it."
Three goals in the first half-hour of last night's tie, scored by Jonathan Howson, Luciano Becchio and Lloyd Sam, effectively sealed United's progression to the second round, and Neil Kilkenny rounded off the result with a penalty on 70 minutes.
Grayson said: "We had to show a good attitude. A few big teams have gone out of the competition and I didn't want us to be one of them.
"At 3-0 up, I wanted us to use the game as an exercise to be solid and to play as if we were at Forest on Sunday. We'll get punished there if we're not solid and organised and the second half was a bit of a training exercise for us."
Telegraph 9/8/10
Kasper Schmeichel signals new era at Elland Road as Leeds United lose to Derby County
Leeds United 1 (1) Derby County 2 (2)
By Rory Smith

Things have changed at Elland Road. The ground may look the same – three dated stands dwarfed by the colossal, half-empty East Stand – but much of the bile and brashness have gone.
This is now a place where Derby's players, thanks to Nigel Clough's sense of history, could walk the 500 yards from their bus to the stadium unmolested and unscathed in homage to their manager's father's old tricks.
It is a place where an opening-day defeat, the first since 1989, in the second tier of English football can still prompt a round of applause on the final whistle from a crowd simply appreciative of Simon Grayson's side's application and dedication.
There were unpleasant echoes of the past in the minor skirmishes which followed the final whistle, prompting West Yorkshire Police to make "a number of arrests" for public-order offences, and in the vitriol poured upon Robbie Savage, though the Welshman's pantomime-dame act suggests he would have been rather disappointed had he been invited in with open arms.
But Leeds have learned from their years in the wilderness. They have not entered the Championship at the third attempt intending to inform their opponents that a day trip to Elland Road counts as a cup final. They do not expect promotion – far from it – after a comparatively frugal summer's transfer dealings, though owner Ken Bates has committed some £3 million in wages to loan players.
This club have been forced by harsh reality to come to terms with their new place in the football firmament. How else to explain the warm welcome afforded to Kasper Schmeichel?
The Dane with the Cheshire accent, signed from Manchester City, should have to work considerably harder than most to win over his new fans, thanks to the burden of his ancestry, but he could not have hoped for a better start.
That his surname will forever be associated with the other United, the ones just up the M62, was soon forgotten.
"There is a history [with his father, Peter], but that was then and this is now," he said. "I hope the supporters can respect the fact he was a good player even though he played for the enemy. But I think the fans here are clever enough to accept the player he was.
"But my dad's career was his and I have my own. I would be honoured to win a fraction of what he won. But for now, I am just trying to establish myself and get a good season under my belt. I had enough time not playing at City. I want to play in every single game."
There is every chance of that if he can keep up this display. He could do little about the Rob Hulse goal which opened the scoring, or the Paul Green penalty which secured Derby three points despite Luciano Becchio's equaliser and attempts from Richard Naylor and Neill Collins, both of which struck the bar. But Elland Road knows quality when it is present. One Schmeichel save, denying Hulse with an athletic low stop and springing up immediately to repel Shaun Barker, brought the fans to their feet. His name rang out around the stands. Things really have changed.
Telegraph 7/8/10
Leeds United 1 Derby County 2: match report
Read a full report of the Championship match between Leeds United and Derby County at Elland Road on Aug 7 2010.
By Duncan White
Leeds are back, but not how they wanted to be. There is no question that this grand club, back in the Championship after three years of relative humiliation in the third tier, is slowly returning to a station befitting its status, even if Saturday’s deflating defeat to Derby - their first opening day loss since 1989 - checked the sense of resurgent optimism in the city.
Still, with Simon Grayson’s team showing admirable fight in front of the day’s biggest crowd in the league there was plenty to be positive about inside the stadium (especially with Robert Snodgrass and Billy Paynter to come back from injury).
However, there was fighting of the less admirable kind outside.
What had been a compelling game right into stoppage time was soured by the behaviour of a significant minority outside the ground. Police horses had to be used to keep the two sets of fans apart after clashes between them, with police vans being called in to help quell further skirmishes.
If this sort of stuff was an unwelcome reminder of football’s bad old days, there was plenty of more appealing history about this fixture.
Nigel Clough showed a neat sense of occasion. Much had been made of the intimidating reception his team would receive at the famously hostile Elland Road so he asked for the team coach to park up 500 yards short of the ground so that they could walk in. Clough’s father, Brian, had used the very same strategy when taking his Nottingham Forest side to Millwall’s Den.
"It gave me great pleasure to beat them because they wouldn't let my son William on the pitch an hour and 15 minutes before kick-off,” Clough said. “I was very encouraged by our win. It could have been over earlier if their keeper hadn't made some great saves.”
Clough senior, of course, had had a brief and tumultuous spell at Leeds, captured in David Peace’s The Damned United, and as the Derby players strolled towards the stadium, they had Leeds’ old training ground on their left - now a car park - where he first confronted Billy Bremner, Johnny Giles and company.
There was nothing intimidating about Derby’s arrival, just the sporadic cry of “is that Robie Savage?” from fans enjoying a bit of West Yorkshire sun. If only it had been quite as laid back after the game.
The game itself started at frenetic pace and never really slowed. It was not the most sophisticated stuff but it was compelling as both sides threw themselves at each other, leaving plenty of space for the attacking players to work in.
Derby struck first after an impressive start. Paul Green, the Irish international midfielder, accelerated through the centre at the Leeds defence, before slipping it to his right for Rob Hulse, who drove the ball past Schmeichel from the angle.
Three minutes later and Leeds were level. Jonathan Howson cheekily pushed the ball past Robbie Savage and scooted into the area but, instead of shooting, cleverly squared to Luciano Becchio for a simple conversion.
Leeds captain Richard Naylor hooked the ball against the bar minutes later but it was Derby who were soon back in front. Again Leeds struggled to cope with Derby’s more fluid system that allowed Kris Commons, Green and Tomasz Cywka to run at them from deep.
It was Cywka, a summer signing from Wigan, who caused the problems this time, surging into the box at pace, only to be tripped by the ill-judged lunge of Lloyd Sam. Commons coolly converted the penalty, stroking in after Schmeichel had been sent the wrong way.
Leeds again hit the bar - Neil Collins' downward header coming back up and clipping the woodwork - before Derby threatened again.
Schmeichel, with his father Peter watching from the stands, made two excellent saves, the first from Green after he had been set up by Commons and the second at close range from Commons following Savage’s free-kick.
Even better was to come from the goalkeeper in the second half, as the rain came pouring down. Green was left clear in the six-yard box as the Leeds defence looked vainly for offside but Schmeichel kept his composure, standing up to Green and blocking his shot with his chest.
With 15 minutes to go he plunged to his left to deny Hulse superbly and then got up to block Shaun Barker from the rebound. You never thought you would hear Schmeichel’s name sung at Elland Road.
Leeds might have snatched an equaliser with 10 minutes to go.
Howson’s corner was met by Collins whose downward header was kicked off the line by Green. "The Championship's a tough division,” Grayson said. “It's a lot quicker than we have been used to. So we have got to learn from experience.”